Fr Robert Kennedy is an American Jesuit and a Zen Buddhist teacher – a Roshi. He was in Ireland recently conducting a Zen retreat in the Dominican Retreat Centre in Tallaght from 15-17 November. People of all faiths and none attended.
He gave this interview to Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications when the retreat ended. In it he speaks of how he first became a Jesuit and his posting in Tokyo, Japan as a missionary. He spent a number of years there before returning to the United States. He explains how a formative experience he had, totally out of the blue in America, led to his rediscovering the true power of the Buddhism he had encountered in Japan.
Fr Robert also talks about how Buddhism has been a natural follow on from his formation in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. And he says that his Jesuit vocation has been consolidated and affirmed by his Buddhist teachers.
He explains the true nature of Buddhism and how it relates to Christianity, and differs from it. And he gives interesting insights into the Buddhist way of life, noting that Buddhism is not a religion but nonetheless it can help people of a religious persuasion to ask the right questions and live a life that is authentic and caring of others.