Kapleau, Philip 1912-2004
KAPLEAU, Philip 1912-2004
PERSONAL: Born 1912, in New Haven, CT; died from complications of Parkinson's disease May 6, 2004, in Rochester, NY; married; wife's name, deLancey; children; Sudarshana (daughter). Religion: Buddhist.
CAREER: Court reporter, serving as chief reporter at International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, Germany, 1945, and at Tokyo War Crimes Trials, until 1953; ordained zen teacher; Rochester Zen Center, founder.
(Compiler, editor, and translator) The Three Pillars of Zen: Teaching, Practice, and Enlightenment, Harper and Row (New York, NY), 1966, revised and expanded thirty-fifth-anniversary edition, Anchor Books (Garden City, NY), 2000.
(Compiler, with Paterson Simons) The Wheel of Death: A Collection of Writings from Zen Buddhist and Other Sources of Death—Rebirth—Dying, Harper and Row (New York, NY), 1971.
Zen: Dawn in the West, Anchor Press (Garden City, NY), 1979, revised as Zen: Merging of East and West, 1989.
To Cherish All Life: A Buddhist View of Animal Slaughter and Meat Eating, Zen Center (Rochester, NY), 1981.
The Wheel of Life and Death: A Practical and Spiritual Guide, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1989, revised edition, Shambhala (Boston, MA), 1998.
Awakening to Zen: The Teachings of Roshi Philip Kapleau, edited by Polly Young-Eisendrath and Rafe Martin, Scribner (New York, NY), 1997.
Straight to the Heart of Zen: Eleven Classic Koans and Their Inner Meanings, Shambhala (Boston, MA), 2001.
Kapleau's works have been translated into several languages.
SIDELIGHTS: Alhough Philip Kapleau studied law and had a successful career as a court reporter, serving in 1945 as the chief reporter at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and the Tokyo War Crimes Trials, he developed an interest in Zen Buddhism that became more important than his chosen profession. Kapleau studied under Dr. D. T. Suzuki and other teachers of Zen Buddhism, before selling his court reporting business in 1953 to join a Zen monastery in Japan. For three years he trained rigorously and was then ordained by Hakuun Yasutani-roshi, who gave Kapleau permission to teach. While teaching under Yasutani-roshi ("roshi" is a title that indicates teacher), Kapleau-roshi got permission to record his teacher's talks (dokusan) and interview monks and students. These talks and interviews resulted in The Three Pillars of Zen: Teaching, Practice, and Enlightenment, now considered a standard text on Zen in English, that has been revised and expanded three times since its initial publication in 1966, and has been translated into a dozen languages. In 2000 this standard introductory work saw republication in a thirty-fifth anniversary edition.
Throughout his career as founder and teacher at the Zen Center in Rochester, New York, Kapleau published a handful of books on Zen. Late in his life he offered readers Awakening to Zen: The Teachings of Roshi Philip Kapleau, an "illuminating collection of Kapleau's lectures, writings, and interviews," according to Booklist critic Donna Seaman. In these pieces the author deals with such important issues as sexuality, drugs, death, a human's relationship with animals, and the role of pain and discipline in spiritual enlightenment. David Bourquin stated in Library Journal that Kapleau presents difficult concepts "interestingly and clearly" and recommended the work highly. Likewise, a Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded, "Kapleau offers readers priceless insights into the core of Zen practices."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Libraries, November, 1998, Donna Seaman, review of Awakening to Zen: The Teachings of Roshi Philip Kapleau, p. 77.
Booklist, March 1, 1997, Donna Seaman, review of Awakening to Zen, p. 1071.
East West, May, 1989, review of The Wheel of Life and Death: A Practical and Spiritual Guide, p. 109.
Library Journal, February 15, 1997, David Bourquin, review of Awakening to Zen, p. 139.
Publishers Weekly, January 27, 1997, review of Awakening to Zen, p. 95.
Rochester Zen Center Web site,http://www.rzc.org/ (November 10, 2004).*