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.

Open your eyes, open your ears, open your hands to reality. As Bodhidharma said: “Don’t dig the cave of the daemons of the black mountain.” Don’t close yourself off from reality to pursue your flights of fancy, your imaginations, your suppositions.

In a word, stay present to reality. Leave the bubble of mental activity. Let truth come straight to your heart – truth is reality.

In the Shariraimon it is written: “Through the power of his support, the truth enters us, we enter the truth.” When we approach our Buddha dimension, Buddha supports us. When we leave the bubble of the mind, truth comes straight to our heart, we enter directly into reality.

In the end, we have to make a choice. Life is a choice. Either we stay trapped in the bubble of the mind, or we live in reality.

Nietzsche wrote: “As near as makes no difference, the day will be more dreadful than the night.” This is the point of view of those who remain in the bubble of mental activity. They mistake their points of view on reality for reality itself. Like this Japanese poet who, when he understood that Buddhism required us to leave the bubble of mental activity and jump into reality, wrote: “If this is all life is about…” Then he threw himself into the river and drowned.

Those who spend their life in the mental, in the virtual, find it very difficult to make a choice. They think that we can free ourselves from this choice, that we can free ourselves from difficulty, from making effort. This what people believe, what people imagine.

When we jump into reality, everything becomes clear. The universe is a shining pearl. We leave the bubble of mental activity and contemplate reality, changing at every moment in all aspects, down to the smallest detail. As some people say: Small is beautiful.

To take care of our life down to the smallest detail, like a mother takes care of her new-born child, without thinking about herself, even if the baby disturbs her during the night, even if the baby does not return all the love she gives them. That is what great love is: that our life be beneficial to the smallest being at every moment.

It’s not a problem of thought; it’s a problem of opening our heart, opening our consciousness and being present to reality.

To take care of life, your own life, the lives of others, the lives of all existences, at every moment.

That my life be beneficial to all lives. This implies leaving the world of thoughts, those nourished by ignorance, greed, and aversion.

In the end, those who remain in the bubble of mental activity are those who fear reality, who turn away from reality; they amuse themselves and are distracted by remaining in the world of thoughts. Whereas Shakyamuni Buddha said: “It is through distraction that we do not live in nirvana. It is through distraction that we do not live in paradise.”

Because we lack the courage, we do not want to make the choice to live reality, in reality. This is how we remain in the world of distraction, dreams, imagination, calculations.

The world of distraction: distracting ourselves from reality, deviating from reality, telling ourselves stories.

Taiun JP Faure, April 2024

Don’t let brambles obstruct the way

"Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto…", sings Mercedes Sosa: Thanks to life that gives me so much, that has given me so much. Some people cannot resolve to enter life without any weapon or armour, just as they are. We could say that Buddhism…

An invitation to receptiveness

Influenza is infectious, but karma, on the other hand, is not. Each one of us has our own karma. In the case of influenza, something substantial is transmitted. But within the Dharma, nothing substantial is transmitted. Our mind uses excuses.…

Harmonising our subjective world with the world of the absolute.

Each of us is a world; in this sense, we are sacred. From the moment we are born, we construct our world. All our experiences, all our encounters at each moment with reality, participate in the creation of our world. So, each of us has our own…

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

The premise of this chôsan is a film, The Venerable W, about a Burmese monk who encourages racism towards Islam. I have reservations about engaged Buddhism that shifts towards politics. That monk, pointing the finger at crimes committed…

Zen and psychoanalysis

" [...] Zen is different: its purpose is not to fix the ego, to make it compatible with society or the others. Zen deals with issues having to do with a whole other nature [...]"

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

The commitment of a nun in the city (Hosetsu Laure Scemama – IZA seminar)

The commitment of a nun in the city (Hosetsu Laure Scemama) There exits several styles of life for a Zen monk or nun. I would like here to present an account of the style of life of a nun who is totally engaged in city life. In Japan,…

Personal experience: the monastic life (Yashô Valérie Guéneau – IZA seminar)

  As you can see, it is possible to live in a monastery for a number of years and remain quite normal! In our Sangha of the AZI certain members imagine that monks and nuns live in a monastery like “extra-terrestrial” beings – austere,…

Zen monk, bodhisattva : the-vows of the candidate for Awakening (Taiun JP Faure – IZA seminar 2014)

Human beings are religious animals. The Absolute is present at the heart of all phenomena of the universe. The entire universe practises the Way, naturally, unconsciously, and automatically. That gives rise to the question that Master Dogen…

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)