Sogenji monastery

Transmission of Mind


Master Obaku was the teacher of Rinzai Gigen Zenji. Obaku Kiun Zenji received the transmission of Hyakujo Ekai Zenji. Hyakujo Ekai Zenji received transmission from Baso Doitsu Zenji. Baso Doitsu Zenji received transmission from Nangaku Ejo Zenji, who was one of the transmitted to disciples of the Sixth patriarch.

Obaku Kiun Zenji was from the area of Fukensho. He entered Obaku mountain as a youth, and even though he went to otherplaces throughout his life, he could not forget this place, he called all mountains Obaku as an expression of his tender feeling for his original place. Therefore there are many places now called Obaku mountain.

Obaku Zenji was 2 meters tall and had an amazing energy and strength. He would practice so intensely, doing prostrations that he even had a callus on his forehead. Master Hyakujo was also deeply impressed by him.

Obaku Kiun when he was a child, already had a strong vow to liberate others. With this very strong vow he left home to deepen his state of mind and practice. When he was around 20 of age, he went to see his mother and thus he returned to his homeland. He was the only son of her, and while she was glad that he was ordained, it was so hard and lonely for her, never being able to see him, she cried all the time, and finally from crying constantly, she became blind. Yet she prayed always that she may see her son again. She asked the people in town to tell her, whenever a monk came to town. They would send the monk to her house, where she washed their feet, that were tired from travelling. But also because she knew that her son on his left ankle had a birthmark mole.

When Obaku returned to his home town, they also send him to her house, and when she had washed his right foot he said, „that is enough, I have washed my feet already“. If she had known that it was him, she would again be in pain upon his departure. So he left without speaking. He made a deep vow that he would honour her in all of his teachings to other people.

He went down to the boat to leave, at that time another person from the town recognised him, and ran to tell his mother that it actually had been her son. She ran down to the boat, yet it had left already. He could see her from the boat, see how she jumped into the water to reach the boat, and as she was trying to reach her son, she drowned. He had to watch this from the boat, heading to the other side of the river. This moment was part of the depth of motivation on his path to break through completely, the debt he felt he had towards his mother.

Nowadays during funeral ceremonies a great shout is given to help the soul go to the other shore, and this is called the shout of Obaku, the same shout he gave, to awaken her in that moment of drowning.

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