Lecture on Gasan Joseki Zenji, Second Abbot of Daihonzan Sojiji
This talk was given by following lecturers from the Daionki Office of Daihonzan Sojiji in the Preliminary Memorial Ceremony for the 650th Anniversary of the Daihonzan Sojiji’s Second Abbot Gasan Joseki Zenji held outside Japan.
Rev. Doko Maeda, Assistant Director of the Donation Division
Rev. Seietsu Ito, Director of the Visitor Division
Rev. Houei Murase, Director of the General Affairs Division
Rev. Horyu Otsu, Director of the Ceremonial Division
I am deeply moved and appreciative that the Preliminary Memorial Ceremony for the 650th Anniversary of the Daihonzan Sojiji’s Second Abbot, Gasan Joseki Zenji, has been successfully and solemnly completed here today, with your grateful hearts assembled for his grace.
The Buddha’s teachings have been trans-
dation and management.
I would like to begin by speaking about the Great Memorial Ceremony for the Two Vener-
(Great Memorial Ceremony)
The 650th Great Memorial Ceremony of the Second Abbot, Gasan Zenji, and the 700th Great Memorial Ceremony of the Taiso Keizan Zenji, are ceremonies held in commemoration of the achievements of our deceased ancestors these many years and months after their pass-
In Soto Zen Buddhism we refer to the memo-
(Two Great Memorial Ceremonies: Learning from the Two Venerable Ones)
At the Daihonzan Sojiji we respectfully call Taiso Keizan Zenji and the Second Abbot Gasan Zenji “the Two Venerable Ones,” view-
We will hold the 650th Great Memorial Ceremony of the Second Abbot Gasan Zenji in 2015, and the 700th Great Memorial Cer-
Since laying the foundation of Sojiji, the Two Venerable Ones always met people and society with sincerity, devoting themselves tire-
(Gasan Zenji's birth)
I would now like to comment upon the footsteps of Gasan Zenji, starting with his birth.
Gasan Zenji’s parents were very devout people. As they were without a child for a long time, his mother especially prayed single-
The story of Gasan Zenji’s birth is very much like that of Keizan Zenji, the Founder of Sojiji. It is recorded that Keizan Zenji’s mother also had not been granted a child for a long time, and that she, too, became pregnant after
praying to Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva at the Kannon Shrine in her village.
We do not know the name of Gasan Zenji during his boyhood, but he was warmly raised by his devout parents, enjoyed playing among the beautiful mountains and clear stream of his homeland, and grew to be a vigorous and wise boy.
The birthplace of Gasan Zenji was Uryu, now Tsubata-
(His meeting with Keizan Zenji)
Regarding his meeting with Keizan Zenji, it is recorded that after six years of strenuous effort in training and study at Mt. Hiei, Gasan Zenji heard a rumor that a distinguished Zen monk named Keizan Zenji was staying in Kyoto. He was interested to know what kind of Zen monk Keizan Zenji was, so he decided to visit him. He then challenged him with this question, asking:
“Isn't the Tendai School teaching that I am now learning the same as the Zen teaching you mention?”
Without answering him, Keizan Zenji simply smiled. Not understanding the meaning of Keizan Zenji’s smile, Gasan Zenji returned to Mt. Hiei and devoted himself to the cultivation of study and practice far more earnestly than before. He continued, however, to ponder the
significance of Keizan Zenji’s smile, and to con-
(His practice, Two Moons)
Upon arriving at Daijoji, Gasan Zenji was joyfully welcomed by Keizan Zenji. Keizan Zenji said, “I believe that you will become an important person in the development of the Soto Zen Buddhism in the future. So please become a Soto Zen monk, by all means. ” Gasan Zenji, responding to these words, changed from the way of the Tendai Buddhism to that of the Soto Zen Buddhism. Gasan Zenji thereby entered into a life of hard practice and deepened his practice of the Buddha Way.
The following anecdote comes from this period:
Keizan Zenji said, “Do you know that there are two moons?”
Gasan Zenji said, “No, I don't.”
Keizan Zenji said, “If you don’t know that there are two moons, you cannot become my Zen successor.”
Recognizing the immaturity of his practice, Gasan Zenji strove even more intensively than before. Two years later, while Gasan Zenji, now at the age of twenty-
There is no record of how Gasan Zenji was awakened to the two moons, but it would have been to the one moon that illuminates the whole world and to the other moon that is in one’s own mind, like the Buddha. Keizan Zenji acknowledged Gasan Zenji’s awakening and was even more strongly convinced that he would become his successor.
Even after his awakening, Gasan Zenji con-
(Opening of Sojiji)
After opening Yokoji, Keizan Zenji worked actively to propagate Soto Zen Buddhism teachings, centering his efforts in Noto Prov-
Three years after opening Sojiji, Keizan Zenji gave the abbacy to Gasan Zenji, and returning to Yokoji Temple. Keizan Zenji passed away there in the following year at the age of sixty-
(Establishing the foundation of Sojiji)
Gasan Zenji inherited Sojiji at the age of forty-
Under Gasan Zenji, the distinguished disciples that came to be known as the Gotetsu (Five Abbots) and the Nijugotetsu (Twenty-
The Five Abbots were the disciples, Taigen Soshin, Tsugen Jakurei, Mutan Sokan, Dait-
Gasan Zenji spread Keizan Zenji’s teach-
While acting as the abbot of Sojiji, Gasan Zenji became the abbot of Yokoji as well. The anecdote of “Gasan-
slowly, until Gasan Zenji arrived. Then, they resumed their recitation at the ordinary speed. This unique recitation method, called shindoku (literally, "true reading") is observed at every morning service of Sojiji to this day.
(Fostering of disciples and achievements)
As mentioned earlier, there were among Gasan Zenji’s disciples many particularly distinguished ones, who came to be called the Twenty-
Gasan Zenji determined that each abbot of “Five Temples” should take turns acting as abbot of Sojiji. Consulting together on impor-
After Gasan Zenji passed away, this system was formally adopted by Taigen Soshin Zenji, and it continued for five hundred and four years, among almost fifty thousand abbots, until it ceased in the year 1870. The Cycle Resident Priest System played an important role in the development of Sojiji and the formation of its Front Gate Town, with its great bustle and business.
(His Entering Nirvana)
In these many ways, Gasan Zenji actively contributed to the solidification of Sojiji’s foundation. Gradually giving way to the natural course of physical conditions, he at last passed away, in the presence of his disciples, on the twentieth of October of the fifth year of Joji (1366), at the age of ninety-
His last words, in the form of a poem, were: “I received my life for ninety-
will depart to the other world when night falls.” He left such works as “Mountain Clouds,” “Ocean Moon and The Ambrosia Announcing Dharma Words,” among others.
Let us consider, finally, Sojo, which means transmission of the Buddha’s teaching from master to disciple, generation after generation.
The Second Abbot Gasan Zenji correctly received the Buddha’s teachings from Taiso Keizan Zenji. He established the foundation of Sojiji, enabling the valuable teachings to be mutually transmitted to generations of ances-
By mindfully and meticulously teaching and fostering many disciples called Five Abbots and Twenty-
As the Great Memorial Ceremony approaches, we wish to widely promote Sojo. The valuable teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha have been mutually transmitted through gen-
causal relations that have made it possible for us to receive these great teachings. We must also consider how we can transmit these teach-
On this occasion of the Preliminary Memorial Ceremony, I would like to look forward to next year’s Great Memorial Ceremony and the opportunity it provides for extolling the ben-
In closing, I am again very grateful, from the bottom of my heart, for this respectful holding of the Preliminary Memorial Ceremony for the 650th Anniversary of Gasan Zenji.
Source | Quelle: Dharma Eye, Soto Zen Journal #34, Oct 2014 -