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安田天山 Yasuda Tenzan (1909-1994)
天山守宏 Tenzan Shukō

本紙
『冬嶺秀弧松』
Calligraphy by Yasuda Tenzan

安田 天山(やすだ てんざん)  

  明治42年~平成6年(1909年~1994年)  

  道号は天山、法諱は守宏。室号は耕雲また指月庵。俗姓安田。岐阜市西改田出身。  

  7歳の時、京都東福寺山内霊源院の安田維清和尚につき得度、のちに同善慧院の  

  爾以三和尚に師僧転換する。  

  昭和5年(1930年)滋賀県の永源僧堂に掛搭。その後、久留米梅林僧堂、鎌倉  

  円覚僧堂を経て、京都東福僧堂に転錫、家永一道老師の法を嗣ぐ。  

  東福寺山内栗棘庵住職を経て、同27年9月、常栄僧堂師家に就任。同53年  

  10月、退任。昭和61年より平成3年(1991年)まで東福寺派管長を務める。

 

Dharma Lineage

釋宗演・釈宗演 Shaku Sōen (1860-1919), aka 洪嶽宗演・洪岳宗演 Kōgaku Sōen; Soyen Shaku

ˇ
古川尭道 Furukawa Gyōdō (1872-1961)

Furukawa Gyōdō (1872-1961) was born in Shimane Prefecture. He trained under a variety of Zen masters, including Shaku Sōen and Nantembo. Gyōdō became Sōen's Dharma heir and eventually succeeded his master as abbot of Engaku-ji in Kamakura.

ˇ
安田 天山守宏 Yasuda Tenzan Shukō (1909-1994)
Another fellow disciple: 辻双明 Tsuji Sōmei (1903-1991)

 

Interview with Master 安田天山 Yasuda Tenzan
by Lucien Stryk & Ikemoto Takashi [池本喬 1906-1980]
In: ZEN: Poems, Prayers, Sermons, Anecdotes, Interviews
Anchor Books, Doubleday & Co., Inc., Garden City, New York, 1963, pp. 148-160.

本紙
The 3,000 square meter garden behind 常荣寺 Joei-ji Temple in Yamaguchi City is called 雪舟邸 Sesshūtei, Garden of 雪舟等楊 Sesshū Tōyō (1420-1506).
It is believed that the garden was commissioned by the 29th generation Lord Masahiro Ouchi sometime in the 15th century, and certainly Sesshū was in Yamaguchi at that time, along with many other artists and nobles from Kyoto, who had fled the war-torn capital, and who helped to keep Kyoto culture alive during this period.
Like other Zen gardens of the Muromachi Period, there are few plants in it, though the forested hillside bordering the garden is considered a part of the garden. It is believed Sesshū designed the garden after he returned from China, and so it reflects some Chinese influence and is based on a landscape painting of Sesshū's.

The Joei Temple in Yamaguchi City is known
throughout Japan for the rock garden laid behind it
by Sesshu (1420-1506), Zen master and one of the
greatest painters in the Chinese style. The garden has
been lovingly preserved by generations of Zen priests
who doubtless were chosen to serve at Joei for their
personal qualities. Yasuda-Tenzan-Roshi, the present
master of Joei, possesses such qualities. He is very
well known, even revered, in Yamaguchi as an expert
in the art of tea and one who is familiar with the
other arts historically associated with Zen.

From all over Japan people converge on Joei Tem-
ple, usually on Sundays and often in large tour groups.
But on weekdays it is possible to feel isolated there,
and apart from the pleasant sound of ducks paddling
in the garden pond and, alas, the occasional blare of a
loudspeaker giving a description of the garden when
such is requested, there is silence.

The garden lies at the foot of one of the many fair-
sized mountains circling the city, and the impression
made on the visitor is that of a perfect unity of art
and nature, a Zen ideal. One is at a loss to define
where the garden ends and the mountain slope begins,
so well did Sesshu's genius achieve this desired unity.
The mountain is thick with pine and bamboo, through
which a path winds from the garden, and at times the
whole appears to be one gigantic various tree. Wan-
dering up the path alone, one may find oneself having
some rather strange bird-like illusions.

It is autumn, the most beautiful season in Yama-
guchi, and Takashi Ikemoto and I are looking forward
to the exchange on Zen with the roshi. The appointed
day is a fine one, and though as in the case of our first
interview with a master we haven't prepared ques-
tions, we feel confident that the meeting will be a
fruitful one. We bicycle out to Joei and are met at
the gate by the roshi himself. Our greetings are very
informal, and the roshi leads us to a room with a fine
view of the garden, which I have grownto love, and
immediately begins preparing green tea on a brazier.
It has been decided that this time, in the interest of
consistency, we ask our questions separately (if I know
him as well as I think, Ikemoto-san will insist that I
ask most of them). At his insistence I begin.

STRYK: Roshi, it is very good of you to take the time
to answer our questions, but please, if you find any of
them too sensitive, say so.

ROSHI: Open mindedness, I like to feel, is character-
istic of Zen masters, especially when you compare them
with those of other Buddhist sects. I've nothing to hide,
though of course I can't promise to answer questions
that are too personal.

STRYK: I have heard that wabi (the spirit of poverty
and self-denial) is rarely to be found in modern tea
ceremonies, and that most people attend them to show
off their finery. As a well-known tea master you are in a
position to know; is this true? We know that everything
in modern society would tend to make a mockery of
seeking wabi. Is the tea ceremony as it was originally
performed by masters like Rikyu (1521-1591) doomed
because of this?

ROSHI: I agree with what you say about wabi. You
find all too little of it in tea ceremonies these days,
something I'm always complaining about to those who
attend the monthly ceremonies here. But you must
bear in mind that though wabi is a state of scarcity, it
doesn't mean lacking in things. Rather they should be
cast aside, or at least not used, nor even seen, during
the ceremony; the ideal is to minimize life's essentials.
Suppose you live in a mansion. You should have tea in
a room of four-and-a-half mats or less. After all, the
spirit of tea is the spirit of Zen itself, and can be de-
scribed with the words simplicity, conciseness, intui-
tion. I'm afraid that ceremonies today are like those in
the feudal castles before Rikyu's time. People prize, as
they did then, expensive utensils and what not. It was
from the time of the master Enshu (1579-1647) that
the cult began to introduce artistic elements. Needless
to say, in the old days women did not take part in the
ceremonies. Nowadays the ceremony is not serious
enough for my taste. It's like a social gathering, a rec-
reation for well-to-do women. Yes, I feel with you that
tea as conceived by masters like Rikyu may be doomed,
though, I hasten to add, there will always be a core of
traditionalists.

STRYK: While we're on the subject of tea and Rikyu,
in reading accounts of his last ceremony with his inti-
mates, at the end of which he was on Lord Hideyoshi's
order to commit suicide, I have been disturbed by a few
of the things that are supposed to have happened.
You'll recall that after breaking the cup with the words,
"Never again shall this cup, polluted by the lips of mis-
fortune, be used by man," and then dismissing his
friends save for the most intimate of them all, he killed
himself "with a smile on his face." Now, it seems to me
that the breaking of the cup and his expression of self-
sorrow, however justified in the human sense, were
neither in keeping with the spirit of tea nor the famous
stoicism of Zen. When we compare Rikyu with Socra-
tes, who died by poisoning himself in almost exactly the
same circumstances, Zen does not come out as well as
Greek stoicism. Have you yourself ever been disturbed
by what I have sensed to be an inconsistency in Rikyu's
final act?

ROSHI: I'm not certain that the breaking of the cup
is a historical fact, but if it is a comment must be made.
First of all, you must understand that Rikyu, though a
great tea master, was very far from attaining perfect
Zen, which is clearly revealed in his death poem, a most
unsatisfactory one from the Zen standpoint. Take for
example the line, "I kill both Buddhas and Patriarchs."
I'm afraid that contains very little Zen, and it shows
that he failed to reach the state of an "old gimlet," or
mature Zen-man, one whose "point" has been blunted
by long use. The Zen title "Rikyu" had been given him
by his teacher Kokei in the hope that it might help him
soften his temper, but all that was in vain. Kokei once
praised Rikyu in a poem, speaking of him as "an old
layman immersed in Zen for thirty years," yet one can
surmise, Rikyu was unable to discipline himself through
use of the koan. Incidentally, as you probably know, it
was Sotan, Rikyu's grandson, who created the wabi tea
cult. Sotan had taken a regular course of Zen study.
From what I've said, I hope you see that Rikyu was not
a true Zen-man and for that reason cannot be com-
pared, at least as a representative of Zen, with a great
sage like Socrates.

STRYK: That's most interesting. Now, if you'll permit
me to change the subject and ask one of those sensitive
questions I threatened you with, I'd like to begin by
saying that I'm troubled by two seemingly minor things
in contemporary Japanese culture, as it relates to tem-
ples, gardens and monuments. And, if you don't mind
my saying so, both are to be encountered right here at
the Joei.

ROSHI: Don't hesitate to ask your questions.

STRYK: Thank you. Well, the first concerns the use of
that loudspeaker out there. I realize that it is used to
inform visitors of the very interesting history of your
temple and Sesshu's garden, and that loudspeakers are
used in exactly the same way at all the famous places in
Japan, yet because of the blaring it's not really possible
to feel the calm which, among other things, one comes
to find. As loudspeakers serve merely an educational
end, could not printed information suffice? The other,
more important thing I have in mind is the apparent
need to supply obvious "comparisons" for visitors. In
Akiyoshi Cave we are informed that certain formations
resemble mushrooms, others rice paddies, etc. Here at
your temple some of the garden rocks out there are sup-
posed to look like mountains in China, and of course
both Akiyoshi Cave and Sesshu's garden have their
Mount Fujis. Even the world-famous Ryoanji rock gar-
den in Kyoto is spoken of in this way. It all amounts
to an aesthetic sin, I'm inclined to feel, and I use a
word as strong as that because such naive analogizing
runs s.trongly counter to the genius of Japanese art
which, most would agree, consists of great subtlety and
suggestiveness, as in Basho's poetry. Finally isn't it true
that Zen, being very direct in all matters, would insist
that a rock is a rock? I have it on good authority that
masters like Sesshu did not themselves make these curi-
ous comparisons. Why not leave it to the visitor to
imagine for himself, if he is so inclined, what such
things look like?

ROSHI: Fundamentally no information about the gar-
den is necessary, I suppose, but really, you know, in
order to appreciate his garden fully you must have al-
most as much insight as Sesshu himself. This, needless
to say, very few possess. Ideally one should sit in Zen
for a long period before looking at the garden; then one
might be able to look at it, as the old saying goes, "with
the navel." But to answer your questions, one at a time.
As things stand I'm obliged to resort to such devices
as the loudspeaker, especially when a large, hurried
group of tourists comes, because, frankly, most of them
would scarcely bother to read printed information. The
"blaring" you hear out there, unpleasant as it may be,
serves an end, you see. After all, it's important to me at
least that as many people as possible are informed of
the essentials of Sesshu's gardening. Next, the problem
of supplying "comparisons." Sesshu, it is true, left no
written record of this type. The description of the gar-
den given today seems to have started in the Meiji era
(1867-1912). Nevertheless it's most important to keep
certain things clear. Sesshu was the first Japanese
painter to adopt the technique of sketching, which in
his hands became something like abstract painting. As
the Zen method of express on is symbolic, it is likely
that Mount Fuji out there (and you'll have to admit
that the rock does look like it) represents Japan, while
some of the other mountain-rocks represent China,
and so on. In other words the garden is an embodiment
of the universe, as seen by a Zen master. In short, those
are symbols you see out there, not naive resemblances.

STRYK: I understand, but perhaps what I have in
mind is the tendency itself. For example, last Sunday I
visited a Zen temple in Ube, and the priest was good
enough to take me around the back for a look at the
garden. A very beautiful one, I should add. Well, with-
out even being asked he began pointing to the rocks
and shrubbery and offering comparisons. As the garden
is laid on a slope, it appears that the azalea bushes
which fringe the foot of the slope (they're not in bloom
now, of course) represent clouds. Frankly I wish he had
simply permitted me to take a look at the garden. But
perhaps we've spoken enough about the few things that
have troubled me, and I must say that you have an-
swered my questions about them with the greatest
forbearance. Something I saw inside the temple at Ube
leads me to my next question. A group of men were
sitting inside having tea, and when I asked the priest
about them I was informed that they had come to con-
sult him about the traditional Zen-sitting for laymen,
which, I understand, usually takes place twice a year,
at the hottest and coldest times. These men formed a
very mixed group, it seemed to me, and I've heard that
those who come to temples for zazen represent all walks
of life. Is that right? What is it they seek? Are they
troubled? Do any of them succeed in attaining satori?
Do you preach to them in a special way? As you see it,
is the zazen session as necessary in these days of psy-
choanalysis and so forth, as it was in the past? What, in
short, has the layman to gain by lodging in a cold Zen
temple, eating only rice and vegetables, and while sit-
ting in Zen, being whacked if he so much as dozes? Fi-
nally among those who come to your temple for the
sessions are there some who work, in one way or an-
other, in the arts?

ROSHI: Most of the people who come here are stu-
dents who, for the most part, are merely restless. They
want hara (abdomen, or Zen composure). Then there
are the neurotics who come accompanied by their pro-
tectors, and older people who are troubled in one way
or another. Many come simply for the calm, others,
university lecturers, for example, because they are not
able to find as much in other religions. I'm afraid that
very few of them, whatever their reason for coming,
attain satori worthy of the name. They mayor may not
be given a koan, but after all one's problem can be
koan enough. I give a teisho (lecture on a Zen text) on
such books as Mumonkan or Hekiganroku. Addition-
ally, and this is a feature of the Rinzai sect, there is
dokusan, or individual guidance. Whether the session
ends in success or not depends on the temperaments of
the participants and on the efforts they make. On a
slightly different subject, perhaps you know that Pro-
fessor Kasamatsu of Tokyo University has conducted
experiments, through measuring brain waves, on Zen
priests engaged in zazen. He's found that even those
who've been sitting for as long as twenty years do not
have "tranquilized" brain waves. But I seriously doubt
the importance of such experiments. As to whether
those who come here for zazen are in any way con-
nected with the arts, I suspect so, but really we don't
go into such things.

STRYK: You are aware of the great interest in Zen in
the West. Some feel that it is due to the same needs
that made Existentialism and phenomenological think-
ing so popular in the years following World War II.
Briefly this might have been due to a kind of enlighten-
ment, a sudden need for simplicity, directness, and the
formation of a world of real things and manageable ex-
periences. In other words, the disillusionment with
high-sounding phrases, idealistic concepts, and intel-
lectualism generally, forced men to search out some-
thing radically different. In some measure Zen seems to
offer an adequate substitute for the unrealizable prom-
ises of idealism. Is this your feeling too? Finally do you
think that, given the major reasons for the need of so
great a change in the way men view living, as far as the
West is concerned, Zen can, among other things, teach
us how to achieve peace?

ROSHI: It appears that the great interest in Zen in
the West is motivated by utilitarianism. This may be
good or bad, but it's important to bear in mind that
Zen does not aim directly at simplicity. The Zen-man's
chief aim is to gain sa tori, to which simplicity, direct-
ness, and so forth, are mere adjuncts. Indeed it is quite
impossible that there be an awakening without such
mental tendencies. In this respect, I gather, Zen seems
to be able to satisfy the new spiritual needs of the
West. Really, you know, in one sense Zen is the only
religion capable of helping the world achieve peace. Its
fundamental teaching is that all things are Buddhas-
not men alone but all things, sentient and non-senti-
ent. And not merely the earth, but the other planets as
well. Universal peace will be realized when men all
over the world bow to the preciousness and sacredness
of everything. Zen, which teaches them to do this, is
the religion of the Space Age.

STRYK: My final question deals with the arts and
touches on Sesshu and your temple. What would you
say are the chief qualities of Zen art, be it painting,
poetry, drama, or gardening? To put the question in
another way, and to narrow it considerably, when you
look at a scroll by Sesshu, when you look out at this
marvelous garden, in what way do you feel his crea-
tions to be different from those works of Japanese. art
which, though perhaps equally important, have no con-
nection with Zen? Last of all, what is there about West-
ern art, if anything, that might leave you as a Zen mas-
ter dissatisfied?

ROSHI (returning from a back room with an album
of Sesshu reproductions): What expresses cosmic truth
in the most direct and concise way-that is the heart of
Zen art. Please examine this picture, "Fisherman and
Woodcutter." Of all Sesshu's pictures, this is my favor-
ite. The boat at the fisherman's back tells us his occupa-
tion, the bundle of firewood behind the woodcutter
tells his. The fisherman is drawn with only three strokes
of the brush, the woodcutter with five. You couldn't
ask for greater concision. And these two men, what are
they talking about? In all probability, and this the at-
mosphere of the picture suggests, they are discussing
something very important, something beneath the sur-
face of daily life. How do I know? Why, every one of
Sesshu's brush strokes tells me. I'm sorry to say that I'm
not very familiar with Western art, though occasionally
I'll drop in to see an exhibition. To be sure, Western
art has volume and richness when it is good. Yet to me
it is too thickly encumbered by what is dispensable. It's
as if the Western artist were trying to hide something,
not reveal it.

STRYK: Thank you for answering my questions so
frankly and thoughtfully. Now it's Ikemoto-san's turn.

IKEMOTO: Thank you. My questions will be of a more
personal nature. To my knowledge, Roshi, you are the
only qualified master in this prefecture. Please tell us
about your career from the beginning.

ROSHI: I was born of peasant parents and went to
live in a temple in my sixth year. In those days it was
customary for one of the children of a religious family
to enter the priesthood, and an uncle of mine was a
Zen priest. I began to study Zen in the second year of
Junior High School, but it was only after the university
that I underwent serious training. The temples I chose
for this purpose were Tofukuji, Bairinji, Yogenji, and
Engakuji, which are located in different parts of the
country. I obtained my Zen testimonial from Ienaga-
Ichido-Roshi, chief abbot of Tofukuji. I learned from
him how to handle koans in the way favored by the
Takuju school of the Rinzai sect, but I also desired to
know how to deal with koans according to methods
used by the Inzan school of the same sect (it seems a
pity to me that few students of Rinzai Zen nowadays
desire to know a bout both schools), so I went to En-
gakuji in Kamakura. There under the master Furukawa-
Gyodo-Roshi I succeeded in my purpose. His strictness
impressed me. His own teacher, by the way, was the
famous Shaku-Soen-Roshi, one of whose lay disciples is
Dr. D. T. Suzuki of Western fame. Soen-Roshi, a schol-
arly master, was very different from Gyodo-Roshi, of
course, but both were great masters.

IKEMOTO: Could you tell us how and under what
circumstances you achieved satori? I ask you to do this
because reading an account of your experience may en-
courage students of Zen.

ROSHI (his face brightening): It happened on the
fifth day of the special December training at Yogenji,
while I was engaged in what is called night-sitting. As
is sometimes done, a few of us left the meditation hall
and, choosing a spot in the deep snow near the river,
began our Zen-sitting, each of us engrossed in his koan.
I was not conscious of time, nor did I feel the cold.
Suddenly the temple bell struck the second hour, time
of the first morning service, which we were expected to
attend. I tried to get up, but my feet were so numb
with cold that I fell to the snow. At that very instant it
happened, my satori. It was an enrapturing experience,
one I could not hope to describe adequately. This was
my first sa tori; now about my second. But you may be
wondering why more than one satori?

IKEMOTO: I understand that it often happens to true
Zen-men.

ROSHI: It was the second satori, experienced at En-
gakuji, that gave me complete freedom of thought and
action. As I've already said, Gyodo-Roshi valued activ-
ity above all else. He gave me Joshu's Mu as koan. Well,
for a whole year every view of it I offered was curtly re-
jected by the master. But this was the Inzan method of
dealing with the koan. At any rate, one day on my way
back from sanzen (presenting one's view of a koan to
the master) and while descending the temple steps, I
tripped and fell. As I fell I had my second satori, a
consummate one. I owe a great deal to Gyodo-Roshi,
for without his guidance I might have ended up a mere
adherent of koans, a man without insight into his true
nature, which is afforded only by an awakening.

IKEMOTO: Most interesting, Roshi. By the way, this is
the so-called "instant age." I wish there were a special
recipe for gaining satori instantly.

ROSHI: Well, the master Ishiguro-Horyu is said to
have devised a way of training toward that end. It's
rather easy to get Zen students to have special experi-
ences, such as hearing the sound of falling incense ash
or feeling themselves afloat. But that's not satori. Sa-
tori consists in a return to one's ordinary self, if you
know what I mean-the most difficult thing in the
world.

IKEMOTO: I understand. Finally may I ask whether
you are training successors?

ROSHI: A Zen master is duty-bound to transmit the
nearly untransmittable truth to at least one successor.
But everything depends on circumstances. You see, it's
not a matter of five or six years. A training period of
fifteen to twenty years is necessary. I am awaiting the
appearance of earnest seekers after the truth.