Some of the differences and similarities between Katagiri Roshi's style of practice and my own can be understood in terms of the history of our lineages. From Shakyamuni Buddha until the seventy-fifth ancestor, Gangoku Kankei Daiosho (1683 - 1767), our lineage is exactly the same. Katagiri Roshi was the sixth generation and I am the eight generation from Gangoku Kankei Daiosho. Soon after he was ordained as a Soto Zen priest, Katagiri Roshi practiced for three years with Hashimoto Eko Roshi, who was the godo (instructor for training monks) at Eiheiji monastery. Hashimoto Roshi was a close friend of Sawaki Kodo Roshi, and my teacher, Uchiyama Kosho Roshi, was a disciple of Sawaki Roshi. They both emphasized nyojo-e, traditional sewing of the okesa and the rakusu worn by priests and laypeople who receive the Buddha's precepts. Hashimoto Roshi and Sawaki Roshi practiced together under Oka Sotan Roshi's guidance at Shuzenji monastery. Another student of Oka Roshi was Kishizawa Ian Roshi, with whom Shunryu Suzuki Roshi studied in Japan. The lineages of Kishizawa Roshi, Hashimoto Roshi, and Sawaki Roshi are thus closely related. In the United States; the influence of these three roshis continues through the lineages of Suzuki Roshi, Katagiri Roshi and Uchiyaya Roshi.
Although Hashimoto Roshi and Sawaki Roshi were good friends, their styles of practice were quite different. Hashimoto Roshi emphasized the importance of maintaining the details of Dogen Zenji's monastic practice. Narasaki Ikko Roshi and Tsugen Roshi, the abbots of Zuioji, retained Hashimoto Roshi's style in Japan. Narasaki Roshi and Katagiri Roshi were very close. Katagiri Roshi also adhered to Hashimoto Roshi's very traditional monastic practice and sent some of his disciples to Zuioji. . . .
My teacher Kosho Uchiyama Roshi was ordained by Sawaki Roshi and practiced only with him. After Sawaki Roshi passed away, Uchiyama Roshi became the abbot of Antaiji. He focused on zazen practice with minimal ceremony, ritual and formality. Uchiyama Roshi started five-day "sesshins without toys," during which we simply sat fourteen fifty-minute periods of zazen. I was ordained by Uchiyama Roshi and practiced at Antaiji until he retired in 1975.
After Uchiyama Roshi's retirement I practiced at Zuioji, where Narasaki Ikko Roshi was abbot. There, for a short time, I experienced Hashimoto; Roshi's style of practice. I learned firsthand that Katagiri Roshi's stle of practice and the style taught by Uchiyama Roshi were quite different.
Recently Arthur Braverman, a friend of mine from Antaiji, wrote an article about Uchiyama Roshi in Buddhadharma magazine. In it he said:
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, 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.
This is a very clear explanation of both the difference and the underlying unity of Uchiyama Roshi's style and that of Suzuki Roshi and Katagori Roshi. Katagiri Roshi also put emphasis on traditional formal Soto Zen monastic practice. . . . For all Dogen Zenji's descendants, of course, the basic spirit of the bodhisattva practice is the same. I feel that the essence of bodhisattva practice and the common ground of various styles of practice is living by vow. [Living by Vow, x - xii]