One Drop Zen Website
Please enjoy the fotos from Sogenji shared by Seitai Daishi in the Gallery section. If you have some fotos from Sogenji Japan yourself which you wish to share with the sangha on this website, please send them to Hokuozan.Sogenji@gmail.com and we will be happy to post them for everyone. Thank you.
Samu Sesshin in Hokuozan
We are deeply grateful, that our Roshi after having been here for the June and July Osesshin, came again to guide us further in our practice. The summer month of August is giving us the chance to get some needed projects done, while we also enjoy time with one another, sharing about life and practice. Families and parents had a chance to also get a small taste of how practice is happening in Hokuozan.
Please enjoy the fotos below, they show only a small aspect of all the great efforts which were made. Deep thanks to our teacher and to the sangha giving their very best.
Bamboo Cutting and summer samu
all the bamboo between Sogenji and Tendaiji is being cut, n the heat and humidity of the summer, and then carried up to the mountain. This is in preparation for the building of the NOKOTSUDO - the columbarium with a huge stone carving of the Buddha.
Fotos kindly send b Domyo, Ekei and Genjo.
KOTAI change of positions for the upcoming snow training period 2023
Jikijitsu : Roshi
Joko : Sebastian koji, Sodo zenji, Choko zenni, Hori koji, Fujaku zenji, Bunshu zenji, , Doho koji
Jisharyo : Sokyu koji, Genki koji
Zendokan : Daichi Zenni
Densu : Sodo zenji, Choko zenni, Bunshu zenji
Fuzui : Sebastian koji Ekei zenji
Tenzo : HoRri koji Shogan zenji
Enzu : Domyo koji Jeremy koji
Zomuryo : Fujaku zenji
Guest house : Sokun zenni
8 corners building : Doho koji
Fusu kaikei : Roshi
Shikaryo : Roshi
International places :
Hokuozan Sogen-ji : ShoE roshi
Tahomasan Sogen-ji: Daichi osho, SoZui osho
Indozan Sogen-ji : Bodhaidharuma osho
Hidden Valley Zen Center: Sozui osho
Denmark zendo: Daiko koji
Taigen Shodo Roshi: The Zen Path to Enlightenment—Four Main Texts of the Zen school and their Commentaries
The Zen Path to Enlightenment is a special edition that brings together the four main texts of Zen accompanied by Roshi's commentaries. The main four texts are:
This edition was crafted in a limited quantity of 200 copies, with a process spanning five years from text editing to binding, combining both printing and hand binding techniques.
The seeds of creation started to germinate when Roshi gave one of his books to Myorin for repair. And to the question "What is this?' he answered "Zen Bible." From then on Roshi's vision and Myorin's great wish to create a Zen Bible in English continued to grow.
The books were handed over in Hokuozan on the occasion of celebrating Roshi's 83rd birthday and Taikan ShoE's Roshi ceremony. Additionally, this event marked the 30th anniversary of Roshi's initial visit to Europe.
Encased in a slipcase, The Zen Path to Enlightenment comprises four handcrafted hardcover books, a Japanese-bound booklet, and a trifold card. The book covers are made from hand-dyed linen material, the cases were made with silkscreen print method, ensuring the longevity of the books. The Japanese-style booklet serves as a comprehensive glossary, compiling the essential terms and concepts covered in each of the four books.
July training period
Harada Roshi again came to Europe to guide his students, we were 40 people for one week of Osesshin in Hokuozan followed by a 3 day sesshin in Lithuania with 78 people.
We thank Roshi for his great wisdom and untiring guidance.
Closing Poem for this year´s rainy training period
Teaching over and over until the wisdom is brighty clarified
The wind of truth shines according to the karmic connection with this wisdom
Abiding no where, mind is purified
From awakened mind, we bow in thankfulness to the Buddha
Memorial Foto of the June Osesshin in Hokuozan Sogenji
Zoom Zazen Invitation
Please feel invited to join daily morning practice starting at 6:30 am for 40 minutes, on Saturday and Sunday it will start at 9am.
It will be lead by Isabelle and Fukuden, thank you both for your kind offering.
Zazen starts after one Heart Sutra.
Harmony is the greatest treasure
This world is now conditioned to fears and wars everywhere, yet that is only one facet of what is going on.
How can we possibly bring it to a place where people from all over the world are able to know peace directly. We have bombing in Burma, Taiwan being afraid of China maybe attacking, Korea having missilies flying every day, India the difference between Islam and Hinduism effects everyone, in Europe and USA as well, there is no end to this deep worry.
Who will bring people to encounter peace?
How can we do this, while we are all the same. We all have the same mind with the same thoughts, yet people have difficulty finding the common ground. Rather threatening each other.
The heart sutra would be one way of teaching on how to live, the teaching of Prajna wisdom. Prajna is what we realize when we awaken, which is the realization and the functioning as well.
What is the form of Prajna? That is the awakening to our true mind, that which all of us hold.
The pearl which is in an oyster shell is soaking up the light of the moon, and the moon light gives life and growth to this pearl.
What is the functioning of Prajna? A rabbit getting pregnant, which is an old tale in China, believing that all rabbits are female, and when they look for a long time at the moon, they would absorb the light and get pregnant.
There is no special meaning in the rabbit getting pregnant, but only by honestly looking at that moon can we awaken.
We are such a developed society, but there is also a lot of hate and distrust underlying. If we can become this state of mind of the rabbit looking at the moon, then we can turn this hate into trust. That is our true nature´s functioning, working through us. This is the truth for all of us. All of us are already endowed with this awakened mind, and once we can awaken to it, we can start to function from it.
Because we are all still insecure in our separated places, of being who we think we are, this world continues to be chaotic. That is why we need to awaken, believing in one another. This faith comes of its own. And then we can realize a place beyond this chaotic and fighting world.
All people have the same awakened mind. If awakening is possible and we all have the deeply seeing eye opened, then we can see that beyond the difficulties, this world is completely pure.
During this year of the rabbit we can use this as a theme for our training.
A diligent student asks:
How do you keep the concentration you gathered after a Sesshin in daily life? I find it very difficult to do Sussokan for example during work. Are there other methods you use?
Shodo Harada Roshi:
Tanden. To keep this life energy you have to use the tanden. Our body has two parts. The upper body and the lower body. In the lower body we get our life energy.
In daily life we get all kinds of information and all the information is stored in the head. But this has nothing to do with our life energy. It is simply like a radar that picks up the information from the outside. Then it arranges all the data and gathers it in the brain.
With that alone we could not life. We also need life energy. All the tools ,
the sense organs witch we use to pick up the data from the outside are in our upper part of our being. The eyes for seeing, ears for hearing, nose for smelling, mouth for tasting and body for
But if it’s about your life energy to protect that and to gather that, you don’t need any connection to the outside. You don’t need any windows. There is no window there. And that’s why it is so easy for the energy to gather in the tanden because there is no window. You only need to practice a little bit. Like a baby. From that time, remember how it was then. Just a little practice. And once you get it, it’s so simple. You work, you talk to others, you can even then gather data and not to be pulled away from the tanden. That still can work at the same time. The head can then even fall a sleep but that tanden is working 24 hours a day. And then if you tried out a little bit you can really see how it works. You can gather energy from there and you feel motivated and you can function from that place. That’s the base of eastern medicine. And Hakuin studied that a lot. There is a book that called YaSanKana where he talks about what he learned from Chinese medicine.
And all the energy or the power or the concentration is created in the tanden. But we have the habbit to use the head. So we put the focus just down to the tanden. So actually like in Zazen. You don’t even have to sit. Just take that point and focus on that. Because it’s working 24 hours a day. Then one’s you get the idea how it works for you. Keep it going.
But we live by habbits. We are animals of habbits. And people who only lives from the head, the energy gets higher and higher and then they get unsettled and anxious.
That’s why there is Martial Arts, Tea ceremony and Kyudo archery. Because you do the same thing over and over again and everything you can repeat is the best for strengthening the tanden.
So even when you do tea ceremony or Ikebana flower arrangement the base is always Zazen practice. Even when you do Kyudo you have to focus on your soles of your feet. Also in Judo and Sumo Wrestling it is done with the soles of your feet. Just try our little bit and it is really easy. You will see no matter how busy the work is you might be doing, it can still function. And only from that place is Samadhi possible. From the head you cannot enter samadhi. You just need to be aware how it really works and then you will get it. Nothing difficult about it.
Diligent Student: I will do my best!
Shodo Harada Roshi: Better don’t do your best. Only slightly getting the idea of it. That is enough.
April Osesshin in Hokuozan
Empty minded enso brings heaven and earth to rest
Fair and just - what is there to be discussed?
Everyone sitting together within the boundaries of Hokuozan
Not giving up until the root of True Nature is realized
The last word creates an immeasurably deep mind
Distinctions settle in equality, from equality distinctions arise
Nothing pressed into a fixed form is Zen
South North East West - I leave it up to you where to go
At night together we bathe in the Buddha light shining bringhtly
April Osesshin Memorial Foto
12 people are not on the fotos unfortunately...
Poem to celebrate the Birthday of Shakyamuni Buddha
By Shodo Harada Roshi, 8th of April 2023
Cherry blossoms everywhere - the sun is smelling of spring
Is there anyone who is not the Only One in this world?
The ending age is filled with insane sorrow
Everyone´s own experience is needed to show gratitude and respect.
Reviewing our training
Harada Roshi asked his students to write down what good insight we recieved from the corona times.
“Our focus is on training together, that is the main point. This is where the focus is.
Many have realized how important it is to be healthy and go out in nature, not to be stuck in the lock down times especially.
Yet the overall sense wiss that every one actually was rather moved around by the corona situation. There was no one coming really forward with the energy that this situation does not obstruct them and that they will go ahead with their deepening.
Even to say one’s health needs to be strengthened, one´s immune system, is still taking our body as being of great importance, but our zen teaching is based on the words of the sixth patriarch, who said there is no body, that is like a mirror, there is nothing that can defile this body, our mind is completely free from this body and that is our training and that is what we are here to realize.
That is what we need to work on. It seems that it is difficult to know what to have faith in in challenging times. It shows that you are moved around by corona and it is not about corona only, it can be anything in the outside, it can be the war, it can be whatever is coming next, and that is where your focus needs to be put, that you see what is really important in our training, and to keep your focus on that rather than matching these outer challenges the situation outside.
So it comes back to the need for a clear focus on awakening. It is not just a training for settling our mind and for making some kind of balance in our lives, but it is about realizing what our true Mind is and what we can really rely on and have faith in. Of course the media was and is still strong, as were the restrictions that were put on us during the corona times, but we can not be moved around by these outside situations.
Whether the media is there or not, you need to put our focus back to your own life and open your eyes to see what your life really is all about. The media being there or not, should not be of any concern, but you need to experience what life is at this moment and how you encounter that.
This is where you need to realign your focus. How do you actually live your life, that is what it comes down to.
In the past it was somehow easier for people when their whole life was about how to produce their own food and find their own water. It was simple and they did not need to think about these extraneous things.
Nowadays we live in a more luxurious world and we need not worry about our survival, so what happens is that we get too much free time. How to use this free time is where we as people of training need to sharply put our focus. To not waste this time, but to rather bring it back to focus on each moments life energy. How can we continue to live each moment? We do not know what will happen next. There is always something next that challenges our life, but how to keep that strong base? That focus on the deep inner faith. How can we actually live our life within these challenges without being moved around by them as an actual fact, not just as an idea. To really put our base of life on something that is stable and that we can have faith in, that is where our focus needs to be strengthened. It has already been three years since corona started, of course there were laws being put out to stop our free movement, but we can not be stopped by these kinds of laws. We need to see that focus is on our own life energy, that is what really matters and not the law.”
Roshi is of course not saying to go against the law, but to see that there are often ways around them. To always find a way, no matter what challenge you are facing, and how you can always intensify your training. That is also the Roshi's focus for the sangha in Sogenji.
The Roshi said for us to take each chance where we can meet in person, yet if that is not possible, to connect via the internet, taking any chance where we can share the space and energy, that is the best. There are often ways that we can work around challenges which we face in our own life. In America for example it is still more difficult because some restrictions are still in place, but it should not stop us from living to our fullest potential in each moment and not let ourselves be obstructed by outside situations.
We never know what's coming next to keep our focus on the question of what is the truth for all of humanity. To take this question and keep polishing it, to keep clarifying the answer of this question of how we can truly live for all beings.
The Roshi is 83 years old, he has been coming to Europe for 30 years and USA for 35 years, He was never concerned of what the outcome would be of him constantly coming here and teaching us, but he would in each and every encounter give his fullest and this is how he is looking at his main question for himself. How to use his remaining life energy in the best way. That is why he decided to go around Europe again visiting all different zendos, because he feels the need to strengthen each group and it is a challenge to him, how he can stay healthy, how he can keep up his energy. That is what his inner question is, so that he can guide us for even one more year. How can he keep the karmic connection to us strong and alive? He will continue working on our essence and deepening.
There are all kinds of challenges in the world and society, the war between Ukraine and Russia, refugee problems and corona problems, but all these problems are in the outside. Then there are the problems inside of us, getting older, getting sick and how to continue deepening with these inner challenges as well. That is what our training is all about. How to awaken to our true mind? For that, efforts are needed, because when we get older it becomes more difficult to continue training. It is only that awakened mind which connects us all, where we are all equal, that is of great importance to experience, that is why he will keep guiding us.
Roshi would like to ask us to also make these efforts to continue with our practice and keep meeting for actual zazen together and continue on the path in this way. It is up to us to continue the efforts he has started and we continue to be there for the people of our groups and guide them in the best possible way.
(Kindly transcribed by Komyo Koji)
Zen and Be Zen 2023
Thanks again to Domyo Koji sending us the fotos of the present exhibition of local Japanese pottery from the area of Bizen. Please find some impressions below.
Sakura in full bloom
Domyo Koji kindly send the fotos from this year´s sakura blossoming. It is amazing that the Ueoto gardeners from Kyoto were able to bring the tree back to wanting to blossom after it had stopped bringing forth any flower a few years back. Our former abbot Kansei san who planted this tree would be most delighted.
Kokuho in Sogenji 19th of March 2023
This upcoming sesshin if for everyone to not have a gap in their mind. That is why I inserted another sesshin. Having made these efforts during the last Osesshin, this state of mind experienced cannot be left half way. That is why we have another sesshin now. So that we can together deepen further and keep polishing the state of mind. That is my great wish.
We are in spring now. Today, the sakura cherry blossom blossomed all the way from the bottom to the top. The temperature has risen. Receiving the sunshine, the warmth of the sun, the Sakura is blossoming. Finally, also the flower of our mind will blossom. It doesn't blossom just by looking at the flowers outside. We cannot make a gap for this flower of our mind. We need to stay with it in each and every moment and keep polishing it. We have made these efforts up until now which can easily dissipate. This is where humans are weak.
Nature is much sharper in this, showing us how to go about it. Humans easily become lax in their mind and the energy dissipates. For this not to happen I am putting forth my wish.
Now greeting springtime, being embraced by the green in Sogenji. The warm wind is making our feelings even more able to settle within.
There is a poem: The Golden wind comes from the south; the golden wind is smells fragrant and is soft.
It is not like the winter wind. By the wind that makes us feel even more wide. That state of mind is being expressed in this poem.
This poem comes from the Tang Dynasty about 1500 years ago in China. The emperor at that time was named Bunmei. He was born as the third child to an emperor. He usually would not have become the emperor. But the older brothers were sick and died. And finally it was his turn to become the emperor.
So this young son, who should not have become the Emperor, who had been ignored by others, finally made great efforts and he realized how people are suffering in the heat of summer, but it's only about how we think about it. It may be hotter in the summer. But each day is long. We can do a lot of work during these long days. An Emperor has many responsibilities, there's even time not enough to finish all the jobs but from early morning the light comes and those long days of summer are giving great joy. The emperor said: I'm not focusing on the heat, but rather enjoy the long days. That is how he was writing in this poem.
There were always some people around the emperor who would write poems to entertain the Emperor. One of them Ryukotsu wrote as an answer to the poem of the Emperor saying the golden wind comes from the south, and brings forth this fresh state of mind, I am able to enter it is just as you, Emperor, are saying. That is how he supported the expression of the Emperor.
Sotoba, about 200 or 150 years later, who was a close advisor of the emperor at that time, was living during a time of great political difficulties. When the responsible in politics had changed, all the followers were exchanged as well. Sotoba was send to the South, and he thought if I'm being sent to the south, I might as well do training there and he finally was able to realize awakening, he wrote a poem.
Sitting zazen all night long, I hear the murmur of the water of the Valley Stream. Now thinking about that sound that was the teaching of the Buddha. In the morning when opening the windows I see mountains after mountains seeing that scenery right there isn't that the Buddha in this wide open scenery, that state of mind is what he was able to experience. These are the famous poems of subtle awakening.
So Toba was criticizing the Emperor Bunmei and his follower since he knew well about the ccondition of the Emperor. That is why he answered in this way.
The people hate the summer heat, and I enjoy the long summer days. That is how the emperor was able to say it. But he was able to say this because he was the Emperor.
“The people even in the heat of summer, they cannot disappear. They live right in the midst of that heat. That is most obvious that one suffers from that heat. But just to say that everyone is so stuck on the heat of summer, but I enjoy those long days. If you are a true Emperor you would not be speaking in this way. You know well how difficult it is to live as a normal person. Only after you have become the emperor you were able to live in a big house with great rooms, forgetting about the suffering of the people, but rather to relieve people from the pain of heat and offer a place where they can hide from the heat. But to just speak about your own good feeling that is not good enough. You need to work for others truly”, that is how Sotoba answered.
The Emperor may say it is a lovely time, but normal people cannot say that so easily, that shows that there is a difference in each position. If you do not see this clearly, you can easily make a mistake, Sotoba pointed out.
Engo Kokugon Zenjo who edited the Blue Cliff records is asked by a monk:
“Where do all the Buddhists come forth from? “
Unmon answered: the Eastern Mountain is walking on the water
Engokokugon Zenji said: “That is how you put it, but that is not how I would say it. If it were up to me, I would say: the golden wind comes from the south.”
Daie Zenji was listening to these words and experienced awakening. He had 14 Great Awakenings and uncountable small ones.
“When the golden wind from the south blows, the whole world becomes refreshed”, hearing this Daie Zenji experienced awakening This is the place where all Buddhists come forth from.
Normal people live in a small house suffering from the heat and once you change your place also the essence changes along with that.
But Engo Kokugon Zenji is saying here no matter whether you are in the position of an emperor or a normal person, it is not about the difference of position but state of mind whether you suffer, worry, think about things so much, no matter where you. It is not about the outer situation but about your state of mind. No matter where you find yourself, you need to become this huge mind that is one with heaven and earth.
If you can, like the Emperor speak about your own position. Then even the people in the heat can use some cooling water, washing off the sweat. Sitingt in the shade under some tree without any responsibilities left, how huge and wide that state of mind is, even wider than that of the emperor, that is what Engo Kokugon Zenji was saying.
The place where all the Buddha's come forth from is not some idea about the Buddha but in our mind, we match completely with the situation whether we are suffering, whether we are enjoying whether the situation is easy or difficult, but our state of mind is huge. We can give life to each and every situation. We do not get used by it but rather know how to use it. That is the state of mind of the buddha. That is what Engo Kokugon Zenji is saying. Thus Daie Zenji was able to awaken right away. It is not about the situation but about our state of mind. When our state of mind is huge. Then we are having heaven and earth within us. That is what we're able to experience it.
No matter where we find ourselves in. however imperfect the place may be, we still move in oneness with that situation. Even when we are poor, we still can experience joy. That is human's true nature that does not get moved around by outer situations. Not suffering because of the situations in the outside. rather look at how can you give life to that situation. That is what Engo Kokugon Zenji is teaching us.
It is the same poem but the state of mind makes it completely different. That is the unusual aspect of Zen poems. Not getting stopped by words. By situations, not getting fooled by our own possession, not getting confused by that. But learning how to use that. That huge state of mind is the world of Zen. That is the state of mind of a Buddha, please. Now, whether it's a session or not, don't think about that from morning until night. Do not make a gap. Stay with it in each and every moment. Become one with it in each and every moment. Not wasting a moment but using it well.
The Zen Hostel project in Rumania
The Zen Hostel - Posticum’s main profile is spirituality and cultural exchange. Our main
motto is silence. We are looking for spiritually open volunteers, who ideally want to take part
in everyday meditations. We ask for 3-4 hours of work per day around the house. All else is
free time. We offer food and accommodation in return. Please feel free to check out our
websites: https://www.thezenhostel.com/ or https://www.posticum.ro/
What can volunteers help with:
- The main help is needed when we need to clean the rooms after the guest, but this is
very seasonal. During summer more help is needed with the rooms. Other than this
we also clean frequently the main areas of the house: aula, chapel, jazzland,
teahouse, corridors, volunteer area.
- Volunteers can also take charge in cooking for the community members as we are
aiming to eat together when possible.
- If someone has the motivation, volunteers are welcome to come up with ideas of new
free events which are in line with the profile of the house, and of course they can
participate to organize them.
- If any of the volunteers have skill in yoga, massage they can hold sessions for locals
and travelers as well.
- If someone has skill with websites and computers we are always welcome to make
new suggestions regarding our website.
- We would be very happy if we can get help with marketing and promotion of our
events on the internet.
How will volunteers benefit from a cultural exchange and what could they learn?
Volunteers can meet with local people and also with travelers from around the globe.
We have zen meditation practice every day and yoga a few times a week. Volunteers are
very much encouraged to join since it can help to balance their everyday life.
We have a farm area outside of the city which can give even more options, but this is still
under exploration as to what volunteers can do there, but we are open for new ideas.
Type of accommodation
We have a dedicated apartman for the volunteers with two private and one semi-private
room. This area contains a small kitchen, dining table, bathroom and a study/work area.
The house is located in the nice city of Oradea where lots of site seeing can be done. The
surrounding area is full of nature, with a lot of hiking paths and interesting places to visit.
The Zen Hostel forms a transition between secular and monastic life, morning and evening
practice and shared meals that forge the community together. In addition, the following rules
apply to volunteers staying here:
● The minimum length of stay is 10 days, except for members of the Onedropzen
community (members are those who have practiced regularly for at least two years
and participated in at least 5 full-day retreats).
● Daily practice as follow,
○ on weekdays from 6am Choka (sutra chanting),
○ everyday from 7am 3x zazen (25 min each followed by 5 min kinhin)
○ everyday, from 7pm 3x zazen
● After the morning practice we gather for breakfast/tea and discuss what help is
needed in the day if any. Please come even if you are not eating breakfast.
● For lunch we cook for ourselves or eat any leftovers from the other days or events.
We aim to eat together but it is flexible.
● Dinner is self served from the communal fridge and stock.
● In any case please let us know if you can not come to one of the meetings.
● The volunteers' friends and current loved ones are welcome in the house, but we do
not provide them with the opportunity to sleep in the communal accommodation. If
they rent out a free room in the hotel through the reservation system, we will of
course be happy to see them.
● If a couple participates in the life of the house as volunteers, of course they can
share a room.
● If two volunteers find each other during their stay here and want to move into the
same room, there is of course no obstacle.
● If you have a problem or idea please tell us
Miso making at Sogenji
Sokun Zenni has mastered the art of makinig delicious miso. During the cold months of February and March the miso needed for the next year is being made and then stored in the miso kura for at least one year for fermentation. The sangha is enjoying daily miso soup for breakfast and sweet miso mix (miso with honey and peanut butter) as topping for the okayu (rice gruel) during Osesshin.
News from Indozan Sogenji
Seiga Daishi from Slovenia is once again for a few months in Indozan Sogenji. teaching karate and supporting the children in Indozan Sogenji. Below a video to give you an impression.
Impressions from Sogenji
Opening Poem for the New Rainy Training Period
by Shodo Harada Roshi
Not searching for truth, not discarding delusion
Neither the unformulated truth – naturally obvious
From deep mind the imperceivable world
During ninety days - unending empty mind
Guidance given on the occasion of the Change of Positions by Harada Roshi
Everyone has protected their position for one training period, for that the Roshi would like to thank everyone. Even continuing all the way to the last clean up of the position so that the next person would not be troubled. For that no one held back in making great efforts in preparation for passing on the position.
Of course, these are not just words but this also will need to be checked. If the cleaning has been insufficient, there would be the need to return to one´s former position and complete one´s responsibility.
In a Dojo each training period is fresh and new, so that everyone´s training does not become unclear. From the olden days, the short training periods were 80-90 days long, the long ones were 120 days long. This is the difference between the snow and the rainy training period.
Now having completed one more training period and now beginning the rainy season training period. In a dojo it is usually divided into Seichu (during training) and Seikan (between training periods), each 3 months long.
If we were to observe these rules here, everyone would be in trouble, why is that, because for three months no one would be allowed to enter or to leave the monastery. Yet for those who have crossed an ocean to come here, this would be rather inconvenient. That is why there is no Seikan in this monastery. That is why we end the snow training period and with that start the rainy training period which lasts until August. And also the positions are being changed right away.
The focus is on training, this is not an apartment here. Everyone had to sign up for the training period while there were also some requests added, which are of no concern to the Roshi. The Roshi is the teacher for everyone´s training. If people start to think about their private wishes, then it would mean to be leaving the dojo. When you leave a dojo, when you leave your position, then you will take on your own expression, that is obvious. This is not a prison here, yet everyone has gathered here with the burning wish to deepen in training, that enthusiasm is what Roshi is receiving and thus training is coming about. If you add your personal wishes, this has nothing to do with the Roshi.
So if you have those personal wishes, leave here, become an individual, then your position will disappear. Because your position only is established because you are part of the dojo. This needs to be clearly understood or misunderstanding, confusion and indulgence can come about. That way training cannot work. Everyone looking at this make your decision and act accordingly with responsibility.
Announcement of positions.
The main place of training is in the zendo, people take turns to complete the other responsibilities.
Moving from completing one training period straight into the next one, here the secular life is of no matter, it is all about investigating into one´s source of human nature. To clarify that and then become a healthy being and teacher to others. That is how the Zen path happens. Please in this way do not practice half heartedly but bring your training to completion.
The Roshi is turning 83 years of age and will continue his efforts to bring everyone to becoming a teacher, he is prepared to continue his efforts. Please see this carefully for yourself so that you do not become indulgent. Sharpen your mind and confirm to yourself why you are doing training. Do not train in a half hearted way, just for today and tomorrow.
People training in a dojo are meant to become teachers and guide others in society, sharing wisdom with many, that reality is needed.
Something I say often, we can see, hear, smell, taste and feel. In society we learn all about that which we can see, inquiring into that is the form of society. We hear, smell, taste. Zen does not stop at such an incomplete way. Why is that? Because there will come an end to our seeing. That which does the seeing disappears. Then even our training ends up to be for our satisfaction while we are alive. If you have the idea that no matter how intense we train and when all ends once we die, that is not training.
Training is about seeing that which cannot be seen. That is called human´s resilience. We do zazen to become resilient. To see that which cannot be seen is not imagination. When our mind becomes deep and quiet, we can perceive the whole picture. That physical seeing will for certain have an end. For that we do not need to put our life on the line. We need to put our life on the line and then we can see that which is invisible. That is human´s ultimate appearance. The first one who realized this was the Buddha. If it were about that which you can see, then science would suffice. Studies would suffice. The Buddha also studied, that should have been enough, but why was it not enough? Because there is a certain end to our life. When the end comes, what happens on the other side? How is the entirety? What happens to human´s relations? How does society continue? How about the essence of society? If you do not know this, then what you are doing is half backed, you are not able to see beyond. That is no good. This is where you need resilience. You cannot learn this at school. You cannot write about it in a book. It cannot be expressed in words. You need to experience this truth for yourself. There is no other way. That is why we sit.
Please look at this, we do not sit zazen to increase explanations. Rather start to see that world which cannot be seen, not through mental understanding, but to experience this truth where no doubt can arise for yourself. That is zazen. Do not mistaken this. In this way everyone deepen your training further, let this resilience bring you to be a wholesome human being, do not loosen your efforts. When worldly wishes and desires enter here, the resilience disappears. You lose it. Look at this carefully or what you are doing will end up to in self satisfaction. Please do not let this happen. Each one of you do not stop your efforts. This is the Roshi´s greatest wish.
Kotai 2023 Feb 04 Change of Positions for the upcoming Rainy Training Period
(kindly send by Domyo Koji)
Jikijitsu : Roshi
Joko : SoKun zenni, Sebastian koji, SoDo zenji, ChoKo zenni, HoRi koji, DoHo koji
Jisharyo : RyoTatsu zenji, SoKyu koji
Zendokan : DaiChi Zenni
Densu : SoDo zenji, Choko zenni,
Fuzui : SoKun zenni, BunShu zenji
Tenzo : Sebastian koji, HoRi koji
Enzu : DoMyo koji
Zomuryo : Ekei zenji
Guest house : SoKun zenni, Choko zenni
8 corners building : DoHo koji
Bokuuan : Sokun zenni
Fusu kaikei : Roshi
Shikaryo : Roshi
International places :
Hokuozan Sogen-ji : ShoE roshi
Tahomasan Sogen-ji: DaiChi osho, SoZui osho
Indozan Sogen-ji : Bodhaidharuma osho
Hidden Valley zendo: SoZui osho
Denmark zendo: DaiKo koji
Memorial Poem for the Passing into Nirvana of Shakyamuni Buddha
3rd of February 2023
Poem composed and offered by Shodo Harada Roshi
Seeing from the true eyes for eighty years,
bringing calm to unending loved beings
Inexhaustible teachings without a single rest
Finally a regrettful departure presenting Nirvana
Hungarian Sesshin with Harada Roshi in Nagyvárad (Oradea)
Sogenji Japan is experienceing a cold winter, showing its beauty with a fresh layer of snow.
Photos kindly send by Ekei Zenji
January OSesshin with Harada Roshi in Hokuozan Sogenji
We are extremely grateful that Roshi sama travelled all the way to Hokuozan, bringing Sokyu Koji along with him. Thanks to our Roshi´s guidance and wisdom, the practice of everyone is deepening. The teishos are being given on the Blue Cliff Records , while the outer cold temperatures reflect the sharpness and brightness of the Dharma Talks.
January 13, 5th year of Reiwa
Diamond Sutra Setting forth Pure Lands
Closing Poem for the Snow Training Period
The great death is the best way to return to our pure root
Abiding no place from ancient times until today
our life is freely functioning within it
Whether coming or going, to share Buddha´s grace is our obligation
Zazen keeps ripening until the self disappears, entering a pure state of mind.
Abiding nowhere, there are no thoughts and no obstructions anymore. Since ancient past this truth of the Buddha is passed on.
From the place of nothing, each moment, each situation it keeps appearing, functioning freely when encountering each and every person, in each and every moment, the truth is being taught. In this functioning of wanting to bring everyone to awakening the truth of the Buddha is found.
Teaching for the week #7
by Shodo Harada Roshi
We are all at different levels, some don´t even know where they stand, but we continue, and as we all know best for ourselves, we start with our physical body. How do we do that breathing? How do we keep our mind clear? Every single day is studying this, every single day is practice. Trying to figure out: why does our body hurt? Why does it not get settled? Why are we being pulled around by concepts? And for what are we doing this? We use our sharp awareness and keep looking at the central point of it all. And we continue to do this 24 hours a day, always being creative on how to continue.
No matter what it takes I will continue until I have realized my true nature directly. And from there the great doubt arises, why do my legs hurt? Why are my emotions so demanding? Why can I not keep my focusing going? To continue with creative investigation, we work on the problems in our sitting. We start to let go of the concepts which we are always moved around by, we have to stick firmly with it or our zazen will not work. And simply by staying with it, all starts to fall into place.
Domyo Koji drumming lightning, thunder, rain and wind
Please enjoy the play of long time student Domyo Koji from France who is playing the Hokku drum in a most exquiste way -
as Harada Roshi puts it: "This is true drum play !"
Saitan No Ge - New Year´s Poem
by Shodo Harada Roshi
the world is Disturbed by chaotic Wars
When will the day come that the people finally recieve peace?
The oyster bearing a rabbit-pearl is of deep deep meaning
Radiating complete Purity through heaven and earth
The world is disturbed by many ongoing wars, when will the day finally come that the people of the world can encounter a quiet time?
The clam swallowed the light of the moon, that is how the pearl inside is being created. There is a deep deep meaning in this. The light radiating from the clam is making heaven and earth shine with purity.
From the old days it is said in China that there lives a rabbit in the moon. When it is full moon, the clam opens its shell and absorbs the light of the moon. The light entering the clam then brings forth a pearl. The light and the pearl are bringing brightness to the world.
This story appears in the 90th case of the Blue Cliff Records:
A monk asked Chimon, “What is the body of wisdom?” Chimon said, “An oyster swallowing the bright moon.”
The monk asked, “What is the function of wisdom?” Chimon said, “A rabbit getting pregnant.”
This is also a story from old China, saying that there are only female rabbits, no male rabbits are around. So how does a baby rabbit get born? The female rabbit quietly keeps gazing up to the full moon and becomes pregnant.
Yet here it comes, wisdom and the functioning of wisdom cannot be two separate aspects. For example, the light of the full moon is the base and the shining, the functioning happens simultaneously. There are not two worlds. The shining of the moon at the same time makes the world bright. Yet the monk is asking here about two aspects, as if there are separated. Chimon Osho is correcting the monk´s mistake.
A monk asked Chimon, “What is the body of wisdom?” Chimon said, “An oyster swallowing the bright moon.”
The monk asked, “What is the function of wisdom?” Chimon said, “A rabbit getting pregnant.”
He is saying it the other way around. When the oyster opens its shell and the light of the full moon enters then a pearl is being created. And the functioning of wisdom? A rabbit getting pregnant. The other way around. The base and function are not separated. The bright moon is shining onto this world. There are not two worlds, only one.
Yet people get so confused, believing that there are two worlds. We are all just human beings. The one who wins and the one who loses – just a human being. If this were to be understood, we would not fight, and then the whole world could become purified.
Teaching for the New Year
by Shodo Harada Roshi
Please take some time now to reflect upon the year that just passed, not just sitting in the form of zazen, but looking deeply within:
"What supported me the most during the past year? Was I able to truly forget body and all those many challenges and problems in the outer world and dive deeply into the inner silence?"
By reflecting upon this we can clarify for yourselves how to begin the New Year and what to take as most important in our life, envigorating our vow to clarify our mind. Stating to ourselves what we will base our life on and how to continue this path.
Impressions from Sogenji
These impressions were kindly send by Jakugen.
You can see the three clowns at Toji Toya, the sangha celebrating Christmas by watching a video on Mumon Roshi, who has his memorial day exactly then and finally the mochi tsuki, pounding the rice for the New Year offerings.
New Year Greetings by Harada Roshi
This year again we are lucky that Shodo Harada Roshi is willing to continue the sharing
of his New Year greetings with the world wide sangha. This new tradition got established during the corona times when Japan was closed and we missed seeing the Roshi for months even years.
Now the borders are open and Sogenji kindly allows visitors again, yet the Roshi is willing to share this precious moment of greeting his local sangha in Sogenji with all of us.
Please note that because it is a Sunday, the greetings will be later than usual.
1st of January 2023 at 9 am Japan time
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 833 8387 2000
Poem in memory of Tsuisendo Rodaishi
by Shodo Harada Roshi
Year after year exploring the Budda's Path
Upon seeing the flower in the garden the true eye opens
Oh great all embracing mind - nothing can be said about it
In the four oceans all has been exhausted
Filling the blue sky
Polish Sangha sitting Rohatsu Sesshin
For the 3rd year in a row, we celebrate Buddha's Enlightenment Day with local Sesshin Rohatsu. This year we had the opportunity to spend this wonderful time together in a small country house by the Baltic Sea. The sesshin schedule was enriched with daily one-hour kinhin by the sea, yoga classes led by Genyu, and breathing exercises led by Seigen, this allowed the release of body and respiratory muscles tensions that often appear during many hours of practice. The food was prepared by Wako and Dotai. Sesshin passed smoothly, as always ended with wanting, to sit some more, yet we all were called to go back to our social life and family duties. I wanted to express my deep gratitude to everyone who took part in it MyoGen, Kasia, Gosia, Renata, Wako, Dotai, Genyu, Kando, and the Roshi for the wonderful commentary on Ten Oxherding Pictures from May 1998, what became our teishos for that time.
Poem by Shodo Harada Roshi for the Jodoe Ceremony honouring the awakening of Shakyamuni Buddha.
The zendo filled with copper and iron heads
The densu team did not make it on the group foto
since they were busy getting the Hondo ready for Sunday Zazenkai.
Rohatsu Sesshin in process.....
we are 30 people who have gathered for the Rohatsu Osesshin. Above you can see the Shusanbutsu scroll which will be hung during the ceremony on the day after Rohatsu Osesshin in memory of the Buddha`s great efforts and deep awakening.
Gathering in Sogenji for Rohatsu
With Rohatsu just around the corner and the border of Japan open again, many dedicated students are gathering in Sogenji to join their energies for the most intense practice of the year. The weather is mild and sunny, only the nights are getting fresh. Roshi sama is in high spirits to continue to pass on his wisdom and insights. Some impressions from Sogenji below.
Autumn Koyo in Sogenji
fotos by Domyo Koji
November Zoom Sesshin Memorial Foto
...only missing Quentin and Maja on it Thank you all for your continued efforts.
Teaching for the week #6
by Shodo Harada Roshi
We need to keep going nonstop, without a break, asking ”What is it?! What is it?! What is it?! Otherwise, we are wasting our precious time. Keep that question going to the point, where it becomes, what is seeing, and what is being seen, what is hearing, and what is being heard, what is smelling, and what is being smelled – all melted into one and merged completely to the point where you cannot even know, whether it is you sitting in the zendo, or if it is the zendo that is sitting. You have to let go of every single one of your mental concepts. And then you will realize that life energy, that fills your ears and fills your eyes and does the hearing and does the seeing, and you will know its deepest root not from your head but from your experience.
The blowing wind sounds, and you become the wind's sound. The bell rings, and you becomes its ringing. There is nothing beyond that. In one instant, any of these may come forth from our ears as hearing. There is no division between inner and outer, between the world of myself, the act of hearing, and that which is being heard. This place, where there is no separation at all, can only be spoken of as love.
Teaching for the week #5
by Shodo Harada Roshi
Our focus has to be on our essence, not on concepts of doing good and avoiding doing bad.
All of the seasons, all of the times of the day, are right in this very moment, where there is nothing but this absolute truth. In the spring we becomes one with the flowers; in the summer we becomes one with the breeze; in the autumn we becomes one with the moon; in the winter we are one with the snow. We transform with each of these. We transform with the morning, the afternoon, and the night, and in this way we know buddha nature directly.
What is it? Keep that question to the point, where it becomes, what is seeing and what is being seen, what is hearing, and what is being heard, what is smelling and what is being smelled - all melted into one and merged completely to the point, where you cannot even know, whether it is you sitting in the zendo, or if it is the zendo, that is sitting.
Teisho beginning procedures
Here you can see the traditional procedure of the beginning of a teisho in detail - enjoy !
Teaching for the week #4
by Shodo Harada Roshi
look carefully, at what it is, that is seeing. What it is, that is hearing? What is is, that is smelling? What is is, that is tasting? What is the true base of what is happening? What is the true base of that which is sad? What is the true base of that which is happy? We have to dig into the source of all of it, until we can see, that originally, there is not a single thing.
If a mountain manifests, become the mountain. If a flower appears, become the flower. Our nature is, from the origin, infinite, and there is no reason to add ideas by calling it this or that. When we just receive whatever comes exactly as it is, we have natural purity.
As you see, just see! As you hear, just hear! Do not add extra associations or connections; do not add extra thought of me or I.
What is most important is to see and hear clearly with no preconception. To become the eyes and see, to become the ears and hear - this is true wisdom, judgment has no place here.
We should be naturally and freely able to become morning, when it is morning, afternoon when it is afternoon, night when it is night; we become the winter when the winter comes, and the autumn when the autumn comes. When we are hungry, we eat. When we are tired, we sleep. This is our natural way of mind.
A lecture by Yamada Mumon Roshi
Shodo Harada Roshi appearing briefly at 9:01 as Mumon Roshi´s Inji
Latvian sangha on the Weekend sesshin in Myokan`s place
Here is short photo-report from Latvian sangha weekend
This sesshin could be given the name - Latvian sangha recovery after Covid-time or
Riga and Daugavpils sangha meet in Slaidas, Vecumnieki (Myokan's place)
Teaching for the week #3
by Shodo Harada Roshi
This clear human character, which is like a mirror, can accept and receive everything, but nothing that is reflected can get stuck to this mirror. It reflects everything exactly as it is, but the mirror itself stays untouched. This mirror-like Mind has no sense of “that’s me” or “that’s him, not me.” It has no dualism; it makes no distinctions like that. At that true base, there actually is no differentiation between self and others. The world that is reflected in—reflected by—that mirror is not one of self and other; it has no such separation, it accepts everything as one unified whole. From the origin there is only one world, with no division into “my” world and “your” world.
In zazen we need to align our body so that our mind, like a great huge mirror the size of the universe, can better reflect the myriad things.
From the beginning we all have a clear nature; we dont gain it because we train, but it may take some time to awaken to it.
Altthough people have different names and different histories, there is a place within each of us, that is before all that, identical in each of us and uniting all of us; it is that place in each person, that hears the dog barking and sees the red flowers in the same way. The sound, that the buddha hears, is the same sound that we hear. We all have the same mind.... This mind, that every person has from birth, is what we call buddhanature.
When we see in this way, we love everything directly, not because we think we should, but because there is no way to see anything as apart from ourselves. When what is seen and what is seeing are one, that is prajna, and a spontaneous love for all beings is born from there.
Memorial fotos of the Osesshin with Harada Roshi
and below the memorial foto of the October zoom sesshin
Memorial sutra for Taino Engaku Osho at Scaramuccia Zenshinji
Teaching for the week #2
by Shodo Harada Roshi
"We are not in any way different from that ability of the Buddha. The Buddha’s
ability of mind is the same as ours and that is called “Buddha-nature”, or a mirror, or a jewel. However, these are meaningless words: the truth of these words is what matters and that is what
needs to be experienced.
An ancient poem says: “Where do these cherry blossoms come from?” They are beautiful, pink in color, bringing us the joy of spring. Yet where do these flowers come forth from? Even if we were to split the wood of a cherry tree, we will not find the flowers. So, where do they come forth from? It only happens when the spring wind blows and the buds open. The tree, of course, is the cherry tree but it can only bring forth those flowers through the grace of spring. Only then it shows the ability to blossom. This is the same with our mind.
It is like this jewel, this person of no rank, this high state of mind. We cannot search for it—we will not find it anywhere because it is of no form, of no shape. If we make efforts, we will not be able to reach it, yet without efforts, neither will we understand. So, we settle our busy mind to taste this quiet state of mind a little bit. And from this quiet state of mind—which deepens even further—we can bring forth actions which match each situation completely."
Full monks Ordination on the special occasion of the Bodhidharuma Memorial day
Bodhidharuma came from India to China
This morning he recieves his new students
which was the purpose of his teaching of truth
He is still now passing in on right here in Sogenji
by Shodo Harada Roshi 5th September 2022
Teaching for the week #1
by Shodo Harada Roshi
"Make your own mind quiet, stop being so excited about the things outside. Become like the surface of a lake that has calmed down, like the quiet air in the morning. That is that state of mind which is not complicated at all.
Do not go on about those ego ideas.
When the first light in the morning comes up from utter darkness not all can be seen clearly yet. Slowly it is getting light, just after the morning sutras we go out for kinhin and cannot perceive the world clearly yet. But slowly slowly it arises clear and pure. That state of mind is precious. Take that as being something of great importance. It is that mind before dualism is being inserted. But everyone is still stuck in the darkness of the night. That state of mind in the morning when the first light is touching your spirit. The noisy thoughts have been spit out during the morning sutras, your mind has become purified. And during that first kinhin you can perceive everything clearly.
Not in a dualistic way because nothing can be perceived clearly yet. But the world simply as is perceived through our senses. That state of mind is important. We may have all kinds of ideas but they are all just gathered from the outside.
We need to spit all of them out and only then can we take in that new world completely."
Time is standing still...
Now that Zen students can enter Japan again, it can be noticed that in Sogenji time is standing still. No outer noise seems to pass the gate, while the old pine is still greeting all guests at the entrance.
Some small changes can be noticed though... Fans have been installed in the Itaten entrance as well as in the kitchen... for a bit of cooling wind, while there is an airconditioner now in the library ( women's zendo). A memorial stone with a Haiku from Aiseiin has been installed near the gate. And since the wild boars are coming down the mountains, Domyo is protecting his vege garden from them and around the shiitake grove as well bamboos have been set up to not let them in. All over the grounds you cans see where they have been scratching for earth worms. In the kitchen there is an extra step and hand rail for the elderly and one room of the higashi zendo is now dedicated to clothes drying with a dehumidifyer. A beautfiul frame with Mumon Roshi`s writing has been donated by Masuda san and installed in the Hondo. Zen style repair (kufu) of the small roof... Nekko-chan is still around as well.....
Welcoming the Sangha
Here is the core sangha which made it through the intense 2-3 years of Corona, using this time well to deepen intensely. Now that Zen students can enter Japan again, the Roshi is asking the sangha to share and give life to their well developed energy and continue practice with the students that come from far.
Sogenji is expecting over 20 students from the world wide sangha to join for this autumn training period.
All the guests are asked to be well prepared and blend in well into the intense training of Sogenji. As preparation for your stay, please read the rules below carefully.
Water Moon Music
Here you can find the newest edition of beautiful shakuhachi music played by long term student Domyo Koji from Sogenji. He is inviting the world wide sangha into the acoustic space of his play. Please feel free to check out his channel "Water Moon Music" and subscribe, since he will continue to add new pieces.
Celebration of our Teacher
On the last day of the August Osesshin we celebrated Roshi's 82th birthday.
ShoE made some delicious cheese cake for all of us.
After blowing the candles out on the cake, our Roshi gave us his precious words about his vision and our practice.
He told us that he will come continuously to Hokuozan Monastery to teach us in the following 18 years.
Next year in 2023, after 3 years of delay, there will be a big ceremony to celebrate his next birthday and the inauguration of ShoE Roshi. We are all invited to celebrate together in Hokuozan.
He was telling us, that Hokuozan Sogenji is in very good hands led by ShoE Roshi, in Indosan Sogenji it is Bodharuma Osho, in Tahoma Sogenji it is Sozui Zenni who are responsible for the local community. And all three centers are doing well.
He also said that after a long time there will be the ifull monk ordination of three new monks in Sogenji, Sodo Koji from Germany, Bunshu Koji from Lithuania and Ryotatsu Koji from the United Kingdom.
The Roshi emphasized the importance of the practice of each and every of us, even if we are just lay practitioners. He said that any of us can become a Roshi, if we have the realization of the final truth as the main focus point of our life.
However just sitting halfheartedly is not the way we should go about it, but putting our whole life on the line will surely lead us to the true meaning of Zen, from where we will be able to liberate all sentient beings.
It is his aim as a teacher to pass his wisdom onto his disciples - onto us- to all human beings in society. Therefore it is our utmost duty to practice in that way so he can fulfill this mission. Otherwise he can not die peacefully.
He assured us once more, just like he is doing it often when he gives us Teishos, that when we really put our focus on the realisation of the truth, we should not doubt for a single minute that life will support us in all kinds of ways and everything just falls into the right place, so we need not to be afraid, just go on restlessly.
He will be here for us, coming to Europe five times a year and we can also connect via Zoom sesshins and as the circumstances allow, he is happy to guide sesshin in our home countries as well.
(kindly transcribed from memory by Fukuden Daishi, ODZ Hungary)
Swallows resting on the shoes of Harada Roshi
in the entrance of Sogenji monastery
(foto kindly send by Hori Koji from Sogenji)
Just finished mini sesshin in Klaipeda that was held on 9-11th of September.
22 participants from Klaipeda, Vilnius, Kaunas and Riga (Latvija) took part - it was very good practice - everyone enlisted it. Genko Koji ODZ Lithuania
The memorial service for Chiko Daishi could take place during the Osesshin in Tahoma monastery, where 33 people participated. The husband and children of long time practicioner Chiko also joined for the ceremony. Roshi gave a poem:
When you see a flower, you think of a flower
When you do zazen, you think of zazen
when you think of Chiko, the tears are still wet
what has gone on here?
And yet, three years have already passed - Chiko - the light of wisdom
Whenever I think of you, I think of a person of wisdom
Please note that Sogenji Japan also has its own website now, hosted by Sokyu Koji, where you can find the Information about sesshin dates. Here is the address:
We will be sending out information from Hokuozan to the world wide ODZ sangha again.
The old webpage had some troubles, so that we needed to start all over again, as it
happens, with a different design and slightly simplified.
All information from the old website will be posted here eventually, but it may take some time.
You can sign up for the One Drop Zen newsletter here: