For the first two decades of its existence, Sanshin Zen Community has been synonymous with its founder, Shohaku Okumura. As he moves away from day-to-day leadership of Sanshin and into a Founding Teacher role, the Sanshin Network is stepping forward to carry on the practice tradition he brought to the West.
In other words, as beloved as Okumura Roshi is, the future of Sanshin is the message, not the man. But, in order to be committed to carrying on the Sanshin style of practice he established, we have to understand what that is.
As a temple recognized by the Soto Zen denomination (Sotoshu) and led by clergy who are also recognized, Sanshin functions within the denomination's teachings. According to the Sotoshu Constitution, "Abiding by the True Dharma singularly transmitted by the Buddha-ancestors, the Sotoshu doctrine is to realize shikantaza (just sitting) and sokushin zebutsu (the Mind itself is Buddha)."
The Sanshin style emphasizes particular aspects of this tradition. It's based on core elements and themes such as:
- The practice of shikantaza in the style of Uchiyama Roshi
- 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. Forms should be an expression of our zazen mind, particularly respect and gratitude.
- Finding the significance of zazen and study in modern daily life so that we can find the middle way between progress and peace of mind..
- Deep study of Dogen Zenji’s teachings
- Commitment to beneficial action
All of our practice activities are tied in some way to this practice vision. Understanding the Sanshin style helps us to stay focused on the things Okumura Roshi put at the center of our practice when he established Sanshin -- the things he learned from his own teacher and is handing on to us to carry forward.