The teaching in Kanshoji

In Sôtô Zen, the teaching is transmitted from person to person.

At Kanshoji, it is given by Taiun Jean-Pierre Faure, who received the Dharma transmission from Dônin Minamisawa Zenji, abbot of Eiheiji zen temple.

 Taiun Jean-Pierre Faure’s teaching is based on that of Shakyamuni Bouddha rewritten at each period. It takes the different traditional forms of sôtô zen (see page Sôtô zen buddhism). All the teachings are translated into English.


Oral teaching given during zazen

Kusen is the oral teaching given by the teacher during zazen.

It is not literature. Sentences are simple, short and straightforward. The kusen speaks to the deep part of the brain, to the heart of the disciple, who should not try to grasp it intellectually.

Master Nangaku – this story took place in China – saw his disciple Baso practice zazen with deep conviction. So he said to him: ‘But what are you actually trying to do?’ The disciple answered: ‘I’m trying to become a Buddha’. So Master Nangaku took a tile and started to rub it. The disciple Baso asked: ‘But what are you doing polishing this tile?’ Nangaku said: ‘I’m trying to make it into a mirror’. The disciple said: ‘But you won’t be able to make this tile into a mirror, even by polishing it!’ Master Nangaku then replied: ‘And you think you can reach the state of Buddha by practicing zazen?’

This story is very famous. It draws the attention on a very important aspect of the practice.

The idea of reaching a goal underlies all our actions. We always act to obtain something.

Master Nangaku tries to make his disciple understand that the practice is not a way to become Buddha, because fundamentally, we are Buddha.  One doesn’t need to make Buddha. There is no goal to reach. The practice itself is the goal. Because we are Buddha, we practice Buddha.

Because we are life, we practice life. We practice life as it is. We abstain from incessantly adding comments. We refrain from staying fixed on anything. We let life flow freely, without interfering, without resisting to it.

Master Deshimaru used to say: ‘To practice zazen is to practice the normal condition of the mind.’

In the world of zazen, the world of awakening, practice and realization are one and the same thing. In the same way as any form is accompanied by its shadow – the shadow occurs at the same time as the form. When we practice letting go, when we free our mind so that it doesn’t stay fixed on anything, we are totally liberated, this is the normal condition.

When we sit upright, when our mind is not preoccupied by anything, when our breathing comes and goes freely, when we don’t try to catch anything, or to avoid anything, when we let all the forms that come to the mind appear and disappear by themselves, this is the normal condition, this is what is called the state of Buddha. This standpoint deeply transforms our life.

Pay attention to the posture of the head that must remain above the shoulders, keep your eyelids down, but half-open, relax the tensions in the eyeballs – doing all this is polishing the posture. It is the act of polishing that in itself is the mirror. To be fully there, with an open awareness, without defilement, without limits, this is the mirror.

To attain a state of wide awareness, awareness that nothing can darken, that sees everything without stopping on anything, this is the normal condition of the mind. No form sticks on the mirror, no form remains fixed on the mirror, forms only appear and disappear.

Our fear, our greed, our anger prevent forms to glide on the mirror. When we are free from the three poisons, stupidity, greed and aversion, everything glides along and everything passes for ever. This is the normal condition, the state of Buddha, without fabrication. As it is, it is Buddha. As we are deep inside, we are Buddha.

So don’t look for anything, just be what you really are. Just sit, sit totally, at the exclusion of anything else.

In all activities of daily life, keep the same practice. When you walk, just walk totally. When you eat, just eat totally, fully there with what you are doing.

And so, you can enjoy pure existence, without comments, without decorations, without aim, without expectations.

Taiun JP Faure, November 2021

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Frequently Asked Questions

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There is no mind without a body, no body without a mind. They are two aspects of a single reality. When body and mind are unified, we can remain present to ultimate reality, like Buddha Shakyamuni says so well: “The sound that is heard and the one who hears it are instantly forgotten”
That is what we get into the habit of doing in zazen. In other words, regardless of the situation, we are totally open to it, totally available. When we let go of everything that appears on our consciousness, without running away from or rejecting anything, nothing separates us from reality. Body and mind in unity, we become one with all existences in the universe. Being in unity with all existences, we can respond to them with wisdom and compassion.

Zazen is not at the service of anything. Zazen is simply the manifestation of ultimate reality, which has no end per se. Bringing this ultimate dimension within us has the power to change our life… We realise then that our points of view, our conceptions, our interpretations are relative, and that in no case should they be confused with ultimate reality.

A wrong vision of reality leads us to believe that all things in life are permanent, solid; that they have their own existence, independent from the rest. But the opposite is true.
In reality, all things in life are impermanent: they exist in interdependence with all other things, and have no separate existence.

Buddha teaches that we are the cause of our suffering, which comes from our ignorance, greed and aversion. However, he also asserts that we can put an end to our suffering, if we free ourselves from those three defilements, the three poisons.
Ignorance (waywardness):
Not seeing the true nature of life, the true nature of all things, that is to say, Buddha nature. Ignorance stops us from leading our life the right way, harmoniously, because we do not see reality as it is.
Greed (envy):
Neglecting our true nature and that of all things, we do not have access to the satisfying feeling of peace and plenitude. Consequently, we are in a state of frustration and lack, which leads us to look for happiness in material possessions, social status, fame, recognition, etc.
Aversion (anger, violence, hatred…):
Oblivious to the state of awakening, we accuse others; we feel aversion for everything that bothers us; we feel anger and hatred towards the outside world.
It is because we follow the three poisons – often unknowingly – that we entertain relationships with the world which are not right, which prevents our fulfillment and that of others

To practice the Buddha way is to show wisdom and compassion. This can be realised when we become free of the three poisons — ignorance, greed and aversion — and of all the resulting toxic flows. Then, we are no longer locked up in our selfish thoughts, and consequently, no longer separate from other beings. We see the others as they are, with their joys and their sorrows. We feel the desire to help them with their sufferings. Being compassionate is being in unity with the others. The river of giving then flows naturally and freely between all existences. When we are free of the three poisons, the virtue of giving arises naturally. It’s a characteristic of Buddha’s functioning.


Sagesses Bouddhistes TV broadcast

  • Which place and meaning should monastic life have? (French)
  • The Master-Disciple relation (French)
  • Understanding of Buddhism by Westerners, difficulties and traps (French)
  • The resonance in the Buddha Way (French)
  • The desire of appropriation, source of all the sufferings (French)