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卍山道白 Manzan Dōhaku (1635-1715)

One minute of sitting, one inch of Buddha.
Like lightning all thoughts come and pass.
Just once look into your mind-depths:
Nothing else has ever been.

Translated by Lucien Stryk & Takashi Ikemoto


One minute of zazen,
one inch Buddha.

Like a lightning flash,
thoughts just
come and go.

Look once
into the ground of mind
and nothing else
has ever been.

Translated by Yasuda Joshu and Anzan Hoshin


Manzan Dōhaku (1635-1715): The Man, His Temple and His Mission
by Richard Fumyo Mishaga

The place I most wanted to visit in Japan was Daijoji. When Kyogen first raised the idea of the Sangha trip to Japan, I immediately began lobbying to include this rather out-of-the-way temple and was relieved when he announced that it had landed a spot, a short overnight, on our final itinerary. My hope was to experience the flavor of practice at this temple, which has a unique connection to the lineage that is actualized here at DRZC. This connection begins -- at the point where Keizan's Denkoroku ends ­- with the "transmission of the light" from Ejo Koun to Tettsu Gikai, who founded Daijoji in 1293. For almost 400 years, Daijoji was the physical home of our tradition. From Tettsu Gikai to Manzan Dohaku, every one of our Dharma ancestors, 21 in all, served, in turn, as the Abbot of Daijoji.

This succession of abbots from our lineage coincided with Japan's medieval period, a time when the Soto temple system was distinctly different than it is today. There was no main temple or centralized authority or even any conscious identity with a unified Soto sect. Each of the Soto lineages, which had all descended from Dogen's third, fourth, and fifth generation disciples, operated temple hierarchies or clusters of temples that were more or less independent from the other Soto lineages. Thus, each lineage, evolving in those formative years, could develop its own style and flavor of Zen practice in response to the personalities of the temple officers, to local social pressures and to the demands of the feudal lord who sponsored the temple. From this perspective, Daijoji was no different from the other temples that had developed in medieval Japan. However, I was curious to know if those early practice traditions developed at Daijoji had endured on into the present.

October 6: Kanazawa, Japan. As the bus made its way through the bustling commercial districts in the general direction of Daijoji temple, I wondered again and again about those formative years, and about the practice styles of the holders of the Dharma that administered this temple. What was the style of Tettsu Gikai (the indomitable founder), the great Keizan Jokin, Meiho Sotetsu (the inheritor of Dogen's robe); Hakuho Genteki (the nationally renowned model abbot), Gesshu Soko (the visionary, conferred with the title, the Revitalizer), and, especially, Manzan Dohaku (the great reformer)? Had the flavor of their combined practice styles been maintained and would it still be actualized within these temple walls? Had their practice traditions remained distinct and would they be recognizable? Would this place seem familiar to me; would it bridge the cultural, spatial and temporal gulf from medieval Kanazawa to modern Portland?

Beyond the sanmon, the great entrance gate, a kindly monk greeted us and led us along the open passage to a guest room with neatly stacked bedding and a most welcome thermos of hot tea. After seeing to our needs, he quickly took his leave; this is a working temple, not a destination resort with orchestrated tours; he had chores to complete before dinner. Refreshingly left to our own devices, some of us began to explore. Gyokuko and I chose to peruse the faces of former abbots displayed in an incomplete set of ink drawings and photographs along the guest room walls. Under each portrait, kanji characters proclaimed each abbot's name and successional rank. It turned out that we were both searching for the same pair of kanji, "well being "-- "mountain," the characters that would identify the portrait of Manzan Dohaku. At last, we found the familiar ideograms below the rendering of a stately, middle-aged monk in a simple dark robe with a patterned kesa. He stared back at us serenely but intently with all the restrained force of a Niwo [temple entrance guardian]. So, our silent introductions completed, we greeted the famous Manzan and I set down my shoulder pack. I had arrived.

Encountering the portrait hanging in the guest room personalized my relationship with Manzan, the man. We do not know enough about him - although he was a prolific writer, little of his work has been translated into English. How curious! It can be argued that, after Dogen, Keizan and possibly Gasan Joseki (Sojiji's first resident abbot), Manzan probably had a greater influence on the development of Soto Zen than anyone else throughout its history in Japan. In a simplistic way, Manzan's pivotal position in our lineage reflects his pivotal contribution to Soto Zen. With Manzan's retirement from Daijoji, the representation of abbots from our lineage ended at that temple, the path of our lineage was redirected to other temples and no ancestor ever served at Daijoji in that capacity again. Similarly, with the completion of Manzan's successful reformation campaign, the process of Soto Zen Dharma transmission was redirected and the Soto sectarian consciousness was forever changed.

Dharma transmission is the facet of the master-disciple relationship that preserves the identity and integrity of the master's lineage. When a disciple's intuitive cognition of reality has the same content as a teacher's own experience, the minds of master and disciple are one. The disciple must rely on the master to authenticate this mind-to-mind understanding and the disciple is then "transmitted" through the master's formal acknowledgement of the experience. This transmission process of inheriting a Dharma lineage from a single master is known as isshi insho. It is in contrast to the other form of transmission, the inheriting of the Dharma lineage of the temple where a monk resides, known as garanbo.

Transmission according to temple lineage, garanbo, sprouted from medieval organizational features of early Soto temples. Disciples of Gasan Joseki later codified garanbo through the regulated succession of abbots for several temples during the 14th century. Soon thereafter, garanbo became the model for most Soto temples throughout medieval Japan. As temple hierarchies and sectarian factionalism expanded, garanbo became more formalized and excessive. For example, it required that a monk, upon being appointed abbot of a temple, abandon the Dharma lineage he had inherited from his real master and adopt the lineage associated with his new temple, even if he had no previous spiritual connection with that line. By the 17th century, the problem of temple lineage transmission was perceived by some to have reached crisis proportions. With this type of transmission, there was the distinct possibility of no direct contact between a nominal disciple at a new temple and his new master or even between the disciple and any lineage representative of that master. The greater a monk's ability and the more temple assignments he accepted, the more jumbled his Dharma relationships became. Lack of clear lineage lines impeded the spread and acceptance of Soto Zen. Soto monks desiring to uphold the principle of face-to-face transmission from master to disciple were faced with either converting to Rinzai or subjugating their own abilities and desires to contribute to the welfare of others. Such were the conditions that had attracted widespread criticism and gave rise to the reformation movement led by Manzan and others that remolded the rules for Dharma succession in the late 17th century.

There were also more practical issues associated with garanbo , especially for talented, motivated monks from smaller lineages, like Manzan Dohaku. The garanbo system guaranteed that major temples would be continually supplied with capable temple administrators and with financial resources from their satellite temples. This system perpetuated the continual dominance of larger lineages over smaller ones. Lineages with large temple networks offered more opportunities and more financial support for talented monks then smaller lineages with fewer temples and resources could offer. Consequently, smaller lineages with fewer temples often experienced difficulty maintaining their most promising disciples.

The lineage of Meiho Sotetsu had been reduced substantially by the time Manzan Dohaku received transmission from Gesshu Soko. His lineage had not faired well during the rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate, partly the result of a historical coincidence. Three centuries earlier, the senior disciples of Keizan established their practices in the western provinces of Japan near Eiheiji, Daijoji, and Yokoji. This included, of course, Manzan's ancestor, Meiho Sotetsu, who assumed the abbot's seat of Daijoji after Keizan. Meiho's descendents also remained in the western provinces, building temples and administering to the needs of the rural peasants. During the civil wars and civil unrest of the 16th century, many of the feudal lords of western Japan, who had sponsored the temples of Meiho's descendents,were aligned with the opposition factions against the Tokugawa clan. When this opposition was decisively defeated and the Shogunate secured, support for many temples was lost. Also, other temples were pillaged and destroyed --at least 32 of the temples in Meiho Sotetsu's lineage network alone -- either as retribution upon their defeated patrons or as a result of civil riots and unrest. Even the original temple of Daijoji that Tettsu Gikai built near the town of Kaga was razed in a civil rebellion. The loss of temples, loss of support, and the effects of garanbo succession greatly retarded the rebuilding of Meiho's lineage and traditions. Finally its autonomy was restricted in 1615, when the shogunate ordered the affiliation of all Soto temples with either Eiheiji or Sojiji. The Meiho-line temples were assigned to the administrative jurisdiction of Eiheiji and were to conform with Eiheiji's regulations and practices.

This was the situation when the young monk Manzan initiated his campaign to reform temple transmission practices. In 1663, when he was 27 years old, Manzan vowed to change the Soto transmission practices by restoring the strong master-disciple bond, a bond that Manzan later shared with his own teacher, Gesshu Soko. His vision of reformation was not to a new system but a revival of the practices that Dogen had espoused in the Shobogenzo. Manzan was particularly influenced by three chapters -- Shisho ("Documents of Heritage"), Menju ("Face-to-Face Transmission") and Juki ("Assurance of Awakening"). Based on these essays, he would seek changes requiring transmission based on direct face-to-face contact between master and disciple and restricting inheritance to a single lineage through a single master. Manzan continued his long-standing effort to reform the accepted practices of temple lineage transmission for over 40 years.

Others had previously attempted to reform Soto transmission procedures but had failed. However, Manzan was a brilliant tactician who moved cautiously and waited for the right opportunities to implement his campaign objectives. Understanding that he would, ultimately, require a broad base of support, he spent years carefully testing the political waters. He quietly developed strategic alliances both inside and outside the Soto establishment with those who supported his vision. He also sought to learn who would oppose his campaign, and what their objections would be. Manzan refused ecclesiastical appointments that could compromise his position and potentially jeopardize his cause.

When Manzan freed himself of all responsibilities in 1694, he retired to the small temple of Genko-an on the outskirts of Kyoto, an important intellectual and ecclesiastical center in the 17th century. From this hub, Manzan and his allies still waited and finally, in 1696, the time was right. They moved swiftly; the initial judgments were unsuccessful. Undaunted, the alliance methodically exhausted all avenues of ecclesiastical appeal. Manzan then brought the case to ban temple Dharma transmission directly to the bafuku, the secular authority. He logically stated his arguments, often citing Dogen to prove his points.

Manzan was too astute and too seasoned a strategist to assume that he would have been successful within the ecclesiastic courts and temple administrative halls. He pursued all avenues to demonstrate that he had exhausted all ecclesiastic sources, a position from which he could take his case to the bafuku and from which he could continue to maintain his broad base of support within ecclesiastic circles. Manzan also understood the natural tension between the secular and ecclesiastic authorities and could use it to his advantage, presenting his arguments where others had failed. In 1703, after several counter appeals and some compromises, the bafuku finally ruled in favor of Manzan and proclaimed that the principles of face-to-face transmission and the inheritance of a single Dharma lineage would determine Dharma succession for Soto monks in the future.

Manzan Dohaku remained at Genko-an in Kyoto where he tirelessly continued to clarify and defend his revivalist positions until he died in 1714. Removing the restraints of garanbo had an immediate restorative effect on the smaller lineages; the numbers of Dharma heirs increased dramatically. The revival of Dogen's fundamental principles also caused the Soto sect in general to redefine its identity and revitalize its awareness of early practice traditions. Even now the strength of Manzan's convictions endures in our daily practice and this stately monk with the life-long mission continues to direct us as we actualize familiar forms.




Eric Rommeluère
L'éveil de Manzan

Pour faire suite au billet précédent, voici comment est brièvement relaté l'éveil de Manzan Dôhaku 卍山道白, le fameux maître zen sôtô, dans sa biographie résumée que l'on trouve dans "Le recueil de la lampe ininterrompue de l'école Sôtô du Japon" (日本洞上聯燈録 Nihon tôjô rentô roku, 1742), le plus complet des recueils biographiques de l'école Sôtô.


Il s'exerçait jour et nuit jusqu'à en oublier de manger et de dormir. Une nuit qu'il était agenouillé devant la lune, il eut soudain l'éveil. Ce qu'il relata alors sous la forme d'un poème où il y avait ces vers :

La nuit est profonde, les nuages évanouis, le ciel est pur.
Dans le monde entier, il n'y a pas une poussière pour gêner ma vision.

La simplicité déconcertante de l'éveil... Selon sa biographie développée et composée par son disciple, il avait alors seize ans.



Manzan Dōhaku
Letter to Zissan
[Zissan: a monk's name, suggesting “real practice.”]
in: World of the Buddha, ed. by L., Stryk. (1968) Grove Press, NY. pp. 373 & 374

Like training, satori must be true. If one holds that there is something to practice and realize, one is a follower of the false religion of entity based on affirmation. If, on the other hand, one asserts that there is nothing to practice or realize, one is still not above the four types of differentiation and the one hundred forms of negation: one is an adherent of the equally false religion of nothingness, founded on negation. And this is the shadowy product of the dichotomous intellect, holding no truth.

First of all, I ask you to look upon the world's riches as a dunghill, upon the most beautiful men and women as stinking corpses, upon the highest honors and reputation as an echo, upon the most malicious calumny as the cawing of a crow. Regard yourself as a fan in winter, the universe as a straw dog.

This accomplished, train wholeheartedly. Then, and then only, will you awaken. If you dare claim to have undergone real training and attained enlightenment without having gone through all this, you are nothing but a liar and are bound for hell. Bear all I have said in mind-practice truly.

1. If you desire the attainment of satori, ask yourself this question: Who hears sound? As described in the Surangamasamadhi, that is Avalokitesvara's faith in the hearer. Since there is such a hearer in you, all of you hear sounds. You may say that it is the ear that hears, yet the ear is but a mechanism. If it could hear by itself, then the dead could hear our prayers for them. Inside you, then, is a hearer.

Now, this is the way to apply yourself: whether or not you hear anything, keep asking who the hearer is. Doubt, scrutinize, paying no attention to fancies or ideas. Strain every nerve without expecting anything to happen, without willing satori. Doubt, doubt, doubt. If even one idea arises, your doubt is not sufficiently strong, and you must question yourself more intensely. Scrutinize the hearer in yourself, who is beyond your power or vision.

Master Bassui says, “When at wits' end and unable to think another thought, you are applying yourself properly.” Thus do not look around, but devote yourself utterly to doubting self-examination until you forget where you are or even that you live. This may lead you to feel completely at sea. Yet you must persist in the search for the hearer, sweating, like a dead man, until you are unconscious, a lump of great doubt. But look! That lump will suddenly break up and out of it will leap the angel of the awakening, the great satori consciousness. It is as if one awoke from the deepest dream, literally returned to life.

2. In Zen practice a variety of supernatural phenomena may be experienced. For example, you may see ghostly faces, demons, Buddhas, flowers, or you may feel your body becoming like that of a woman, or even purified into a state of non-existence. If this happens, your “doubt in practice” is still inadequate, for if in perfect doubt you will not have such illusions. Indeed it is only when you are not alert that you meet with them. Do not shrink from them, nor prize them. Just doubt and examine yourself all the more thoroughly.

3. Zen practitioners must accept the fact that while in meditation they are likely to suffer one or more of the three maladies: kon, san, and chin. Kon is sleepiness and san instability, both of which are too well known for comment Chin, on the other hand, is a grave malady and always leads to unhappy results. It is a state in which one is free from sleepiness and instability, and all mentalization ceases. One feels gay, immaculate; one can go on in zazen for hours on end. One has a feeling that all things are equal, neither existent nor non-existent, right nor wrong. Those possessed by chin regard it as satori—a most dangerous delusion. If you were to remain in this state, you would go far astray. At such times, in fact, you must have the greatest doubt.



Manzan's Notes on Practice
Timeless Spring: A Soto Zen Anthology. Translated by Thomas Cleary, Weatherhill, 1980, pp. 168-169.

Manzan and his disciple Menzan were distinguished Soto zen
masters whose lineage survives today; the following notes to individuals
are taken from a set of such notes in the Zenshu seiten,
or zen bible, compiled by Arima Takudo in this century.


The great teacher who was the third patriarch of zen said,
"Complete like empty space, lacking nothing, no excess."
But what is he calling 'complete?' It is the 'mind of faith'
in the title to the poem from which this saying is taken,
the 'ultimate way' mentioned in the first line of the poem.

The ultimate way is the one real great way, the mind of
faith is the non-dualistic inconceivable mind. Mind and
the way do not decrease when in illusion nor increase
when in enlightenment; everything is perfect reality, each
particular is complete -- you can't grasp or reject anything.

However, even so, "if you do not practice it, it will not
become manifest; if you do not realize it, you cannot attain
it." It is like having a jewel hidden in your pocket and
suffering for want of food and clothing.

Practice and realization are not nonexistent; you should
start right away. Just sitting is called real practice, the
freedom and ease of body and mind is called true realization.

Once practice and realization are actually fulfilled, after
that you must attain to the meaning of the completeness,
without lack or excess, of this way, this mind.

The zen man Fukan presented paper asking for words
about dharma, so I wrote this as a help to practical investigation;
take heed.


Silver mountain, iron wall, just sitting only; simplicity is
the mind, nonadornment is basic. One flavor, pure and
real, aloof of all appearances, not flowing into second
thoughts, nostrils right, present in the community like a
mountain -- this is what is called a real patchrobed monk,
or one exalted beyond things.

Bokushin is also called Mumon ('no ornament') -- he
wanted me to write some words of instruction based on
his name, so I wrote this and gave it to him. If you want
to be such a man, you must cultivate such a thing. Work
on this.


Great perfect awareness is the ocean of ultimate peace; still
and silent, myriad forms and images reflect therein. Yet
suddenly when the wind of objects arises it turns into an
ocean of birth and death, with waves of consciousnesses
and feelings billowing day and night, where all sentient
beings appear and disappear, with no end in sight. Although
the two oceans seem different, really they come
from the same source, mind. Originally there is no sign of
distinction in the mind source; life and death and nirvana
all revert to the essential nature of the source.

Therefore, when you realize the mind-source, the whole
universe is a great round perfect ocean. But how to realize
the mind source? You must liberate body and mind on the
sitting cushion before you can do so.




教策 kyōsaku
"Encouragement stick" waking stick, flattened at one end

"awakening stick" or "lightening stick." 

"Don't be disturbed
by anything. Go straight ahead,
not dropping your
eyes or looking aside."

Painted by Manzan Dohaku

Material: Japanese beech.
Painted using persimmon tannin.
(For decorative use only.)

Dimension cm: 105×5



Bodiford, William
Dharma Transmission in Sōtō Zen: Manzan Dōhaku's Reform Movement

In Monumenta Nipponica 46-4 (1991): pp. 423-451


Lawrence William Gross
Manzan Dôhaku and the transmission of the teaching

Ph.D. Thesis, Stanford University, 1998


in’in ekishi. (因院易師). In Japanese, “changing teachers in accordance with the

temple.” Since the fifteenth century, members of the SŌTŌSHŪ of the ZEN

tradition have participated in the practice of taking the lineage of the monastery

where one was appointed abbot, even if that lineage was different from one’s

own. The practice of inheriting the temple’s lineage was known as the “temple

dharma lineage” (GARANBŌ), and the practice of switching lineages was called

in’in ekishi. Basing his claims on the teachings found in the SHŌBŌGENZŌ, the

Sōtō Zen master MANZAN DŌHAKU attempted to reform this practice by

asserting the importance of the direct, face-to-face transmission (menju shihō)

from one master to his disciple (isshi inshō). In 1700, he made a request to the

Agency of Temples and Shrine (jisha bugyō) to intervene in the garanbō system .

Despite fierce opposition from such figures as TENKEI DENSON (1646–1735),

the Tokugawa government banned the practice in 1703.

The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, pp. 373-4.