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PDF: Precepts and lineage in Chan tradition: cross‐cultural perspectives in ninth century East Asia by Lin, Pei‐Yin (2011)
PhD Thesis. SOAS, University of London

PDF: The Mystique of Transmission: On an Early Chan History and Its Contexts
By Wendi Leigh Adamek, New York, Columbia University Press, 2007, pp. 578.

PDF: "Kill the patriarchs!" by Timothy Hugh Barrett,
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1990

Fathering Your Father: The Zen of Fabrication in Tang Buddhism by Alan Cole (2009)
University of California Press, 340 p.

Reviewed by Matthew J. Wilhite

PDF: The Northern School and the Formation of Early Ch'an Buddhism by John R. McRae
University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1986, KURODA INSTITUTE (Studies in East Asian Buddhism; no. 3)

PDF: The Myth of Mind Transmission— as a question for the Formulation of early Chan Buddhism
by Sing Song Liu 劉興松 [Liu Xingsong]

PDF: "No-Thought" in Pao T'ang Ch'an and Early Ati-Yoga by A. W. Hanson-Barber
The Journal of the International Assn. of Buddhist Studies, Volume 8, 1985. Number 2. pp. 61-74.

PDF: How Zen Became Zen by Morten Schlütter (2008)
The Dispute over Enlightenment and the Formation of Chan Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China

1. Chan Buddhism in the Song: Some Background
2. The Chan School and the Song State
3. Procreation and Patronage in the Song Chan School
4. A New Chan Tradition: The Reinvention of the Caodong Lineage in the Song
5. A Dog Has No Buddha-Nature: Kanhua Chan and Dahui Zonggao's Attacks on Silent Illumination
6. The Caodong Tradition as the Target of Attacks by the Linji Tradition
7. Silent Illumination and the Caodong Tradition
Caodong Lineage
Linji Lineage

PDF: Is there historical consciousness in Ch'an? by John C. Maraldo
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Vol 12:2-3 1985

PDF: Talking about food does not appease hunger: Phrases on hunger in Chan (Zen) Buddhist texts
Academic dissertation by Anu Niemi, University of Helsinki, Department of World Cultures, Itä Aasian tutkimus, Helsinki, 2014

PDF: Wandering Saints : Chan eccentrics in the Art and Culture of Song and Yuan China by Paramita Paul
Thesis/dissertation, Proefschrift Universiteit Leiden. 2009, 310 p.

Cheng, Sungbon, “The System of Practice of the Patriarchal Ch'an Buddhism”, International Conference on Zen Buddhism, 1998.

PDF: One Name, Three Monks: Two Northern Chan Masters Emerge from the Shadow of Their Contemporary, the Tiantai Master Zhanran 湛然 (711-782)
by Jinhua Chen
Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, Vol. 22, No. 1, 1999, pp. 1-91.

1) 天台湛然 Tiantai Zhanran (711-782); 2) 山谷 湛然 Shangusi Zhanran (?-796); 3) 福先寺湛然 Fuxiansi Zhanran (fl. 720-767)

PDF: Revisiting the Notion of Zong: Contextualizing the Dharma Drum Lineage of Modern Chan Buddhism
by Jimmy Yu
Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal (2013, 26: 113-151) New Taipei: Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies

In 2006, the Buddhist monk Sheng Yen, one of the most influential Chinese Buddhist clerics of modern times, founded a new lineage (zong 空) of Chan Buddhism in Taiwan called the “Dharma Drum Lineage” (Fagu zong 法鼓宗).

PDF: Zen Radicals, Rebels and Reformers by Perle Besserman and Manfred Steger
Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1991, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2010.
P'ang Yun (740?-808), Lin-chi I-hsüan (d 867?), Bassui Tokushō (1327-1387), Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481), Bankei Yotaku (1622-1693), Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1769), and the modern masters Nyogen Senzaki (1876-1958) and  Soen Nakagawa (1907-1984).

PDF: A History of Japanese Buddhism by Kenji Matsuo (2007)

PDF: Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhism: Myōshinji, a living religion by Jørn Borup (2008)

PDF: A History of Zen Buddhism by Heinrich Dumoulin, tr. by Paul Peachey, Pantheon Books, 1963, 335 p.

PDF: An Abstract from 禪宗思想史 Zenshū shisōshi (History of thoughts of the Zen sect)
by 關口真大 Sekiguchi Shindai (1907-1986)
東京 : 山喜房佛書林 Tōkyō: Sankibō Busshorin, 1964. pp. 2-7.

Dr. Chou Hsiang-Kuang [周祥光 Xiangguang Zhou, 1919-1963]
PDF: Dhyana Buddhism in China: Its History and Teaching
Published for Young Men's Buddhist Association of China by Indo-Chinese Literature Publications, Allahabad, 1960, p. 216

PDF: Enlightenment in Dispute: The Reinvention of Chan Buddhism in Seventeenth-Century China by Jiang Wu
New York: Oxford University Press, 2008

PDF: The Eminent Monk: Buddhist Ideals in Medieval Chinese Hagiography by John Kieschnick, Kuroda Institute, 1997

PDF: Eminent Nuns: Women Chan Masters of Seventeenth-Century China by Beata Grant, University of Hawai‘i Press, 2009

PDF: Annlaug Tho: Selected Translations and Analysis of ‘Further Biographies of Nuns'
Master thesis in History of Religion, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo, Spring 2008

PDF: Women Living Zen: Japanese Sōtō Buddhist Nuns by Paula Kane Robinson Arai. Oxford University Press, 1999

PDF: Zen Buddhism during the Tokugawa Period: The Challenge to Go beyond Sectarian Consciousness by Michel Mohr,
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies,
1994 21/4

PDF: Japanese Zen Schools and the Transition to Meiji: A Plurality of Responses in the Nineteenth Century by Michel Mohr,
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 1998 25/1-2

PDF: Meiji Religious Policy,Soto Zen,and the Clerical Marriage Problem by Richard Jaffe
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 1998 25/1-2

The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Sōtō Zen : Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan by Duncan Ryūken Williams
Princeton University press, 2005

PDF: Toward a social history of Sōtō Zen
Registering the family, memorializing the ancestors : the Zen temple and the parishioner household
Funerary Zen : managing the dead in the world beyond
The cult of Dōryō Daigongen : Daiyūzan and Sōtō Zen prayer temples
Medicine and faith healing in the Sōtō Zen tradition
The other side of Zen.

PDF: Meiji Zen by Richard Jaffe and Michel Mohr
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 1998 25/1-2

PDF: Political waves in the Zen sea: The Engaku-ji Circle in early Meiji Japan by Janine Sawada
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 1998 25/1-2

PDF: Orthodox, Heterodox, Heretical: Defining Doctrinal Boundaries in Meiji-period Sōtō Zen by John S. LoBreglio
BJOAF Bd. 33, 2009

PDF: Crisis and Revival of Meiji Buddhism by Frédéric Girard
International Inoue Enryo Research 2 (2014): 55-‒73.

PDF: Collcutt, Martin. “The Early Ch'an Monastic Rule: Ch'ing Kuei and the Shaping of Ch'an Community Life.” In Early Ch'an in China and Tibet, ed. Whalen Lai and Lewis Lancaster, Berkeley, Asian Humanities Press, 1983, pp. 165-184.

PDF: Ishikawa Rikizan [石川力山 1943-1997]
The Social Response of Buddhists to the Modernization of Japan: The Contrasting Lives of Two Sōtō Zen Monks

[Takeda Hanshi 武田範之 (1864-1911) and Uchiyama Gudō 内山愚童 (1874-1911)]
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 1998 25/1-2

PDF: Teaching Zen to Americans by Kim Boykin (2010)
Philip Kapleau’s The Three Pillars of Zen, Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Charlotte Joko Beck’s Everyday Zen

Zen Holy War?
A book review by Josh Baran

PDF: The Sōtō Sect and Japanese Military Imperialism in Korea
by Nam-lin HUR
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 1999 26/1–2

PDF: Gushan: the Formation of a Chan Lineage During the Seventeenth Century and Its Spread to Taiwan
by Hsuan-Li Wang
Dissertation, Columbia University, 2014

PDF: “A Lineage of Dullards” [gudon no keifu 愚鈍の系譜], Zen Master Tōjū Reisō and His Associates
by Katō Shōshun 加藤正俊 (1929-)
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 1998 25/1-2

A study of three monks, Tōjū Reisō 洞宗令聡 (1854-1916), Tairyū Bun'i 泰龍文彙 (1827-1880) and Seishū Shusetsu 蜻州守拙 (1849-1921)

From prominence to obscurity: a study of the Darumashū: Japan's first Zen school
by Vincent Breugem
Leiden University dissertation, 2012

From Prominence to Obscurity focuses on the Darumashū (Bodhidharma school), a little known but important agent in the formative history of Zen in Japan. In the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the 達磨宗 Darumashū – established by the monk 大日房能忍 Dainichibō Nōnin (fl. 1189) – was considered representative of the Zen school, one of the budding movements in the Buddhist landscape of medieval Japan. Later the Darumashū was to disappear, marginalized and absorbed by competing claimants to Zen orthodoxy that would affirm themselves. Besides examining scattered references to Nōnin and his lineage, the dissertation considers relics and other objects that were venerated at the now vanished Darumashū temple 三寶寺 Sambōji. In addition, the dissertation provides analyses and annotated translations of three long-neglected doctrinal treatises that emerged from the Darumashū itself, entitled Jōtōshōgakuron (Treatise on attaining supreme awakening), Kenshōjōbutsugi (On seeing the nature and becoming a buddha) and Hōmon taikō (Dharma gate fundamentals). Furthermore, it traces criticisms of the Darumashū in the writings of Eisai (1141-1215), Dōgen (1200-1215) and the Shingon monk Raiyu (1226-1304).

Contemporary thought in Soto Zen Buddhism by Ian John Reader
An investigation of the publications and teachings of the sect in the light of their cultural and historical context.
PhD thesis, University of Leeds. 1983, pp. 374-394.

Japanese Influence on Buddhism in Taiwan (2014)
by Yu-Shuang Yao




The History of Rinzai and Obaku Zen

Shakyamuni to China
The Five Houses and Seven Schools
The Transmission of Zen to Japan
Gozan and Rinka Monasteries
Revival Movements
The Obaku School

Shakyamuni to China

Gautama ShakyamuniThe history of Zen Buddhism started with Gautama Shakyamuni’s awakening to the True Dharma, the Buddha-nature inherent in all beings. The lineage of the Zen School is traditionally regarded as having commenced with Shakyamuni’s transmission of the Mind Seal (inka shomei 印可証明) to his disciple Mahakashyapa (see “Buddha Mind School”). With Shakyamuni’s recognition of Mahakashyapa began the “direct transmission from master to disciple” that Zen emphasizes as the particular characteristic of its history as a tradition.

Mahakashyapa was followed in the traditional Zen lineage by Ananda, the Buddha’s cousin and attendant who had failed to attain enlightenment while the Buddha was alive, but who awakened to the Buddha Mind through the guidance of Mahakashyapa. The Indian lineage continued until the twenty-eighth patriarch, Bodhidharma, who transmitted the Zen teachings to China in the early sixth century. Bodhidharma was succeeded by his disciple Huike 慧可 (487–593), a Chinese monk who, when he first visited the master, is said to have demonstrated his determination by cutting off his arm. His enlightenment is traditionally described as follows:

Huike, the Second Patriarch, said to Bodhidharma, “My mind is not yet at rest. Master, I implore you, set my mind to rest.” The master replied, “Bring your mind here and I’ll set it to rest for you.” Huike said, “I have searched for my mind, but am unable to find it.” “There,” said the master, “I have set your mind to rest.”

From Huike the Chinese patriarchate continued through Sengcan 僧璨 (the Third Patriarch; d. 606?), Daoxin 道信 (the Fourth Patriarch; 580–651), and Hongren 弘忍 (the Fifth Patriarch; 600-674), to Huineng 慧能 (the Sixth Patriarch; 738ー713). Under Huineng, Zen took on a distinctly Chinese character with an emphasis on “sudden awakening” to the Buddha-nature inherent in every being. Huineng’s intuition of the universal nature of Buddha Mind was already expressed in the story of his first encounter with the Fifth Patriarch: It is said that when Huineng arrived at the monastery, Hongren asked about his origins. Huineng replied that he had come from southern China. Hongren said that a barbarian from the south can never become a Buddha. When Huineng responded, “There is no north and south in Buddha nature,” Hongren sensed Huineng’s ability and put him to work at the monastery as a rice huller.

Later Hongren, wishing to name a successor, asked the monks to write a verse expressing their understanding. The first verse was that of the senior monk, Shenxiu 神秀 (605–706), who wrote, “The body is the Bodhi tree, the mind is like a clear mirror. At all times strive to polish it, and let no dust collect.” The illiterate Huineng, after hearing another monk recite Shenxiu’s verse, responded with a verse expressing the Zen understanding of the essential nonsubstantiality of mind: “Originally there is no tree of enlightenment, nor is there a stand with a clear mirror. From the beginning not a single thing exists; where is there for dust to collect?” Hongren approved of Huineng’s verse and transmitted the patriarchate to him.

The teaching line of Huineng flourished, eventually forming the mainstream of Chinese Zen and giving rise to the various traditions known as the Five Houses and Seven Schools.

Baizhang HuaihaiThree generations after Huineng, the master Baizhang Huaihai 百丈懷海 (J., Hyakujo Ekai; 749–814) laid the foundations of the Zen monastic life, with manual labor as a central part of the daily schedule (he is known for his famous dictum, “A day of no work—a day of no eating”). His monastic rule, the Chanlin qinggui 禪林清規, no longer exists in its original form, but all subsequent forms of Zen monasticism have been influenced by his ideas on meditation practice and architectural design for the Zen monastery.

Over the centuries two basic approaches to the practice of zazen emerged: “silent illumination Zen” 黙照禪, which came to be associated principally with the Caodong (J. Soto) school, and “koan-introspecting Zen” 看話禪, which came to be associated principally with the Linji school.

Silent illumination Zen was promoted in the Tang dynasty by Shishuang Qingzhu 石霜慶諸 (J., Sekiso Keisho, 807–888), who taught, “Cease and stop.... One thought—ten-thousand years. Be like a cold incense burner in an abandoned temple.” Koan Zen developed when masters started to use the words and actions of former Zen monks as expedients to help precipitate or clarify understanding in the own students. It is advocated particularly by masters like Fenyang Shanzhao 汾陽善昭 (J., Fun’yo Zensho; 947–l024), Yuanwu Keqin 圜悟克勤 (J., Engo Kokugon, 1063–1135), and Dahui Zonggao 大慧宗杲 (J., Daie Soko; 1089–1163).

The Five Houses and Seven Schools

Nanyue HuairangAmong the successors of the Sixth Patriarch Huineng, the two masters Nanyue Huairang 南嶽懷讓 (Nangaku Ejo; 677–744) and Qingyuan Xingsi 青原行思 (J., Seigen Gyoshi; d. 740) were of especial importance in the subsequent history of Zen, for it was their lineages that produced all the later traditions of mainstream Chinese Zen , known, collectively, as the Five Houses. The Five Houses were:

1) the Linji 臨濟 (J., Rinzai) school, established by Nanyue Huairang’s descendent Linji Yixuan 臨濟義玄 (J., Rinzai Gigen; d. 867);

2) the Guiyang 潙仰 (J., Igyo) school, established by Nanyue Huairang’s descendant Guishan Lingyou 潙山靈祐 (J., Isan Reiyu, 771–853) and his disciple Yangshan Huiji 仰山慧寂 (J., Kyozan Ejaku; 807–883);

3) the Caodong 曹洞 (Jap., Soto) school, established by Qingyuan Xingsi’s descendant Dongshan Liangjie 洞山良价 (J., Tozan Ryokai; 807–869) and Dongshan’s student Caoshan Benji 曹山本寂 (J., Sozan Honjaku, 840–901);

4) the Yunmen 雲門 (J., Unmon) school, established by Qingyuan Xingsi’s descendant Yunmen Wenyan 雲門文偃 (J., Unmon Bun’en; 864–949);

5) the Fayan 法眼 (J., Hogen) school, established by Qingyuan Xingsi’s descendant Fayan Wenyi 法眼文益 (J., Hogen Mon’eki, 885–958).

The Linji school was further divided into the Yangqi (Yogi) and Huanglong (Oryo) teaching lines, which, together with the Five Houses, formed the Seven Schools.

Although the Five Houses taught essentially the same Dharma as that transmitted through the generations of meditation masters from the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, their respective teaching styles differed according to the personalities of their founders. To summarize:

1. The Linji school was known for its emphasis on sudden awakening, its occasionally rough teaching techniques (such as use of the shout and the stick), and, from Song-dynasty times, its extensive use of the koans.

2. The Guiyang school was known for its combination of Guishan Lingyou’s teaching on the unity of principle and function with Yangshan Huiji’s use of esoteric symbols like the circle-figure 圓相. The school later declined, and disappeared after about 150 years.

3. The Caodong school was known for its aversion to worldly involvement and its emphasis on long sitting in “silent illumination” zazen (though koans were also used). The Five Ranks doctrine was an important aspect of its teaching. In Japan there is a particular stress on ritual practice and the activities of everyday life. In China the school declined and disappeared in Ming times (1368–1644); the school remains active in Japan.

4. The Yunmen school flourished greatly for several centuries after the time of its founder, Yunmen Wenyan, especially among the educated elite. After several centuries it declined, however, and disappeared during the Yuan era (1280–1368). It was known for its terse, penetrating use of words, as exemplified by the so-called “one-word barriers” of Yunmen.

5. The Fayan school was known for its literary efforts, whitch gave rise to the classical Zen biographies and helped lay the foundations of koan Zen. Fayan-school masters were active in the development of the koans, and in attempts to combine zazen training with nenbutsu practice and Tiantai doctrine. In part because of its syncretistic tendencies, it disappeared as a distinct school after several generations, but its methods of koan work were assimilated into Linji Zen.

The Transmission of Zen to Japan

The Zen teachings first reached Japan during the seventh century with the Japanese Hosso school monk Dosho 道昭 (629–700), who traveled to Tang-dynasty China in 653. There, in addition to his study of Yogacara under the great translator-monk Xuanzang 玄奘 (602–664), he learned Zen meditation from Huiman 慧滿 (7 c.), a disciple of the Second Patriarch, Huike. After returning to Japan he opened the country’s first Zen meditation hall at Gango-ji 元興寺 in Nara. He was followed in the eighth century by the Chinese Vinaya-school monk Daoxuan 道璨, who taught Zen meditation in addition to the vinaya. In the ninth century the Chinese Zen master Ikong 義空 (J., Giku) came to Japan and taught for a number of years before returning to China. None of these monks succeeded in establishing a lasting lineage, however.

The Zen school took firm root in Japan only during the Kamakura era (1192–1333) and early part of the Muromachi era (1336–1573), when changes in the religious consciousness of the country led to greater interest in various practices leading to personal liberation.

The first Japanese monk to transmit the Rinzai teachings to Japan was the Japanese Tendai monk Myoan Yosai [Eisai] 明菴榮西 (1141–1215). Born in present Okayama Prefecture, he became a Tendai-school monk at the age of eleven and studied the esoteric teachings of that tradition. He went to the Tendai headquarters on Mt. Hiei two years later, and was ordained in 1154. In 1168 he traveled to China, where he studied the Tiantai teachings and practiced Tiantai meditation methods for six months before returning to Japan.

Twenty years later, in 1187, he once again sailed for China, hoping to make a pilgrimage to India, the home of Buddhism, in order further his goal of restoring Japanese Zen to its original ideals. When the Chinese government refused him permission to travel beyond its borders, Eisai made his way to Mount Tiantai and undertook the practice of Linji (Rinzai) Zen with the Huanglong (Oryo) 黄龍 lineage master Xuan Huaichang 虚庵懷敞 (J., Koan Esho; n.d.), under whom he studied both meditation and the vinaya.

In 1191 Eisai returned to Japan, bringing not only the Rinzai Zen teachings but also the practice of tea-drinking. He founded the monastery Shofuku-ji on the island of Kyushu, avoiding the capital of Kyoto for the time being because of opposition to the Zen teachings from the older established sects of Tendai and Shingon. Later he did go to the capital to answer charges made against him by the older schools, presenting his arguments in his chief work, the Kozen Gokokuron (Propagation of Zen for protection of the nation). In 1199 he went to Kamakura to assume the abbacy of the temple Jufuku-ji 壽福寺, built for him by the Kamakura Shogunate. In 1202 he agreed to become abbot of the new temple Kennin-ji in Kyoto, where, until the end of his life in 1215, he taught a combination of Zen meditation with Tendai and Shingon ritual. Although Eisai’s Oryo lineage did not continue long, he was important in setting the stage for the restoration of monastic discipline and the establishment of Zen meditation practice.

The transmission of the Zen school to Japan continued after the time of Eisai through Japanese monks who practiced Zen in China and Chinese masters who settled in Japan. Zen tradition has it that the teachings were conveyed by a total of forty-six masters, of whom twenty-four established lineages lasting at least a few generations. Among these, the sole Rinzai lineage to flourish to the present day is the so-called Otokan lineage of Nanpo Jomyo 南浦紹明 (1235ー1308), usually known as Daio Kokushi 大應國師; his student Shuho Myocho 宗峰妙超 (1282-1337), usually known as Daito Kokushi 大燈國師; and Shuho’s student Kanzan Egen 關山慧玄 (1277–1360). The term Otokan comes from the “o” of Daio, the “to” of Daito, and the “kan” of Kanzan). This lineage has largely shaped Rinzai Zen practice in Japan, and, through the eighteenth-century master Hakuin Ekaku, includes every Rinzai Zen master in Japan today.

Nanpo Jomyo was a native of Abe in present Shizuoka Prefecture. He entered the monkhood at the age of fifteen, and at eighteen entered the monastery of Kencho-ji 建長寺, in the shogun’s capital at Kamakura, to study under Lanxi Daolong 蘭溪道隆 (J., Rankei Doryu; 1213-1278). In 1259 went to China to study under Xutang Zhiyu 虚堂智愚 (J., Kido Chigu; 1185–1269), in present-day Zhejiang. He received Xutang’s seal of transmission in 1265, and returned to Japan in 1267. After spending several more years with his old teacher Lanxi in Kamakura, he was appointed abbot of Kotoku-ji 興徳寺 on the island of Kyushu in 1270. Three years later he became priest of Sofuku-ji 崇福寺 in nearby Dazaifu. There he lived and taught for thirty-three years, until he was called to Kyoto in 1305 and appointed abbot of Manju-ji 萬壽寺. In 1307 he was appointed priest of Kencho-ji, where he died on 29 December 1308. He was awarded the posthumous title National Teacher Enzu Daio 圓通大應國師.

Shuho Myocho was a native of Harima in the region of present-day Hyogo. He was ordained at Enkyo-ji 圓鏡寺 on Mount Shosha at the age of eleven and studied Tendai doctrine. In 1301 he became a student of Koho Kennichi 高峰顯日 (1241–1316) at Manju-ji 萬壽寺 in Kamakura, then in 1304 went to Kyoto to study under Nampo Jomyo, accompanying Nanpo to Kamakura when Nanpo was appointed abbot of Kencho-ji in 1308. Just ten days after arriving at Kencho-ji, Myocho had a breakthrough with the koan known as “Yunmen’s ‘Barrier’.” After Nanpo died several months later, Shuho retumed to Kyoto and, according to legend, spent twenty years living with beggars under the Gojo Bridge. Eventually Emperor Hanazono 花園 (r. 1308–1318), deciding to find him, went to the area with a basket of melons and said to the beggars, “Take this melon without using your hands.” One beggar replied, “Give it to me without using your hands,” and the emperor knew this was Shuho.

In fact, Shuho appears to have spent his years of seclusion at two small temples, Ungo-ji 雲居寺 in eastern Kyoto and Daitoku-ji 大徳寺 in the northwestern part of the capital. The latter temple was soon enlarged with the aid of the imperial court, and Shuho was called to lecture before Emperor Hanazono, and, later, Emperor Go-Daigo 後醍醐 (r. 1318–1339). Shuho resided and taught at Daitoku-ji for the rest of his life. At the time of his death Shuho forced his crippled leg into the full lotus position (which broke the leg), wrote his death poem, and passed away.

Kanzan Egen, third in the Otokan lineage, was a native of Shinano in present-day Nagano Prefecture; his family name was Takanashi. He received ordination at Kencho-ji 建長寺 under the priest Toden Shikei 東傳士啓; in 1307 he met Nanpo Jomyo, from whom he received the name Egen 慧玄. After Nanpo died in 1309, Egen returned to his native place until, in 1327, he met Nanpo’s student Shuho Myocho and began his practice under him. In 1330 he experienced a deep enlightenment. After receiving transmission from Myocho, Kanzan is said to have gone to the mountain village of Ibuka in present-day Gifu Prefecture, where he worked as a laborer and deepened his realization. 1337 he was called back to the capital and installed as the founding priest of Myoshin-ji 妙心寺. There he taught a few students as well as the cloistered emperor Hanazono. Kanzan is known for his austere lifestyle, and is said to have died dressed in his pilgrimage clothes, standing under a tree.

Other important early Rinzai masters were:

Enni Ben’en 圓爾辯圓 (1201–1280) was born in Suruga, present Shizuoka Prefecture, entered a temple at five and commenced Tendai studies at eight. At eighteen he entered monastic life at the great Tendai temple Mii-dera, and took the precepts at Todai-ji in Nara. His wide-ranging studies included Confucianism, Abhidharma thought, and the exoteric and esoteric Tendai teachings. In 1235 he left for a seven-year stay in China, where he practiced under the eminent master Wuzhun Shifan 無準師範 (J., Bujun Shipan; 1177–1249). In 1241, after receiving the seal of enlightenment from Wuzhun, Enni returned to Japan and took up residence in Kyushu, where he established a number of Zen monasteries. In 1243 the chancellor Kujo Michiie 九条道家 (1192–1252) invited Enni to serve as the founding priest of Tofuku-ji 東福寺, a great Zen temple planned by Michiie to compare in grandeur to the great temples of Todai-ji 東大寺 and Kofuku-ji 興福寺 in Nara. Enni was well prepared to lead the Shingon, Tendai, and Zen practices that comprised the monastic training at Tofuku-ji at that time. Enni also served as the tenth abbot of Kennin-ji, simultaneously with his duties at Tofuku-ji. He was awarded the posthumous title National Teacher Shoichi 聖一國師 by Emperor Hanazono. Though Enni’s teachings combined Zen with Tendai and Shingon, he was instrumental in helping the Zen school, still relatively new to Japan at the time, win increasing acceptance and respect in the capital.

Shinchi Kakushin 心地覺心 (1207–1298), also known as National Teacher Hatto Enmyo 法燈圓明國師, was a native of Shinshu (present Nagano Prefecture); his family name was Tsunezumi. He became a monk at eighteen, and at twenty-nine received the full precepts at the temple Todai-ji 東大寺 in the ancient capital of Nara. Following this he studied esoteric Buddhism on Mount Koya 高野, headquarters of the Japanese Shingon 眞言 school, where he met the Rinzai Zen master Taiko Gyoyu 退耕行勇 (1163–1241), under whom he trained from 1239 to 1241 at the temples Kongo-zanmai-in 金剛三昧院 on Mount Koya and Jufuku-ji 壽福寺 in Kamakura. In 1249, after further training with other masters, he embarked for China to study under Wuzhun Shifan 無準師範 (1177–1249). Finding that Wuzhun had died, Kakushin visited various important Buddhist centers until a fellow Japanese monk named Genshin 源信 directed him to the Zen master Wumen Huikai 無門慧開 (J., Mumon Ekai; 1183–1260) of the temple Huguo Renwang si 護國仁王寺, near the city of Hangzhou. In a well-known story, Kakushin, when asked by Wumen, “My place has no gate; how did you get in?” answered, “I entered from no-gate (wumen).” After a mere six months Kakushin received dharma transmission, along with the gifts of a robe, a portrait of Wumen, and the Wumen guan 無門關 (Jap., Mumonkan), a collection of koans compiled by Wumen that has remained a central text in Japanese Rinzai koan study. Following his return to Japan in 1254, Kakushin first resided on Mount Koya, then became abbot of the temple Saiho-ji 西方寺 (later called Kokoku-ji 興國寺) in Yura, present Wakayama Prefecture. He often lectured before the emperors Kameyama 龜山 (r. 1259–74) and Go-Uda 後宇多 (r. 1274–87), and received from Kameyama the honorary title Zen Master Hotto 法燈禪師; following his death he was designated National Teacher Hotto Enmyo 法燈圓明國師 by Emperor Go-Daigo 後醍醐 (r. 1319–1339). Kakushin is regarded as the founder of the influential Hotto 法燈 (also Hatto) line of Rinzai Zen and of the Japanese Fuke school 普化宗, a tradition of largely lay practicers who wandered about the country playing the shakuhachi 尺八, a bamboo flute whose music was regarded as an aid to enlightenment.

Lanxi Daolong 蘭溪道隆 (J. Rankei Doryu; 1213–1278) was a native of the present-day Sichuan region of China. He entered temple life at the age of thirteen, studying under the masters Wuzhun Shifan 無準師範 (1177–1249), Chijue Daochong 癡絶道冲 (J., Chizetsu Dochu; 1169–1250), and others, and succeeding to the dharma of Wuming Huixing 無明慧性 (J., Mumyo Esho; 1162–1237). In 1246 he and several of his disciples came to Japan, first to the southern island of Kyushu and later, at the invitation of the regent Hojo Tokiyori 北条時頼 (1227–1263), to the city of Kamakura, the capital of the shogunate. There in 1253, under Tokiyori’s patronage, he was named founding priest of Kencho-ji 建長寺, Japan’s first true Rinzai Zen monastery. Later Lanxi moved to Kyoto and was appointed abbot of Kennin-ji, Yosai’s part-Zen, part-Tendai temple that Lanxi reorganized as a center of pure Zen training. After returning to Kamakura he served again as abbot of Kencho-ji until, in 1265, he was falsely accused of spying for the Mongols and exiled for a time. He was later allowed to reside at Jufuku-ji and, just before his death, was reinstated to his position at Kencho-ji. Following his death he was granted the posthumous title Meditation Master Daikaku 大覺禪師, the first time anyone in Japan had received the “meditation master” title.

Wuxue Zuyuan 無學祖元 (J., Mugaku Sogen; 1226–1286) was a student of Wuzhun Shifan 無準師範 (1177–1249) in China. He was invited to Japan by the Kamakura regent, Hojo Tokimune 北条時宗(1251-1284), arriving in 1279. After serving for a time as abbot of Kencho-ji, he was appointed founding abbot of the great monastery Engaku-ji 圓覺寺, and there taught a number of influential Japanese monks.

Yishan Yining 一山一寧 (J., Issan Ichinei; 1247–1317) was a native of Taizhou in present-day Zhejiang. Yining entered the temple Hongfusi 鴻福寺 as a child and, following full ordination at Puguang si 普光寺, studied the teachings of the Vinaya and Tiantai schools. He then turned to Zen and, after training under a number of masters, became the dharma heir of Wanji Xingmi 頑極行彌(J., Gankyoku Gyomi; n.d.). In 1299, at the order of the Yuan court, he came to Japan as part of a delegation to discuss peace negotiations between China and Japan. Although the delegation was at first detained by the Kamakura regent Hojo Sadatoki 北条貞時 (1271–1311) on suspicion of spying, Yining ultimately won great favor from Sadatoki, who allowed him to reside at the Kamakura Zen temples Kencho-ji, Engaku-ji, and Jochi-ji 淨智寺. In 1313 he was invited by Emperor Go-Uda 後宇多 (r. 1274–87) to become abbot of Nanzen-ji 南禪寺, the most important of the Kyoto Zen temples at that time, where he served as a popular teacher of both clerics and laypeople until the time of his death in 1317.

Muso Soseki 夢窓疎石 (1275–1351), also referred to as Muso Kokushi 夢窓國師, was a native of Ise in present Mie Prefecture. Soseki was ordained at the age of eight and first studied the esoteric teachings of the Tendai school. He despaired of finding an answer to the question of life-and-death in the Tendai doctrines after witnessing the painful death of his teacher, and turned to Zen. He studied under various masters in Kyoto and Kamakura, notably the Chinese master Yishan Yining and, later, Koho Kennichi 高峯謙日 (1241–1316), although he carried out most of his actual training alone in remote rural areas. His enlightenment was confirmed by Kennichi, who recognized him as a successor. Following this enlightenment he continued training in the countryside for a further twenty years, until called to the capital by Emperor Go-Daigo 後醍醐 (r. 1318–39) to become abbot of Nanzen-ji. He later founded a number of temples in Kyoto and elsewhere, prominent among them Rinsen-ji 臨川寺, Shokoku-ji 相國寺, and Tenryu-ji 天龍寺, the latter built, at Muso’s urging, by the shogun Ashikaga Takauji 足利尊氏 (1305–58) in memory of Go-Daigo and the others who perished during the civil war that brought the Ashikaga family to power. Muso was also a central figure in the development of Japanese Buddhist culture, leaving many poems and designing a number of famous gardens, particularly those of Saiho-ji 西方寺 (the Moss Temple) and Tenryu-ji 天龍寺 (now designated a United Nations World Heritage Site). He was a dedicated meditation monk as well; the monastic rule that he established at Rinsen-ji was one of the earliest such codes in Japan.

Bassui Tokusho 抜隊得勝 (1327-1387) was born in the town of Nakamura, in present Kanagawa Prefecture. His father died when he was four. Perhaps as a result he developed a deep sense of questioning regarding the true nature of the self, and practiced meditation from early in life. He became a monk at the age of twenty-nine but preferred to avoid temples, practicing in isolated places. After attaining a certain degree of understanding he sought confirmation with several masters, including Kozan Mongo 肯山聞悟 of Kencho-ji and Fukuan Soki 復菴宗己 of Houn-ji, but was not satisfied with their responses. On the advice of a friend, a Buddhist ascetic named Tokukei 徳瓊, Bassui called upon the master Koho Kakumyo 孤峰覺明 (1271–1361) of Unju-ji 雲樹寺 in present Shimane Prefecture. Koho’s questioning about the nature of Zhaozhou’s “Mu” precipitated a deep understanding in Bassui, who was then thirty-two years old. Bassui received transmission, but left Unju-ji after only sixty days, visiting a number of other masters and residing in mountain huts as he continued his training. He refused all students until he reached the age of fifty. A large community quickly formed around him, and he decided to settle near the town of Enzan in present Yamanashi Prefecture, where the local lord had offered to build the temple Kogaku-an 向嶽庵 for him. Eventually a thousand monks and lay devotees gathered around him. Bassui taught a style of Zen that downplayed ritual, stressed the precepts, and focused on the fundamental question, “What is the ‘I’ that sees with the eye and hears with the ear?”

Gozan and Rinka Monasteries

As we have seen, the eminent Zen masters who transmitted Zen to Japan soon attracted the support of Japan’s leaders, who built for them great monasteries in Kyoto and Kamakura. In the Kamakura period the major Zen temples of Kamakura were ranked in the five mountain 五山 system—based on a Sung-dynasty Chinese arrangement—with Kencho-ji at the top, followed, in order, by Engakau-ji, Jufuku-ji, Jomyo-ji, and Jochi-ji. In the fourteenth century, as the center of power moved more toward Kyoto, the ranking was revised. At the time of Emperor Go-Daigo 後醍醐 (r. 1319–1339), the list placed the Kyoto temples of Nanzen-ji, Tofuku-ji, and Kennin-ji in the top three places, followed by Kencho-ji and Engaku-ji. The final system, arrived at by the Ashikaga Shogunate in the late fourteenth century, established Five Mountain temple systems in both Kyoto and Kamakura, with, in order from the top, Tenryu-ji, Shokoku-ji, Tofuku-ji, Kennin-ji, and Manju-ji in Kyoto, and Kencho-ji, Engaku-ji, Jufuku-ji, Jomyo-ji, and Jochi-ji in Kamakura. Nanzen-ji stood above all of them as “the first Zen temple in the land.” This ranking remains unchanged to this day. The Five Mountain temples were followed in importance by the “Ten Temples” (jissetsu), and the “Various Mountains” (shozan), to form an officially supported system of about 300 temples.

The large temples in the cultural and political centers of Japan became seats of learning in Chinese literature, art, poetry, and political thought, and as such exerted a wide influence on the educated classes in Japan. Out of this cultural milieu emerged the literary movement known as gozan bungaku 五山文学, which produced a number of noted poets and literary figures, all of who wrote in Chinese. One of the central figures was the Chinese master Yishan Yining 一山一寧 (J., Issan Ichinei; 1247–1317), who was equally versed in secular knowledge and Zen thought. The lineage of Japanese master Muso Soseki also produced several notable Gozan poets, notably Gido Shushin 義堂周信 (11325–1388) and Zekkai Chushin 絶海中津 (1336–1405). With the decline of the Ashikaga shogunate in the sixteenth century the influence of the Five Mountain monasteries waned.

Separate from the Five Mountain monasteries were the so-called Rinka 林下 (Forest) monasteries, which remained outside of the official system. The two principle Rinka Rinzai monasteries, Daitoku-ji and Myoshin-ji, were of the Otokan lineage. There was a tendency in the Rinka monasteries to stress meditation over the cultural pursuits of the Five Mountain monasteries, although Daitoku-ji in particular became involved in cultural and political activities as a center of the tea ceremony in the sixteenth century.

An important abbot of Daitoku-ji during this period was Ikkyu Sojun 一休宗純 (1394-1481). Ikkyu was the son of a lady of the imperial court of Emperor Go-Komatsu 後小松 (r. 1392–1412). When he was five years old, following his mother’s expulsion from the court, he entered the temple Ankoku-ji 安國寺 in Kyoto and there learned the essentials of Chinese poetry, refining his knowledge during four years at Kennin-ji. Later he meditated with the hermit-monk Ken’o 謙翁 at the temple Saikin-ji 西金寺; after Ken’o’s death he became the disciple of Kaso Sodon 華叟宗曇 (1352–1428), who lived in a hermitage on the shores of Lake Biwa. He spent nine years with Kaso, under whom he experienced a deep awakening while meditating on the koan “Dungshan’s Sixty Blows,” and later had another profound realization when hearing the caw of a crow. After Kaso recognized him as his successor, Ikkyu spent a further thirty years as a wandering monk living and associating with all classes of the people. From the age of sixty he lived at Daitoku-ji, and was eventually made abbot of that great temple. One of his accomplishments was the restoration of the buildings of Daitoku-ji after their destruction during the Onin Wars (1467–77). Ikkyu remains a popular figure to this day, and is remembered for his wit and humor as well as his poetry and paintings.

Another influential Rinka master was Takuan Soho 澤庵宗彭 (1573–1645). Takuan was born in Izushi, in present-day Hyogo Prefecture, to a samurai family. He began his education at a local Pure Land temple, but soon moved to a larger Zen temple, Sugyo-ji 宗鏡寺. In 1594 his teacher took him to Daitoku-ji, where he practiced Zen under the master Shun’oku Soen 春屋宗園 (1529–1611). He later studied under the scholar-monk Monsai Tonin 文西洞仁 and the Zen master Itto Shoteki 一凍紹滴 (1539–1612), whose successor he became. In 1609 he was named abbot of Nanshu-ji 南宗寺, a Daitoku-ji school temple. After about ten years he left again on a life of wandering, until a political disagreement with the shogunate, involving government regulation of the Zen school, resulted in his exile and that of the abbot of Daitoku-ji, Gyokushitsu Sohaku 玉室宗珀 (1572–1641). He spent his years of exile in Kaminoyama in present-day Yamagata Prefecture. The exile was revoked in 1632, and Takuan returned to Kyoto and later to his home village of Izushi. However, not long thereafter his friendship with the great swordmaster Yagyu Munenori 柳生宗矩 (1571–1646) led to an invitation to Edo (present-day Tokyo), which he visited several times over the next few years, during which time he developed good relations with the third Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu 徳川家光 (1604–1651). In 1639 Iemitsu built for him in Edo the temple Tokai-ji 東海寺, where the master lived from that time. He wrote voluminously; his works include writings on poetry, swordsmanship, and Buddhist docrine.

Revival Movements

Although each generation of Rinzai Zen masters in Japan produced figures worthy of transmitting the Dharma lineages, by the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the overall tradition had much declined in vigor. However, in the Edo period several important masters appeared who were responsible for a great revival and popularization of Rinzai practice and teaching.

The first of these was Bankei Yotaku 盤珪永琢 (1622–1693). Bankei was born to a Confucian family in Hamada, in present-day Hyogo Prefecture. His father, a masterless samurai (ronin), practiced medicine in the town. At the age of eleven, at the local Confucian school, Bankei came across the line “The Great Learning illuminates Bright Virtue” in the classic Confucian text Great Learning, and was seized with doubt as to what “bright virtue” might be. He searched for a satisfactory answer for years, attending lectures and practicing the nenbutsu, but remained unsatisfied. In 1638 he took up the practice of Zen under the master Unpo Zenjo 雲甫全祥 (1568–1653) and continued with him for several years. He then left on a pilgrimage from 1641 to 1645, during which he practiced severe austerities; after returning to Unpo’s temple, he took up residence in a hut and continued his intense meditation. Finally he became so weak that he could no longer eat, and contracted a severe illness. One day, after coughing up a mass of black phlegm against a wall and watching it slide down, he had a sudden, profound realization that all things are perfectly resolved in the Unborn. With that realization he started to eat again and soon recovered his health.

In 1651 Bankei went to see the Chinese Zen master Daozhe Chaoyuan 道者超元 (J., Dosha Chogen; d. 1660), who had just arrived in Nagasaki. Daozhe confirmed Bankei’s enlightenment and helped guide him to a still deeper realization. Bankei respected Daozhe and remained with him for a year, but was still not fully satisfied. He returned to the main island of Honshu for further meditation practice, and later received transmission from Unpo’s successor, Bokuo Sogyu 牧翁祖牛 (d.1694). Subsequently he founded or restored many important temples, including Ryomon-ji 龍門寺 in present-day Himeji. He traveled widely from Kyushu to Edo, and gave sermons on the Dharma to thousands of followers, stressing in his talks the importance of awakening to the Unborn.

The most important reviver of the Rinzai tradition, and in some respects the greatest figure in Japanese Rinzai Zen, was Hakuin Ekaku 白隱慧鶴 (1686–1769). Hakuin was a native of the village of Hara in present Shizuoka Prefecture. As a young boy he displayed a remarkable memory and strong character, but is said to have been terrified by images of hell. At the age of fifteen he became a monk at the nearby temple Shoin-ji 松蔭寺. At the age of nineteen he had a crisis that caused him to leave meditation training for several years and devote himself to the study of literature, but later, upon reading how the Chinese master Shishuang Chuyuan 石霜楚圓 (J., Sekiso Soen; 986–1039) kept himself awake during his meditation at night by sticking his thigh with an awl, he returned to his zazen practice with renewed determination. At twenty-four he had an awakening upon hearing the sound of a temple bell, an experience he deeped through training under the master Dokyo Etan 道鏡慧端 (1642–1721) of Shoju-an 正受庵 in what is now Nagano Prefecture. Further training and experiences followed, even after he returned to Suruga as abbot of Shoin-ji. His decisive spiritual breakthrough occurred when he was forty-two years old.

Hakuin was tirelessly active in teaching the dharma. He traveled widely, lectured on many of the basic Zen texts, and produced a large body of writings, both in vernacular Japanese and classical Chinese. He started systematization of the Rinzai koan curriculum, and attacked what he regarded as distortions of Zen training, such as “silent illumination” zazen and the practice of nenbutsu by Zen monks. He stressed the importance of bodhicitta, in both its aspects of personal enlightenment (kensho) and the saving of all sentient beings. His lineage now includes all masters of Rinzai Zen in Japan.

The two monks in Hakuin’s lineage most influential in completing the koan reform begun by Hakuin were Inzan Ien 隱山惟琰 (1751–1814) and Takuju Kosen 卓洲胡僊 (1760–1833). Inzan was a native of Echizen, present-day Fukui Prefecture. He became a monk at the age of nine, and at sixteen began his study of Zen under the Bankei-line master Bankoku 萬國(n.d.). After three years he went to Gessen Zen’e 月船禪慧 (1702–1781), under whom he studied for seven years. In 1789 he went for further study under Gasan Jito 峨山慈棹 (1727–1797), Gessen’s former student and an eminent successor of Hakuin Ekaku. After two years he received recognition from Gasan, and went on to teach in various temples, including Myoshin-ji and Zuiryo-ji 瑞龍寺. His vigorous, dynamic style of Zen became one of the two streams of Hakuin Zen, along with that of Takuju Kosen.

Takuju was born in Tajima, near the present-day city of Nagoya. He became a monk at the age of fifteen at the temple Soken-ji 總見寺, and set out on pilgrimage at nineteen. The following year he became a disciple of Gasan Jito after hearing him lecture near Edo. He received transmission from the master after fourteen years. Returning to Soken-ji, he devoted the rest of his life to teaching the detailed style of Zen that came to characterize his lineage, the Takuju school.

The Obaku School

While the Rinzai school was developing independently in Japan from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries, the Chinese Linji school continued to evolve in its own way. Among the most noticeable changes were the incorporation of the Guiyang, Caodong, Yunmen, and Fayan schools into the Linji school, and the admixture of Pure Land and esoteric elements into Zen practice.

From before the Tokugawa period (1603–1868) Chinese Zen priests had lived in the trading city of Nagasaki to serve the resident Chinese community there; from the mid-seventeenth century Chinese Zen masters started to arrive at the port to teach Zen as it was then practiced in China. The first to arrive was Daozhe Chaoyuan 道者超元 (J., Doja Chogen, d. 1660), who taught in Nagasaki from 1651 to 1658. However, the lineage that was to develop into the Japanese Obaku school was that of the master Yinyuan Longqi 隱元隆琦 (J., Ingen Ryuki, 1592–1673).

Yinyuan was a native of Fuqing in present-day Fujian; his family name was Lin. In his early life he was a farmer, but began spiritual training at the age of twenty-three following a religious experience one night while sitting under a tree. At the age of twenty-nine he entered the monkhood at the temple Huangbo Wanfu si 黄檗萬福寺, then studied under a number of masters before receiving transmission from Miyun Yuanwu 密雲圓悟 (J., Mitsu’un Engo; 1566–1642). When Miyun’s student Feiyin Tongrong 費隠通容 (J., Hi’in Tsuyo; 1593–1661) assumed the abbacy of Huangbo Wanfu si, Yinyuan became head monk under him and later was named Feiyin’s dharma successor. Yinyuan subsequently served as abbot of several temples, including Wanfu si.

In 1654 Yinyuan departed for Japan, landing in Nagasaki. There he became abbot of Kofuku-ji 興福寺, and, the following year, also of nearby Sofuku-ji 崇福寺. Later in 1655 he was named abbot of Fumon-ji 普門寺 in present-day Osaka. In 1661, with the support of the shogunate, a temple was founded for Yinyuan in Uji, just south of Kyoto. Yinyuan named the new temple Manpuku-ji 萬福寺, with the mountain-name Obaku-san 黄檗山, in honor of the community he had left behind in China. Manpuku-ji was designed according to contemporary Chinese temple architecture, and its rule followed the monastic code of its namesake in China. In 1664 Yinyuan retired and was succeeded by his disciple Mu’an Xingdao 木菴性瑫 (J., Mokuan Shoto, 1611–1684).

Manpuku-ji and the other monasteries established in Yinyuan’s lineage remained strongly Chinese in character for many generations. The first thirteen abbots of Manpuku-ji were all Chinese; the fourteenth abbot, Ryuto Gento 龍統元棟 (1663–1746), was the first Japanese abbot, but he was followed by a number of Chinese chief priests. The thirty-third abbot, Ryochu Nyoryu 良忠如隆 (1793–1868) was a Dharma successor of the important Hakuin-line master Takuju Kosen; since that time the teachings of the school have become increasingly similar to those of Japanese Rinzai Zen (all masters are now of the Hakuin lineage), although many of the monastic customs of the Obaku school remain distinctly those of Ming-dynasty Chinese Zen. Practices like the nenbutsu and esoteric rituals have been retained, ceremonies such as sutra-chanting are performed in the Chinese manner, and mealtime ettiquette follows Chinese customs.



Sitting In Silence: A Comparison and Analysis of Two Sōtō Zen Institutions in San Francisco
Jake Nagasawa, University of San Francisco
Asia Pacific: Perspectives, November 2011

In this age of globalization—of technological development, transnationalism, and multinational corporations—the truth of interdependence that Buddhism speaks of is evident at every turn. Were it not for international trade and political relations, world travel, modern printing technology, and developments in industrial production, Buddhism may have remained exclusively in Asia or as an immigrant’s religion. In this essay, Nagasawa examines the relationship between two Sōtō Zen institutions of San Francisco: the Sōtō Zen Mission of San Francisco, Sōkōji, founded in 1934 by Rev. Hosen Isobe and the San Francisco Zen Center, founded in 1962 by Shunryū Suzuki. Field research and participant-observation lead to the conclusion that, though these two temples are of the same lineage, there is little to suggest a robust relationship between them. Indeed, there is silence between Sōkōji and San Francisco Zen Center, because of differences that extend beyond ethnicity and into the cultural, linguistic, social, and economic.

In this age of globalization—of technological development, transnationalism, and multinational corporations—the truth of interdependence that Buddhism speaks of is evident at every turn. Were it not for international trade and political relations, world travel, modern printing technology, and developments in industrial production, Buddhism may have remained exclusively in Asia or as an immigrant’s religion. Buddhism’s interaction with the West has helped to shape it both in the West and in Asia. One might even say Buddhism in the West is an outcome of globalization Buddhism is a relatively new religion to North America. There was some knowledge of Buddhism in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through the World Parliament of Religions at the Chicago World Exposition in 1893, and much later through the writings of D.T. Suzuki and his contemporaries.1 However, the most important contributors to Buddhism’s introduction to America were the Buddhist groups and institutions founded by immigrant populations from Asia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly those hailing from Japan and China. White Americans did not begin adopting and practicing Buddhism on a large scale until the Beat and Hippie generations of the 1950’s and 1960’s respectively.2
The Buddhisms that have been introduced and adopted by predominantly white Americans of the 1950s and 1960s that have survived to the present day are markedly different from their Asian counterparts. In his work The Making of Buddhist Modernity, David McMahan articulates a view held by many Westerners (and especially Americans) that Buddhism does not require one to “follow any strict rules; you simply exercise compassion and maintain a peaceful state of mind through meditation. Buddhism values creativity and intuition and is basically compatible with a modern scientific worldview. It is democratic, encourages freedom of thought, and is more of a ‘spirituality’ than a religion.”3 For McMahan, these conceptions of Buddhism in the West, what he collectively refers to as “Buddhist modernism,” have been shaped not only by Western scholars and practitioners, but also by “Asian reformers educated in both Western and Buddhist thought.”4 Teachers whose books and teachings have become popular in the West, such as Daisetz T. Suzuki, Sōen Shaku, and more recently Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, have adapted their message to mesh with Western philosophy and ideas about reason, empiricism, and science. According to McMahan, such a popular Western picture of Buddhism as described above is “neither unambiguously ‘there’ in ancient Buddhist texts and lived traditions nor merely a fantasy of an educated population in the West, an image with no corresponding object.”5 The result of such a movement is a Buddhist institution, perhaps run or founded by an ethnically Asian teacher but with white Americans as an overwhelming majority of its membership base that has shifted its focus from traditional ritual practices and beliefs to meditation and the pursuit of enlightenment.6
Yet there remain Buddhist institutions founded by Asian immigrants who traveled to America, “in search of jobs, new opportunities and a better future for their family, simply bringing their religion[s] along” with them.7 Such institutions act not only as place where religious ideas and practices are transmitted to later generations, but also help to preserve a sense of cultural identity through providing death rituals and becoming gathering places for immigrant communities. Communities of this sort, as Jan Nattier points out in “Landscapes of Buddhist America”, are “almost always deliberately mono-ethnic at the outset.”8
In this paper, I will examine the relationship between two Sōtō Zen institutions of San Francisco: the Sōtō Zen Mission of San Francisco, Sōkōji, founded in 1934 by Rev. Hosen Isobe and the San Francisco Zen Center, founded in 1962 by Shunryū Suzuki. My own field research and participant-observation have led me to conclude that, though these two temples are of the same lineage, there is little to suggest a robust relationship between them. Indeed, there is silence between Sōkōji and San Francisco Zen Center, because of differences that extend beyond ethnicity and into the cultural, linguistic, social, and economic. I intend to explore these differences in order to understand this lack of a relationship, and to contribute more generally to the understanding of Buddhism as it grows and takes shape in America. I will provide a brief history of Zen Buddhism’s intrepid history, show the historical relationship between each of these temples, and present my own observations of their respective practices and congregations. I will also provide my own suggestions to these institutions so that they can perhaps come to support one another.

1. Sōtō Zen in Japan and its Migration to San Francisco
Since the earliest centuries of its existence, Buddhism has been a religion on the move and is often thought of as one of the first world religions. It moved from a relatively small area in northern India, traveling along trade routes and transcending state borders. As it moved into different cultures in Asia, Buddhism adapted to each of the culture’s religious expectations, resulting in a multiplicity of Buddhisms, with only loosely related teachings. According to traditional Chan/Zen accounts, an eccentric Buddhist teacher by the name of Bodhidharma brought the teachings and practices of dhyāna meditation to China from India in the early 4th century.9 Chan, an adaptation of dhyāna, only began to emerge as an independent school of its own in the early eighth century, coming to prominence during the Song Dynasty as it adapted itself to its new context and gained the support of the state. By the Southern Song period (1127-1279 CE), virtually all of Chinese Buddhism was Chan.10 It is for this reason that Japanese monks who traveled to China to study at this time found themselves frequently encountering Chan monks in important administrative positions of state sponsored temples.
It was this type of prevalent and state-supported Buddhism that Eihei Dōgen, a Japanese Tendai monk at the time, found on his 1223 quest to China in search of a master with whom he felt more compatible. Dōgen found this in Rujing of Mount Tiantong, a Chan monk who emphasized strict discipline and mediation. Upon his return to Japan, Dōgen attracted few disciples and eventually moved out into the countryside to found Eiheiji, far from the reach and influence of the Tendai establishment in Kyōto. It would not be until after Dōgen’s death that the Sōtō sect became one of the largest sects of Buddhism in Japan. Dōgen’s disciples and Dharmic descendants were successful in expanding the Sōtō school by adapting it to the needs of the lay people and accommodating other elements of Japanese culture. It managed to incorporate the veneration of popular bodhisattvas and Shinto deities, and opened Buddhist precept ceremonies to all classes of people. Sōtō priests also “attended to such needs as the building of roads and irrigation canals, the curing of diseases, and the extirpation of evil spirits.”11
Following the politically and socially tumultuous years of the Kamakura period, and the establishment of the Rinzai school of Zen as the de facto state orthodoxy of the Ashikaga shogunate (1336–1573 CE), Sōtō Zen was confined to the countryside. The Sōtō school established itself in these areas and famously began the tradition of providing Buddhist funerals for the laity. These involved posthumous ordinations, in which the Buddhist precepts and ordination names were administered to the deceased so that they could be given a formal monk’s or nun’s funeral, complete with the chanting of sutras, burning of incense and a sermon. As William Bodiford points out, “the regional dissemination of Japanese Zen Buddhism, and of the Sōtō school in particular, advanced hand-in-hand with the popularization of Zen funeral services.”12 The popularization of Sōtō Zen in such a way had far-reaching implications, resulting in Japanese Zen’s becoming “strongly associated with funeral rites.”13
The establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate (1600–1868 CE) in the 17th century brought new changes to Japanese Buddhism, including the regulation of “most aspects of the religion, including temple construction, the relationship between main and branch temples, the appointment of abbots, and rules of succession.”14 This period also saw the establishment of the government’s grouping of families with local temples as a means of keeping track of the population. Known as the danka system, it was, as T. Griffith Foulk observes, responsible for the con-temporary affiliations of Japanese families and Buddhist sects.15 In contemporary Japan, as with temples in the Tokugawa era, patronage of local families, along with the donations that priests receive for the performance of funeral and memorial rituals provide temples with a significant proportion of their annual income.
The first Japanese immigrants sailed to San Francisco in 1869 following the fall of the Tokugawa, and at the beginning of the Meiji period. Just a few years prior, Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States sailed into Tokyo harbor with his fleet of gunships, forcibly opening the previously reclusive Japan to Western trade and influence. Many Japanese sought new opportunities for education and employment in the United States as Japan faced an economic depression.16 As more immigrants arrived in San Francisco, they began establishing their own social institutions to support their growing community, with many settling on the outskirts of Chinatown and in the South of Market district. By 1898 San Francisco has become “the headquarters for Buddhist churches and social organizations located throughout the West, including prefectural organizations or kenjin-kai, benevolent associations, and newspapers.”17 After the devastating 1906 earthquake, the Japanese community relocated itself to the Western Addition establishing the first major Japantown of the United States. Because San Francisco was the main port of entry for Japanese immigrants, it had the largest population of Japanese in the US at the time.
By the dawn of the 20th century, the size of the Japanese community had significantly increased. The community then began to face increasingly racist and xenophobic policies of the then San Francisco mayor and future California Senator, James D. Phelan.18 Japanese American students were forced into their own segregated schools by the city’s Board of Education. As this issue caught the attention of the Japanese government and President Theodore Roosevelt, the city agreed to rescind its policy. However, President Roosevelt then negotiated a curtailment of Japanese immigration with Japan in 1908. This restriction did not include the so-called “picture brides”, many of whom traveled to San Francisco, facilitating the establishment of families and a new generation of native-born Japanese Americans. However, the community faced other new challenges in the form of California’s 1913 Heney-Webb Act which prohibited non-citizens from owning property and the 1927 Immigration Act, which ended immigration from Japan until the 1950’s. It was in this difficult social environment that the Sōtō Zen Mission of San Francisco, Sōkōji first opened its doors in 1934 at 1881 Bush Street in Japantown under the leadership of Rev. Hosen Isobe. In the next decade, Sōkōji managed to survive the World War II years, even though its priest, Daito Suzuki, and many of Sōkōji’s parishioners were sent to Japanese internment camps (a local Hindu group cared for the temple building in their absence).19 As Sōkōji attempted to stabilize itself in the years after the war, it would soon face a new set of challenging circumstances.

2. Sōkōji and San Francisco Zen Center: A Shared History
According to Buddhist studies scholars Senryō Asai and Duncan Ryūken Williams in their “Japanese Zen in America: Americanizing the Face in the Mirror,” temples like Sōkōji were “established for Japanese American immigrants who had belonged to the Sōtō Zen school in Japan” as “branch temples” of Eiheiji and Sōjiji.20 Often, these temples closely resemble the danka temples of Japan, which focused on providing funeral and memorial rituals to their parishioners and less so, if at all, on meditation. This is the sort of temple that the newly appointed and eager Suzuki Shunryū came to in May of 1959 as the new chief priest. Prior to this, Sōkōji was led by Kato Wako as its interim priest. Buddhism was in vogue because of the countercultural tide of the time and the writings of the aforementioned D.T. Suzuki and Beat poet Alan Watts. Many of Suzuki’s earliest students “came from the loose subculture of artists, non-conformists, and beatniks in the Bay Area, where interest in Asian thought was high.”21 Word had spread through San Francisco that a “Zen master” had arrived in San Francisco, attracting the attention of interested Westerners, like Lou and Bill McNeil, Joane Kyger, and Bill Kwong.
Prompted by Kato Wako, Suzuki began giving lectures to the American Academy of Asian Studies at the San Francisco Art Institute, where Kato had once been a faculty member. At these gatherings, Suzuki began teaching zazen to Westerners and eventually invited them to Sōkōji to sit at the temple’s morning zazen sessions. Suzuki also began giving Dharma talks in English on Wednesday evenings, and began holding evening zazen sessions followed by dokusan, practice meetings with individual students. In Suzuki’s biography, David Chadwick implies that as Sōkōji started attracting more and more Western students, Suzuki began organizing much of his time around teaching them and hosting zazen sessions. “A lot of the older members of the congregation resented the growing presence of the non-Japanese in their temple,” as they were often disheveled, awkward and, to the Japanese mind, dis-respectful. For these older members, zazen was a serious practice meant for monks and priests. Though some, like Suzuki’s middle-aged Western women students, got along with the ethnically Japanese members, “there would always be a gap.”22
Suzuki’s group of mostly Caucasian practitioners eventually managed to incorporate under the State of California in 1962 as a non-profit organization with the name “Zen Center.”23 Zen Center also began publishing its own newsletter, Wind Bell, in December of 1961. During this period, Zen Center only continued to grow, attracting San Francisco’s future abbot Richard Baker. Suzuki provided lay ordination to veteran practitioners and sent several students to train in Japanese monasteries. In 1966, Zen Center, still housed in Sōkōji, purchased Tassajara Hot Springs, formally reopening it as Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in July of 1967. Suzuki’s time was more so split between his duties as the temple priest of Sōkōji and the needs of his devoted Zen Center students. Finally in 1969, a sudden change occurred:

Abruptly, a demand came from Sokoji’s board of directors in the spring of 1969: choose us or them… They no longer wanted a priest with divided loyalties. They wanted Suzuki to stay, but even more they wanted a priest that was theirs… The younger Japanese members were more understanding, but the elders ran Sokoji. He [Suzuki] said that the Issei, the first generation Japanese-Americans, has a Meiji Buddhist approach. They admired the progress of the West, yet clung to a type of Shinto nationalistic Buddhism focused on making offerings to the spirits of the ancestors.24

Following this turn of events, Suzuki resigned from his position as chief priest of Sōkōji. The members of Zen Center had to search for a new building that could house their groups and act as a training monastery. This came in the form of the current building of the San Francisco Zen Center at 300 Page Street in the Lower Haight area of San Francisco.25 Despite the difficulties from being separated from the place in which they had thrived for nearly a decade, the Zen Center continued to expand, setting up satellite groups and zendos across the West Coast. The culmination of Suzuki’s mission to plant the seed of the Dharma in the West came with Richard Baker’s installation as abbot of the Zen Center on November 21, 1971. Thirteen days later, Suzuki succumbed to the cancer with which he had been diagnosed just one month before.26
The connection between modern Sōtō Zen in America, San Francisco Zen Center, and Sōkōji is a very important one. Many of the most influential American Sōtō teachers today trace their lineage through Suzuki Shunryū, including Zentatsu Richard Baker, Jakusho Bill Kwong, Sojun Mel Weitsman, and Zenkei Blanche Hartman. Today, Sōkōji occupies a different building which was dedicated in 1984 at 1961 Laguna Street, located still in the Japantown neighborhood, quite near the old Sōkōji building. The old building on Bush Street is now owned by Kokoro Assisted Living.27 Though Sōkōji is an important part of the history of the San Francisco Zen Center, I have observed that the two institutions do not have any sort of working relationship, despite the fact that their split took place more than forty years ago. What is it that keeps these two institutions at arms length?

3. Enduring Dualities: Differing Peoples and Practices
The issues between these two institutions extend beyond ethnicity and into cultural, linguistic, social, and economic differences. In “Landscapes of Buddhist America,” Jan Nattier observes that, “some Buddhist organizations that would seem to fall within a single category—for example, the Sōtō Zen Mission in Honolulu and the Diamond Sangha… in the same city—have virtually no common features, and indeed many of the members of the two groups seem blissfully unaware of one another’s existence.”28 While Sōkōji and the San Francisco Zen Center (hereafter SFZC) indeed have an awareness of each other’s existence because of their close proximity and shared history, they nonetheless share few common features and have very little interaction. As Wendy Lewis, a resident practitioner at SFZC and graduate student in Theology at the University of San Francisco points out, “Sōkōji serves the Japanese/Japanese-American community; SFZC members and residents do not, to my knowledge, participate in activities at Sōkōji on any regular basis,” or vice versa.29
There are significant observable differences between the constituencies of these two institutions. Sōkōji is for the most part ethnically homogeneous. All of the chief priests of Sōkōji have been Japanese, and the congregation itself is composed of first, second, and a few third generations Japanese-Americans, as well as a small number of recent immigrants from Japan.30 Interestingly, though the priests and temple members speak English, rituals and the sermons given by the priest afterward are completely in Japanese.31 Much of the social interaction at the meals provided after ceremonies are also conducted in Japanese. This differs quite significantly from Asai and Williams’ observation of services at Los Angles’ Zenshūji, where since 1985, “ceremonies have been performed solely in English.” They do, however, conclude that Japanese language reigns over Japanese culture as “an organizing activity of Japanese American Zen temples.”32
Sōkōji also hosts cultural activities with some loose connection to Bud-dhism. This includes the goeika group, which sings Zen-inspired hymns in Japanese at services, the monthly sutra transcription group, the bi-weekly tea ceremony class, and the Shorinji Kempo school that holds its practice sessions in Sōkōji’s gathering hall. Asai and Williams correctly assert that, “Japanese culture is so central to Japanese American Zen that even cultural activities with no relationship to Buddhism have become major activities” at temples, specifically citing Sōkōji’s annual food bazaar held in conjunction with the Cherry-Blossom festival every April.33 Zazen plays a very minor roll at Sōkōji, with tri-weekly Zazen sessions which attract few, usually non-Japanese practitioners, and one sesshin (meditation retreat) in December (this sesshin is quite unlike the extended sesshin retreats that other Zen institutions hold with meals and lodging provided; it is rather a drop-in sesshin, with set sitting periods in the morning and the evening). Sōkōji thus functions as a Japanese community center with its “major activities geared toward the maintenance of community and familial ties through death rites and ‘Japanese culture’ activities,” while also helping to preserve its congregation’s cultural identity.34
By contrast, SFZC, while more racially diverse than Sōkōji, most members are “from white, middle class backgrounds” and are of varying age groups.35 This confirms Nattier’s categorization of such institution as “Elite Buddhist” organizations, wherein members are usually educated, white, and middle-class. Services (including the chanting of sutras) and Dharma talks at SFZC are mostly held in English.36 This has the double function of accommodating its membership and asserting its perceived independence from Japanese cultural influence. SFZC is primarily a training monastery and so has residences for lay and ordained members of the community. The focus on zazen practice is obvious—SFZC holds sittings in the morning and evening during the weekdays, while hosting Dharma talks and lunches on Saturdays. SFZC also sponsors various activities, such as yoga, cooking and calligraphy classes, and self-help and mediation workshops.
The membership structures and outreach of these institutions also differ. Sōkōji asks for a one-time membership fee of $100 per individual, and a $150 fee for couples and families. But, as Asai and Williams show in their study, the main source of income for Sōkōji and other temples like it are funeral and memorial service fees, much like their counterparts in Japan.37 SFZC has varying levels of membership, from $150 to $1200 per year, with corresponding levels of membership benefits, such as discounts at the bookstore, subscriptions to the Wind Bell, and discount for SFZC’s classes and events. While Sōkōji has a simple website with little basic information or background and no recent updates, SFZC has a sophisticated website that has the daily schedule, a running calendar of monthly events, profiles of prominent figures in the community, and links to other affiliated organizations.
These differences between Sōkōji and SFZC seem to be a prominent barrier in the development of amicable relations. Rick Fields argues that much of the split between Asian and white Buddhist groups no doubt stems “from the natural ethnic fellowship of an immigrant community in which Buddhist temples have functioned as cultural and community centers above all else.”38 Additionally, in temples where activities are conducted in an Asian language, “many white Buddhists are reminded of the empty and yet requited religious rituals of their childhood…” as might have been the case for those who grew up with the pre-Vatican II Council Catholic Church, during which time, liturgies were conducted in Latin. 39
Either group also usually approaches Buddhism in different ways. Most ethnically Asian Buddhists receive it as part of their own cultural and familial traditions, while many but not all white Buddhists choose to convert because of some disenchantment with the religion in which they were raised. Thus, “unlike the Euro-American Zen center, that focus on the study of Buddhism and the practice of meditation, Japanese Zen temples revolve around death rights and cultural activities.”40 Furthermore, because of the patronage of the relatively well-to-do, white, racial majority, an organization like SFZC has the economic and social means to support the rest of its membership as well as several affiliate centers, like Tassajara and Green Gulch. While acting as a regularly functioning Zen monastery, Tassajara is also open to the public during the summer months for its regular “Guest Session.” During these sessions Tasaajara becomes something of a Zen “resort.” Guests pay a nightly fee for room and board (plus extra fees for retreats) and may also participate in various planned activities including sitting sessions, dharma talks, and various other classes. Other accommodations include use of Tassajara’s hot spring and swimming pool facilities as well as hiking trails on the monastery property.41
SFZC also faced a number of financial and sexual scandals in the 1980s, stigmatizing SFZC in the general Buddhist community.42 Add to this the experiences of racism and isolation that many of the older generation Japanese Americans experienced between the 1920s and 1950s, and the already existing split between the Japanese Americans of Sōkōji and Zen Center over Suzuki, it becomes obvious that the subtle conflict between Sōkōji and SFZC is quite complex.

Despite the differences explored above, I think that it is imperative for the survival and development of Buddhism generally, and Sōtō Zen particularly, that institutions like Sōkōji and SFZC work together in this crucial period as Buddhism and religions struggle to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world. As human societies continue to become more interdependent through the power of ever improving technology, the infiltration of capitalist values in all spheres, and as new social and political situations arise, Buddhism can become a fresh voice in the public sphere. Before this can happen, however, Buddhists must come together and overcome their sectarian, ethnic, and cultural biases. Sōkōji, with its rapidly aging nissei parishioner base, should reach out to other areas and peoples in order to keep itself afloat as it faces current challenging economic times. It should attempt to accept its neighbors down the street, the San Francisco Zen Center, and look to their creative programs for inspiration, perhaps boosting Sōkōji’s membership base with newer, younger members and helping it to become more socially active. San Francisco Zen Center should reconcile itself with Sōkōji, embracing it as an important part of their history and of the history of Sōtō Zen Buddhism in America. Were it not for Sōkōji’s presence and the early support the institution itself and the congregation it provided, SFZC and all of its descendant organizations—Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, Green Gulch, Berkeley Zen Center, Sonoma Mountain Zen Center and many more—may never have come to fruition. SFZC can try to network with Sōkōji, aid it in developing more outreach programs, and encourage its members to attend Sōkōji’s services or zazen sessions as a show of support. Sōkōji and SFZC are inevitably related and should try to foster a new relationship, breaking their long-time silence, so that together, they can become more of a presence in the greater San Francisco community.
In light of the interesting dynamics between Sōkōji and SFZC, the way Buddhism in America is studied should also be reformed, or at least rethought. It is important in the study of a Euro-American Sōtō Zen institution, to refer back to its Asian/Asian-American roots, and to always consider ethnic Buddhist temples as important contributors to the developing of an American Buddhism. Perhaps future studies of Buddhism in America could include inter-sect comparisons, showing the differing approaches of, for example, an American Vajrayana center and an American Zen center like SFZC. I also suggest the inclusion of inter-religious comparison, to show how, say, an ethnic Buddhist temple like Sōkōji functions in contrast to a Russian Orthodox Church run mostly by Russian immigrants.
Buddhism in Asia enjoyed the patronage of the aristocracy and the state, facilitating the politicization of Buddhism and aiding its propagation through the development of Buddhist social and educational institutions. As Buddhism moved and took root in America, its practitioners had to change and make adjustments in light of modernity, democracy and capitalism. Buddhism in America has been and continues to be shaped by globalizing forces and thus is also changing. The phenomenon of Buddhism in America, particularly Japanese Zen Buddhism in America, is still an emerging one with a hopeful but uncertain future.

Asai, Senryō and Duncan Ryūken Williams. “Japanese American Zen Temples: Cultural Identity and Economics.” In American Buddhism, edited by Duncan Ryūken Williams and Christopher S. Queen, 20-35. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 1999.
Bodiford, William M. Sōtō Zen in Medieval Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1993.
Chadwick, David. Crooked Cucumber. New York: Broadway Books, 1999.
Fields, Rick. “Divided Dharma: White Buddhists, Ethnics Buddhists and Racism.” In The Faces of Buddhism in America, edited by Charles S. Prebish and Keith Tanaka, 196-206. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
Foulk, T. Griffith. “The Zen Institution in Modern Japan.” In Zen: Tradition and Transition, edited by Kenneth Kraft, 157-177. New York: Grove Press, 1988.
Hori, G. Victor Sōgen. “Japanese Zen in America: Americanizing the Face in the Mirror.” In The Faces of Buddhism in America, edited by Charles S. Prebish and Keith Tanaka, 50-78. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
Nattier, Jan. “Landscape of Buddhist America.” In The Faces of Buddhism in America, edited by Charles S. Prebish and Keith Tanaka, 183-195. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.
McMahan, David. The Making of Buddhist Modernity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
San Francisco Zen Center. “Guest Season.” Accessed October 10, 2011. http://www.sfzc.org/tassajara/display.asp?catid=4,19
Soto Zen International. “Soto Mission of San Francisco, Sokoji.” Last modified February 19, 2009. http://soto-zen.net/wiki/wiki.cgi?page=Soto+Mission+of+San+Francisco%2C+Sokoji.
The Japantown Taskforce, Inc. Images of America: San Francisco’s Japantown. San Francisco: Arcadia Publishing, 2005.
Yampolsky, Philip. “The Development of Japanese Zen.” In Zen: Tradition and Transition, edited by Kenneth Kraft, 140-156. New York: Grove Press, 1988.
Yanagawa, Keiichi. “Japanese Buddhism in America.” In Japanese Religions in California, edited by Keiichi Yanagawa, 9-16. Tokyo: University of Tokyo, 1983.

1. For example, Suzuki, D.T. Zen and Japanese Culture, (New York: Bollingen/Princeton University Press), 1970.
2. Yanagawa, Keiichi, “Japanese Buddhism in America,” in Japanese Religions in California, ed. Keiichi Yanagawa, (Tokyo: University of Tokyo, 1983), 10-12.
3. David McMahan, The Making of Buddhist Modernity, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 4.
4. Ibid. 6.
5. Ibid. 5.
6. Rick Fields, “Divided Dharma: White Buddhists, Ethnics Buddhists and Racism,” in The Faces of Buddhism in America, ed. Charles S. Prebish and Keith Tanaka (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 197. Jan Nattier also makes this clear in her “Landscape of Buddhist America,” cited below.
7. Jan Nattier, “Landscape of Buddhist America,” in The Faces of Buddhism in America, ed. Charles S. Prebish and Keith Tanaka (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 190.
8. Ibid, 190.
9. Chan is the original Chinese name for Zen, said to be a translation of the Sanskrit dhyāna, meaning meditation.
10. Philip Yampolsky, “The Development of Japanese Zen,” in Zen: Tradition and Transition, ed. Kenneth Kraft, (New York: Grove Press, 1988), 140.
11. Ibid, 146.
12. William M. Bodiford, Sōtō Zen in Medieval Japan. (Honolulu: University of Hawai’I Press, 1993), 185.
13. Ibid.
14. Yampolsky, 154.
15. T. Griffith Foulk, “The Zen Institution in Modern Japan,” in Zen: Tradition and Transition, ed. Kenneth Kraft, (New York: Grove Press, 1988), 157.
16. The Japantown Taskforce, Inc, Images of America: San Francisco’s Japantown, (San Francisco: Arcadia Publishing, 2005), 7.
17. Ibid.
18. Senator Phelan is in fact a graduate of the University of San Francisco, then known as St. Ignatius College. He lends his name to one of the dormitory halls on the University’s present day campus.
19. David Chadwick, Crooked Cucumber, New York: Broadway Books, 1999, 177.
20. Senryō Asai and Duncan Ryūken Williams, “Japanese American Zen Temples: Cultural Identity and Economics,” in American Buddhism, ed. Duncan Ryūken Williams and Christopher S. Queen, (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 1999), 21.
21. Chadwick, 172.
22. Ibid, 195.
23. Ibid, 226.
24. Ibid, 326.
25. The connection between Sōtō Zen in San Francisco and the Jewish community is interesting. As mentioned before, the original Sōkōji building at 1881 Bush Street was formerly a Jewish Synagogue, while the San Francisco Zen Center’s City Center building used to be a Jewish women’s residence.
26. Chadwick, 390-414.
27. The Japantown Taskforce, 100.
28. Nattier, 190.
29. Wendy Lewis, email message to the author, May 12, 2011.
30. For a list of Sōkōji’s Chief priests, see: “Soto Mission of San Francisco, Sokoji,” Soto Zen International, last modified February 19, 2009, http://soto-zen.net/wiki/wiki.cgi?page=Soto+Mission+of+San+Francisco%2C+Sokoji.
31. As part of my field research, I have incorporated observations made over the last three years at Sōkōji with more recent interactions at various ceremonies and events, including the annual Hanamatsuri service honoring the Buddha’s birth on April 3, 2011. It began with a recitation of the Heart Sutra, followed by a goeika performance. There were other sutras chanted, including a chapter from the Lotus Sutra, and an except of from the writing of Eihei Dōgen. The main part of the ceremony was the ritual bathing of the baby Buddha in sweet tea. Each member of the community went to the front of the temple, where a small pavilion stood. In the pavilion, was a bowl, inside of which was a standing statue of the baby Buddha and sweet tea. Each parishioner would then pour tea three times over the baby Buddha, bow, and then offer incense. Following the service was a light potluck lunch provided by the congregation of assorted Japanese foods, and a small drink of the blessed sweet tea from the bathing.
32. Asai and Williams, 26.
33. Ibid, 27.
34. Ibid, 20.
35. Lewis, May 12, 2011.
36. I also attended and participated in San Francisco Zen Center’s version of the commemoration of Buddha’s birth on April 10, 2011. While SFZC’s ceremony preserved the pouring of sweet tea over a statue of the baby Buddha, it was held outdoors in Koshland Park, which is across the street from the SFZC. Only the presiding priest of SFZC burned incense before a make-shift altar, while the 50+ in attendance chanted the Heart Sutra several times in English. SFZC also provided a birthday cake for Buddha, which was placed in the aforementioned make-shift altar.
37. Asai and Williams, 25.
38. Fields, 203.
39. Ibid.
40. Asai and Williams, 28.
41. San Francisco Zen Center. “Guest Season.” Accessed October 10, 2011. http://www.sfzc.org/tassajara/display.asp?catid=4,19
42. For detailed account and analysis of these scandals involving SFZC’s former abbot Richard Baker, see: Downing, Michael. Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2001.