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Buddhadharma : Spring 2011
25 spring 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 25 WHILE SHUNRYU SUZUKI was igniting a Zen revolution in San Francisco in the late sixties, Kosho Uchiyama was trying to foster a Zen reformation in Japan. It was perhaps an even more imposing challenge when one considers the power of the traditional Soto Zen sect in Japan. Both masters believed greatly in the power of meditation, and both did a masterful job of transmitting the importance of zazen to their students. While Suzuki Roshi was attempting to get his American students to see the importance of many of the Japanese forms that went along with the practice of Zen meditation, Uchiyama was trying to teach his Japanese students not to be attached to the forms, but to let the forms grow out of the practice. ARTHUR BRAVERMAN studied at Antaiji temple in Japan under Uchiyama Roshi from 1970 to 1975. He is an author and translator whose works include Mud and Water: The Collected Teachings of Zen Master Bassui and a recently completed novel, Dharma Brothers Kodo and Tokujoo. He lives in Ojai, California. Kosho Uchiyama was abbot of Antaiji Temple in Kyoto from 1965 to 1975. Before that, he had spent twenty-five years studying under Kodo Sawaki, the most prominent Soto Zen master in Japan during the first half of the twentieth century. Uchiyama’s books include Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice and From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment: Refining Your Life, his translation with commentary of Zen master Dogen’s classic Tenzokyokun. A few of Suzuki Roshi’s students who had gone to Japan to continue their practice, and meditated at Antaiji temple, returned to San Francisco and encouraged their teacher to develop a practice more like Uchiyama’s. They appreciated the abbot of Antaiji’s emphasis on zazen and his de-emphasis on many of the forms and rituals that developed as Zen migrated from China to Japan. I recall Uchiyama Roshi once telling us that, at Antaiji, when you look at the vestibule during sesshin, a five-day inten- sive meditation, you will see many pairs of sandals in various degrees of order. He said that you could see from the range Arthur Braverman presents the life and teachings of kosho uchiyama roshi, whose emphasis on the simple practice of zazen was a breath of fresh air amid the formalism of Japanese Zen. Refreshing Zen Uchiyama Roshi outside Antaiji temple, 1970 photographerunknown