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The Way of Zazen
by Rindo Fujimoto Roshi              Main Page


The author of this essay, Rindo Fujimoto, Roshi (Zen Master), was born near Kobe in 1894. An official's son, he was ordained in the Soto Zen sect before his teens, and since that time has devoted his life to the study and practice of Buddhism. During his student days, he had his deepest satori (enlightenment) experience. An excellent student, he was urged to continue academic work, but instead he decided to enter the Soto Zen temple, Hosshinji. The abbot of Hosshinji, Sogaku Harada, is a Soto monk who was trained in the Rinzai school of Zen; he is well known as a strict disciplinarian.

Sometime after Fujimoto's entrance into Hosshinji, he made the acquaintance of the Zen master Toin lida. lida Roshi had practiced as a layman in the Rinzai branch of Zen until the age of sixty, when he became a Soto monk. His temple, Shorinji, which was named after Bodhidharma's* temple in China, is rather an unusual one and exists solely for the purpose of meditation practice. There is a small meditation hall with a dirt floor (usually such halls have stone floors) and several very small rooms in an adjoining wing. Fujimoto assisted lida Roshi in this temple for some years before becoming Tanto (meditation teacher) in the Soto head temple, Sojiji, near Yokohama. The abbot of Sojiji at that time, Kodo Akino, is quoted as having said, "Bodhidharma is not in Shorinji in China and the Sixth Patriarch, Hui Neng, does not live on Sokei mountain; they are here." After Master lida's death, Fujimoto Roshi succeeded his teacher as master of Shorinji. Eight years ago, he founded a lay group there and the essay in this book has been adapted from a lecture given to those people.

Fujimoto Roshi lives alone in his temple, where he is visited by those wishing instruction in zazen (meditation). His life is austere even by Japanese monastic standards. He eats only noodles and vegetables that shop keepers have set aside as no longer quite fresh. His only extravagance is secondhand books; he is a prodigious reader. He does not ask either his lay or priest disciples to practice austerity or to try to imitate his way of life. He is completely happy with his simple existence, which is his pleasure and not a Spartan self-improvement scheme. His lay disciples are mostly professional people; the eldest is a great grandfather. This year, when the writer visited a one day meditation session, the youngest sitter was a six-year-old who arrived with his father and a man-sized box lunch.

When Fujimoto Roshi was asked what should be written about him as a preface for this book, he laughed and replied, "It is only necessary to say that I am a Buddhist monk who lives near Kobe." I have elaborated on this somewhat for those who have never met him; for those who know him, it is enough to say that he has always been a Buddhist monk.

Elsie P. Mitchell
Cambridge, Massachusetts
21 June, 1961

* The Indian monk who introduced the original form of Zen into China.


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