Can I just say that I am really enjoying all this discussion as of late about "zen in the west." It seems to be popping up everywhere. You might enjoy this blog I follow by a Zen priest named Jiryu, it is called "No Zen In the West" The link I specifically pasted here is to a recent post about American Zen. (Contrary to the title, I don't actually think he believes there is no zen in the west). The question came up again at this new blog called 'Original Mind' I found through my husband, the Farmer Monk, who also responded.
We are all having this adolescent (I don't mean that in an insulting way but more of a natural developmental sort of way) identity crisis trying to be autonomous from our parents (founders). But as we all know, we can't change who our parents are and we will definitely find ourselves repeating some of the same stuff they said despite our best efforts to be different. So while it is great to struggle with these questions and it helps us to figure out who we are and get comfortable in our skin, I think I will find it helpful not to fight with my dharma siblings about it. And to acknowledge that there is no way we can be Japanese because we aren't. Clinging to forms, whether Japanese, Chinese or Indian is clinging to forms whether we want to dump it into the cultural appropriation* category or not. But this fight we are having as Zen settles into the west is not new or unique so we shouldn't beat ourselves up for being "stupid" Americans or something.
As I felt and observed at my jukai ceremony yesterday, we are a group of sincere practitioners who are doing our best to follow Buddha's way. And it will not look the same for any single one of us regardless of whether we all say interview or dokusan.
* I would like to add a caveat about my use of the words cultural appropriation, I am not trying to dismiss the importance of this issue. Just so we're clear, cultural appropriation can be extremely problematic when a dominant culture exploits a minority culture; they force them (or try) to conform to dominant ideals or practices and then the dominant culture steals some of the very same symbols they took away with no respect for their original source or cultural value. There is a great discussion of this over at Jezebel and you can tell by the comment stream that people feel very strongly about it. I am resisting getting angry and fired up, as we speak.