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Zazen is the essence of mind as is...
Harada Roshi

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Sogenji is unique in comparison to other monasteries in Japan because there are many western students. My question is what is the entire situation concerning western monks in Japan like? Are there other western Rinzai Zen monks?

There are 24 Rinzai Zen Dojos in Japan, in all of them training can be done, yet it is necessary to know the basics of Japanese society before entering them. There is a place which is difficult to grasp for someone who has been living in a conceptual society. For example, you need to receive approval for everything. You cannot go against a decision, neither protect your position – that is what someone of training would not do. A Japanese person having living in the Japanese society will have a basic sense for this.

I myself have been in the midst of this, hearing all, seeing all, taking away anything extra, piercing through the barrier of Senpai and Kohai (the older monk giving orders to the younger), piercing through the wall of ordained or lay practitioner. Of course there are differences in culture, yet if there is a deep wish for training, that is where everyone is equal.

Nowadays the numbers of monks in training has decreased, and some places cannot offer training anymore. The reason for this lies mainly in the fact that the requirements for being allowed to enter a Zen monastery are very strict. Usually monasteries do not accept men and women in the same place.

You need to see how Sogenji works. Training is not only about preserving the old tradition, rather it is important to face those questions which people of training are concerned about nowadays, or else all tradition looses its meaning.

Due to Roshi's busy schedule this year, we are currently not accepting any new questions at this time

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