Zen: Shodo Harada Roshi In America

"We have zazen, we have this practice that is designed to dig in, and dig out that ego. To find that place where it isn't happening, to get rid of that filter. To cut away, shave away, dig into the deepest possible roots, and find that place where the water of clear mind is flowing freely."

Update by Ten Thousand Things:

In his lecture, Shodo Harada concludes that the only way out is for individuals to purify themselves of their narrow egos and tap into a liberated mindset that sees the interconnections between every person with each other, our planet, and the universe:

This is something that everyone understands very easily. Everyone is capable of sensing the situation in the world today. There's no one who cannot sense that very deep despair that everyone feels.

But it's not a question of only fixing what is external. It's a question of also going within and taking care of the egoistic source of these external problems.

Today there are a lot of things that are being taken care of on the outside. There's a lot of healthy food being eaten. There's a lot of care to preserve our health. There's beginning to be care to preserve our planet. People are coming to consciousness that is needed to address these external social problems.

And that's good. But even if those go to greater lengths that we're going to now, if we don't take care of the problems that's within ourselves, it's not going to work. No matter how much external work is done, if what's happening inside is not being repaired, it's not going to help. It's not going to help the inner problem. The inner problem is something each person has to do for themselves...

...When we feel we are too self-aware and self-conscious and living on our own small energy instead of a greater, larger picture, we don't know what to do about that...

...And for that reason, we have za-zen, we have this practice that is designed to dig in and dig out that ego, to find that place where it isn't happening, to get rid of that filter, to cut away, shave away, dig into the deepest possible roots and find that place where the water of clear mind is flowing freely...and return to that base where that huge, clear, liberated mind comes from...

...And when we do that, when we return to this place where we can feel our center free from having to be told what to do by that ego, free from having to be controlled by that ego, then we can take that mind back out into our life, into the outside world and we can start dealing with the external problems from the inside out, rather than the outside in.

And that's the only way we are really going to be able to get rid of this egoistic heaviness in the world...

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Thank you Martin! I'm linking to this post now.

There's a beautiful women-only shukubo (although they make rare exceptions for men if they are sincere practitioners), Rokuo-in, in Arashiyama. They have a short, but powerful morning sesshin that I experienced in the cold and dark (we had to wear coats, caps and gloves) early winter morning.

The priest said we needed to wash our minds and hearts everyday just like we wash our faces. It was amazing meeting Japanese university students,young housewives, widowers in search for that cleansing.

This video reminds me of that wonderful experience and I'm going to watch them all. Jean
Unknown said…

more detailed info available about the place in 嵐山 ?

Hi Mati,

Here's the info from http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/visitkyoto/en/theme/activities/cultural/zazen/m_z_rokuoin/

It takes time to get there and there's no heating/AC and the shukubo only has sliding wooden/paper walls (no ferro-concrete here) out onto the porch overlooking the temple and garden -- but it's beyond worth it in my view. It's run by the priest, his wonderful wife, and their daughter when I was there a few years ago. I had been staying at the Prince Hotel in N. Kyoto for a conference and when it was over, I moved to Rokuo-in and the shift in sensibility was incredible. I spent a lot of time on the porch. Just the short sesshin in the morning felt powerfully cleansing and refreshing.

Rokuo-in Temple

This temple has a splendid garden, which employs the "borrowed scenery" of Arashiyama as a part of its design. Temple lodging is offered exclusively for women. Lodgers can join their morning chanting and attend a lecture. You have to be in at 7:30 pm--that was my only issue--as I wanted to have dinner with friends until 8-9--and the priest's wife excused me once--but I didn't want to ask her this more than once.

I am normally a v. private person and like to be alone -- at other temples I have been able to have a private room, but that was not possible here. But the women I met were delightful, wonderful, from university students studying Shakespeare to a newlywed wife visiting Kyoto on her own while her husband was on an overseas trip to a recently widowed older farm woman. All were journeying for reflection--including 2 fun young women I met who came to Tokyo to visit a shrine that was supposed to be good luck for finding boyfriends--they told me that they were in search for both enlightenment and boyfriends, not in any particular order with smiles :)


Address :
24 Kitahori-cho, Saga, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City
Telephone :
Open :
Check in until 7:30p.m. Check out 10:00a.m.
Closed :
year-end and New Year holidays
Access :
JR Sagano Line to "Saga-arashiyama".
Fee :
Stay: 4,500 yen. 1,000 yen is required to be sent in advance as deposit.
Sorry -- my comment is interspered with info from the web information on Rokuo-in!
p.s. I meant "2 young women who came to Kyoto" not Tokyo.

I'm writing at 11 pm my time, and can barely keep my eyes open--but wanted to respond.

Here is info that you may already know about Myoshinji that is the much larger Rinzai temple where the roshi's teacher was the abbot:

Myoshinji Temple

Founded in 1337.
Located in western Kyoto.
Full of national treasures and cultural properties.
Zen practice and overnight stays available.
Headquarters of the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect, Myoshinji is a vast, imposing Zen temple complex south of Ryoanji consisting of over forty sub-temples including the beautiful gardens of Taizo-in and Kano school paintings at Reiun-in.

The temple also has Japan's oldest bell, which was cast in 698. It is possible to stay overnight in one of the subtemples: Daishin-in and Torin-in. For information, call Torin-in: 81-75-463-1334; Daishin-in 81-75-461-5714. Speak slowly.

It is also possible to participate in zen sessions early in the morning.

The sub temples have events throughout the year, such as illuminated gardens and seasonal flowers.

Free Admission to the main precincts, which is open twenty-four hours; fees for the sub-temples.


A ten minute walk from JR Hanazano Station. 5 minutes from Keifuku train line's Myoshinji Station. Bus #59 or #10, Myoshinji-mae.
Tel: 075-463-3121
Hanozono, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto.
Unknown said…
thanks so much, TTT!

(was absent a few days and just found your extensive replies)


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