Moss-covered Monk

Moss-covered Monk

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

History of Samurai / Zen Buddhism (2)

THE INTRODUCTION OF THE SOTO SCHOOL OF ZEN

Although the Rinzai school was, as mentioned above, established by Eisai,
yet he himself was not a pure Zen teacher, being a Tendai scholar as well as
an experienced practiser of Mantra. The first establishment of Zen in its
purest form was done by Dogen, now known as Jo Yo Dai Shi.

Like Eisai, he was admitted into the Hiyei Monastery at an early age, and
devoted himself to the study of the Canon. As his scriptural knowledge
increased, he was troubled by inexpressible doubts and fears, as is usual
with great religious teachers. Consequently, one day he consulted his uncle,
Koin, a distinguished Tendai scholar, about his troubles. The latter, being
unable to satisfy him, recommended him Eisai, the founder of the new faith.
But as Eisai died soon afterwards, he felt that he had no competent teacher
left, and crossed the sea for China, at the age of twentyfour, in 1223. There
he was admitted into the monastery of Tien Tung Shan (Tendosan), and
assigned the lowest seat in the hall, simply because be was a foreigner.

He protested strongly against this. In the Buddhist community, he said, all
were brothers, and there was no difference of nationality. The only way to
rank the brethren was by seniority, and he therefore claimed to occupy his
proper rank. Nobody, however, lent an ear to the poor new comer's protest,
so he appealed twice to the Chinese Emperor Ning Tsung (1195-1224), and
by the Imperial order he gained his object.

After four years' study and discipline, he was Enlightened and
acknowledged as the successor by his master Jü Tsing , who belonged to
the Tsao Tung (Soto) school. He came home in 1227, bringing with him
three important Zen books. Some three years he did what Bodhidharma, the
Wall-gazing Brahmin, had done seven hundred years before him, retiring to
a hermitage at Fukakusa, not very far from Kyoto.

Just like Bodhidharma, denouncing all worldly fame and gain, his attitude
toward the world was diametrically opposed to that of Eisai. As we have seen above, Eisai never shunned, but rather sought the society of the powerful and the rich, and made for his goal by every means. But to the
Sage of Fukakusa, as Dogen was called at that time, power was the most
disgusting thing in the world. Judging from his poems, he seems to have
spent these years chiefly in meditation; dwelling on the transitoriness of
life, eternal peace of Nirvana, vanities and miseries of the world, listening
to the voices of Nature amongst the hills, and gazing into the brooklet that
was, as he thought, carrying away his image reflected on it into the world.

~Kaiten Nukariya