To save all beings means to be one with all beings. We cannot become one with others by means of our individual efforts. But we can wake up to the reality that from the beginning we are one with all beings. That is why we study the obstacles that prevent us from seeing this reality. That is how we become free from delusion. To become free from delusion, we have to study the Buddha’s teachings. Reality itself is also a teaching. All beings in this universe -- trees, leaves, and animals -- teach us to awaken to the reality that is impermanent and egoless. We are not sensitive enough to hear this teaching without effort, so we must actively listen and study.
-- Okumura Roshi
Deep study of Dogen Zenji’s teachings as a means of truly understanding the practice of regular intensive shikantaza is one of the three elements of Sanshin's mission. It's an antidote to the "Zen sickness" described in the "Zazenshin" fascicle of his Shobogenzo. That danger can come with doing a lot of sitting with gaining mind—searching for a peak experience or some personal benefit. Thus dharma study is not an end in itself but assists our sitting practice. As our ancestor Kodo Sawaki Roshi often said, "All Buddhist scriptures are only footnotes to zazen."
Study activities at Sanshin include Sunday morning dharma talks, Wednesday evening book discussions and two genzo-e retreats (May and November). All of these are virtual practice events for the duration of the pandemic shutdown.
Sanshin helps to enable and support dharma study through its Dogen Institute, whose primary mission is to make available Shohaku Okumura’s life work on Dogen. Okumura Roshi’s translations, commentaries, and lectures are offered through books, audio, video, and web based materials.
Protect Okumura Roshi. Stop online piracy.
We're aware that bootleg copies of Okumura Roshi's books are sometimes available free online. The files are acquired or created and posted without the permission of the publisher or the author, and amount to stolen property regardless of the intent of the person posting them. Yes, the dharma is free. Okumura Roshi's intellectual property, the result of countless hours of intensive work, is not. Royalties from his publications constitute a significant portion of the income with which he supports himself and his family. If you respect Okumura Roshi's writings and are drawn to him as a teacher, you will choose to acquire your copies of his books legally and provide the support he needs to continue his work.
When I began genzo-e, I thought it is dangerous to sit so much as we do at Sanshinji without understanding the deep meaning of zazen practice taught by Dogen Zenji. For me, zazen is the main thing; studying Dogen Zenji's teachings is a support for intensive zazen practice. Only intellectual understanding without sitting is not so meaningful.
See recorded talks by Okumura Roshi, Hoko and other dharma leaders on our YouTube channel.