EkiZen - Newsletter by the Shinnyo-ji Sangha
Autumn 2013 - n. 16 year IV
Wooden statue of Ganjin Wajō - Jianzhen (688 A.D. – 763 A.D.), donated to the Shinnyoji Temple on June 6th, 2013 by Rev. Matsuura Shunkai Kanshu, from the Mibudera Temple in Kyoto
On June 9th, 2013 Rev. Ryushin Azuma Docho Roshi founded the Sekai Zen Senta, the World Zen Center at the ancient Sōtō Zen Daijoji Temple founded over 700 years ago in the city of Kanazawa, in the Ishikawa Prefecture of Japan. The goal of this Center is to unite the Zen teachings and practices into one Universal Center (Sangha) where each person, independently from religion, gender, age, and political stance may practice and study Zen.
The Rev. Azuma Docho Roshi has ideally subdivided the world into seven sections: Japan, Northern China, Southern China, North America, South America, Europe and Asia (All Asian countries except Japan and China), giving someone responsibility of each section, other than the Responsibility for public relations that belong to the coordinator. Our Teacher Iten Shinnyo Roshi was nominated Director of the European section - Yōruppa gaikoku bucho Sekai Zen Senta - with the duty of nominated a vice director and a coordinator for every European country.
The Opening Ceremony for this Center was held at the Daijoji Monastery with the following schedule:
Inauguration Schedule for the Sekai Zen Senta
June 9th, year 25 Heisei (2013) at 9:30 a.m. at Daijoji Kanazawa Shikai
Moderator Rev. Suzuki Keshū Roshi Administrative Director
Religious Ceremony for the Hattō Officiate:
Rev. Azuma Ryushin Docho Roshi
Abbot of Daijoji and President of the Sekai Zen Senta
Sutras recited: Sanpai Hannya Shingyō Ekō Hannya Shingyō Fudō Sanpai
Presentation by Rev. Azuma Ryushin Docho Roshi
Discussion on the Establishment
By Rev. Nakano Ryokyō Godō Roshi of Daijoji
Intervention by the Assembly members with an exchange of comments and thoughts.
Translation of the Article found in the Chugai Nippon newspaper of Kyoto on May 14th, 2013 Written by Azuma Ryushin, Abbot of Daijoji, the Sōtōshu School.
FOR THE FOUNDATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL ZEN CENTER, A MEETING PLACE FOR ZEN PRACTITIONERS AROUND THE WORLD
We ask for your approval.
More and more people around the world have started practicing Zazen. But it’s reality is not clearly known. We never know what kind of relationship other practitioners have in other countries, nor do we have a way of collaborating amongst ourselves. We have no idea what direction this reality is going. Up to now I have gone to many countries in Asia, America, and Europe to visit temples that have a close relationship with us, practicing Zazen together and offering Teachings to them. I have a close relationship with people in these places and have founded temples there.
I have also supported and encouraged the Fukyōshi, missionaries sent to foreign countries.
Other than this, during my time as an Abbot I have always openly accepted foreigners who have knocked at the Temple’s door, above all, those of the younger generation because young people have a strong curiosity and intense interest in Zen.
I know a Japanese businessman who lived in a foreign country, oftentimes someone would ask him something about Zen Buddhism thinking that all Japanese people naturally knew something about it, he didn’t know how to respond to them.
Today many foreigners have the courage to come by themselves to Japan and immerse themselves into the monastic life of Zen. Now there are even foreign monks who teach Zen to the Japanese.
In the next 30 years it’s possible that the main headquarters for Zen Buddhism will transfer to the United States or to a European country. All in all, what I have written up to now is only a small part of the reality that I have seen.
Commemorative picture in front of the Sekai Zen Senta calligraphy hung at Sanmon –At the main door of Daijoji.
COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDING THE ZEN MOVEMENT ABROAD
One of the books that I always carry with me is: Bukkyō Tōzen – The Gradual Diffusion of Buddhism Toward the East” written by Tada Minoru, published in 1990 by Zen Bunka Kenkyūjo, and “The Religion that Awakens” written by Keneeth Tanaka, published in 2012 by Sangha. These are the precious realizations that show us the current situation of Zen and other Buddhist schools that are practiced in America and in Europe. However, in reality, we can say that we know nothing about the global vision of Zen abroad. Even though we live in the modern age in which we can know any world news in an instant, we do not know anything about Zen in the world.
Buddhism and Japanese Zen haven’t only moved toward Europe and the United States, but have also been diffused in Russia, Africa and in South America. Unfortunately we do not have any details on this.
So I hope to take a step forward from the current situation, by defining the reality of Zen practice around the world. As a consequence, I hope that this will be a step toward world peace by means of exchanging opinions for a reciprocal comprehension, also through discussion and togetherness.
This is my motivation for establishing Sekai Zen Senta – WZC – the World Zen Center. In the near future, someone else should have a similar idea.
For the past few years I have tried to maintain the consensus of those close to me, but no one has demonstrated a constructive opinion showing the importance of my idea by manifesting the will to collaborate to make it happen.
I will soon turn 80 years old, this thought is always with me and I would like it to move forward.
I would like to now declare the official foundation of Sekai Zen Senta, but the whole procedure still isn’t finished. For now the main headquarters and administrative office will be at the Daijoji Temple, Ishikawa-ken Kanazawa-shi, Nagasaka-cho Ru-10: tel 076-241-2680.
The rest of the practice starts here.
Fortunately, I am surrounded by people who share my desire and want to help me… they are Zen teachers and practitioners, Sangha and other people who understand my idea, mostly young people. I respect their pure willpower, privy of personal interest. I would like to take this opportunity to announce the inauguration of the Senta and to request sincere support from as many people as possible.
THE FIRST PRINCIPLE OF BUDDHISM IS “UNIVERSALITY”
I believe that Buddhism has never had a dogmatic foundation or absolute value of itself. In Buddhism there are two conditions originating from the Zazen of Buddha Shakamuni Illumination and teachings of our Great Founder: the first is awareness of reality exactly how it is for all sentient beings, the second is the manifestation of compassion towards all sentient beings.
I’m speaking honestly, without risk of misunderstandings by others that Buddhism does not fit into the so-call “religious” category as defined in our times.
Reality, or Reality as it is for all sentient beings born from the Illumination from Zazen by the Shakamuni Buddha is just this, “All things change from one moment to the next. All things are in existence by staying in connection with each other.” You could call it the “Buddhist Doctrine”, but it isn’t a doctrine. In other words, you could call it “the roots that form a doctrine.”
“All things change from time to time. All things are in existence by staying in connection with each other,” through these word that represent the original meaning of Buddhism, we can feel the concept of universality that can be acceptable for anything.
These words contain the universality that all things have in common, other then the differences between ethnicity, nationality, religion, political views, and ideology. All in all, we humans cannot easily accept this idea that passes though time and space. I ask why. In actuality, each and every one of us has the personal desire to be in control of everything around us. This egocentrism is a part of every individual, in the family, workplace, religion, nation and even worldwide. Zazen is a wisdom that lets us humans watch and control, direct, transform and go beyond our personal desires in reality.
There are three reference points in Zazen that simultaneously work between themselves: the first is to fold your legs and sit straight without leaning forward or to the left or right, the second is to keep a natural flow the breath, the third is not to think about anything. Everything is said here.
It is said that the goal of Zazen is to realize self-awareness: all things arise and conclude in themselves. In reality, there is no immobile self in the everyday world, this we can deeply feel this through our body/minds. Let’s exclusively dedicate ourselves to Zazen so that even we may receive the merits of the Zazen Illumination from the Shakamuni Buddha. We can may reach the same level as Shakamuni Buddha. If we don’t reach that level, we don’t create any problems since doing Zazen with the purpose of reaching Illumination is wrong.
How can we resolve this contradiction? It can be done through the absolute dedication of Zazen and following a good Teacher so we may acquire a deep consciousness about Zazen. The door that leads to the treasure of Zazen opens by itself.
Other than this, Zazen gives us humans a mysterious living strength that goes beyond rationality and irrationality. From this, with the compassionate vow to and desire in our hearts we will want to dedicate our strength to the foundation of the Sekai Zen Senta.
Translation of the two articles found in the newspaper edition on May 21, 2013 at Kanazawa and Tokyo about the Foundation of the “Sekai Zen Sentā”, The International Center for Zen.
This month at Daijoji, a historic place for E’ the Sōtōshu School found in the Nagasaka-cho neighborhood of Kanazawa, the “Sekai Zen Sentā”, the International Zen Center was inaugurated. The aim of this Center is to create a communication exchange between all people of the world who are interested in Zen or are a part of a Buddhist Zen Temple. This is the first step that goes beyond the diversity of religious tradition and places and hopes to send a message that will create a peaceful world through deeper cooperation amongst practitioners.
Kanazawa is also the birth city of Daisetsu Susuki, the philosopher who diffused Zen all over the world. Kanazawa will been recognized around the world as a Zen city.
The “Sekai Zen Center” was idealized by Abbot Azuma, who is a well-known researcher in Zen and also the ex-Provost of Komazawa University for Women. His life has been full of international activities teaching Zazen and lessons, and very importantly, founded a Temple in Italy. He felt a growing interests for Zen throughout his life, but not knowing anything about the reality of Practice in other countries, he decided to begin a reference point for international exchange. For now a list of Zen Temples and Teachers around the world is being drawn up to understand how much Zen has already been diffused. Azuma Jushoku would like that we learn more through gathering information.
According to Professor Keneeth Tanaka, docent at the University of Musashino, the number of Buddhist practitioners has grown 15 times over the past 40 years and claims that: “Buddhism is fascinating because it is a religion that awakens people, it is not a religion that which people must believe in. Buddhism may become the second religion of the world, overpassing Judaism”. Many people are attracted to Zen, amongst these people is Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, who recently passed away but practiced Zazen for many years.
The Daisetsu Suzuki Museum was opened in Kanazawa in 2011, many tourists from around the world come to visit is. The activity of the “Sekai Zen Center” will develop raising the amount of foreign visitors to Kanazawa. Azuma Jushoku said, “There is no excluded ideology, or an ideology that excludes others in Buddhism and in Zen, rather, as a peculiarity, universality goes beyond ethnic and ideological diversity. Though collaboration between people who believe in a tolerant and generous teaching such as that of Buddhism, I would like to take a step toward world peace.”
Asking someone who just returned from vacation in Egypt if he or she saw the Pyramids would seem like a superfluous question. Just the same, asking a tourist what he or she saw at Florence may have many given responses such as Giotto’s bell tower, Brunellschi’s dome and the Baptistery in the same piazza as the Dome. However, one may go to Florence also to find a reality that is not found in the touristic guides and the differences are very thought provoking. This is what happened to me during my recent visit to the Shinnyoji Zen Temple in Florence. I will momentarily leave out my reasons for going there. As soon as the GPS told me that we had arrived at our destination that should have been to the left, we get out of the car and find that the street numbering system on via Vittorio Emanuele II has changed and we have to look for where to go. I’m sure that nowadays we can asked anywhere in Florence, “Where is the Duomo?” and find the right directions, but “Where is the Zen Temple?” brings different results. We were sure that we had gone up and down the correct street, I texted a friend who knew the area and found out the the street continues beyond a piazza and we finally found the “new” street number that we were searching for and expected. We ring the bell and everything starts to change when Anna Maria Iten Shinnyo opens the door for us on the first floor. She invites us in with a hug and requests that we remove our shoes because in reality, we are entering a Temple. As a Catholic priest and docent of Sacred Scriptures, I felt the flash of change like Moses in front of the burning bush on Mount Sinai when also he was asked to remove his sandals “because the place in which you is holy ground!” (Exodus 3:5). Along with the incense that Anna Maria Iten Shinnyo lit as a welcoming sign, making us feel like relatives returning home from afar. I wanted to retell the story of the beginning of our visit like a parable. Whoever reads the pages of this newsletter know “the things” the we saw better than I, but doesn’t know, and even I am still trying to understand the “thing” I actually saw. Through the multicolored marble and architecture of Santa Maria del Fiore you see visible things. Here instead, is like seeing through invisible things. I realized that when you meditate in front of a white wall, the non-seeing through your eyes allows you to feel all of your body, beginning with the bell ringing that times the meditation. A look within, without a moment of exterior things being “as they seem”, I feel able to recount everything “according to their being.” In this way, I felt the small piece of a window to the world-garden as a symbol of uncovering everything “according to their nature.” At a time when many people are glad that the Catholic Church that I am a part of is becoming less and less visible in every way possible, including myself and along with some positive aspects, meditation here seems to remind me of popular religion of society, I can’t help but feel impressed by who searches, who offers and who follows an interior path searching for meaning. From what I have understood, many people have rang the bell here and have taken off their shoes at the Temple entrance.
Ringing the doorbell to the first floor may not seem like much in comparison to the splendor of other temples whether they are the Christian places of worship right here in Florence or other Buddhist temples in faraway places. Also ring a doorbell at the first floor and feeling the door being opened and welcomed by a familiar face is like a promise that every search will end in finding something. I believe in a Heavenly Father that “sees the secret and the secret will reveal itself”. (Matthew 6,4.6.18)
I was tired of the disappointment, delusions, the constant swirl of memories and plans for the future. I felt beaten down by my stressful job and fear of not being able to doing everything correctly and on time. I went a few weeks with a very turbulent mind, with lots of thoughts pushing between the past and future, these thoughts drew up emotions and feelings connected to events and people in my past and even created hypothetical emotions and feelings for future expectations and conjectures. One day I noticed this mess in my head. I knew that this wasn’t Zen practice and that I needed to make a more intimate effort in my practice in order to stay on my Path. I started to look at my impulses: Where do they come from? What intentions do they have? I concluded that they were all useless and did nothing but block my Path. I am now paying more attention to clearing my mind and truly living in the present because I have finally learned that it is the only way to wholly and harmoniously live with the Universe. In my search to cleanse my mind and stop distractions at their birth, I asked myself what is in my mind without the storm of thoughts. Thinking about this made me realize that deep down I’m very happy but have been too distracted to realize it earlier. There is no need to regurgitate memories nor plan the future how I want it to be. Everything is perfect as it is. I now find more joy at work, going shopping, driving my car. I more deeply recognize the value of the people in my life, those close and far away. Many months have passed since I moved away from Italy but our Teacher is next to me during every Zazen, she bows with me in sanpai and recites the Sutra with me. Thank you Teacher for your efforts in supporting me in my practice and your faith in me even through our physical distance and the nine hour time zone difference between us. I can feel my practice growing and manifesting itself in my everyday life, it is more and more beautiful.
As you have noticed, I have been absent for a long time. It’s hard for me to summarize the reasons why I haven’t been to the Temple. I’ve been unemployed for a year now, since then my energy and motivation has died down. A year in which my apathy and discomfort have taken over. It’s as if I’m blocked, with a broken motor. I have been feeling angry, suffering like never before and helpless to do anything about it. Little by little I am now beginning to see a small light. I let things happen, good or bad, whatever they are. I have fought 11 months against the windmills.
I have now understood that it’s better to let them turn and that I should turn my direction elsewhere, taking on strength and joy of being. I would like to make it clear that not a moment has gone by where I forgot about the Sangha, never. I treasure the memory of your kindness and your smiles. I hope that soon even my smile will return as soon as possible and that we will see each other again and to come back and practice with you again. I’m in a little windmill, not going anywhere. But I know that soon mucky water will clear up soon. You are in my heart. Take care
It’s an immense joy to be a student of Shinnyo Roshi. I thank the Patriarchs and the destiny that allowed this to happen, in the infinite variables of rebirth, to be here along with her. My Teacher, without any imposizione, has transmitted to me the desire and will to become a better person; not better for me, but better for those around me. Shinnyo Roshi helped me understand what it means to be a Bodhisattva. Why we need to reach the other shore, and then turning around you seen many people who need you?
When I walked on my Path I faced the sunny side of my conscious in search of a reassuring map, some directions or simply some friends. The loneliness of the journey scared me and made me more and more unsure of the road that I could barely make out. In the end good Karma lead me upon a good road, I met true friends, an affectionate guide and three inestimabili Treasures.
I tiring journey has taken me a long way, or closer- I can’t say exactly, but it has certainly moved me, beaten and dragged within. It has lead me to see unexpected and passionate landscapes. Slowly the time passed, without even noticing that it was evening, the sun began to set and the sunset fascinated me more and more. Its colors painted upon the valleys and the surrounding mountains, the sea reflected the mysterious peace of nighttime, a stillness that I didn’t know but all in all called me from a past without time.
The first star of the evening, silence wraps the end of my Path and my mind, I stop. I no longer need to tire myself wandering, desperately in search of something, I have everything I need within myself, I’ve always had it. I sit in Zazen, everything around me is still. The noise of the day is far away and the frenzy slowly passes. A breeze of wind, the sound of the lunare world, slowly I awake to the nocturnal life. I blow with the wind, I sing with the owls and grow with the soil… in an instant the Earth has begun to sing and the owl sustains the wind.
We don’t go towards a goal.
We transform the goal into a walk and since the transformation is year-long, the walk doesn’t stop and doesn’t repeat itself. The goal turns into a walk: we will never arrive, every step is only that step and then you take another.
The Path that we are now taking for the first time, alone, is also made of the infinite steps of who has walked ahead of us.
We can feel it, the sound of those steps, they are with us and guide us like music.
We can listen to it in many different ways: in writings, in Sutra, in stories, in rituals, in precepts, in the vows.
THE BODHIDHARMA ZENChapter IV - The Awakening Sermon
In every Sutra, the Buddha teaches mortals that they can reach Illumination through doing meritorious works such as establish a monastery, raise statues, burn incense, disperse flowers, light eternal lamps, practice in all six periods (91) of the day and night, walk around a Stupa (92), respect fasting and venerate. However, if observation of the mind includes all other practices, then this work seems redundant.
The Sutras of the Buddha contain innumerable metaphors. Since mortals have superficial minds and do not deeply understand anything, the Buddha uses the tangible in order to represent the sublime. Those who are trying to obtain a blessing through concentrating upon external works rather than upon internal cultivation are attempting the impossible.
What you call monastery we call Sangharama, pure place. But anyone who denies the entrance to the three poisons and keeps the gates of their senses pure, their body and mind still, internal and external clean, builds a monastery.
Raising statues refers to all practices cultivated by those who seek Illumination. The sublime form of the Tathagata cannot be represented in metal. Those who seek Illumination see their bodies like an oven, the Dharma is like the fire, wisdom like the craftsman and the three series of Precepts and six Paramitas are the mold.
They fondano and affinano the true Buddha Nature within themselves and pour it into the mold shaped by the regulations of discipline. Acting perfectly align with the Buddha’s Teaching naturally creates a perfectly likeness. The eternal, sublime body is not a condition or decadence. If you research the Truth but never learn how to create true likeness, what will you use in its place?
Burning incense does not refer to ordinary material incense, but rather, to the incense of the intangible Dharma that distances itself from the impure. (93). First it is the incense of mortality meaning to renounce the bad and cultivate virtue. The second is meditation incense meaning to deeply believe in the Maahayana with indestructable determination. The third is wisdom incense, meaning to contemplate the body and mind, inside and out. The fourth is liberation incense, meaning to break ties with ignorance. Finally, the fifth is perfect awareness incense meaning to be always aware and not obstructed by anything. These are the five most precious types of incense of the great superior place that the world has to offer to anyone.
When the Buddha was on Earth, he said to his disciples to light such precious incense with the fire of awareness in offering to the Buddha and Ten Directions. But today people do not understand the real significance of the Tathagata. They use an ordinary flame to light material incense made of sandalwood or frankincense and they pray for some future blessing they will never achieve.
The same goes for dispersing flowers. It refers to speaking about the Dharma, dispersing flowers of virtue in hopes of benefiting others and glorifying the true self. These flowers of virtue are praised by the Buddha. They last forever and never wilt. And whoever disperses these flowers gathers infinite blessings. If you think that the Tathagata means that people should damage flowers by cutting them, you are wrong.
How can they let hoped-for blessings transform into pain? The eternal lamp represents awareness. Comparing awareness to this lamp, those who seek freedom see their bodies as the lamp, their minds like the wick, the addition of discipline like oil, and the power of wisdom like the flame. Lighting this lamp of perfect wisdom dissipates eery shadow and illusion. Those who pass this Dharma along to others are capable of using a lamp to light may other lamps. Since these lamps in the same way light innumerable other lamps, their lights lasts an eternity.
(91) Six Periods. Morning, noon, afternoon, evening, midnight, and predawn.
(92) A stupa is a mound of earth or any structure errected over the remains, relics, or scriptures of a buddha. Walking around stupas is done in a clockwise direction, with the right shoulder always pointed toward the stupa.
(93) Five kinds of... incense. These correspond to the five attributes of a tathagatha’s body.
The Parable of the Burning Building
A great man had a great house. The house, since it was old, was in a state of collapse: the halls were lofty and precarious, the bases of the pillars crumbling and rotten, the beams and ridgepoles aslant, the stairways and landings disintegrating, the walls and partititions cracked, the clay and paint peeling off, the thatch worn thin and in disarray, the rafters and eavepoles coming loose, totally misshapen, and full of assorted filth. Kites, owls, and eagles; crows, magpies, pigeons, and doves; newts, snakes, vipers, and gribbles; centipedes and millipedes; lizards and myriopods; weasels, badgers, and mice milled back and forth in a crisscross. Places stinking of feces and urine overflowed with their filth, with may-bugs and maggots clustered on them. Here and there and all about were ghosts and demons, poisonous insects, and other malignant birds and beasts. This old and decayed house belonged to one man. The man had gone a short distance from the house when, before he had been gone very long, in the rear rooms suddenly a fire broke out, from all four sides at once, raging in flame. The ridegepoles and beams, the rafters and pillars, shaking and cracking broke asunder and fell, while the walls and partitions collapsed. The ghosts and demons raised their voices in a scream. The malignant beasts and poisonous insects milled about in a panic, unable to get out. Stinking smoke, with its foul odor, filled the place on all four sides. In this way that house was extremely frightening, with calamities, conflagrations, and many other troubles occurring all at once. At that time the householder, standing outside the door, heard someone say, "Your children a while ago, in play, entered this house. Being little and knowing nothing, they are enjoying themselves and clinging to their amusements." Having heard this, the great man entered the burning house in alarm, to save them from the catastrophe of burning. He coaxed his children, explaining the many calamities: the demons, insects, snakes, foxes and dogs. "This is a woeful and troublesome place; how much the more so with a great fire!" The children, knowing nothing, though they heard their father's admonitions, were still addicted as before to their pleasures and amused themselves ceaselessly. The great man thought to himself, "This house has not one pleasant feature, yet the children, steeped in their games, and not heeding my instructions, will surely be injured by the fire." Then straightaway, intentionally devising a lie, he announced to the children, "I have various precious playthings, one for each of you, here outside the door. For one, a goat-drawn cart. For one, a deer-drawn cart. For one, an ox-drawn cart. Come out, all of you! For your sakes I have made these carts, following the desire of your own thoughts." When the children heard him tell of carts such as these, racing one another, they ran out of the house, reaching an open place, far from woes and troubles. The great man, seeing his children able to get out of the burning house, sat down and joyfully said to himself, "Now I am happy! These children were very hard to bring into the world and raise. Addicted to their games, they were in danger of great calamity. But now I have saved them, enabling them to escape trouble." At that time the children went before their father and addressed him, saying, "We beg you to give us the three kinds of carts that your promised us a while ago, saying, 'Children, come out! I have three kinds of carts in accordance with your wishes.' Now is the right time. Please give them to us!" The great man, being very rich, and having treasure houses filled with gold and silver, giant clam shells and agate, had a sumptuous carriage built, decked with ornaments, surrounded with handrails and shielding, with little bells hanging from all four sides and golden cords intertwined; with pearl-studded netting stretched out over the top, and gold-flowered tassles dangling here and there; with soft and fine silk and cotton made into cushions; with superbly fine mats, their value in the thousands, pure white and spotlessly clean; with great white oxen, fat, and in the prime of life, and endowed with great strength, their physical form lovely, yoked to the jeweled carriage. The children danced for joy, and climbing up on the carriage, they cavorted in the four directions, playing and enjoying themselves, forgetting all about the carts their father had promised them to bring them from the burning house. I tell you, I, too, am like this. All the living beings, all my children, are profoundly addicted to worldly pleasure and have no wise thoughts. The world is just like a house afire, being full of many woes most frightful, constantly marked by birth, old age, sickness, death, and cares -- fires such as these, raging without cease. But the Buddha, having already left the burning house, is quiet and unperturbed, dwelling securely in forest and field. Even though I teach and command, my children neither believe nor accept. So addicted are they to their tainting desires that I, by resort to expedient means, preach the three vehicles.
THOUGHTS ON SUFFERING
Today “suffering” is a word that has almost become taboo, in the hedonistic and consumer society to suffer is something to be forgotten, we are ashamed to admit to it and oftentimes suffering contraddistingue every step of our existence, it suffocates our lives. We become cynical, every serene vision of existence, comes less often, we live “grinding our teeth” in a sort of surrogate life, and joy is a mirage, like a gaze or poetry reading. Suffering causes us to close up in ourselves, finding palliativo that can offer us the slightest pseudo-aim to move forward. We criticize with astio, envy, incapable of seeing who is right in front of us, incapable of hearing other people, they go according the circumstances and people suffering. The world is evil, life sucks. These are more or less the thoughts and opinions of many people in my life, acquaintances, work colleagues and even some friends.
Sometimes people come to me to understand, sometimes to ask, and often to prove that I do not suffer very much, they doubt me, oftentimes calling me a hedonist or simply someone who lives superficially and has never grown up and has never experienced the true suffering of an “adult”, who is lucky…
I have been thinking about this recently, once again, it seems that suffering is the “description” of our existence, but not because we want to be redeemed from a burdensome sin, but rather, because we no longer “know” that we are “ignorant”. I’m saying this with peace and serenity and at the same time, with strong conviction to overcome it and go beyond; I hear a voice telling me that life offers something beautiful and fascinating and should be heard, lived and felt… This is the “Smile” that I carry and live within myself, and try to offer. I have been following the Zen way for many years, I’m not sure if I’m following it “correctly”, but I know that taking awareness of what is suffering, let’s say, ontological suffering of existence thinking that everyone else in society
Seguo la Via dello Zen da non pochi anni, non so se lo faccio ‘correttamente’ so che prendendo coscienza di what exactly is suffering, meaning the ontology of our existence in which all the superfluity that our society can give us would make us live easier, I can see the effects of my training in the meanders of my pondering mind, my fears. I remember particularly well an incisive and clear teaching from our Teacher Shinnyo Roshi on the Four Noble Truths, on the Eight Fold Noble Path that has given me so much comfort and above all a “new” incedere in everyday life, it supports me through suffering, I take its strength to resist “slipping” down a few steps, I turn to this teaching to find continuous and replenishing awareness and security of not being alone.
Suffering and restlessness are still with me, but at the same time I’m able to transform them, nearly transform them into something positive or more or less harmless, in some ways I suffer in a smaller area… I dare to say that I learned to live a little better thanks to Zen and I would consider it poetry that I really love, I believe that for many aspects they are a one single thing... This doesn’t mean that I don’t suffer, I suffer and sometimes it’s the “suffering of the world” that suffocates me, I feel it weigh on my like a permeating and dense unhappiness, I suffer because hardships in my friends and loved ones, because I can’t always offer anything to help others that I know from suffering…
In all of this suffering there is also joy in knowing, the joy of living the Zen Life.
Thank you Roshi for the gift of teaching.
A friend who practices with me told me a few days ago: “You can’t sit without living”.
I am living: an everyday chaos full of responsibilities and irresponsibility.
Even if our Practice itself is healthy, even more so is the heart to mind closeness of my Teacher that allows me to accept a load greater than myself: an emotional and painful load that I welcome without a filter, with the empathy that I have tried to hide from myself and others and is possibly a part of the Buddhahood that undoubtedly connects me to my Means and all of the Buddhas in space and time.
As always, I have received so much…
Thank you, Teacher
I came back to the Temple this summer in July after many months of absence due to work and of course I found a few changes, but the Sangha was the just as compact, One, as before. Even though I’m not the perfect example of Zen I found comfort and strength knowing that life at the Temple continued normally.
When I finally got to come back, it was like coming home. So I would like to thank not only the Teacher, but also each member of the Sangha, thanks to them, practice can continue and whomever want to return, or begin their practice, can do it peacefully.
Thank you, because the thought of you meditating in Florence has truly helped me.
Writing from a touring group of Dutch Zen Renzai practitioners, disciples of Rients Ranzen Ritskes Roshi who has been to many places including the Lama Institute Tzong Khapa in Pomaia and a “Yoga Factory”, not to mention our Shinnyoji Temple during the Zazenkai on May 11, 2013.
On our last day in Italy (May 11th, 2013) we visited the Shinnyoji Temple with its Sangha during a Zazenkai retreat, it was incredible to see that they moved the date for the retreat from Sunday to Saturday just so we could participate. Some of us stayed up very late the night before and getting up early to go to Shinnyoji the morning after was very challenging for some of us. Once we arrived at the Temple, we were warmly welcomed and even though we felt like a disorganized group that was interrupting a day dedicated to silence, each one of us tried to keep it that way, it was lovely. We did our best during the four sessions of meditation that lasted 40 minutes each. There were two new things for us: 1. staying still while looking at the wall, which is a difference between the Sōtō School and Rinzai School. 2. The length of the meditation sessions: 40 minutes when we practice for 20. We did Kin-hin in the middle of each session, it was a calm and slow experience with lots of concentration. After a brief intermission, Roshi Iten Shinnyo welcomed us into her room for a private interview. She expressed profound respect for studying the Koans and emphasized its importance to her and to the Sangha with continuing the Japanese tradition.
Lunch was served in the Zendo in silence. The service was an interesting ritual, we payed a lot of attention. Cleaning the cups wasn’t clear to many of us in the beginning, so many of us ate too soon the piece of cucumber that was meant to help clean the cup. We tried to do our best to follow the Sangha’s ritual!
That afternoon, after the Samu and a bit of rest, Shinnyo Roshi held a very interesting Teisho about her recent pilgrimage to Shikoku. It was like a little vacation for us to be reminded and remember those places, we went to Shikoku in 2008.
We would like to thank Roshi Iten Shinnyo and the Sangha from the depth of our hearts for the wonderful hospitality offer to the Dutch visitors.
Take care and I hope to stay in touch, hopefully you will come visit us in Holland.
Bettina, Desire, Marjan, Maria, Leen, Hans, Ed, Stef e Peter
INTIMACY IN PRACTICE
Tuesday morning the alarm went off at 5:15 a.m.
I’m returning to practicing at the Temple after a brief summer break.
The Shinnyoji Sangha returns to taking care of the usual openings for meditation, as I am maintaining the responsibilities assigned to me: to guarantee that the Temple will be open every Tuesday morning at 6:30.
I arrived at the Temple alone, ignoring the fact that someone else might come join me sitting forty minutes in Zazen, as I sometimes do.
This arrival is a comforting point in my practice, sometimes still half-asleep, in the obscurity of the Temple, lighting the candles, opening the window shutters, putting on my robe, warming up water for the morning ritual offering to the Buddha, openly waiting in silence for someone who would like to sit in Zazen.
Opening the back windows gives me a glimpse of the yard that, even though it’s not perfectly tended, still reflects a being in resonance with the Temple.
Sometimes a neighbor’s cat slyly comes by as if asking, from whiskers to tail, the right to come in. Most of the time he scornfully peeks in from outside through the mosquito net.
After some time has passed, these actions done in silence have deepened inside of me, becoming a part of my body’s memory. Automatic and at the same time aware, they give me an immediate image of my interior and bodily state at that moment.
The same goes with the sound of the Moppan that I play with a wooden hammer before entering, it helps me waken up, but at the same time it builds a sort of sound bubble that leads me to the Zafu and takes me into Zazen. There is peace in the morning, a sense of warmth and protection.
Something velvety that protects and and smoothens the sharp corners of weariness and sleepiness that are without a doubt are always present. Something that, while the candles behind me burn with the incense, protect and guards my slow descent toward the mind that is growing and emptying.
All the while around me, small noises around the Temple clutter up in the background, also the thousand muscle and joint pain and tension tone down into a flow of micro-movement impulses, gathered and calmed by breath. Fighting every now and then with tempting sleepiness, trying to erode my Zazen, risking diluting it into an absent trance, I welcome the continuation of the city sounds that slowly reawaken, the church bells from the crest of Montughi, or the computerized voice announcing that the bus doors are opening, the bus stop making the windows vibrate. Everything is perfect as it is, daily or special, ordinary or magical, irrelevant and significant, in my close distance of that moment. I’m still wrapped up in the semi-darkeness of Shinnyoji. My time perception resurfaces, I ring the bell, my recitation of Tekkesa, sang with a raspy voice first disturbing, but then holding the Zendo. The Rakusu hung around my neck, the little symphony of the pain of getting up and moving plays, I ambitiously walk in silence toward the Moppan that this time is played with softer and more intimate beats from my hand that is searching for harmony. I then remember to wait before leaving, before abandoning the attractive intimacy of the place.
Intimacy with myself. Confidence with my perfect imperfection. Adapt but could get better, deeper
Intimacy with the Temple, my Temple, my Sangha’s Temple, my Teacher’s Temple. With my Teacher. Reciprocal awareness, in Shinnyoji.
Tiredness, embarrassment, difficulties, incapabilities, errors, fear of ourselves, fear of me: all elements that are diluting through years of practice, and have constituted an interwoven intimacy with the Temple. The Temple now welcomes me, and I welcome it more and more, more naturally.
I enter and calm down. My rush calms down, my everyday hurry, it dilutes the anxiety, beckoning worries, recent inner wounds that are painful and sometimes make me doubt my ability to to keep up my responsibilities, assignments, or even keep me sitting in meditation. At the end of morning practice, whether it be Friday evenings or a retreat, I find myself different, sometimes tired, but settled at Shinnyoji.
Sometimes it’s difficult to leave, going toward everyday activities of life, something keeps me there a little longer, slowing down to fix something or preparing something for the next person. This interwoven fabric, this difference perception of the Temple, happens slowly through time, with Practice, until becoming perceivable. And today, I feel resonance in the compactness and in the harmony present in the Shinnyoji Sangha, also in the behavior and moods of each single component.
My brothers of the Temple.
What is the heart? What is the path? In the chirping of the swallows. In a fresh breath during a warm day. Under the autumn rain. Thank you so much!
It’s wishes for the best summer! I hope to send my warmest wishes to the Teacher and her daughter Ambra.
Hands in Gasshō
Ismo / Shinkō
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 7TH, 2013
I came closer to Buddhism when I was about 19 years old as a practitioner of the Nichiren School and became an official member with Gojukai when I was 22, on November 6th, 1990. After another decade, I went into a stressful crisis and everything collapsed, or at least almost everything. It is this “almost everything” that made the difference in the next decade, bringing me through a solitary path with Nichiren, “watching myself internally”, reading and listening to teachers from other Traditions. A constant escalation: every year a little higher, more often, until I found myself again practicing everyday for a year, this was autumn of 2012. One beautiful day, through practice, I “realized” (because saying would lose meaning) that both the Tendai and Zen Schools have struck me, the moment had arrived to take another path, Zen clearly “came out” to me. I looked for somewhere to practice, a temple, I didn’t really know what I was looking for or where, and what do I find? “My goodness, it’s right here in Florence!” I arrived on a day when the Temple was going to closed, but there are a few ordained practitioners there.
I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, I “felt” that it had to be there, like on the other hand I “felt” the Teacher, even though my heavy adversary armor towards bowing and touching my head on the floor. This was my next experience: bowing to the floor and receiving the Buddha into my own hands, it was fundamental to do it with myself, it was fundamental to do it for myself, not only a form of respect toward embracing my new practice, clearly there were somethings that I already knew, it was never interiorized, never done, with myself, also because bowing to the floor in Nichiren practice didn’t exist and it seem very uncomfortable to do. This is how I perceived it before changing, a change which was greatly guided by the Teacher, of whom I am very grateful. Since then Zen practice has become a “one in one” with Nichiren and not anything more, interchangeable, nor anything dualistic, seen as two practices travelling on parallel lines. Absolutely not, nothing like this.
Once during my five day stay at the Berceto Monastery (PR) during the sumer, I third experience happened, this time I helped a girl who wanted to leave after a day and a half... I felt obliged to help her, this was the moment to act, I felt like a disciple of the Daishonin. During the third day at the Monastery in the one of the many (and always more welcomed) sittings in Zazen, “I realized” (even here saying it makes it lose its meaning) that wearing the Samu-e was the next step, the “right” thing to do. I even had doubted asking if I could wear one because I wasn’t ordained, I told myself. But I bought one and wore it, I returned to Zazen, the interior earthquake hasn’t yet ended. I send my warm wishes to the Sangha, in the Zendo, I simply say, “Thanks to everyone for being here... thanks for your support”
I see suffering around me, I feel suffering within myself, every person is the cause of his or her own suffering. We must take responsibility for it, take the reigns of ourselves, watch our personal limits, overcome them with more and more determination and serenity, the Teacher never gets tired of showing the way and firmly following it, open up our eyes, let’s move forward!
Our Teacher Shinnyo Roshi visited Finland from 11-17 August, the first step after being nominated European Director for the Sekai Zen Senta - WZC “The World Zen Center” by her Teacher, Rev. Ryushin Azuma Docho Roshi Abbot of Daijoji.
During her stay, Shinnyo Roshi was invited to the Lammi Dōjō by Teacher Karen Terzano from Ordinary Mind School, founded by Charlotte Joko Beck (1917-2011), and by Ismo’s Sangha. In the follow days, Shinnyo Roshi also met practitioners from the Zen Dōjō in Jyväskylä and from other Traditions from Tibetan Buddhist School, Vipassana, and the Rinzai Zen School. Ismo was ordained Bodhisatta by Shinnyoji in September 2010 with the Dharma name Shinkō, he has always followed the Teacher with love and enthusiasm, he offered to host her and her family, the Teacher is especially grateful for this experience.
I had an incredible guest this August, Teacher Shinnyo Anna Maria came to visit me. We spent splendid week together. I had the opportunity to show her a bit around Helsinki. We visited the Zen Center called Ordinary Mind at Lammi where Shinnyo met my current Zen Teacher, Karen Terzano and many friends belonging to my Sangha. We even stayed a few days in Jyväskylä, where I introduced my daughters to Teacher Shinnyo at my favorite coffeehouse as well as some other places that are spiritually special to me. All in all, what I would like to write about is not the external events that were fantastic, but rather, about the feelings the reawakened in me this week as a Zen student and human being.
I was very surprised when Teacher Shinnyo asked if she could come visit me in Finland. I had a great experience in Florence and practiced seriously. I was even thinking about becoming a monk, even if in the end I changed my mind. My path was not easy. I rebelled a lot and not being able to adapt my ideals was painful. I left the Shinnyoji Temple many times and was afraid that the Teacher and Sangha didn’t like me anymore and were angry with me. Even though Teacher Shinnyo always replied to my emails with love and compassion, I still felt a little scared inside. Maybe I was just afraid to explain my situation and my fears, anger, and the things about me that oppose our practice.
Anyway, when Teacher Shinnyo wrote to me asking if I she could come and visit me and see my family, I said that she was more than welcome. This was an opportunity for us to talk and for me to open my heart about certain things that I have not said. I understood that she really cares about me, and I now have the chance to show her how important she is to me.
A year ago I stopped practicing for a couple months. This was a miserable time. I was sad and angry, I was afraid of a lot of things and very depressed. I then started practicing again and in the Spring I met a group of people from the Ordinary Mind Sangha. I also met their Teacher, Karen Terzano. During that time, my relationship with Ordinary Mind deepened to the point where I started to consider Karen my current Teacher. I was very moved by the fact that Teacher Shinnyo was eager to meet my new Teacher and the Ordinary Mind Sangha. I was especially happy that the two teachers seemed to get along so well, they made friends. It was a unifying experience - I was there with all of my fears, hopes, and dreams, with my anxiety - and I felt like I was accepted just as I was. Teacher Shinnyo was there to help me on my path, it didn’t matter if it continued with the Ordinary Mind, wherever or anywhere. To have felt this acceptance was a great event and I still feel deep affection for Teacher Shinnyo and all of my friends in Florence. All is One, really.
There are a lot of things that we can change about ourselves, in others and in the world. We sometimes take pictures of how we could like things to be and therefore we suffer when we are not capable of inserting ourselves in those images. What I have learned from my beloved Teacher’s visit is that this is ok. There are things that we cannot change. All in all, I also learned how to open up, with honesty and love, we can encounter acceptance with these these. The compassionate heart can overcome fear and find the true love that helps up accept life as it is. And for a friend moment we are able to see things as they are without fear. I have also understood what it is to be loved and accepted as one is and that makes it easier to love and accept others. However, I also learned that if I am not honest, if I am not what I would like to be, I am not allowing others to accept me as I am.
I consider Teacher Shinnyo’s visit a great gift. It deepened our relationship and made it stronger and truer. I feel that Teacher Shinnyo is not only my teacher, but also a friend. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don’t - and this is fine. What is important to me is that we have found each other in this life and that we have the chance to know our subtle, strong, and beautiful traits in life. I believe that life is established on love. The Buddha Nature - if we want to use this term - is everywhere and pervades everything. Sometimes we are happy, sometimes we are angry, sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry - this is ok.
I hope that all is well in Florence. Hugs to everyone of you! I hope to have the chance to see you again soon!
Pictures from our Teacher Iten Shinnyo Roshi’s trip to Findland
The Zendo in the Dōjō in Lammi
The sleeping quarters at Dōjō
Island of Sommeline
Cathedral of Helsinki
Lisa Tenshin, practitioner at Shinnyoji came back to practice with her Teacher and Sangha during her vacation from September 12-22nd.
Waterfall near Seattle
September 2013 – evening Zazen before Tenshin’s departure
Today, in the silence of the silence of the Zendo, Tenshin’s young and fresh hand knew how to touch the walls of the bell with infinite grace.
I was deeply struck by such perfection. Three deep rings, intense, warm, overflowing with the spirit of awakening. You can’t just ring a bell like this by chance. I was another confirmation of the strength of the Path in our hands, firm and secure, of our Teacher Shinnyo Roshi.
Our Teacher Iten Shinnyo attended - as an international guest invited by the Rev. Matsuura Shukai Kanshu, Abboey of the Mibudera Temple in Kyoto - the Goonki Ceremony of the Jianzhen Patriarch (688dC-763) in Japan, Ganjin Wajō, Founder of the Buddhist Ritsu School in the Tōshōdai-ji Temple in Nara on June 6th to celebrate the 1250th anniversary of his death. At the end of the solemn Gooki ceremony, all of the Abbots attendees gathered in the Hondō Room, therefore including our Teacher, and offered incense at the main altar. After the traditional Ceremony, a new polychrome wooden statue of Ganjiin Wajō was placed in the small temple inside the Tōshōdai-ji garden to replace the old one that was partially damaged from a fire. The new statue, transported from the support of a chair by the monks was accompanied by a group of religious members and followers as well as ritual musicians and dancers belonging to the Tōshōdai-ji monastery which is accessible to followers and the public only once a year for the annual ceremony for the death of Ganhin Wajō.
On this special day, the Rev. Matsuura Shunkai Kanshu gave Teacher Iten Shinnyo a wooden sculpture representing Jianzhen - Ganjhin Wazō, given to him from a famous sculpture from Kyoto, which can now be seen in our Shinnyoji Temple on the Patriarchal altar.
Ode written in 1874 by Giosuè Carducci (July 27 1935 - February 16 1907) a part of the collection, New Rhymes. In 1906 The Academy of Sweden awarded him the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first Italian to win this award.
Before San Guido, by G. Carducci
Translation by G.L. Bickersteth
Before San Guido
The cypresses, which still to Bolgheri run stately
And tall from San Guido in a double file,
Like a band of youthful giants, came, sedately
Bowing, to meet me, and gazed at me awhile.
Soon they recognised me, and their tall heads bending,
'So you have returned', softly murmured they;
'Why not stay here, your weary journey ending?
For the eve is cool, and well you know the way.
'Oh, sit you here, our fragrant boughs above you,
Where the west wind from the sea your cheek can touch!
Spite of the stones you used to throw at us we love you
Just the same as ever; oh, they never hurt us much.
'Why rush on so quickly when you hear us crying?
The nightingale still in our branches builds his nest;
Still may you see the sparrows round us flying
In the gathering twilight. Oh, stay with us and rest!'
'Darling little cypresses, cypresses beloved,
In happy bygone days the truest friends I had,'
Gazing, I answered, 'I hear you not unmoved:
How glad would I be to stay with you--how glad!
'But, cypresses, old comrades, that chapter is completed:
Boyhood's days are over: you must let me go!
Have you never heard? - well, think me not conceited,
But--I am to-day a celebrity, you know.
'Greek I can read, in Latin I am fluent,
My mind is stored with knowledge, and I write and write:
O cypresses, from school I no longer play the truant,
No longer throw stones, for I should not deem it right--
'Not at trees at least.' Throu all the tree-tops rocking,
As doubting of my answer, a murmur seemed to run,
And their dark green depths flushed rosy with a mocking
Radiance cast upon them by the setting sun.
Ah, then I knew I was gazed on with compassion
By the sun and cypresses, and I soon began
To hear words mingle with the murmur in this fashion:
'Yes, we knew it well: you're a poor deluded man.
'Yes, we knew it well; for the wind, who is so clever
At catching mortals' sighs, has told us all the truth,
How within your breast conflicting passions ever
Burn, which you cannot and know not how to soothe.
'Here to the oaks and to us you may at leisure
Recount your human sadness, all the woes of men.
Peaceful lies the ocean, one sheet of living azure,
Smiling the sun dips down to it again.
'See how the birds thro' the dusk their flight are winging!
The sparrows twitter cheerfully, now the day is done;
At nightfall you shall hear the nightingales singing:
Rest, and bid the evil phantoms all begone!
'Those evil phantoms, raised by gloomy fancies
From the heart's black depths, which confuse your way,
Like a will-o'-the-wisp that in a graveyard dances
Before the traveller's eyes, leading him astray.
'Rest, and to-morrow, when the sun is high in heaven,
When in the oak-tree shade the horses meet,
And all around you the silent plain is given
Up to noonday slumber in the shimmering heat,
'We will bid the murmuring breezes softly kiss you,
Which make eternal music 'twixt the earth and sky:
Forth from the elm-trees there the nymphs shall issue
And with their white veils fan you dreamily:
'And Pan, the eternal, who wanders solitary,
On the heights at noonday or through the lonely plain
The discord, O mortal, of your cares shall bury
In harmony divine, and give you peace again.'
And I: 'Far away across the mountains yonder
My Tittì, my daughter, is waiting: let me go!
Sparrow-like she may be, but you must not wonder
If her little frocks do not, like feathers, grow.
'Nor will cypress berries her tiny body fatten:
Whilst I 'gainst the methods of Manzonians rebel,
Who each on the produce of four salaries batten:
Farewell, my cypresses! Sweet Tuscan plain, farewell!
'To the graveyard then must we bear your sad confession,
Where your Granny lieth?' And they flitted past,
Seeming like a black funereal procession,
Muttering as they hastened ever faster and more fast.
Then on the hill-top from the cemetery,
Coming down the green path, again I seemed to see a
Figure 'neath the cypresses, very tall and very
Stately, dressed in black, my grandmother Lucia.
The lady Lucia, with silver tresses plaited
Neatly o'er her forehead, how softly she could croon
The Tuscan dialect, not the emasculated
Manzonian jargon of the Florentine buffoon.
The pure Versilian accent from her lips descended
With a mournful music, that still my memory haunts,
All its strength and sweetness exquisitely blended
Like the sirventesi sung in old Provence.
Oh, Granny, Granny, I thought it all so pretty
When I was a baby! Oh, tell it me again;
Tell this man grown worldly-wise the ancient ditty
Of her who sought her lost love thro' the world in vain.
'I have worn to nothing in my weary going
Seven pairs of iron shoes that naught could break: I have worn out seven staves of iron, bowing My tired body o'er them, while search for thee I make
'Seven flasks of tears have I filled to overflowing In seven years of bitter weeping for thy sake; Yet thou sleepest on, and the cock is crowing, Deaf to my despairing cries, thou wilt not wake.'
Granny, how pretty and how true the tale appears
Even now to me! Why, it is exactly so!
And that which I have sought thro' so many, many years
From sunrise to sunset perhaps is here, below
These cypresses, where now I can never hope to wander,
Never dream again of resting in the shade:
It is perhaps, Granny, in the cemetery yonder,
'Mid those other cypresses up there, where you are laid.
Panting the train swept onward, never staying,
While in my heart I wept thus bitterly;
And a troop of young colts galloped towards us neighing
Joyously, the cause of all the din to see.
But an old grey donkey, who on a purple thistle
Was grazing close beside me, seemed no interest to feel;
Never deigned to look when he heard the engine whistle,
But gravely and slowly proceeded with his meal.
Iten Shinnyo Roshi was in Japan from June 3-18 staying at the Daijoji Temple along with three Practitioners from Shinnyoji to meet and practice along with her Teacher, Rev. Azuma Docho Roshi. During their stay, Azuma Docho Roshi inaugurated the Sekai Zen Senta on June 9th and held three Teishos on the Zazenji by Mammadova and Prof. Preining. The Shinnyoji practitioners dedicated long hours of practice and Teacher Shinnyo Roshi also held the role of Doshi officiating the Chōka Ceremony in the Sutra Room- Hatta. Friday June 14, Iten Shinnyo Roshi along with her followers, and Aida went on a hiking trip guided by Norbert Perining to admire the Akusan mountains that were at this time inaccessible due to snow. This is considered a sacred mountain to the Daijoji monks and citizens of this region because it was the destination for Dōgen Zenji’s and Tutsu Gikai Zenji’s (the founder of Daijoji) pilgrimages. Every October the monks of Daijoji repeat this pilgrimage, finishing it by reciting the Sutra at the peak of the mountain.
Rev. Azuma Docho Roshi walking on the Sea of Japan beach at sunset.
Hannya Shingyo in front of the sacred Mount Akusan
Teacher Shinnyo Roshi during the Chōka Ceremony at Daijoji
Three months have passed since our stay at Daijoji and I must say that the echo of that experience still reverberates within me. I have contemplated those days many times since then trying to understand the experience that place has given me, I only now begin to understand more clearly. The intense practice we did certainly accelerated a motor that was already running inside of me, pushing my life to a certain direction and contributed to making my intentions clearer, blossoming consciousness.
Three months have passed since our stay at Daijoji and I must say that the echo of that experience still reverberates within me. I have contemplated those days many times since then trying to understand the experience that place has given me, I only now begin to understand more clearly. The intense practice we did certainly accelerated a motor that was already running inside of me, pushing my life to a certain direction and contributed to making my intentions clearer, blossoming consciousness.
I remember the morning meditation being my favorite part, as soon as you wake up in that historic place with the ring of bells and drums, secular sounds, an indescribable experience. Even the lectures that Docho Roshi gave about the Shōbōgenzō were very beautiful, illuminating and useful. His lesson on the Zazen posture substantially changed my way of sitting, which quickly helped me withstand the long morning meditation.
Even the Samu was a very very intense experience. It was a way to see every part of the Temple: rooms, beautiful halls that were truly national treasures, and just through the eyes of a simple visitor: cleaning, working allowed a truer and more intimate contact with these places.
Regarding the “experience”, the practice in Japan ended during the return flight in the plane where I had the chance to talk with the Maestro in a way that I never had the chance to at Daijoji. I remember it as one of the most important moments of the trip because I had a way to warmly express what accumulated in me during those extraordinary ten days.
Sesshin June 28-29-30
Zazenkai July 28
Zazenkai August 31
Sesshin September 13-14-15
Friday June 28 - Friday July 12 - Saturday August 31- Sunday September 15
Picutres by Fabio Daishin and Lisa Tenshin
English translation by Lisa Tenshin
Redazione a cura di Giancarlo Shinkai
We hope to see you at the next edition of EkiZen
Calendar of meetings for Practice:
Zazen – Three meetings per week: Monday evening from 8:00 to 10:00, Tuesday mornings from 6:30 to 7:30, Friday evening from 8:00 to 9:30.
Zazen – One Sunday per month from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Zazen – One weekend per month from Friday evening at 8:00 to 2:00 Sunday afternoon.
The program for Practice retreats can be found on our site www.zenfirenze.it