St – Wikipedia

Posted: February 9, 2019 at 4:45 am


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St Zen or the St school (, St-sh) is the largest of the three traditional sects of Zen in Japanese Buddhism (the others being Rinzai and baku). It is the Japanese line of the Chinese Codng school, which was founded during the Tang dynasty by Dngshn Linji. It emphasizes Shikantaza, meditation with no objects, anchors, or content. The meditator strives to be aware of the stream of thoughts, allowing them to arise and pass away without interference.

The Japanese brand of the sect was imported in the 13th century by Dgen Zenji, who studied Codng Buddhism (Chinese: ; pinyin: Codng Zng) abroad in China. Dgen is remembered today as the co-patriarch of St Zen in Japan along with Keizan Jkin.

With about 14,000 temples, St is one of the largest Japanese Buddhist organizations.[a] St Zen is now also popular in the West, and in 1996 priests of the St Zen tradition formed the Soto Zen Buddhist Association based in North America.

The original Chinese version of St-sh, i.e. the Caodong-school () was established by the Tang dynasty monk Dongshan Liangjie ( Ja: Tzan Rykai) in the 9th century.

One prevalent view is that the sect's name was originally formed by taking one character each from the names of Dongshan and his disciple Caoshan Benji (, Tzan Rykai), and was originally called Dongcao sect (with the characters in transposed order). However, to paraphrase the Dongshan Yulu (, "Record of the Dialogues of Dongshan"), the sect's name denotes 'colleagues () of the teachings above the caves ()' who together follow the "black wind (teachings of Taoism?)"[citation needed] and admire the masters of various sects.[b]

Perhaps more significantly for the Japanese brand of this sect, Dgen among others advocated the reinterpretation that the "Cao" represents not Caoshan, but rather "Huineng of Caoxi temple" (Skei En); zh:). The branch that was founded by Caoshan died off, and Dgen was a student of the other branch that survived in China.

A precursor to the sect is Shtu Xqin (Ch. , ca.700 ca.790), the attributed author of the poem Sandokai, which formed the basis of Song of the Precious Mirror Samadhi of Dongshan Liangjie (Jp. Tzan Rykai) and the teaching of the Five Ranks.

The Caodong-teachings were brought to Japan in 1227, when Dgen returned to Japan after studying Ch'an in China and settled at Kennin-ji in Kyoto. Dgen had received Dharma transmission from Tiantong Rujing at Qngd Temple, where Hongzhi Zhengjue once was abbot. Hongzhi's writings on "silent illumination" had greatly influenced Dgen's own conception of shikantaza.[8]

Dgen did return from China with various kan anthologies and other texts, contributing to the transmission of the koan tradition to Japan.[9] In the first works he wrote he emphasised the practice of zazen, which brought him into trouble at Kennin-ji:

This assertion of the primacy of Zen aroused the anger of the Enryaku-ji monks, who succeeded in driving Dgen from the Kennin-ji where he had settled after his return to the capital.

In 1243 Dgen founded Eihei-ji, one of the two head temples of St-sh today, choosing...

... to create new monastic institutions based on the Chinese model and risk incurring the open hostility and opposition of the established schools.

Daily routine was copied from Chinese practices, which went back to the Indian tradition:

The elements of St practice that contributed most to the success of the school in medieval Japan were precisely the generic Buddhist monastic practices inherited from Sung China, and ultimately from India. The St Zen style of group meditation on long platforms in a sangha hall, where the monks also took meals and slept at night, was the same as that prescribed in Indian Vinaya texts. The etiquette followed in St monasteries can also be traced back to the Indian Vinaya.

Dgen was succeeded around 1236 by his disciple Koun Ej (11981280), who originally was a member of the Daruma school of Nnin, but joined Dgen in 1229.Ej started his Buddhist studies at Mount Hiei, the center of Tendai studies. following his stay there he studied Pure Land Buddhism under Shk, whereafter he joined the Daruma school of Nnin by then led by Kakuan.

Ej, like Dgen, believed in the primacy of Zen Buddhism. He resisted efforts from outside to water down the tradition with other beliefs.

A large group from the Daruma-school under the leadership of Ekan joined the Dogen-school in 1241, after severe conflicts with the Tendai and Rinzai schools. Among this group were Gikai, Gien and Giin, who were to become influential members of Dgen's school.

After the death of Ej, a controversy called the sandai sron occurred. In 1267 Ej retired as Abbot of Eihei-ji, giving way to Gikai, who was already favored by Dogen. Gikai too originally was a member of the Daruma school, but joined Dgen's school in 1241, together with a group from the Nnin school led by Ekan. Gikai introduced esoteric elements into the practice:

[W]ith the premature death of Dgen the group lost its focus and internal conflicts led to a split. Dgen's followers soon introduced such esoteric elements as prayers and incantations into the teaching.

Opposition arose, and in 1272 Ej resumed the position of abbot. After his death in 1280, Gikai became abbot again, strengthened by the support of the military for magical practices. Opposition arose again, and Gikai was forced to leave Eihei-ji, and exiled to Kaga Province, Daj-ji (in Ishikawa Prefecture). He was succeeded by Gien, who was first trained in the Daruma-school of Nnin. His supporters designated him as the third abbot, rejecting the legitimacy of Gikai.

The second most important figure in St, Keizan, belonged to this dissident branch. Keizan received ordination from Ej when he was, twelve years old, shortly before Ej's death When he was seventeen he went on a pilgrimage for three years throughout Japan. During this period, he studied Rinzai, Shingon and Tendai. After returning to Daij-ji, Keizan received dharma transmission from Gikai in 1294, and established Joman-ji. In 1303 Gikai appointed Keizan as abbot of Daij-ji, a position he maintained until 1311.

Keizan enlarged the Shingon-temple Yk-ji in Ishikawa prefecture, turning it into a Zen monastery in 1312. Thereafter he inherited the Shingon temple Shogaku-ji in 1322, renaming it Sji-ji, which was recognized as an official monastery. In 1324 he put Gasan Jseki in charge of Sojo-ji, and returned to Yk-ji. Yko-ji was Keizan's main temple, but Sji-ji thrived better, thanks to Gasan Jseki

Though today Dgen is referred as the founder of St, for a long period St history recognized several important ancestors, next to Dgen. In 1877 the heads of the St community acknowledged Keizan for a brief period as the overall founder of the St sect.

Dogen is known as the "koso", where Keizan is known as the "taiso";

Both terms mean the original patriarch, that is, the founder of Japanese St Zen tradition.

At the end of the Kamakura period, Dgen's school centered around four centers, namely Eihei-ji, Daijo-ji monastery, and the temples Yoko-ji and Soji-ji. Soji-ji became the most influential center of the Dgen school.

During the Muromachi period the Rinzai school was the most successful of the schools, since it was favoured by the shgun. But Soto too spread out over Japan.

Gasan Jseki (12751365) and Meiho Sotetsu were Keizan's most prominent students.

Gasan too started his Buddhist studies at mount Hiei. He became head of Soji-ji in 1324. Gasan adopted the Five Ranks of Tung-shan as a fit vehicle to explain the Mahayana teachings.

Sotetsu became head of Yoko-ji in 1325. Initially his influence soon grew. In 1337 Sotetsu was appointed as abbot of Daijo-ji.

After a period of war Japan was re-united in the AzuchiMomoyama period. Neo-Confucianism gained influence at the expense of Buddhism, which came under strict state control. The power of Buddhism decreased during the Tokugawa period. Buddhism had become a strong political and military force in Japan and was seen as a threat by the ruling clan. Measures were taken to control the Buddhist organisations, and to limit their power and influence. The temple hierarchy system was centralized and unified.

Japan closed the gates to the rest of the world. New doctrines and methods were not to be introduced, nor were new temples and schools. The only exception was the baku lineage, which was introduced in the 17th century during the Edo period by Ingen, a Chinese monk. The presence of these Chinese monks also influenced the existing Zen-schools, spreading new ideas about monastic discipline and the rules for dharma transmission.

The St school started to place a growing emphasis on textual authority. In 1615 the bakufu declared that "Eheiji's standards (kakun) must be the rule for all St monks". In time this came to mean all the writings of Dgen, which thereby became the normative source for the doctrines and organisation of the St school.

A key factor in this growing emphasis on Dogen was Manzan's appeal to change the rules for dharma transmission, based on arguments derived from the Shbgenz. From its beginnings, St-sh has laid a strong emphasis on the right lineage and dharma transmission. In time, dharma transmission became synonymous with the transmission of temple ownership. When an abbot changed position, becoming abbot of another temple, he also had to discard his lineage and adopt the lineage of his new temple. This was changed by Manzan Dokahu (16361714), a St reformer, who...

[P]ropagated the view that Dharma transmission was dependent on personal initiation between a Master and disciple rather than on the disciple's enlightenment. He maintained this view in the face of strong opposition, citing as authority the towering figure of Japanese Zen, Dgen... This became and continues to this day to be the official St Zen view.

Dgen scholarship came to a central position in the St sect with the writings of Menzan Zuih (16831769), who wrote over a hundred works, including many commentaries on Dgen's major texts and analysis of his doctrines. Menzan promoted reforms of monastic regulations and practice, based on his reading of Dgen.

Another reformation was implemented by Gent Sokuch (17291807), the 11th abbot of Eihei-ji, who tried to purify the St school, de-emphasizing the use of kans. In the Middle Ages kan study was widely practiced in the St school. Gent Sokuch started the elevation of Dgen to the status he has nowadays, when he implemented new regulations, based on Dgen's regulations.

This growing status of Dgen as textual authority also posed a problem for the St school:

The St hierarchy, no doubt afraid of what other radical reformers might find in Dgen's Shobo Genzo, a work open to a variety of interpretations, immediately took steps to restrict access to this traditional symbol of sectarian authority. Acting at the request of the St prelates, in 1722 the government prohibited the copying or publication of any part of Shobo Genzo.

During the Meiji period (18681912) Japan abandoned its feudal system and opened up to Western modernism. Shinto became the state religion, and Buddhism was coerced to adapt to the new regime. Rinzai and St Zen chose to adapt, with embarrassing consequences when Japanese nationalism was endorsed by the Zen institutions. War endeavours against Russia, China and finally during the Pacific War were supported by the Zen establishment.

Within the Buddhist establishment the Western world was seen as a threat, but also as a challenge to stand up to. Parties within the Zen establishment sought to modernize Zen in accord with Western insights, while simultaneously maintaining a Japanese identity.

During this period a reappraisal of Dgen started. The memory of Dgen was used to ensure Eihei-ji's central place in the St organisation, and "to cement closer ties with lay people". In 1899 the first lay ordination ceremony was organized in Eihei-ji. Eihei-ji also promoted the study of Dgen's works, especially the Shbgenz, which changed the view of Dgen in St's history. An image of Dgen was created that suited the specific interests of Eihei-ji:

Dgen's memory has helped keep Eihei-ji financially secure, in good repair, and filled with monks and lay pilgrims who look to Dgen for religious inspiration... the Dgen we remember is a constructed image, an image constructed in large measure to serve the sectarian agendas of Eihei-ji in its rivalry with Sji-ji. We should remember that the Dgen of the Shbgenz, the Dgen who is held up as a profound religious philosopher, is a fairly recent innovation in the history of Dgen remembrances.

Funerals continue to play an important role as a point of contact between the monks and the laity. Statistics published by the St school state that 80 percent of St laymen visit their temple only for reasons having to do with funerals and death, while only 17 percent visit for spiritual reasons and a mere 3 percent visit a Zen priest at a time of personal trouble or crisis.

In a piece of advice to western practitioners, Kojun Kishigami Osho, a dharma heir of Kd Sawaki, writes:

Every year, about 150 novices arrive. About 90 percent of them are sons of temple heads, which leaves only 10 percent who chose this path for themselves. For the autumn session, about 250 monks come together. Essentially what they are learning in these temples is the ability to officiate all kinds of ceremonies and rites practiced by the St School the methods for fulfilling their role. Apart from this aspect, practicing with the idea of developing ones own spirituality is not prevalent.[web 1]

According to Kishigami, practice may as well be undertaken elsewhere:

If you want to study Buddhism, I recommend the Japanese universities. If you want to learn the ceremonies practiced by the St School, you need only head for Eihei-ji or Soji-ji.

But if your goal is to seriously learn the practice of zazen, unfortunately, I have no Japanese temple to recommend to you. Of course, you can go to Antai-ji, if you want; but if you want to deepen your practice of true Zen, you can do it in Europe. If you go to Japan for this, you will be disappointed. Don't expect to find anything wonderful there.[web 1]

In the 20th century St Zen spread out to the west.

Shunry Suzuki played a central role in bringing St to the west. Suzuki studied at Komazawa University, the St Zen university in Tokyo. In 1959 Suzuki arrived in California to attend to Soko-ji, at that time the sole St temple in San Francisco. His book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind has become a classic in western Zen culture. Suzuki's teaching of Shikantaza and Zen practice led to the formation of the San Francisco Zen Center, one of the largest and most successful Zen organizations in the West. The training monastery of the San Francisco Zen center, at Tassajara Hot Springs in central California, was the first Buddhist Monastery to be established outside Asia. Today SFZC includes Tassajara Monastery, Green Gulch Farm, and City Center. Various Zen Centers around the U.S. are part of the dharma lineage of San Francisco Zen Center and maintain close organizational ties with it.

Suzuki's assistant Dainin Katagiri was invited to come to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he moved in 1972 after Suzuki's death. Katagiri and his students built four St Zen centers within MinneapolisSaint Paul.[web 2][web 3][web 4]

The Sanbo Kyodan, in which St and Rinzai are merged, is also of central importance western St Zen. Their lineage, starting with Hakuun Yasutani, includes Taizan Maezumi, who gave dharma transmission to various American students, among them Tetsugen Bernard Glassman, Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobed in disgrace, Charlotte Joko Beck and John Daido Loori.

In Europe the Sanbo Kyodan has been influential via Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle, and via students of Dennis Genpo Merzel, especially in the Netherlands.

Sanbo Kyodan was also connected to the Soen NakagawaEido Tai Shimano lineage, (disgraced), due to a personal fondness of Soen for the teaching practices of Harada roshi, who was the teacher of Hakuun Yasutani.

The Antaiji-based lineage of Kd Sawaki is also widespread. Sawaki's student and successor as abbot Ksh Uchiyama was the teacher of Shhaku Okumura who established the Sanshin Zen Community in Bloomington, Indiana, and his student Gud Wafu Nishijima was Brad Warner's teacher.

Houn Jiyu-Kennett (1924-1996) was the first western female Soto Zen priest. She converted to Buddhism in the early 1950s, and studied in Sojiji, Japan, from 1962 to 1963.[46] Formally, Keido Chisan Koho Zenji was her teacher, but practically, one of Koho Zenji's senior officers, Suigan Yogo roshi, was her main instructor. She became Osh, i.e. "priest" or "teacher," in 1963. In 1969 she returned to the west, founding Shasta Abbey in 1970.[46]

The larger majority of North American St priests[c] joined together in 1996 to form the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. While institutionally independent of the Japanese Stsh, the St Zen Buddhist Association works closely with what most members see as their parent organization. With about one hundred fully transmitted priests, the St Zen Buddhist Association now represents about 80% of Western St teachers.[48] The Soto Zen Buddhist Association approved a document honoring the women ancestors in the Zen tradition at its biannual meeting on October 8, 2010. Female ancestors, dating back 2,500 years from India, China, and Japan, may now be included in the curriculum, ritual, and training offered to Western Zen students.[49]

Daily services in St monasteries include chanting of sutras and dharanis.[web 5]

In the St school of Zen, Shikantaza, meditation with no objects, anchors, or content, is the primary form of practice. The meditator strives to be aware of the stream of thoughts, allowing them to arise and pass away without interference.

Considerable textual, philosophical, and phenomenological justification of this practice can be found throughout Dgen's works:

In the first works he wrote after his return to Japan, the Fukan zazengi (Principles for the universal promotion of zazen) and Bendwa (Distinguishing the Way), he advocated zazen (seated meditation) as the supreme Buddhist practice for both monks and laypersons.

Other important texts promoting zazen are the Shbgenz, and the "Principles of Zazen"[web 6] and the "Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen".[web 7]

St Zen was often given the derogatory name "farmer Zen" because of its mass appeal. Some teachers of Zen would say that the reason why it was called "farmer Zen" was because of its down-to-earth approach, while the Rinzai school was often called "samurai Zen" because of the larger samurai following.[50][51] The latter term for the Rinzai can be somewhat misleading, however, as the St school also had samurai among its rosters.[52]

St Zen, like all of Zen, relies on the Prajnaparamita Sutras, as well as general Mahayana Buddhist sutras, such as the Lotus Sutra, the Brahma Net Sutra and the Lankavatara Sutra. Zen is influenced in large part by the Yogacara school of philosophy as well as the Huayan school.

Until the promotion of Dogen studies in modern times, the study of Chinese texts was prevalent in St:

After textual learning was revived during the early Tokugawa period, most Japanese St monks still studied only well-known Chinese Buddhist scriptures or classic Chinese Zen texts. Eventually a few scholarly monks like Menzan Zuih began to study Dgen's writings, but they were the exceptions. Even when scholarly monks read Dgen's writings, they usually did not lecture on them to their disciples.

Shih-t'ou Hsi-ch'ien's (Shitou Xiqien, Sekito Kisen, 700790) poem "The Harmony of Difference and Sameness" is an important early expression of Zen Buddhism and is chanted in St temples to this day.

One of the poems of Tung-shan Liang-chieh, the founder of St, "The Song of the Jewel Mirror Awareness" is also chanted in St temples. Another set of his poems on the Five Positions (Five Ranks) of Absolute and Relative is important as a set of kans in the Rinzai school.

Other texts typically chanted in St Zen temples include the Heart Sutra (Hannyashingy), and Dgen's Fukanzazengi (Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen).

Dgen's teaching is characterized by the identification of practice as enlightenment itself. This is to be found in the Shbgenz. The popularity of this huge body of texts is from a relatively recent date:

Today, when someone remembers Dgen or thinks of St Zen, most often that person automatically thinks of Dgen's Shbgenz. This kind of automatic association of Dgen with this work is very much a modern development. By the end of the fifteenth century most of Dgen's writings had been hidden from view in temple vaults where they became secret treasures... In earlier generations only one Zen teacher, Nishiari Bokusan (18211910), is known to have ever lectured on how the Shbgenz should be read and understood.

The study of Dgen, and especially his Shobogenzo, has become the norm in the 20th century:

Beginning in 1905 Eiheiji organized its first Shbgenz conference (Genz e)... Since 1905 it has become an annual event at Eiheiji, and over time it gradually changed the direction of St Zen monastic education... Stan's lectures provided a model that could be emulated by each of the other Zen monks who came to Eiheiji. This model has become the norm, not the exception. Today every St Zen teacher lectures on Dgen's Shbgenz.

St's head temples (honzan)

The St-sh organisation has an elaborate organisation.[d] It consists of about 15,000 temples. There are circa 30 training centers, where St monks can train to become an osh or priest and run their own temple.[web 8]

St-shu has a centralised organisation, run by a head:

St-sh is a democratic organization with a head (called Shmusch) that is elected by a parliament. The parliament in turn consist of 72 priests that are elected in 36 districts throughout Japan, 2 from each district. The Shmusch selects a cabinet that consists of him and seven other priests who together govern the organization. It is commonly believed that the Kanch, who is either the head of Eiheiji or Sjiji, the two head temples, is the boss of St-sh. This is not the case. The Kanch has only representational functions; the real power lies with the Shmusch and his cabinet.[web 8]

Contemporary St-sh has four classes of temples:

While Eihei-ji owes its existence to Dgen, throughout history this head temple has had significantly fewer sub-temple affiliates than the Sji-ji. During the Tokugawa period, Eiheiji had approximately 1,300 affiliate temples compared to Sji-ji's 16,200. Furthermore, out of the more than 14,000 temples of the St sect today, 13,850 of those identify themselves as affiliates of Sji-ji. Additionally, most of the some 148 temples that are affiliates of Eiheiji today are only minor temples located in Hokkaidofounded during a period of colonization during the Meiji period. Therefore, it is often said that Eiheiji is a head temple only in the sense that it is head of all St dharma lineages.

The St-sh is an "umbrella (hokatsu) organization for affiliated temples and organizations".[attribution needed] It has "three sets of governing documents":[attribution needed]

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February 9th, 2019 at 4:45 am

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