Teaching for the week #1
by Shodo Harada Roshi, 2.10.22
"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.
The main monastery was build 300 years ago and Zen practice has been taken place there ever since. Great Zen masters came forth from this Zendo, and Shodo Harada Roshi is the 36 abbot of the monastery. He is giving life to the vision of his teacher Yamada Mumon Roshi by mainly teaching foreign students as well as teaching abroad. His translater is Daichi Zenni, who also cares for the sangha in the zendokan position.
Hokuozan Sogenji, the monastery in Europe, situated in Germany
The European monastery was established in 2010 and thanks to the vision of Harada Roshi and the good energy and hard work of the sangha, this old farm was transformed into a well organized and smoothly running zen monastery, which can host up to 120 people. Shodo Harada hast installed Yamada Mumon Roshi as the Kaisansan, the teacher opening the mountain, while he himself is the present abbot and Taikan ShoE is the vice abbess with Basti Koji as the caretaker.
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