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Buddhadharma : Winter 2006
buddhadharma| 33 |winter 2006 Alan Senauke: Roshi, how did you come to Zen training? Harada Roshi: I was born in a Zen temple in Nara. But truly I began to practice because of a chance encounter with my teacher, Yamada Mumon Roshi. One day in high school, I was on an errand to Myoshinji for my father. I boarded a bus at rush hour and toward the back I noticed an old priest in robes, reading a book. As I stood in the aisle – a youth who lived in a temple because of the cir- cumstances of birth – I was deeply moved by this man who seemed so deep and so still, and radiated such brightness of spirit. In comparison, the people around him seemed melancholy, weighed down by their thoughts and cares. I decided to see where he would get off. He left the bus at Myoshinji, exactly as I did. I followed him to Reiun-in, a subtemple of Myoshinji. Later I learned that this was Mumon Roshi, Reiun-in’s priest, abbot of Shofukuji monastery in Kobe and president of Hanazono College, the Rinzai Zen college in Kyoto. This encounter made me realize how limited my understanding of Buddhism was. I doubt I would have become a monk if I had not met Yamada Mumon Roshi. Because of him, I realized how a person’s inner qualities can shine clearly from their entire being. So after graduating from college, I entered Shofukuji to train under Mumon Roshi. My life today is entirely the result of my encounter with him. When did you come here to Sogenji? One day Mumon Roshi said, “There is a temple in Okayama called Sogenji, and the old priest is hav- ing a hard time keeping it up by himself. Would you help him out?” The old priest was the late Kansei-san, the retired abbot of Sogenji. That was more than twenty years ago. The training dojo at Sogenji had closed seventy years earlier. We started doing things as we had at Shofukuji – getting up early, spending our days doing zazen, cleaning, and so on. At the beginning there wasn’t much of a plan. There were only two or three of us here. Sogenji and Tahoma have developed uniquely as training centers for Westerners. How did that unfold? Mumon Roshi emphasized that in spiritual prac- tice there is no East or West; what is important is the bodhisattva’s presence. It doesn’t matter whether one is lay or ordained; the desire to seek the Way is the sole criterion for training. In Japan, Zen priesthood has become a kind of occupation. For those who cross the ocean to practice, Zen is more than a mere job. People put their futures on the line for the sake of practice. In the last forty years, many great Japanese teachers have come here because they found in themselves an affinity for the West. Why? It’s a natural flow. Humans lean in the direction of what they are seeking. It is natural to want to teach those who have a desire to learn. Even if you are in the land where you were born and brought Shodo Harada Roshi and Daichi Priscilla Storandt, Stinson Beach, California. HoZAnAlAnSenAuke