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How Could I Have Known?

Sangha & Inclusion, Sitting & RitualGuiding TeacherComment

June 19, 2017

How could I have known that I belong to this place I had never been before?

Eiheiji feels so familiar. It has a sense of being closely held, and it has a very human scale, belying it's capacity to train hundreds of monks.

Walking very slowly through the corridors, my new Japanese colleague and I were led by the Jisha (Attendant), who carried a paper lantern, lit only by a single candle. He took care to point out the places where one might misstep, and he spoke so politely that I had difficulty with some of the conjugations that were then translated by my Anja (Assistant). We were shown each place of practice. Walking in the outer corridor of the dimly lit zendo, I had a deep sense of Dogen's presence, his profound sincerity and resolve. I feel very at home in Eiheiji, and I felt Dogen's teachings about attention to detail, generosity, and grandmotherly mind come to life.

The head of the International office, Rev. Taiken Yokoyama, also accompanied us for part of the preparations. His ease and willingness to help were evident. Later, after the ceremonies had all been performed, he invited me to his office. We spoke for a long time about American Zen, where he'd practiced for a number of years, and about the difficulties of leaving one's training temple. We exchanged cards, and he welcomed me back. I look forward to being in touch with him again before too long.

The ceremonies went very smoothly, though I made note of how nervous my Sojiji colleague was.  It must have felt very awkward for him, just as it had for me at the other Head Temple. After breakfast I spent the rest of the morning enjoying the tall, tall pines and the pools on the Eiheiji temple grounds. There are so many lovely places tucked into the greenery of that hillside, including a pond with a huge frog. This, of course, reminded me of Suzuki Roshi who loved frogs. I also made an offering at the lay sangha memorial hall, acknowledging their crucial role in making this Way possible for everyone. Their contributions and Dogen's remind me that I can take the bodhisattva vow only because I am held within the vows of other bodhisattvas.

Daihonzan Eiheiji Zuise-shi photo

Daihonzan Eiheiji Zuise-shi photo

Concluding with Zuise at Eiheiji was just right. It feels like the perfect end to the long road of Dharma Transmission, each step a place of practice and awakening to the Way of Zen.