Kapleau's New Book on Koans,
and a Special Koan Concerning Maitreya

Roshi Philip Kapleau's new book on koans is entitled "Straight to the Heart of Zen". It is that, alright, *if* you can grasp the hidden teaching of Manjushri, rendered somewhat epiphenomenal, however, by his inability, according to one of the koans, to awaken insentient nature from her deep meditational state. Or, if you can appreciate the fact that Fu Daishi, thought to be an incarnation of Maitreya, the coming Buddha, is subservient in the traditional Buddhist hierarchy to one Vimalakirti, who is a filthy rich lay disciple next to Gautama Buddha himself in grandeur of understanding. We now have in the news such a "lay" disciple in Mr. Kenneth Lay of Enron Corporation, who was quite a liberal philanthropist in his day, or so they say.

As for Maitreya, Kapleau assures us, based on his "complete understanding", that Maitreya will not be coming for another million years. Strange that I have a photograph of Maitreya as He appeared to a prayer group and then to the whole town of Nairobi, Kenya, in 1988. According to Mr. Benjamin Creme, Maitreya created a human body through kriyashakti in 1977 and thereupon took up residence in the slums of London, while appearing at Will around the world wherever people are prepared to receive Him. The appearance and the photos are rather convincing proof of Creme's claim, since in Nairobi, according to the news stories, Maitreya was unanimously received by all as Christ returned to earth.

According to Creme and to a well-known occult tradition, Maitreya is both the Christ and the Buddha, as well as the Messiah of the Jews, the Imam Mahdi of the Muslims, and the Kalki Avatar of the Hindus. In short, He is the Head of the Hierarchy of earth's spiritual Masters. This actually fits rather well with His caricature in China, Fu Daishi, who was said to have synthesized Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, according to Kapleau's commentary.

So, is Maitreya then the answer to all our problems? There are reasons to doubt that. According to Creme, Maitreya is very radical, if not revolutionary. His primary concern is to equalize the distribution of wealth throughout the world through the principle of sharing. He regards the stock market as a national casino, and He has predicted an economic collapse that will lead to a complete reassessment of the present socio-economic system. However, He also inspired Gorbachev to dismantle the Soviet Union, according Creme, and it is hard to see therefore the logic of His complaining about the actions of the United States when He Himself established the conditions for its unchallenged world-wide dominance.

Maitreya is rather like Gary Seven in the Star Trek episode involving a human agent trained by an advanced civilization and then returned to earth for a special mission of scaring the world out of the arms race. So far, Maitreya has scared one side but left the other side stronger than ever and able to dominate all lesser adversaries at will. If the economic collapse of capitalism comes to pass and has the positive outcome of reassessment and reformation that He predicts, then well and good, but we can only hope that He really knows what He is doing. If not, He may have paved the way for the emergence of the Fourth Reich in America.

Peter Joseph Mutnick 1949 - 2000