Friday, October 23, 2015

Zuise Pilgrimage: Tracing Our Roots

This June, Nyoze Kwong traveled to Japan to complete the final phase of his Dharma Transmission Ceremony.  Accompanying Nyoze on this two-week trip were Kwong-roshi, Kashin, and Ejo as well as our three teachers from the international sanghas: Uji Mikolaj Markiewicz representing the Kannon Sangha in Poland and Kimyo Helga Joachimsdottir along with Zenki Astvauldur Traustasson from the Natthagi Zen Center in Iceland. The primary focus of the trip was for Nyoze to complete his Zuise Transmission Ceremony which consisted of serving as abbot for one day and one night at both of the two main Soto Zen Headquarter Training Temples – Eihei-ji and Soji-ji. The trip turned out to include much more than visits to these temples however. Exploring the roots of our practice lineage, they were also able to visit Suzuki-roshi's home temple, Rinso-in, in Yaizu, and trace Suzuki-roshi's childhood footsteps at Zoun-in, Kaisuisai, training monastery and also at the great Ian Kishizawa’s temple, Gyokuden-in. During the trip they were fortunate to meet with the renowned teacher Shundo Aoyama-roshi of Aichi Senmon Nisodo - the most well-known, advanced training nunnery in Japan.

We offer our congratulations to Nyoze for making this historic journey which enabled him to complete  his Zuise Ceremony, accrediting his training at Eihei-ji and deepening his connection with our lineage. In the upcoming, January issue of Mountain Wind we will feature more details of his ceremony and the group's many experiences during their time in Japan.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Gyda Myoji Tryggvadottir (left) - Shuso (head student) of the Summer Ango,
pictured with Mikolaj Uji  following his Hossenshiki Ceremony 

by Ray Eko Estabrook

This summer’s intensive month-long Ango practice period was led by Shuso Gyda “Gekko Myoji” Tryggvadottir of the Natthagi (“Night Pasture”) Sangha in Iceland. Her theme of mujo gently wafted over us like a cool summer breeze inspiring us day by day.

In addition, this Ango period was marked by a number of special ceremonies and events including the ordination of Gekko Myoji Tryggvadottir along with that of Ray Kikai Eko Estabrook and Mike Jundo Farrand. There was also a Hossenshiki Ceremony for Mikolaj Uji Markiewicz of the Kannon Zen Center in Poland.  

The strength and vitality that permeated Ango manifested, not only in six daily sittings, study and work practice but, in more than 27 hours of meetings of the Wisteria Wind Council, which included our affiliate Sanghas in both Iceland and Poland. Our thanks to Nyoze and Tensan Chuck Ramey for their tireless efforts in leading those extensive meetings which moved us significantly toward fulfilling Roshi’s vision of having the Wisteria Wind officially recognized and sanctioned by Sotoshu: an important step in our efforts to define and maintain our Zen roots and traditions here in America.

As we strive to more fully understand and appreciate the sacred treasure which we have here at Genjo-ji, we have been honored to have been visited by a number of Zen visitors who have revealed the rich tradition which we have inherited.

Juuko Nakano-roshi recently visited Genjo-ji

It was both humbling and encouraging to learn from Rev. Yuji Ito of the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center in San Francisco that there are over a dozen Zen Teachers who would like to visit us at SMZC. We also wish to acknowledge a visit from internationally known Zen Teacher Juuko Nakano-roshi from Fukushima, Japan, who first came to Genjo-ji in 2010 to visit and lecture. When he returned to San Francisco recently, he insisted upon coming directly to Genjo-ji from SFO.

Still another example of the high regard in which Genjo-ji has come to be held was the honor of hosting the Sotoshu Temple Stay Kids Program during Ango.  Five children of Sotoshu temple priests in Japan joined us for a week of zazen, oryoki, work practice, hikes and the unique opportunity to experience Zen in America. Also visiting with us, and the youngsters as well, was the Rev. Hakujin Kuryonagi who is the head teacher of Eiheiji’s International Department.

As Roshi has noted, it is profoundly important that we preserve the roots of our tradition here in America. The Zuisse Ceremony, which Noyze participated in, involves returning our deepest gratitude to our Ancestors for their True Dharma and Compassion which we have inherited from them. We should know how it comes to us.

While Ango has come and gone, the energy and enthusiasm flows on highlighted by our Annual Bazaar; a presentation of the Japanese tea ceremony by Mouri-sensei and Julie Kashin Kwong in the Omotesenke tradition; and a visit by guest lecturer Tim Zentetsu Burkett Guiding Teacher of the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center and author of Nothing Holy About It: The Zen of Being Just Who You Are.

Coming up: Our Fall Study Group will run from 7:30-9:00 p.m. for five weeks commencing October 13th as we resume our study of  The Zen Teachings of Homeless Kodo led by Shinko and some of our senior students. 

In conclusion we'd like to extend our compassion to all those who have been affected by the recent Valley Fire in Lake County. The fire is now completely contained and we are very thankful that John Kaian Jennings and his wife, Lia's home was spared from damage from the fire. They feel especially fortunate since the fire started close to them on Cobb Mountain and many of their neighbor's homes  were destroyed.

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