as it has been transmitted to us by Master Eihei Dôgen, Master Keizan Jôkin, two of the founders of the Soto Zen School ; as well as by Master Taisen Deshimaru who implemented it in Europe, then by Dônin Minamisawa Zenji, founder of the monastery.
The members of Kanshoji put zazen and precepts at the heart of their lives, thus expressing their faith in the Buddha’s awakening practice. They are dedicated to the practice of open heartedness that allows them to act with wisdom and compassion – this is how we can help the world from our own realization.
In a world in loss of meaning, where the three poisons are more than ever at work: overconsumption, individualism, race for profit… generating pollution, poverty, violence, loneliness and despair… an ethics based on Buddhist precepts is more necessary than ever.
The values of Buddhism – compassion, altruism, simplicity, respect for life in all its forms – are shared by most religions. However, for Buddhists, awakening is the foundation of any right attitude.
The practice of Buddhism is not restricted to an elite; it is universal, totally relevant at any time and especially today. It is about harmonizing with the laws of the universe – living interdependence and impermanence in every aspect of our lives, in ourselves, with our fellow human beings, with the whole universe in the relationship with ourselves, which begins by looking inward:
Are my thoughts, words and actions motivated by wisdom and compassion, or by the three poisons? How can I arouse in myself the aspiration to live as an authentic bodhisattva, an awakening being?
Kodo Sawaki says: “The human being has the vocation to be a true human being, that is, Buddha” – “Buddha” meaning “the Awakened One”.
The aspiration to lead an awakened life exists in each of us. Through the practice of zazen, we can experience awakening.
By practicing the precepts, we can renew the awakened state in all aspects of our lives. Our practice invites us to put selfishness aside and to value others with respect, cooperation and kindness.
To practice Buddhism is to deeply respect all forms of life, ours and that of all existences.
Living in a monastery does not mean being cut off from the world. In Kanshoji, over the years, links have been forged with the local population….
The sangha, one of the three treasures of Buddhism, includes dojos connected to the monastery and practitioners from many countries. It communicates with the sangha of European and international Buddhism, until it merges into the great sangha that actually includes all of humanity.
Through the media and social networks, we wish to communicate with as many people as possible, to make the teaching and values of Buddhism known to all, especially to young people in search of the absolute who are seeking an authentic spiritual path.
Kanshoji is a monastery where equality is a constant concern, whatever our differences in gender, sex, nationality, race… No function is reserved for a particular gender. No matter how everyone defines themselves, the most important thing is to see themselves and others with their Buddha eye, an eye of understanding and kindness.
Master Deshimaru said: “The disciples must harmonise themselves deeply like milk and honey, and thus create a beautiful and strong atmosphere. In the monastery, you meet spiritual friends worthy of respect; all together you practice the precious zazen. Also, you must never forget their good influence, eternal, more important than that of the family. …] In friendships that are formed, a strict sexual morality must be observed.”
The practice of Buddhism must be accessible to all. Those who can afford it are encouraged to give to those who can’t. Those who recognise the value of Buddhism willingly give to those who need it to enable them to practice.
In addition to this form of gift, everyone always has something to offer: time, skills, joie de vivre… Giving without a spirit of personal profit is an essential practice in Buddhism.
The future of humanity depends on our readiness to give, to share: to give with all our heart, to receive with gratitude.
Hypermaterialism, the race for consumption, comfort and excessive entertainment are ultimately only a form of self-destruction.
We are vigilant about the environmental impact of each of our actions: food, clothing, health, heating, construction, waste management, etc.
Zen masters say: “The monk’s mouth is an oven…” Buddha said: “If you want prosperity, eat meat; if you want happiness, don’t eat it.”
The monks and nuns of Kanshoji, without being rigid, have adopted an organic and largely vegetarian diet; they cultivate two large vegetable gardens for this purpose.
The new buildings were built using ecological materials, in accordance with low consumption standards. In the short term, these choices are not always the simplest or cheapest, but a broader vision, taking into account future generations, can only be beneficial in the long term.
The hard work of monks and nuns, their simple and modest lives, generate the necessary savings to enable them to make such choices.
We are striving to make Kanshoji a school of life, a place of peace, openness, welcome and deep caring.
Such a place is all the more relevant as we approach a critical situation where the collapse of our society and the models on which it is based has already begun and is likely to continue. Some people talk about the end of this world as we know it, but they cannot predict who will replace it. We must face change, know how to seize opportunities, be free from any a-priori, this is the condition for a successful turn, however tight it may be.
It is the very essence of the Buddha’s way to harmonise with a world that never ceases to be born, at the same time as he never stops dying at every moment.
In line with our time and environment, we remain faithful to the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. Without relying on the perverse energy of the three poisons, constantly questioning ourselves, we face reality as it is.
This is how we show humanity a possible direction for a happy future.