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.

Kusen

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.

Rather than letting your thoughts wander, rather than giving free rein to your madness, please bring your mind back to the body. Come back to the normal condition where thoughts glide without clinging to the mirror. Some people tell me: “Is that all? Is there nothing else to do?” Yes, that’s all. There is nothing else to do. But whether you really want it or not is another matter.

Often, without being aware of it, we persist in being mistaken. Our inner demon wants to persist in being mistaken. As a human being, we can be certain than some time, we’ll go through the painful experience of treason, conflict, wickedness. Faced with this, we should keep a free mind, a mind that doesn’t hang on to anything. Buddha’s teaching is aimed at this, but we persist in being angry, in feeling rancour. This harm done to us, we would like to send it back to the person who has done it, and we keep it in our heart. But it’s like keeping glowing ambers to throw them to someone; in the end, we get burnt. So, we must let go and give up before getting burnt. Buddha said:

“He hit me, he stole from me, he hurt me…”
Give up these thoughts. Live in love.

So, when we can’t give up this inner anger, this hate, when we can’t abandon guilt, when we can’t give up self-hatred, we have to think. We have to remember what Buddha said:

Hate has never stopped thanks to hate.

But it is the same for sadness, arrogance… To hold such feelings in our heart is to ill-treat ourselves, to harm ourselves. Buddha said:

Remember who you really are. Know that a big and mild heart lives inside of you.

Meaning a vast and unlimited consciousness. To think is to understand that in the end, we are harming ourselves, no one else. By persisting in being angry, in being greedy. So the first thing is to see that too often in the way we live we are driven by bad feelings. Then, we have to forgive ourselves, give up flagellation, guilt, self-hatred. Be able to forgive. It says in the Bhagavad Gita:

If you want to see the brave, look at those who can forgive.

If we can forgive ourselves for errors, for the ill-treatment we have inflicted to ourselves and to others, then we will be able to forgive others. Forgiveness is first of all a liberation, it is to be able to let go of this weight that crushes our heart.

Think about it. It doesn’t mean that we are closing our eyes, quite the reverse.

Don’t hang on to your hate, your fear, your sadness. It’s yourself you are hurting, but you are also hurting the others. If you make the other bear your anger, you prevent the other also to advance, to be liberated. And most of all, you exclude the other from your heart. You become mean, pathethic.

The normal condition is that everything passes, forever; everything glides in the empty sky. If it is not the case, it means that you are closing your heart willingly. You keep your anger, your hate, to make the other pay one of these days. You persist in the wrong direction. See it and stop complaining.

If you want to see the brave, look at those who can forgive.

To forgive ourselves, to forgive others. This is how we come back to the normal condition, to the true love, with an open heart.

Taiun JP Faure, January 2023

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Chosan

Meeting with the founding abbot

The teacher expounds the Dharma freely in the presence of his disciples, around a cup of tea.
The teaching relates to real-life situations.

A monastery is not great because of its many disciples.
It is great because chosan is practiced daily.
Master Dôgen

Chôsan on engaged Buddhism

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Mondo

Questions and Answers

The mondo is the opportunity, for the disciple, to ask the teacher a question on some aspects of the teaching and how to realise them in daily life.

Teisho

Lectures

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Frequently Asked Questions

Ask 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.

Poems

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)