Yearbook 2008


Tobias (Germany, 28yo, Mechanical Engineer)

Having read through the Adult Practice Manual and other documents on the Antaiji web page numerous times, I still had no clue what to expect when I took the train ride to Hamasaka. That's not because those articles don't give an accurate picture of life in Antaiji, but because it's impossible to predict the psychological component, the reaction of the ego to these very different circumstances, so to say. For a mere 1-month-stay (or 3 weeks, as it turned out to be), like in my case, it's probably not that relevant either, but it was still the issue i thought about most when I walked up the hill with two fellow practitioners I had just met at Hamasaka train station.

Suffice to say, the situation at the monastery was very inspiring. The concept of doing things swiftly and silently appealed to me from the beginning. Being alert, learning by observing and going with the flow of the group, no matter if it's during meals, samu or cleaning duties, are some of the main requirements, and constantly trying to achieve that mindset proved to be rewarding.

Having spent most of 2008 in Shanghai, it was overwhelming so see the abundant nature and experience the quietude of Antaiji. I realized how enervating the constant city drone is and how far big cities can detach us from our natural self. Hearing the animal world, especially the birds, wake up during the morning zazen was just wonderful.

Having the chance to talk with people from different areas, ages and levels of zazen experience about their practice was also invaluable and helped a rather inexperienced practitioner like me to figure out (hopefully!) some essential issues.

Before I came to Antaiji, the thing that was worrying me the most, except for the "psychological component", was my physical inflexibility, and it proved to be a justified worry. I had hoped to get accustomed to the physical requirements of Antaiji, but the combination of sitting during zazen, sitting in seiza for longer periods of time and having to do hard physical labor caused my body, especially my knees to hurt more and more after the first week. I endured it at first until, after week three, the pain in my knees became so strong that I was afraid I might damage them permanently, so I decided to leave.

Nevertheless, it was a very inspiring time that has changed my attitude about life in many ways and has given me the confidence to continue this way with more motivation than ever.

Arigato gozaimasu,


Switch to Japanese Switch to French Switch to German Switch to Spanish