Hi Al,
I remember those heady days when Fudo and Genryu were `patrolling` this forum 
and I learnt a lot from them too. In fact, it was partly thru` Fudo`s 
contribution that I went to Japan. However, after over 3 years of living there 
I came to the conclusion that following a Japanese form of Zen is too... well, 
Japanese. Culturally the Japanese think and do things quite differently from 
those of us from the west and their search for Buddhahood is no different - 
hence the aching legs and slaps on the back! I honestly don`t think 
certification of a person`s understanding means much. You`ll know yourself if 
you`ve experienced a kensho/satori breakthru (let`s be honest - this is what 
`IT` is all about) and you`ll know if you meet another if they`ve had a 
breakthru or not. Of course, this initial realization can (and should) be 
cultivated, but it can be done thru zazen and following the precepts. It`s nice 
to have someone to talk with `eye to eye` but it`s not
 essential and neither is a certificate on the wall proving you or they can. 
However, for a person beginning Zen or who hasn`t at least worked on `mu` etc. 
then I would recommend a bona fide Zen temple (affliiated with Japan - if 
possible). Maybe as the moderator your expectations are different from those of 
us who write here, but for myself I find this forum interesting, sometimes 
informative but nearly always fun! I can honestly say, without being too 
dramatic or sentimental, that in some small way (re Fudo/Japan) it has changed 
my life. Don`t underestimate what you`re doing. Mike.

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