ZEN TÖRTÉNET ZEN HISTORY
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A ZEN TÖRTÉNETE HISTORY OF ZEN
INDEX

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

PDF: Linguistic Strategies in Daoist Zhuangzi and Chan Buddhism: The other way of speaking
by Youru Wang, London, 2003

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
http://blogs.dickinson.edu/buddhistethics/files/2011/02/JBE-Wilhite.pdf

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

Introduction
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
Conclusion
Notes
Caodong Lineage
Linji Lineage
Glossary

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: Zen at Daitoku-ji by Jon Cowell

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
https://www.duo.uio.no/bitstream/handle/10852/24057/a.tho.xFurtherxbiographiesxofxnunsx.pdf?sequence=1

“This thesis is a study of ‘Further Biographies of Nuns' [續比丘尼傳] compiled by Master Zhenhua [震華大師] in the 1940s. I have selected three biographies from the Tang Dynasty, two from the Song Dynasty, two from the Yuan Dynasty, one from the Ming Dynasty, and four from the Qing Dynasty.”

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

PDF: Brands of Zen: Kitō jiin in Contemporary Japanese Sōtō Zen Buddhism
by Tim Graf
Inauguraldissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde der Philosophischen Fakultät der Universität Heidelberg, 2017.
This dissertation examines contemporary Japanese prayer monasteries (kitō jiin 祈祷寺院 ) as sites of religious branding and priestly training. It also explores ways Sōtō Zen prayer monasteries shed light on the broader topic of interplay between training and branding in the making of this-worldly benefits (genze riyaku 現世利益 ).

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

Contents
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
https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/19051

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.
http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/5790/1/uk_bl_ethos_345922.pdf

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

Women on the Buddhist path (1996)
edited by Martine Batchelor

Women’s Buddhism, Buddhism’s women: tradition, revision, renewal (2000)
edited by Ellison Banks Findly

"Throughout Buddhism's history, women have been hindered in their efforts to actualize the fullness of their spiritual lives: they face more obstacles to reaching full ordination, have fewer opportunities to cultivate advanced practice, and receive diminished recognition for their spiritual accomplishments." "Here, a diverse array of scholars, activists, and practitioners explores how women have always managed to sustain a vital place for themselves within the tradition and continue to bring about change in the forms, practices, and institutions of Buddhism. In essays ranging from the scholarly to the personal, Women's Buddhism, Buddhism's Women describes how women have significantly shaped Buddhism to meet their own needs and the demands of contemporary life."--Jacket

Includes bibliographical references (pages 451-479) and index

1. Ordination, affiliation, and relation to the sangha. The nuns at the stūpa : inscriptional evidence for the lives and activities of early Buddhist nuns in India / by Nancy J. Barnes -- Women in between : becoming religious persons in Thailand / by Monica Lindberg Falk -- Voramai Kabilsingh : the first Thai bhikkhunī, and Chatsumarn Kabilsingh : advocate for a bhikkhunī sangha in Thailand / by Martine Batchelor -- Buddhist action : lay women and Thai monks / by H. Leedom Lefferts, Jr. -- Western Buddhist nuns : a new phenomenon in an ancient tradition / by Bhiḳsuṇī Thubten Chodron --Sakyadhītā in Western Europe : a personal perspective / by Rotraut Wurst -- Novice ordination for nuns : the rhetoric and reality of female monasticism in northwest India / by Kim Gutschow -- An empowerment ritual for nuns in contemporary Japan / by Paula K.R. Arai

2. Teachers, teaching, and lineages. Women teachers of women : early nuns "worthy of my confidence" / by Ellison Banks Findly -- Achaan Ranjuan : a Thai lay woman as master teacher / by Martine Batchelor -- Patterns of renunciation : the changing world of Burmese nuns / by Hiroko Kawanami -- An American Zen teacher / by Trudy Goodman -- Teaching lineages and land : renunciation and domestication among Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka / by Nirmala S. Salgado -- Transformation of a housewife : Dipa Ma Barua and her teachings to Theravāda women / by Amy Schmidt -- My dharma teacher died too soon / by James Whitehill

3. Political and social change. Women changing Tibet, activism changing women / by Serinity Young -- The Women's Alliance : catalyzing change in Ladakh / by Helena Norberg-Hodge -- Sujātā's army : Dalit Buddhist women and self-emancipation / by Owen M. Lynch -- Religious leadership among Maharashtrian women / by Eleanor Zelliot -- Jamin Sunim : prison work for a Korean nun, Myohi Sunim : a Korean nun teacher of elderly women, and Pomyong Sunim : flower arranging for the Korean lay / by Martine Batchelor -- Women, war, and peace in Sri Lanka / by Tessa Batholomeusz -- Mae Chi Boonliang : a Thai nun runs a charitable foundation, and Mae Chi Sansenee : a Thai nun as patroness / by Martine Batchelor -- Diversity and race : new koans for American Buddhism / by Janice D. Willis

4. Art and architecture. From periphery to center : Tibetan women's journey to sacred artistry / by Melissa Kerin -- Performing maṇḍalas : Buddhist practice in transition / by Judy Dworin -- Women, art, and the Buddhist spirit / by Ann W. Norton -- Space as mind/maṇḍala places : Joan Halifax, Tsultrim Allione, and Yvonne Rand / by Sarah D. Buie. 5. Body and health. Sickness and health : becoming a Korean Buddhist shaman / by Hi-ah Park -- Tokwang Sunim : a Korean nun as medical practitioner / by Martine Batchelor -- How a Buddhist decides whether or not to have children / by Kate Lila Wheeler -- Theanvy Kuoch : Buddhism and mental health among Cambodian refugees / by Theany Kuoch -- Women's health in Tibetan medicine and Tibet's "first" female doctor / by Vincanne Adams and Dashima Dovchin

PDF: Silence and Noise : Growing Up Zen in America (2003)
by Ivan Richmond

PDF: The New Buddhism: The Western Transformation of an Ancient Tradition (2001)
by James William Coleman

PDF: Buddhist Revivalist Movements: Comparing Zen Buddhism and the Thai Forest Movement (2016)
by Alan Robert Lopez

PDF: One hundred days of solitude: losing myself and finding grace on a Zen retrait (2008)
by Jane Dobisz

 

 


The History of Rinzai and Obaku Zen
http://zen.rinnou.net/whats_zen/history.html

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.

 

 

The Soto Zen School in Modern Japan
Nara Yasuaki


I. Introduction

The major issues faced by the Soto Zen School in modern Japan are primarily of a social and policy nature. These issues cannot simply be resolved on the level of doctrinal reflection, but have to be approached from an interdisciplinary perspective which includes cultural anthropology, ethnography, Buddhist studies, and religious studies. Therefore, in this paper, I will explore the emergence and directions of these issues from this kind of broad-ranging academic perspective. Especially given that we are at the precipice of a new century and celebrating the 800th anniversary of Doen's Zenji's birth, it seems like a perfect opportunity to explore how the Soto school should face these critical social and political issues now and in the future. This study is, however, neither a descriptive report of the current state of affairs nor the official position of the school, but rather an analysis of issues in contemporary Japanese Soto Zen that the author personally conceives as important.(1)

Since 1991, the Soto school has officially announced three major areas of concern: 1) human rights, 2) peace, and 3) the environment. In terms of human rights, the issue of the school's attitude towards the "buraku" (marginalized villager) population has been most dominant, but this concern certainly isn't limit to that topic. For example, in the 1980 Sotoshu Headquarters publication, Sotoshu kaigai kaikyo dendoshi (The History of Sotoshu's Overseas Propagation), some phrases which suggested ethnic discrimination as well as the school's participation in Japan's wartime militarism with its post-Meiji missionary temples particularly in Taiwan, Korea, and Sakhalin became apparent. Because of this, the publication was recalled and in explaining its actions, the Soto school officially admitted its wartime responsibility and publicly apologized.(2)

As for the environmental issue, most Buddhist schools in Japan have been active with this issue. With the Soto school, its "Green Plan" has highlighted the importance of environmental preservation to the general lay membership through activities (including the publications of pamphlets, short books, and calendars) sponsored by individual temples, youth groups, and women's groups. From a Buddhist perspective, the environmental issue also requires careful doctrinal reflection in addition to action. In the West, this type of work has already begun in earnest. For example, the recent publication of Buddhism and Ecology is one example.(3) Although Japanese Buddhist should have a great deal to say about environmental issues or the preservation of biodiversity, the list of works in this area is relatively small and is a promising area of future study.(4)

Another contemporary issue in Japan that the Soto school, as well as other Buddhist schools, has faced is bio-ethics, especially the issues of brain death and organ transplants. Unlike the West, there is relatively little consensus on these issues in Japan. Although the Brain Death and Organ Transplant Law passed in 1995, it took two years before the first transplant was conducted and up until 1999, only four operations have been authorized and completed. Through its Research and Propagation Center, the Soto school has developed its official position on this issue which was published as a special issue of the Sotoshu Shuho in 1999.(5)

Thus starting with the Soto school, Buddhist schools in modern Japan have actively engaged contemporary social issues. This type of activity on the part of Buddhist schools or its lay organizations would have been unthinkably just a few decades ago. But with rapid social changes and globalization, religious people have had to look at their responsibility in the world and actively engage it.

The Soto school has developed various institute to reflect and formulate policies on these contemporary issues. Up until the recent past, the Soto Zen school had three institutes that addressed issues such as outlined above: the Institute for Soto Studies, the Sotoshu Propagation Research Institute, and the Research Center for Modern Soto Studies. The first two institute have had a history of over 30 years and the Research Center for Modern Soto Studies was created in 1991 to most directly deal with these questions (for example, the main research on the school's position on bio-ethics and environmental issues was conducted here). But since April 1, 1999, the new Sotoshu Center for Buddhist Studies was created. The new center--which includes the above three institutes in a somewhat autonomous system-- was not simply a lumping together of the three institutes, but has intentionally tried to develop clearer lines of communication among the three institutes and to encourage an interdisciplinary approach to these issues. To realize this goal more concretely, collaborative research themes have been instituted (the first being the theme of "funerals" which I will take up later).

In this paper, of all the contemporary social issues, I will focus on the questions of discrimination and funerals within the school.

 

II. The Human Rights Issue in the Soto School

The Background

The problem of discrimination has been the central aspect of the issue of human rights among religious organizations in Japan. Not only the Soto school, but other Buddhist schools and even Christian organizations, have had to face up to this issue. With the Soto school, this problem came into sharp relief since 1980 when vocal criticism of the school from the Buraku Liberation League (an association composed of "buraku" (lit. marginalized villagers) who have been discriminated against historically in Japan) began. The particular criticism of the Soto school began after the so-called "Matsuda incident" of 1978. At the 3rd World Conference on Religion and Peace, Rev. Matsuda (the President of the Administrative Headquarters of Soto Zen Buddhism) declared that there had never been any villages discriminated against (or any person treated as "untouchables") in Japan. He further claimed that only a small group of activists raised such issues and removed all references to this issue in the conference report. Although the claims of Buddhist discrimination by the Buraku Liberation League goes all the way back to the Meiji period, after the "Matsuda incident," the nature and enormity of this problem was suddenly magnified.(6)

To deal with this issue, the Soto school set up a review committee--the Dowa Shingikai--in 1981. The following year saw the establishment of the Human Rights Division (Jinken Yogo Suishin Honbu). Since that time, the school has aggressively tried to weed out all the aspects of religious discrimination including the changing of discriminatory posthumous names (sabetsu kaimyo), the scrubbing off of those names from grave stones, and the recall of all publications with discriminatory phrases.

On Karma

One of the main reasons why not only the Soto school, but the entire Buddhist tradition, has faced the problem of discrimination is the basic Buddhist doctrines of karma and rebirth. These two doctrines of karma and rebirth were a part of the popular Indian religious imagination long before the emergence of Buddhism and at the time of Shakyamuni, they were so firmly embedded in the social fabric of India that no one questioned their validity. According to this worldview, the human basically consisted of a soul that according to the good or bad actions (karma) in a previous existence determined the fate of the soul in the afterlife. The afterlife consisted of a heaven that people with good karma ascended to and a hell that people with bad karma descended into. And being born into the human realm was considered simply a part of the process of karma and rebirth into one of the realms of karmic existence. In addition to the human, heavenly, and hell realms, one could be reborn into one of six realms (rokudo rinne) that also included an animal, hungry ghost (Skt. preta), or fighting demons (Jpn. ashura) realms.

Although the word karma (also karman) has its roots in the idea of "action," it also includes the nuance of a "latent power" or "karmic energy" that shapes the future. The immovable principles in the doctrine of karma are "the inescapability of the fruits of karma" and "the karma of each self returns to that self." As long as karmic effects linger, one is not able to escape the realm of existence. The timeframe of karma is often discussed within the framework of the "three karmic periods," namely this present world, the next world, and the world after the next world. Also, the idea that "the karma of each self returns to that self" means that since no one else can shoulder the karma of someone else, one's present situation is the result of karmic actions one performed in the past.

Furthermore, the workings of karma found expression in the phrase "bad actions lead to bad results and good actions lead to good results" (or more precisely, bad actions lead to suffering and good actions lead to comfort). In other words, one's present situation was directly linked to one's past actions such that, for example, if one had physical handicaps, it was because one didn't worship Buddhism enough. This simplistic ethics without very much empirical evidence is close to the theory of destiny. However, there is some room to guarantee a better future in this theory because if one performs good action in this present life, one can attain a better situation in the next. This theory of karma, when attached to the theory of rebirth, propelled a worldview in which the past created the present and the present created the future. In terms of social ethics, this theory was thus used to explain inequality and injustice in the present society as well as to advocate a morality in this world to achieve a better situation in the next.(7)

This worldview, however, can be thought of as a cruel perspective for those born into a lower social class or status or with physical handicaps because they are blamed for their current condition because of bad actions that they must have performed in the past. The advocates of this doctrine would encourage such people to accept their current fate as there was nothing to do. As they could hope for was to perform good actions now so that a better life might emerge next time around. Although social inequality or handicaps ought to be dealt with by society as a whole, these people were told that their conditions could not be resolved by themselves. The doctrine of karma and rebirth thus provided an explanation and a rationale of social discrimination. This point of view was uncritically accepted by Buddhists historically and they have, in fact, been a major promulgator of these ideas. We have to admit that the Buddhist tradition has indeed reinforced such discriminatory views throughout its history.

But there is an alternative view of karma which I would like to call "the self-awareness of karma" or "the existential view of karma" that have emerged among Buddhist following Shakyamuni. In this interpretation of karma, the Buddha taught that one must become aware of one current situation (the suffering of which may have its causes in historical or social causes) which is nevertheless reality as it is. Rather than blame one's situation on fate or on the gods, the Buddha taught that we must accept responsibility for our present and to do good is to actualize a better present. Surely, this interpretation of karma has more religious meaning and optimism than a fatalistic view of karma. Thus Shakyamuni encouraged us to unwaveringly understand the "now" that we inhabit and to start from there. This interpretation of karma operates at quite a different level than the usual one and is akin to Shinran's "destined karma" or Dogen's notion of leaving home and becoming a priest.

This alternate interpretation of karma is also reflected in the "Repentance Verse" which can be found not only in the Soto school, but in other schools of Buddhism: "All the evil karma of the past--boundless greed, anger, and delusion--has been created by my mind. All of this, I repent this now." In other words, repentance is to admit to the fact that one is and has been unable to live up to the Buddhist teachings and that this is the root of all the evil karma that is now present. However, the verse doesn't refer to any specific evil deed, but points to the fundamental aspect of being a human being which involves the three "poisons" of karma. Thus, a bad situation or suffering provides us with the opportunity to question who we are. This leads us to take refuge in the Buddha and to start a salvific life.

We can analyze "the self-awareness of karma" as existing in the following structure: 1) At the base is the mental readiness to question "Who am I?", 2) To understand that all karma flows from the self, 3) An awareness and repentance of the fact that one is unable to live in accord with the Buddhist teachings, 4) Repentance (which is at the center of one's life) which can overcome karma (by alleviating bad karma or removing it as well as promoting good karma).

Dogen, in his "Sanjig*" fascicle of the Shobogenzo, states: "Immediately we should cease from doing wrong and repent, and when we see another doing good we should be joyful; both these acts will increase our good karma. This is the meaning of undiminishing karma." The popular view of karma was that karma never disappears until all its fruits run their course, but in Dogen's view, repentance can actually lessen or even remove karma. Dogen's existential approach to karma is part of a broader current in Buddhist thought which operates at a different level than the traditional view.(8)

But even this view of karma, there remain problems in terms of its discriminatory impulse. This is because even this interpretation stresses the need for the individual to accept their karmic situation as their own. If taken too literally, even if the advice is for the purposes of religious salvation, this view of karma can quickly be turned into tell someone else to accept their karma as their own and to therefore accept it as fate. This is no different from the earlier popular understanding of karma. There is therefore the danger of even this view of karma as an act of self-awareness turning into an act of someone telling someone else their karma, which can lead to discrimination, rather than self-awareness and liberation.(9)

In fact, this impulse to tell others of their karma instead of view karma as an opportunity for self-awareness, that been the mainstay in Buddhist history. This history of using the Buddhist doctrines of karma and rebirth to discriminate against those less fortunate has been an unfortunate fact. While it is not possible to discard the theory of karma as a Buddhist, one of the key questions for those of us interested in a Buddhism free from discrimination, is how to advocate a view of karma that doesn't so easily led to this usage.

The Theory of Original Enlightenment as Another Source of Discrimination

The first person to fully explore the issue of the relationship between the theory of original enlightenment and discrimination was Hakamaya Noriaki in his essay "Sabetsu jisho o umi dashita shisoteki haikei ni kansuru shiken."(10) This topic of this essay was born from discussions on karma sponsored by a specially-assembled committee, the Sotoshu Kyogaku Shingikai Senmonbukai Godokaigi. Even when this special committee disbanded, several participants continued this research including Professor Hakamaya's work Hongaku shiso hihan (Okura shuppan, 1989) and Professor Matsumoto Shiro's book Engi to ku: Nyoraizo shiso hihan (Okura shuppan, 1989). Ever since, this debate has been engaged by scholars in Japan and abroad and in this regard, the scholarly value of these debates raised by the two scholars from Komazawa University must be recognized.

Hakayama's main argument is as follows: Dogen severely criticized as non-Buddhist the prevalent notions in medieval Tendai doctrinal studies of his time. These doctrines included both the idea that salvation lay in knowing that though one's physical body may disappear, one's soul remains and the idea that since one was originally enlightened, whether one practiced Buddhism or not, one would after death return to the original state of "the sea of enlightenment" where rebirth was did not exist (these criticisms can be found in Dogen's Bendowa). That Dogen criticized these ideas which were popular at Mt. Hiei was his way of criticizing the theory of original enlightenment.

According to Hakamaya , "Original enlightenment means that enlightenment exists for all people in an equal way, but on a realm of reality which transcends this phenomenal world. Furthermore, as long as one is unaware of this, one continues to transmigrate in the world. This is none other than the theory that though one's physical body may disappear, one's soul remains." (Hakamaya, p. 204). The reason this theory has provided support to social discrimination is because of the logic that though all are originally equal, the workings of cause and effect in the phenomenal world causes discrimination and difference to naturally emerge. The acceptance of social discrimination derives from the idea that ultimate reality naturally includes an aspect of difference and discrimination. Prof. Hakamaya has skillfully drawn on post-Meiji sermons based on commentaries to the Shushoi, to highlight ways in which this theory has been used to support social discrimination.

In this essay, I have no intention of fully exploring theory of original enlightenment as it is too large a topic and strays from the purpose of this essay, but I would like to briefly touch on the following two points: 1) The basic understanding of the theory of original enlightenment by Japanese critics of the theory is the following: Terms such as original enlightenment, thusness, tathagata-garbha, or Buddha-nature all denote the same thing, namely that all people originally have such base and therefore one can attain a sense of peace from that. Furthermore, since one is originally enlightened, there is no need for practice.

This type of interpretation of the theory certainly has been a part of Buddhist history. There is no denying that Buddhists have said in the past that reality is ultimately indivisible and therefore the ultimate world of equality is coequal to the relative world of difference or that equality is the no different than discrimination. In this sense, when this notion is applied socially, Hakamaya is correct in asserting that the theory of original enlightenment has served as a basis for social discrimination.

However, because this theory has undergone many levels of refinement and debate in both China and Japan, one has to be careful in labeling doctrines as diverse as thusness, Dharma nature, or Buddha nature as foundational to all Buddhist theory. At least from my perspective, in terms of Dogen's thought, a somewhat different view is possible. For example, if one takes the case of his view of Buddha-nature, he radically re-reads the famous passage from the Nirvana Sutra that "All beings have Buddha-nature" to "All beings are Buddha-nature" by changing the regular grammatical order of reading classical Chinese. However this new interpretation of Dogen is often misunderstood to simply mean that Dogen, in a pantheistic way, equated Buddha-nature with phenomenal reality as it is. This view is clearly no different that the idea that one's physical body may disappear, one's soul remains which Dogen took so much pains to disagree with. Rather, as Dogen argues in his Bussho chapter of the Shobogenzo, Buddha-nature is only real or actualized when one realizes that one is one with it, realizes it, follows it, and works it into one's everyday life. In other words, Buddha-nature becomes real only when one practices it. Although a religious person may have no recourse but to say "It exists" when pressed about the truth of Buddha-nature, it doesn't exist as some type of reality in itself, but rather it only appears experientially as part of practice. For Dogen, this meant the practice of zazen and the monastic life that follows out of zazen practice.

This can be seen in his Bendowa chapter as "Although this inconceivable Dharma is abundant in each person, it is not actualized without practice, and it is not experienced without realization" and in his Bussho chapter as "Buddha-nature is actualized only after becoming a Buddha, not before. Actualization of Buddha-nature and attainment of Buddhahood occur simultaneously."(11) In other words, Buddha-nature is found in activity and thus is not always present. It becomes present only through simultaneously by realizing that one is the Buddha-nature itself and by the process of actualizing it in one's daily life. Since zazen or practice is possible and available at all times, it is in this sense, that Buddha-nature is also possible and available at all times. Thus, it is only someone who puts Buddhist life into practice that can say that Buddha-nature exists. For someone who doesn't practice, it doesn't exist because Buddha-nature is not something grasped intellectually. Rather, for people who have not yet experienced Buddha-nature, the only thing to do is to follow the admonitions of one's teachers, practice zazen and other forms of Buddhist practice, and believe that this is way to meet the Buddha. To recognize that this is the path is expressed in the Soto tradition with the term "Junjuku" and in the Rinzai tradition as "Kensho." Although these two terms are slightly different in nuance, I think they point to the same thing.

To take a somewhat different example, I think that "love" is rather similar to Dogen's concept of Buddha-nature. For example, if we ask ourselves if such a thing as love exists, we would say "yes." However, it doesn't exist as a thing in itself, but only appears when two people fall in love with each other. In other words, it is only when is in love that one can for the first time recognize love as a reality.

In a comparative perspective, one could also point to St. Paul's words "for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us. For by him we have life and move and exist" (Acts 17:27-28). His words that God exists in such a fashion could only have been spoken by somewhat who had experientially realized and actualized God. In the same way, to interpret Dogen's words from a logical and simplistic viewpoint causes misunderstandings and only when we take a more experiential perspective (one could call it a logic of enlightenment), can one come to understand Dogen on his own terms. Or at the very least, to understand Dogen or his Shobogenzo, we need sympathy for this experiential perspective. And it is not just Dogen, but many teachings in the Zen tradition as a whole such as "the identity of one and many" or "the identity of equality and difference" or "the entirety of the ten-directional world is itself the true human body" also require this spiritual worldview.

To take this one step further, if one interprets such teachings from a non-spiritual perspective, they are bound to cause misunderstandings and misapplications in society. This is way over 30 years ago, Suzuki Daisetsu argued that it was pseudo-Buddhist to try to apply the doctrine of karma to social injustice or economic inequality.(12) Despite such dangers, the way Buddhist doctrines have been interpreted over time has emphasized the idea that Buddhists teach that all is truth and equal. Because so many famous Buddhist priests have taken this idea (in the form of the theory of original enlightenment) to explain social discrimination, Hakamaya's critique of the theory has validity.

Therefore in future research, we need to further refine our understanding of the theory of original enlightenment. We need to question the role this theory has played in social discrimination, but also question those who seem to think that social discrimination would not have existed if it weren't for this theory. In other words, we should also be clear that the human species, sex differentiation, discrimination against buraku villagers, or handicapped people didn't come into existence because of this theory. The Soto school as a whole needs to clarify in the future whether this theory created either the unequal reality or mind of discrimination because the idea that this Buddhist doctrine is the sole basis of either simply goes too far.

 

III. Buddhism and Funerals

The Problematic

The issue of the role of funerals and memorial services in Buddhism is a pressing one not just for the Soto school, but for all Japanese Buddhist schools. In the past, both the study of funerals (and other death rites) as well as the study of ancestor worship had been conducted primarily in the domain of religious and folklore studies. But recently, there has been a trend in Japan to view funerals and ancestor worship as a combined set, which has led to their study from an interdisciplinary perspective including folk, Buddhist doctrinal, and historical studies. Because of these developments, a new term "sosai" has been coined to capture this topic.

The association of Buddhism with these activities was so strong that the term "funerary Buddhism" (sohiki bukkyo) had been employed from some time ago in a critical way to point to a perception that Buddhism was completely identified with funerary practices. But this traditional connection, in recent years, has started to be questioned. New practices and ways of thinking about funerals such as returning cremated remains back to nature, non-sectarian funerals, or a shift from being interned with one's ancestors to the building of individual tombs or non-family group tombs, have emerged. New economic considerations have also played a role with some individuals refusing to pay for expensive Buddhist posthumous names (kaimyo), such especially those with the characters "in" and "koji," with some religious studies scholars even advocating the making up of one's posthumous name by oneself, rather than by a Buddhist priest.(13)

It is not just the Soto school, but all Japanese Buddhist schools, which also face the crucial question of how to connect the Buddhist doctrinal ideals of enlightenment, rebirth into a better state, and relief from suffering with the ideas and actual practices on a popular level of funerals. Funerals are not and have never been a essential, doctrinally orthodox aspect of Buddhism. However, funerals and memorial rites have always played an essential religious function in social life. To discount everything outside of doctrinally orthodox ideas such as enlightenment has been the mainstream interpretation in the Buddhist tradition.

Because of this, in India, Buddhist monks did not perform funerals or other folk rituals for regular laypeople. This fact, however, constrained the Buddhist order in India and it never became a dominant force in that country. Focused on the ordained, monastic Sangha, the Buddhist tradition in India was never able to develop a strong social presence with a network of believers. This is one of the chief reasons why Buddhism in India was eventually swallowed up into Hinduism and lost its distinctive character.(14) In contrast the Theravada Buddhists of South and Southeast Asia or the Mahayana Buddhists in China and Japan performed funerals, which was one of the reason they were successful in becoming a part of their respective societies. In these countries, not only were the funerals presided over by Buddhist priests, there was the perception that funerals were a distinctly Buddhist ritual. This identification of funerals as a Buddhist ritual on a popular level occurred after Buddhism intermingled with local folk traditions which allowed the Buddhist order to flourish and continue.

In Japan, all the Buddhist sects began to develop funerary rituals for regular laypeople during the Kamakura-Muromachi periods. Buddhism was able to become a part of the Japanese religious landscape not only through the appeal of practices like the nenbutsu or zazen, but through funerary practices which were developed through a combination of local, indigenous traditions and Buddhist ideas and practices.(15) But most eminent monks in Japanese Buddhist history saw funerary practices occurring at a different level than proper Buddhism and therefore did not try to explain Buddhist funerals in doctrinal terms. Despite the fact that funerary practices and prayers for this world benefits (kito) have become the main economic basis of all Japanese Buddhist schools, even today, there is little explanation of the proper doctrinal interpretation of funerals. It's not that explanations about funerals is completely lacking, but the texts of Buddhist leaders have historically dwelt more on the methods of funerary performance, rather than on its doctrinal explication. In the Soto tradition, there have also been manual-like texts (or sometimes just a single sheet of paper) called kirigami, which records Soto teachings secretly handed down from master to disciple. With these documents, there are not only detailed descriptions of how to perform funerals, but in some cases, doctrinal reflections on the meaning of the ritual.(16) However, even in this case, these doctrinal reflections simply make facile associations between a selected number of Soto Zen concepts and funeral practices, rather than provide logical explanations on the meaning of funerals for laypeople.(17) This is probably due in part to the fact that making clear doctrinal explanations of funerals and its relationship to Buddhist soteriology is not particularly easy.

In recent years, this problem has taken some interesting turns. A recent combined issue of the journal Dendoin kiyo (Nos. 29-30, 1985), a publication of the Jodo Shinshu Honganji school, focused on "Customs and Popular Beliefs" in which a new area of doctrinal reflection was advocated. This new approach was forward by several scholars, who while admitting the depth and strength of traditional doctrinal reflection on the writings of Shinran for example, found doctrinal reflection on funerals or this-worldly prayers at the individual temple level quite lacking. Thus they have advocated a new, more comprehensive area of study that includes both traditional doctrinal study and studies of the "field" or actual sites of religious practice.(18) The very same style of question also emerged in the Soto school in 1980 when a book, Shumon sosai no tokushitsu wo saguru,(19) explored the meaning and place of funerals based on the ideas found in the Shushogi.

Thus there has been a sense of ambivalence among Japanese Buddhists who while knowing that traditional Buddhist doctrine has nothing to say on the soteriological or doctrinal meaning of funerals, find that they are performing funerals on a regular basis. Thus among Jodo Shinshu priests involved with the new reflections on funerals, there have been comments that while theoretically in their heads priests might know that funerals are not doctrinally sanctioned, nevertheless their feet move in that direction constantly. This separation of what the head thinks and what the feet does is a shared experience of Japanese Buddhists of all sects.(20) Although individual priests have to perform and think about funerals, in none of the sects are there shared, common understandings of its function and meaning.

This phenomenon might be somewhat difficult to understand for those from a Christian background. Among most Christians there is a shared understanding that both the dead and the living belong to a common organization--the church--which has formulated a vision of funerals based on the grace of God. For example, in John 1:14, we find the passage, "So the Word became flesh and resided among us." What this suggests is that, though different in nature, both the Christian dead and the living become a part of Christ's flesh, his body. To care for the dead in Christianity, then, was a natural part of a priest's work as the teachings to receive God's love and to love each other was so fundamental to the tradition.(21)

In contrast, the most fundamental teaching of Buddhism is to have insight into the nature of the self and to live in accord with one's true self. Therefore, to awaken to the self or to become liberated therefrom is of primary significance, while social acts have traditionally received a secondary place in Buddhist doctrinal considerations. But our modern times have demanded that Buddhist organizations more squarely face up to the question of the place of the funeral and other issues in Buddhist thought. While I cannot taken this up here (due to space limitations), Buddhist schools have recently started getting more overtly involve in social service and making pronouncements on issues of social significance.(22)

Buddhism and Funerals

There have two major ways to understand the relationship between Buddhism and funerals. The first takes the point of view that, while funerals have folk elements, over time Buddhist ideas and cosmology (also recognizing that different sects have different styles) increasingly influenced the method of performing the ritual. According to this view, the methods to deliver the deceased to the world beyond, the state after death, and the relationship between the dead and the living were increasingly "Buddhicized" in a more sophisticated manner. Thus this first approach sees a continuum between Buddhist and folk elements of funerals.

The second approach takes the opposite view that Buddhism and funerals operate on a complete different level. In this view, funerals are a part and parcel of folk religiosity to which Buddhism ought to have no relation. Thus when priests perform funerals, they perform them not on the basis of any doctrinal justification, but as a folk religionist that might even be called the "shamanization of Buddhism."

One important aspect of the performance of funeral, as analyzed in religious studies and psychology, is its power to heal those that remain alive. Thus to ease the pain of a family that has just lost a loved one and share in their pain is a fundamental religious act. But this approach to funeral has the possibility of not having any relationship to religious faith. Another approach to funerals is to classify it as a opportune moment for Buddhist proselytizing because the relatives would be feeling the reality of impermanence. But the pitfalls of this approach is the lessen of the religious significance of the funeral itself--the healing function of the ritual--if the sermon and other proselytizing efforts are stressed too much. The basic framework in which a truly Buddhist funeral must be performed involves the following: to wish the best for the deceased, to console the living, to weep together, and to pray sincerely for the eventual Buddhahood of the deceased. However, this basic approach still needs to be reconciled with the teachings in each Buddhist school.(23)

The Problems Associated with Funerals

The method of conducting funerals in present-day Soto Zen is fundamentally based on the Chinese Zen text, the Chuan-yuan Qing-gui (The Pure Regulations of the Zen Monastery), written by Zong Ze in 1103. Herein is described the funeral method for a monk who has died while training in a monastery. In Japan after the Kamakura period, this text became the basis for Zen funerals for laypeople though the Chinese predilection for combining Zen with Amidist thought was dropped. The problem with using this text, however, was that since the original Chinese text was meant for the ordained clergy, to use its funeral method for laypeople, required a process to give precepts (jukai) for the purposes of ordaining the deceased layperson as a monk or a nun. Therefore, even today, funerals are broken down into two parts: first, a precept ordination ceremony to ordain the deceased and second, the performance of a monastic funeral.

The problem with this method was that originally the precept ordination ceremony was conducted while the person was alive to confirm the person's vows to live a Buddhist life. At that time, a Buddhist precept name (kaimyo) was given to the believer.(24) Although it is not altogether unheard of to receive a precept name before death, for the vast majority of laypeople, the funeral is the occasion to receive the kaimyo. Is it possible to ordain someone in the Buddhist path after death (botsugo sakuso)?

Another question has to do with the fact that the newly deceased, in addition to receiving the name, is immediately called an "enlightened spirit" (kakurei). Is it possible to become enlightened to swiftly after ordination? How are we to think of this Zen version of the precepts?(25) This is related to another interesting Japanese innovation, which is not confined to the Soto school but used broadly through Japanese Buddhism, which is the convention of called the deceased a hotoke (literally, a Buddha). Obviously, there is no doctrinal basis for calling the dead a Buddha. This folk convention had its roots in indigenous ideas about the dead turning into deities. Buddhism naturally and skillfully incorporated this and other folk ideas into its vocabulary within the dynamic process of its enculturation into Japan. Sasaki Kokan has recently discussed the flexibility of the term "hotoke" which he suggests should neither be completely thought of as equivalent to the Buddhist "Buddha" nor to the indigenous notion of a deified soul (tama). However, the term includes a combinative dimension and enjoys a flexibility to approximate both the Buddhist "Buddha" and the indigenous "tama."(26) Future discussions of the relationship between funerals and Buddhism will need to account for the emergence of terms like this.

To conclude, I have taken up two issues among many facing the contemporary Soto school to orient the reader by providing a basic descriptive and analytical framework for understanding the problems. Although I have taken up these two issues, many more contemporary issues remain, including how to interpret the Shushogi. As for outstanding issues that ought to be taken up in the future both in sectarian and Dogen studies, one might look to the article by the late Professor Ishikawa Rikizan, "Dogengaku no ima,"(27) which articulates a categorization of topics for future consideration. They are: 1] The treatment of biographies of Dogen (especially regarding his birth and parents, comparative studies with Eisai, and historical matters such as Mt. Hiei's animosity toward him, the destruction of Koshoji, and his move to Echizen province); 2] The interpretation of the Shobogenzo (which includes the issue of what kind of interpretive weight should be placed on the various versions--the 75, 12, and 60-fascicle versions--in addition to how to understand Dogen's interpretation of the difference between the monastic and lay as well as the possibility of women's enlightenment); 3] The relationship between Dogen Zen and original enlightenment theory, and 4] The relationship between what traditions are down within the Soto school and Dogen Zen (this includes the transmission of the "three articles" and kirigami)

Footnotes

(1) In the abstract to this paper, I wrote that I would take up Soto Zen in "modern" Japan and defined that to mean the post-Meiji (1868-1912) period which brought about a host of new issues for the Soto Zen school. But in this paper, because of space limitations, I will only explore the issues from the post-war period. For the same reason, though I stated in the abstract that I would use the survey found in the 1995 Sotoshu Shumucho publication Sotoshu shusei sogo chosa hokokusho, I will leave that topic for another occasion.

(2) On the recall of the publication, see 'Sotoshu kaikyo dendoshi' no kaishu ni tsuite (Tokyo: Sotoshu shumucho, 1992), pp. 1-5. This was republished the following year as part of the Sotoshu booklet series: Shukyo to jinken (Tokyo: Sotoshu jinken suishin honbu, 1993).

(3) See Mary Evelyn Tucker and Duncan Ryuken Williams, eds. Buddhism and Ecology: The Interconnection of Dharma and Deeds (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997). In this volume, there is a lengthy bibliography complied by Duncan R. Williams on pp. 403-25 which gives a good sense of Western research on this topic.

(4) See Tsunoda Yasutaka, "Bukkyo to kankyo mondai," Komazawa tanki daigaku bukkyo ronshu (1, 1997) 3: 181-93; (2, 1998) 4: 183-92 and Nara Yasuaki, "Bukkyo to kankyo mondai, shiron," Komazawa daigaku daigaku'in bukkyogaku kenkyu nenpo 32 (1999): 1-22. Although not directly on the topic of Buddhism and ecology, an unique perspective on nature and Buddhism can be found in: Hakamaya Noriaki, "Shizen hihan to shite no bukkyo," Komazawa daigaku bukkyogakubu ronshu 21 (1990): 380-403. A critique of Hakayama's essay can found in Lambert Schmithausen, Buddhism and Nature: The Lecture Delivered on the Occasion of the EXPO 1990, An Enlarged Version with Notes (Tokyo: Studia Philologica Buddhica, Occasional Paper Series VII, The International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 1991), pp. 53-62.

(5) See "Noshi, zokiishoku ni kansuru toshinsho," in the special issue of the Sotoshu shuho (1999).

(6) See Kashiwabara Yusen's Bukkyo to buraku sabetsu: Sono rekishi to konnichi for an overview of each Buddhist school's involvement with this issue.

(7) In fact, the theory of karma and rebirth forms the center of Theravada Buddhism, which is prevalent in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and other southeast Asian countries. A number of cultural anthropologists have explored this issue. Melford Spiro's has called this kammatic Buddhism in contradistinction with the ultimate goal of Buddhism, nibbanic Buddhism. See his Buddhism and Society: A Great Tradition and its Burmese Vicissitudes (London, 1971), pp. 2-5. For more research on the kammatic form of Buddhism, see the anthropologist Stanley J. Tambiah's Buddhism and the Spirit Cults in Northeast Thailand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970) and the Indologist Richard Gombrich's work, Precept and Practice: Traditional Buddhism in the Rural Highland of Ceylon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971).

(8) The "Sanjigo" passage from Dogen's Shobogenzo is taken from the Nishiyama Kosen's translation. See his Shobogenzo, Vol. 3. (Tokyo: Nakayama shobo, 1983), p. 111. On this alternate view of karma from a Jodo Shinshu perspective, see Komori Ryuho, Kaiho riron to Shinran no shiso: Sogai no kuno kara mutoku no ichido e (Kaiho shuppansha, 1983) and Go, shukugokan no saisei: Ningen fukken e no shukyoteki shiron (Kaiho shuppansha, 1986).

(9) See Nara Yasuaki, Butsudeshi to shinto no monogatari: Avadana (Chikuma shobo, 1988), pp. 3-14. For more details, also see my "'Suttanipata' ni okeru goron," Part I In Indo tetsugaku to bukkyo (Tokyo: Fujita Kotatsu Hakase kanreki kinen ronbunshu, Heirakuji shoten, 1989), pp. 145-61 and Part II In Indotetsugaku bukkyogaku 4 (1989): 41-61.

(10) This can be found in Komazawa daigaku bukkyogakubu kenkyu kiyo 44 (1986): 198-216.

(11) The Bendowa translation is taken from Tanahashi Kazuaki, ed. Moon in a Dewdrop (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1985), p. 143 while the Bussho translation is taken from Nishiyama (Vol. 4 ), Ibid., p. 126

(12) See Daisetsu T. Suzuki, Outline of Mahayana Buddhism (London: Luzac and Co., 1907; rpt. 1963), pp. 186-92.

(13) See the two works by Shimada Hiromi. Kaimyo: Naze shigo ni namae o kaeru no ka. (Tokyo: Hozokan, 1997) and Kaimyo wa jibun de tsukerareru (Tokyo: Hozokan, 1999).

(14) See Nara Yasuaki, Bukkyoshi I: Indo, Tonan Ajia (Tokyo: Yamakawa shuppansha, 1979), pp. 318-29.

(15) See Tamamuro Taijo, Soshiki bukkyo (Tokyo: Daihorinkaku, 1963). Another work which has Soto practices at its fore, but treats Japanese Buddhist schools as a whole, is Minagawa Kogi, ed. et. al. "Waga kuni ni okeru sosai no ayumi to sono mondaiten," Kyoka kenshu 12 (1969): 57-137. I have also previously argued the significance of funerals in the enculturation of Buddhism in Japan, see Nara Yasuaki, "May the Deceased Get Enlightenment! An Aspect of the Enculturation of Buddhism in Japan," Buddhist-Christian Studies 15 (1995): 19-42.

(16) The late Professor Ishikawa Rikizan was a pioneer in the collection of and the publication of studies on kirigami. A bibliography of his works has been compiled in Komazawa daigaku bukkyogakubu ronshu (Commemorative Volume on Ishikawa Rikizan, 1998)

(17) I have included a translation of a typical funeral-related kirigami in Appendix 2 of Nara Yasuaki, "May the Deceased Get Enlightenment! An Aspect of the Enculturation of Buddhism in Japan," Buddhist-Christian Studies 15 (1995): 19-42.

(18) This line of inquiry has continued in such works as listed in Sasaki's article. Sasaki Shoten, "Shugaku, Sotoshugaku, Minzoku, Minzoku shinko," Kyoka kenshu 30 (1987): 94ff.

(19) Shumon sosai no tokushitsu wo saguru. ed. Shinsuikai of the Sotoshu Kyoka Kenshusho (Tokyo: Dohosha shuppan, 1980).

(20) A publication that reflects this new Jodo Shinshu approach is Fujii Masao and Ito Yuishin, eds. Sosai bukkyo: Sono rekishi to gendaiteki kadai (Nonburusha, 1997).

(21) For a Japanese Catholic view, see Nihon Catholic shoshuyo i'inkai, ed. Sosen to shisha ni tsuite no Catholic shinja e no tebiki (Tokyo: 2nd rev. ed., Catholic chuo kyogikai, 1985), pp. 5-7.

(22) For more on this issue, see Nara Yasuaki "Bukkyo no shakaisei o kangaeru," Chugai nippo (Feb. 4, 1999).

(23) Fore more on this subject, see Nara Yasuaki, "Bukkyo to nichijo girei," Jimon koryu (Jan. 1999); Sasaki Kokan, "Sosai bukkyo no mondai, 1-3," Jimon koryu (Apr.-June 1999); Tsunoda Tairyu, "Shumon to sosai: Dogen zenji no kyosetsu to sosai no setten."

(24) For more on the Soto school and kaimyo, see Sotoshu Gendai Kyogaku Center, ed. Kaimyo no imi to kino. (Tokyo: Sotoshu shumucho, 1995).

(25) On Zen and precepts, see Kagamishima Genryu, "Zenkai shiso to jukai-e," Kyoka kenshu 16 (1973); Ishitsuki Shoyu, "Zenkai, shironko: Man osho no chosaku o shi'en to shite," Shugaku kenkyu 8 (1966); Kawaguchi Kofu, "Zenkai ni tsuite," Sotoshu kyogi howa taikei 20 (1990); Watanabe Kenshu, "Zenkairon no tenkai," In Dogen shiso no ayumi 3. (Tokyo: Yoshikawa kobunkan, 1993); Kurebayashi Kodo, "Zenkai ni tsuite," Shugaku kenkyu 17 (1975).

(26) Sasaki Kokan, "Hotoke to tama no jinruigaku: Bukkyo bunka no shinso kozo," Jimon koryu (June 1999), p. 33.

(27) See Sotoshu shika yoseijo kogiroku (1991), pp. 15-47.

 

 

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

ABSTRACT
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.

Conclusion
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.

Bibliography
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Yampolsky, Philip. “The Development of Japanese Zen.” In Zen: Tradition and Transition, edited by Kenneth Kraft, 140-156. New York: Grove Press, 1988.
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Endnotes
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.