Newsletter of Dharma Rain Zen Center
Volume XXVIII Number 5
By Kyogen Carlson
This is the third of a three-part series on the recent trip that Kyogen Carlson made to Japan with other sangha members on the 750th anniversary of the death of Dogen. To save loading time, smaller images from the trip have been placed on this page. Click on the photos to see a larger copy of the image.
In September 2002, the Soto Zen sect of Japan welcomed the world to Eiheiji to celebrate the 750th anniversary of Dogen Zenji's passing into Parinirvana. This was a major event, with a tour for American Zen students arranged by the Soto Zen Education Center (now called the Soto Zen International Center). A number of DRZC and ZCO members attended. For a report on the first part of our trip, and our efforts to trace our particular lineage history, see "Japan Trip 2002" in the November - December 2002 issue of Still Point. For a report on the events at Eiheiji, see "Soto Zen Meets the World" in the March - April 2003 issue. This time I would like to focus on the tour of places significant to the development of Soto Zen, and on some of the places we visited after the official tour.
I mentioned in the last article that there was a tour of places connected with Dogen Zenji, including his ordination and cremation in Kyoto, but the tour also included temples associated more with Keizan Zenji and the formative years of Soto Zen in Japan after Dogen's death. We were very fortunate to have Rev. Shohaku Okamura with us on our tour bus, as he is a veritable font of knowledge on this period, including much information not available in written English.
We visited four temples in the Fukui-Ishikawa region, where Soto Zen was established in the years after Dogen's death. The first was Hokyoji, founded by the Chinese monk Jakuen (Chi-yüan, 1207-1299) who met Dogen in China when they were both studying with Tendo Nyojo at Tendozan. Jakuen followed Dogen to Japan and became his disciple, receiving transmission from him. Hokyoji was known for following Dogen's way very strictly, maintaining the Chinese forms Dogen learned in China. Many of us in the United States thought that all modern Soto Zen monks were in the transmission lineage of Dogen, through his third generation descendent Keizan. Dogen and Keizan are sometimes referred to as the "father" and "mother" of Japanese Soto Zen respectively. We discovered, in fact, that the line from Dogen through Jakuen is still quite alive and active, and that for several hundred years - twenty generations - the abbots at Eiheiji were all descended from Jakuen, and none through Keizan until after that time.
This leads to an interesting bit of history - the fairly well known but not clearly understood schism over the succession at Eiheiji. Dogen's heir and successor at Eiheiji was Koun Ejo. Ejo was part of a group of monks who came to Dogen from a group following the controversial Japanese teacher Dainichi Nonin. Nonin claimed to have authorization from a monk in China, but he had never gone to China or studied with the monk directly. He was, however, quite successful at attracting followers. His school became known as the Daruma-shu (Bodhidharma School), and it eventually ran afoul of monks from other schools. After their complex had been deliberately burned down, a number of his followers joined Dogen's assembly. Not only Ejo, but the next two monks to serve as abbot at Eiheiji came originally from the Daruma school.
The dispute that developed over the "third generation succession" is somewhat confusing. One theory Shohaku mentioned to explain this schism has to do with conflict between those with a more progressive and adaptive style, and more conservative monks wishing to stick to Dogen's very strict style. Dharma transmission in both Dogen's line and in the Daruma-shu became an issue between those opposed to adaptation and those in favor of it. This argument focused on Ejo's Dharma heir, Tettsu Gikai. What we know for sure is that Gikai left Eiheiji because of controversy, and returned some time later, only to leave again. At this time a successor of Jakuen's became abbot of Eiheiji, and it stayed in that lineage for twenty more generations.
Tettsu Gikai, meanwhile, went on to found another temple, Daijoji. This is the temple mentioned in the November - December issue of Still Point, with which our own line is closely associated. Every ancestor in the lineage from Gikai to Manzan Dohaku was an abbot at Daijoji, over a period of more than 400 years. Gikai finished his days at Daijoji, and his most famous disciple, Keizan Jokin, attended him there while writing the Denkoroku. He succeeded Gikai as abbot, but also founded another temple closer to Eiheiji, named Yokoji. Keizan passed Daijoji on to his successor Meiho Sotetsu, and spent most of the rest of his life at Yokoji.
It was at Yokoji that an important event took place. Until this time, Keizan and others held transmission documents both from Dogen and the Daruma-shu. As the most eminent of these monks, Keizan decided to focus only on the lineage tradition through Dogen and Nyojo. In 1323, at the age of 56, Keizan had a remarkable monument built on the hillside behind the main temple buildings at Yokoji. Called the Goroho (Five Elders mound), it is a kind of earthen Stupa, or reliquary, for the five founding teachers of the lineage through Keizan. The Goroho is a natural looking hillside with trees, shrubbery, grasses and stones, but in it is stored discourse notes by Tendo Nyojo, some of Dogen's ashes, Koun Ejo's blood-copied sutra, and Tettsu Gikai's Shisho (primary transmission document). Later, Keizan's Shisho was added.
Some modern scholars say that, in many ways, the Japanese Soto school took form at this time. Although Keizan continued the adaptations started by his teacher, Gikai, his focus on Dogen's transmission brought an end to the controversy concerning the Daruma-shu influence and led to the integration of the lineages in later years. Keizan's grave is also at Yokoji, and along with the Goroho, this makes the temple an important place in Soto Zen.
Another temple associated with Keizan that we visited is Sojiji-soin, the original site of Daihonzan Sojiji, one of the two head temples of the Soto sect. "Head temple" status, however, was not something of any administrative significance until relatively recently. That came about after the Meiji restoration in 1867, when the new government decreed that all religious institutions had to adopt a hierarchical structure including a head temple, with all affiliated temples organized in a kind of "chain of command."
Sojiji was originally a Shingon temple called Moro-oka-dera, founded in 740. The story goes that in 1321, the abbot of Moro-oka-dera and Keizan had identical dreams, after which the abbot invited Keizan to take over as chief priest. Shortly after assuming the post, Keizan changed the temple style from Shingon to Soto Zen with the approval of Emperor Godaigo (1288-1339), and renamed it Sojiji. He did not remain long at Sojiji, however, entrusting it to his disciple Gasan Joseki. Gasan had many disciples, and a tradition developed in his lineage of going out to establish new temples, each affiliated with Sojiji. Over time, Sojiji became the most influential Soto temple because of its many sub temples, while Eiheiji remained the most prestigious because of its founding by Dogen. Because of this, when ordered to do so by the Meiji government, the Soto sect set up two head temples, Eiheiji and Sojiji, with all Soto temples in Japan aligning in a hierarchical manner under one or the other. Because temples like Hokyoji (Jakuen's temple), Daijoji (Gikai's temple), and Yokoji (Keizan's temple) predated Sojiji, they were placed under Eiheiji, even though Daijoji and Yokoji were closer in lineage affiliation with Sojiji.
Since the Meiji Restoration, with all its changes to the structure of Soto Zen and the other Buddhist sects, many of the lineage traditions associated with these temples have been diluted significantly. This has led to more standardization in the tradition, which has been good, but at the cost of some diversity and unique lineage flavor. Still, the most important element in all Zen traditions is the master-disciple relationship, and that has remained unchanged.
After the official tour, the DRZC contingent went back to Daijoji and Yokoji to investigate our specific lineage connections with those temples. At Daijoji we were given a copy of a book with the portraits of the abbots and their dates, which includes 400 years of our lineage. At Yokoji, which was in the middle of a renovation, I was given the honor of being doshi (celebrant) at morning service in the Dharma Hall, and again at the Founder's shrine at the Goroho, an immense privilege. We also learned that Koho Hakugan, Dharma grandfather to Gyokuko and me, had been abbot there and had played a significant role in restoring the temple in the late 19th century. Before departing we also agreed to take their informational brochure with us to translate into English. This has been accomplished by Mikio Daicho Ohgushi, with a little help from Domyo and myself. I look forward to seeing it in print some day. Upon departure from Yokoji, I was given a nyoi as a gift.
Besides the tour of places significant to the development of Soto Zen, the DRZC contingent spent time in Kyoto, always a fascinating place to visit. We found a temple founded by Manzan Dohaku, where his grave is located. We also visited Chiso Misawa Roshi at Raigakuji in Nagano Prefecture, where Koho Zenji's grave is located.
At Raigakuji we had more time to see the newly rebuilt Hondo with the archival photographs, and to use the Zendo near the top of the property. During the renovation, the Zendo had been pressed into other uses, so it was the first time I had seen it set up. We also explored the mountain above the temple, with the picturesque Shinto shrine.
Lastly, some of us went to Hiroshima, which was very special for me. I had not had the time to go there during previous trips, but I have always felt that it is a place Americans should see. Because of the total devastation from the atomic bomb, the city has been completely rebuilt, giving it a very modern look, with wide boulevards and green spaces. The center of the city is a peace memorial. Part of a partially destroyed building, now known as "the atom-bomb dome," stands at one end, next to a plaza with a peace arch in the middle and a museum at the other end. The cover photo was taken from the museum, showing the arch with the atom-bomb dome behind it, surrounded by new buildings.
Japan is a land of bustling cities, with a lot of noise and activity. Central Hiroshima is noticeable for the quiet that pervades it. When we visited, there was some loud, rather silly music blaring at one end of the plaza, but it stood in contrast to the solemn atmosphere all around. People looked at the monuments, particularly the dome, with a deep sense of reverence. The dome itself was a surprise because of its striking beauty. I suppose I expected it to be charred and somehow ugly. While the horror of the event that left it as it is remains profoundly obvious, the beauty is unmistakable. Perhaps it is the creative effort of human beings to build that shines through, but to me it seems to come from something deeper than that.
The museum has many artifacts I had read about, and it was amazing to see the roof tiles, plates and dishes, sewing notions and other objects fused together from the heat of the blast. I touched a chimney that remained standing in desolation shown in a photo taken after the blast. I remember that photo from my youth, and it was deeply moving to place my hand on it. There were burned articles of clothing and watches frozen at 8:15am, the precise time of the blast. I've never been in a quieter museum.
A few months ago, Rev. Taiken Yokoyama came to visit. He is returning to Japan after serving in the Soto Zen Education Office for several years. He had been deeply involved in planning the trip to Eiheiji last year. I asked him where he was going, and he told me he was returning to his home temple in Hiroshima. He plans to develop a training facility for westerners. I asked what had happened to the temple during the war, and he told me that it had been just a few blocks away from the atom-bomb dome. His grandparents were both in the temple at the time of the blast. His grandmother was shielded by the heavy temple roof, so was not killed in the blast, but his grandfather was not so fortunate. His grandmother was evacuated to the nearby countryside with the other survivors, but she returned to pick through the rubble, trying to find utensils and other items for daily life. She died a few years later from the radiation exposure. Today the temple is located in the countryside outside Hiroshima, yet the legacy of that day in August 1945 remains. There was not much I could say to Taiken, but I told him I would love to see the temple some day.
Japan and the United States share deep wounds and scars from World War II, and from the events before and after those bloody years. Animosity remains in many hearts, but these wounds also bind us together in a deeply intimate way. I wonder at the karma that has led me to embrace this tradition of Soto Zen, and the fact that my own spiritual roots lie deep in Japan. (For more photos of the Hiroshima Peace Museum go to this link.)
by Sallie Jiko Tisdale
This past spring, Kyogen and Gyokuko asked me to take on a new position in the sangha, that of tantô. This is a traditional position in monastic communities, but one with different responsibilities, depending on the tradition and the needs of the sangha. Tantô literally means "head of the tan." The tan is the traditional seat of meditation in a monastery, the place where the monks sleep, eat and sit zazen, so the tantô can be seen as the person who helps supervise meditation. In some situations, the tantô is a direct assistant to the abbot or godô (chief lecturer), or an advisor to junior members. Sometimes the tantô has disciplinary duties and keeps track of the group forms and ritual behaviors that we use in the zendo. This latter responsibility is the main one for the tantô role at Dharma Rain, for now, so our current definition of the tantô is the "leader of the form."
Since this is a new role in the sangha, I've spent the summer thinking about the needs of the community in terms of our forms, and the best way to support the members in this way. When people first begin formal Buddhist practice, encountering the forms is a big step. Whether we come to this practice with a love of ritual or an aversion to it, the prescribed nature of our community services is a koan that none of us can avoid. How we meet and solve it is an issue too large for me to address here. I have loved and hated the forms, been bored and frightened by them, and questioned their meaning. The practice of forms has been profoundly important to my practice, because it has taught me a deep understanding of acceptance and the ways we create heaven and hell in our own minds.
It is part of the nature of our relationship to the forms and the community that every leader must be a constant student. I am continually learning more about our forms. One of the most important aspects of form is that we make mistakes. Making mistakes is, perhaps, the best opportunity available for learning about the self. I think mature practice shows not in whether we make mistakes - in form or otherwise - but in how we handle them when we do. I've taken it upon myself recently to make several new mistakes in form that no one had thought of making before. (I like to think of myself as a kind of product tester here.)
This role was created in part because we have grown into a large organization, and need to stop relying on the habits of a small community. That means more delegation of authority and more peer teaching. Keeping the forms and teaching them to each other builds strength into the community and helps provide all of us with a sanctuary we can rely upon for our practice.
In practical terms, the growth of our numbers means an increase in noise and movement in the zendo. We are cramped for physical space much of the time, and all of our public rooms serve double and triple duty. Clear and consistent use of the forms will ease this congestion. There has also been a sharply increase in the amount of moving in and out of the zendo during sitting and walking meditation. This summer I've worked with the shuso and the jishas to find ways to reduce noise and disturbances during zazen and service.
We've made the following changes:
*People will not be allowed to enter the zendo during meditation or chanting. This means that when you return from sanzen or the bathroom, or arrive after the start of a zazen period or chanting service, you will find meditation seats available in the basement classroom and upstairs foyer. You can then enter at the end of kinhin or the end of a zazen period.
*There is an informal dress code in the zendo, a matter of modesty and reducing distractions, since we often have to face each other's backs during sitting. This means no shorts, revealing tops or dresses, or bright patterns. If you come to meditation dressed in a distracting way, you will be asked to put on one of the robes available for general use.
*Please don't bring unnecessary personal items into the zendo. There are lockers available for valuables. If you need a blanket or shawl on cold mornings, please leave it neatly folded on your cushion whenever you leave your seat. Don't wear slippers into the zendo unless you have a medical condition requiring this.
One other change I'm pursuing is the printing of complete, bound sutra books, including all of our regular services. This is an expensive project, and we're asking the community to support it by buying sutra books for home and travel use. We're working on this over the summer, and hope to have the books ready for the fall. There is a list available in the bookstore for those wanting to buy books; please sign on so we can get a sense of how many people would like a copy.
I'd like to hear from everyone about these changes. What is working for you? What are the problems? If you have ideas or suggestions, please let me know.
Dharma Rain Zen Center Annual Board Retreat
Present:Gyokuko Carlson, Kyogen Carlson, Jeanette Ryan, Gary Oshiro, Dosho VanSant, Kisei Martin, Kei'un Clardy, Sylvan Rainwater, Erin Luthy, Joe Niski.
1) Financial Status
As of June 1 we're $2251 in the red, much better than it looked 2 months ago, only 10% of last year's deficit. In 2001, we were roughly $2000 in the black. We have $74,200 cash on hand, up from $4000 from March and up from the last two years. $10,376 is restricted (mostly Paint the Eye, a little bit for the prison funds). Gary and Gyokuko need to review specific expenses related to the change-of-occupancy work, to determine which can be paid for with restricted funds. The Carlsons' compensation review: Last year, salary was raised $25 per month per person, to $250. Gyokuko tells us that their current income covers expenses, and thinks that it will be adequate for the coming year. Professional development allowance of $1000 for both remains adequate. We discussed repaying the $25,000 no-interest loan that the Carlsons made to DRZC in 1986. A motion to establish a repayment plan for the loan passed unanimously. A separate motion, to make a payment of $1000 now, and to review loan repayments in January 2004 when we have 2003 end-of-year financials, passed unanimously. Facilities and operations review: A tight lid has been kept on operating expenses during the last few months. Smoke alarms will be installed in the Dharma house soon. Bids are being received for other work, and all work required by the change-of-occupancy permit should be finished by September. A donation of windows for the basement represents a significant chunk of the original $15K estimate for the work. Gyokuko would like to install a sprinkler system in the Dharma House yard, which shouldn't be a significant expense. Two copiers need replacement. Gyokuko will research this and bring it to the Board at a future meeting. New Śpanic' hardware on the Zendo doors are required, estimated at $1500, which was not in the original budget. A motion approving the hardware replacement for the Zendo doors passed unanimously.
Our overall membership is down by 2, and the growth spurt that began a couple of years ago seems to be quieting down. 12 members increased their pledge level. Though member retention seems solid, Kyogen is concerned about a decrease in the number of new members. While we reduced our outreach for a while in order to consolidate the growth in membership, now it's time to be a little more assertive. Kyogen has developed a new advertisement to begin running in the fall in several local publications. The new add will be sparse, just a one word graphic and our web URL. The graphic will be on the site with a link to new pages about zazen. Taking this approach is targeting a different demographic than other print ads we've run. Although attendance at introductory workshops remains strong, this doesn't seem to generate many new members. If individuals don't add themselves to our mailing list, there's no way to do follow-up contact.
An increase in the number of residents and more attention to managing communication have improved this situation substantially. The posting of Board Meeting minutes in the Zendo and publication in the newsletter was a development from last year's Board Retreat. It's been over a year since the last Sangha Forum; our next one is scheduled for September 28. The consensus is that communication has greatly improved compared to four or five years ago.
The Apprenticeship Committee is back to meeting on a regular basis. The amount of delegation has improved, and the degree to which the Carlsons occupy themselves with the minutiae of running the Center has correspondingly decreased.
Kyogen has appointed Gyokuko his successor should he become incapacitated. Should they both pass at the same time, the process described in section 7.2 of the bylaws takes effect. Gyokuko emphasized the inevitable difficulties the Sangha will encounter in accepting someone new, and that regardless of someone's qualifications for the role, the Board will need to assure that the Śchemistry' between the potential new Abbot and Sangha is good. An interim Abbot (who is eligible for permanent appointment) is specified in section 7.1 of the bylaws. That same section of the bylaws also notes that there should be a notarized Successors list available; this does not currently exist.
6) Review of Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation
For this meeting, we decided to highlight the issues in each document that we feel should be addressed, and form a committee to draft proposed changes or amendments. Bylaws concerning a number of issues related to succession, ethical issues and behavioral standards for teachers were discussed. Committees were appointed to look at various subjects in depth.
7) Review of Residency Policies
A motion to define the Residency Review Committee as consisting of one priest, one monk-in-residence, and one Board member passed unanimously. Gyokuko will draft definitions of full-time, part-time, and temporary residents, and residency agreement forms (including an ethical statement or reference to the Center's Ethics Policy) and bring to the next Board meeting.
8) Illness at Retreats
Concern was voiced regarding people arriving at retreats already contagiously ill. Although we do not have complete control over who attends retreats at Great Vow, we can address this issue in the letters sent to retreat registrants and by offering refunds to those who need to cancel or leave retreats due to illness. Some communication with Great Vow is called for, both at the Priest and Sangha levels. Sylvan volunteered to speak to Kojun Lederhos, and Erin will speak with Kakumyo about adding something to the retreat letter.
9) Member Concerns About Retreats
Some second- and third-hand feedback has reached the Board regarding sharing retreats with the Great Vow community, both in terms of the forms used and in terms of access to our teachers and Sangha-building. While it's difficult to address concerns that are not brought forth directly, some communication around this issue is probably warranted. Kyogen noted that there is training value in varying things. This may or may not be addressed at the Sangha Forum in September.
Thursday, 11 September, 7 pm at the Sangha House. The meeting adjourned at 4:15 PM Respectfully Submitted, Joe Niski, Secretary .
The newsletter is put together in the first week of every other month. Submissions are very welcome: short or long articles, which can be on any point of practice, including travel, research or personal experience; descriptions of events we've had; the occasional poem or drawing.
Send your items to: email@example.com, or by regular mail, or drop it off in the newsletter slot in the Center house office.
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