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Harada Roshi

New Year`s Days in Sogenji

On the first day of the year, after a long night of bell ringing and guest greetings, CHOKA morning sutras are at the usual time, with the Roshi giving his New Year poem in front of the statue of Bodhidharuma. The reason for why the poem is being offered to Bodhidharuma, Harada Roshi explains thus:

"500 years after the passing of the Buddha is when Mahayana Buddhism emerged. It was at the time of the 15th Patriarch Ryuju Sonja when this teaching was brought into a more philosophical form. Buddhism was turned into a teaching where experience did not matter, but was based on knowledge and intellect. It was Bodhidharuma who realized this weak place of the Buddhist teaching and helped Buddhism to return to the actual experience. Directly pointing at mind and seeing one`s true nature – to that very base of the Buddha`s experience is where he returned the teaching. That is when "Zen" was born – the school of Buddha Nature, it is called. From that time on, the number of people training and searching for their enlightenment experience increased. Through the efforts of the Sixth patriarch, Nangaku Ejo Zenjo and Baso Doitsu Zenji, all over China the teaching changed to Zen. From then on, it was all about a monk being enlightened or not, and being a true representative of the Buddha`s realization or not. That is why at New Year's we offer our poem, our expression of realization to Bodhidharuma. That is how a person of training is offering their mind and deep wish."

During the first three days of the year, the Daihannya sutra books are being read symbolically and purified by fanning them from side to side and up to down. This is a tradition which came from China to Japan, and is expressing the fact that through great efforts and energy, the Buddhist teaching has been protected and passed on over the years. Thus praying for the peace of the country and the harmony of society, while giving thanks for the received teaching and support.

 


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