True or false?
The reason our style of practice appears more simple than others is:
• to remove elaborate Japanese traditions for a Western sangha.
• because elements other than zazen have no value.
• to make the practice more serious and difficult.
False—all false. Western people may initially feel drawn to our style because it appears less complicated and perhaps there is a lower probability that they will feel awkward about not being well versed in form and ritual. It seems that all they need to know is how to do zazen, and that’s the only really worthwhile element anyway, right? This is their opportunity to show what they’re really made of as practitioners, sitting period after period and impressing their friends back home with their stamina by surviving the intensive Sanshin schedule.
None of these is the basis of the Sanshin style.
Looking for information on Sanshin manners and customs?
See this page.
Sanshin spirit: the source of the style
In this lineage we look to a core group of principles and elements that make up the backbone of our particular style of practice—that in which we ourselves engage and the practice in which we lead others. These come from the teachings of the Buddha, Dogen Zenji, Sawaki Roshi, Uchiyama Roshi and Okumura Roshi as well as from widely accepted standards and guidelines for Western clergy and for spiritual health. The mission of Sanshin Zen Community as an organization is to enable the practice of shikantaza in the style of Uchiyama Roshi, deep study of Dogen Zenji’s teachings, and commitment to beneficial action. These three elements—zazen, study and work—are the foundation of Sanshin’s practice vision and calendar of activities.
Shikantaza in the style of Uchiyama Roshi is characterized by three elements:
- The study of the meaning of zazen in the context of Buddha’s teachings, understanding the common thread that runs from the teachings of Shakyamuni through the Mahayana tradition, the teachings of Dogen Zenji, Sawaki and Uchiyama Roshis, down to Okumura Roshi and the practice of shikantaza at Sanshin today.
- Keeping forms and ceremonies simple in order to understand what we're doing and why, and to maintain their connection with zazen. Rather than being merely performances, forms should come from the mind of shikantaza as an expression of respect and gratitude.
- Understanding the significance of zazen and study in modern daily life so that we can find the middle way between progress and peace of mind. We live with a tension between chasing after or escaping from things and avoiding taking any action at all in order to remain calm. Shikantaza teaches us how to take the necessary wise and compassionate action without fanning the flames of our delusion.
Deep study of Dogen Zenji’s teachings includes exploration of wisdom (prajna), precepts (sila), and meditation (samadhi), the underlying elements in all of his writings. According to him, studying prajna is studying the self by way of zazen and all the activities of our day-to-day lives. Even though precepts, zazen and wisdom are three basic studies, they are really one thing, never separate.
Beneficial action, Dogen wrote, “is the whole of Dharma; it benefits both self and others widely.” It’s not only the way to lead others, but also the way for us to be free ourselves from the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance. We act skillfully within and outside of the sangha to benefit all kinds of beings, paying attention to both the immediate and the distant future. Beneficial action is one of the Four All-Embracing Actions found in the Shishobo fascicle of the Shobogenzo, which provides helpful teachings in guiding others on the bodhisattva path.
Read more about our:
Writings by and about the founders of our style
16 June, 1880 -
21 December, 1965
1912 - 13 March, 1998