My Teacher’s House (6), May 26th 2019

My Teacher’s House

Shinyu Miyaura and the History of Antaiji in Hyogo According to Muho Noelke
(by Edward Moore)

III – The Money Problem (2)

Edward: At this point, were you having one-to-one discussions with Watanabe?

Muho: Yeah that started at that time. That thing about the fishes in the pond is something he told me directly. But I don’t know if he triggered this whole thing, the “no more takuhatsu” policy.

I could imagine him saying such a thing but, at his time, Antaiji was never really self-sufficient. They lived off the resources they had when they sold Antaiji in Kyoto. They tried selling vegetables in the beginning but never really succeeded at it. They never made a profit but they still had the idea the were living self-sufficiently and said it was successful. I’ve never seen any proof though. If you look at the books keeping of the time, there was no substantial profits made. They actually lost money through farming.

Edward: Were you the most senior person at this time?

Muho: For the first year of this no-takuhatsu thing, I had a senpai. He was the one who had the idea with the cows – which met resistance with the person that was actually responsible – then he came up with the charcoal idea. In the end, he never even built a firepit for the charcoal.

The first guy who was a student of Miyaura donated $2000 towards this charcoal thing. But nothing came of it. In Kutoyama, people were also making charcoal and selling it in Hamasaka or maybe even in Tottori. There was a small boom to burn your own charcoal. After the charcoal thing failed, the first monk left, and then I […]

My Teacher’s House (5), May 26th 2019

My Teacher’s House

Shinyu Miyaura and the History of Antaiji in Hyogo According to Muho Noelke
(by Edward Moore)

II – A Delicate Flower and the Trump of Zen (4)

Edward: How did Miyaura get along with Watanabe? Did he look up to him?

Muho: I think in the beginning it was ok. It could be that he was looking up to him but that there was an unspoken stress as well. He was one of the original Watanabe students who made it easy for him to deal with Uchiyama’s people. The new students were unconditionally loyal, while the old ones would resist.

Edward: Was he particularly close to Watanabe?

Muho: I have the feeling he was not the very closest. There was another guy who was probably the closest. He was like a cult follower. He left after seven or eight years because there was a priest in Hiroshima who was building a new temple and needed a priest. He asked Watanabe if he could have one of Antaiji’s monks. So Watanabe said, of course choose whoever you want. He picked the top guy, the one closest to Watanabe. Watanabe let him go. For whatever reason, I don’t know.

If this guy hadn’t left, I’m sure he would have made him abbot because that was the person he trusted the most. He was also involved in Watanabe’s conflict with Miyaura much later on. He was often used by Watanabe as a communicator to Miyaura. He was my teacher’s senpai but age-wise and practice-wise they were not so far from each other. He wasn’t a super smart guy but he had a university education and could read books. He was a bit more intellectual than Miyaura.

Edward: How […]

Talk on the Gyoji chapter of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (Japanese & English), May 24th 2019

Calmly imagine the ceaseless practice that was happening on Mount Isan long ago. What I mean by ‘imagine’ means thinking about how it would be for us today if we were residing on Mount Isan. The sound of the rain deep in the night was probably not just of water washing over the moss, for the rain would certainly have had the strength to bore through boulders. On the snowy nights in the dead of winter, the birds and beasts must have been scarce indeed, and how much less would there have been smoke from man-made fires to acknowledge human existence! It was a way of living that could not have been tolerated, were it not for the Master’s ceaseless practice in which he made light of his life whilst stressing the Dharma. He was in no hurry to cut down the undergrowth, nor did he engage in cutting down trees to clear the land for building. He just continued his ceaseless practice and simply did his utmost to practice the Way. What a pity that an
authentic Ancestor who had Transmitted, and kept to, the True Dharma came to undergo such hardships in such precipitous mountains! It is said that Mount Isan had many ponds and running water, so there must have been thick ice and dense banks of fog. Most people could not have tolerated such a secluded life,
nevertheless Isan transformed it into the Buddha’s Way and explored Its innermost purpose. Today, we are able to learn of his expressions of the Way and Its purpose because of the ceaseless practice that he did. Even though we may not be listening with a casual attitude, we still need […]

Around the hall, May 23rd 2019

My Teacher’s House (4), May 19th 2019

My Teacher’s House

Shinyu Miyaura and the History of Antaiji in Hyogo According to Muho Noelke
(by Edward Moore)

II – A Delicate Flower and the Trump of Zen (3)

Edward: How many people were there when Watanabe moved Antaiji?
Muho: In the beginning there were 30. But I never saw a picture with 30 people. Probably at the time when Uchiyama retired there were 30 people or more. During sesshin there could have been 50 or 60.

I heard from Watanabe that it was a pain in the ass to have to deal with Uchiyama’s students. Age-wise, a good number of them were older than him. Watanabe was around 32 when he became the abbot in 1975. He was six years older than Miyaura.

So when Watanabe became the abbot, Uchiyama’s students didn’t think of him as their teacher. They thought of him as a dharma brother. They all had their own opinions about how Antaiji should be run and how it should look like once it moves up there.

But Watanabe was this strong character and this Trump-like personality that doesn’t tolerate other opinions. He wants people that follow his orders and do what he expects them to do. I can imagine that Watanabe treasured those people that didn’t have a strong connection with Uchiyama. Miyaura was one of the few of those. But then there were also the monks who had already spent a number of years with Uchiyama in Kyoto but then went to continue to practice at the new Antaiji here.

In the beginning, there were quite a lot of people who didn’t look up to Watanabe as abbot but still had Uchiyama as the teacher in their minds. Whenever Watanabe […]

My Teacher’s House (3), May 7th 2019

My Teacher’s House

Shinyu Miyaura and the History of Antaiji in Hyogo According to Muho Noelke
(by Edward Moore)

II – A Delicate Flower and the Trump of Zen (2)

Edward: In Arthur Braverman’s book Living and Dying in Zazen, he highlights how he always had an issue with Uchiyama.
Muho: He describes in that book these discussions about who was the best Zen teacher. In the end, someone says, Sawaki is Sawaki and Uchiyama is Uchiyama. I can imagine that at the time, more than now, people who came to Japan to practice Zen had the idea they needed to get satori and could only do so from an enlightened master.

That’s basically what you heard from the books of D.T. Suzuki. I read this stuff when I was young. Somewhere he says, on this planet there are maybe five enlightened masters. So not any ordained priest is an enlightened master. It’s not so easy to find these guys because only an enlightened master can discern another enlightened master. As an amateur, you can’t judge it. And some people say they are enlightened when they are not.

When you’ve read these books, you come to Japan with this expectation that you need to find one of these enlightened teachers but you can never be sure. In the Soto-shu, there’s 15,000 temples. Most of them don’t operate as dojos. There’s at least 30 or so training monasteries. In Rinzai, the number is the same. If 10 per cent of these monasteries has a genuine teacher, how can I be sure. But anywhere you go, of course they will say there’s no problem here with our roshi, he is enlightened.

I could imagine that people like Arthur Braverman, […]

Walk around the hall & rice planting during retreat, May 2nd & 5th 2019

Muho’s talk on Dogen’s Gyoji chapter & walk around the hall, April 27th & 30th 2019

The venerable monk Chōkei Eryō was a revered senior monk training under Seppō. For twenty-nine years he went back and forth between Seppō and Shibi, exploring the Matter through his training with both of them. During those months and years he wore out twenty sitting mats. There are people today who love doing seated meditation and, citing Chōkei, they take this beloved ancient one as their model. Those who idolize him are many; those who equal him are few. At the same time, his efforts for thirty years were not in vain. There was a time when he was rolling up a bamboo blind in the doorway of the Meditation Hall and suddenly had a great awakening. During those thirty years, he never returned to his home country, or visited his relatives, or chatted with those sitting on either side of him; he just put his efforts into the Principle Matter. The ceaseless practice of this Master went on for thirty years. For thirty years he treated his doubts and misgivings as doubts and misgivings: we should speak of him as someone of keen wit who did not ignore anything, as someone with great potential for realizing the Truth. Reports of such firmness in resolve are sometimes met with when studying the Scriptures. When we desire what we should desire and feel shame about what we should feel shame about, then we may encounter Chōkei. To speak the truth, it is only due to a lack of heart for the Way and a lack of skill in handling their daily conduct that people become vainly tied to fame and gain.

Gudo Nishijima’s translation can be found here (scroll down […]

My Teacher’s House (2), April 24th 2019

Antaiji’s history
About Kodo Sawaki and Kosho Uchiyama (with links to English texts)
One text of special relevance: “To you who has decided to become a Zen monk”
Muho: “Adult Practice”
Muho: “Adult Practice: You create Antaiji!”
Muho: “Adult Practice: You don’t count at all!”
Muho: “Adult Practice: Tomatoes and cucumbers”
Muho: “What does it take to become a full-fledged Soto-shu priest and is it really worth the whole deal?”

My Teacher’s House

Shinyu Miyaura and the History of Antaiji in Hyogo According to Muho Noelke
(by Edward Moore)

II – A Delicate Flower and the Trump of Zen (1)

The original Antaiji was located in an area named Gentaku, in the northern part of Kyoto. While founded for the research of Eihei Dogen’s Shobogenzo in 1921, it was made famous by Kodo Sawaki and Kosho Uchiyama, who began using it as a place of practice after the second world war. In the late 1960s, hippies from the west flocked to Asia to learn more about Buddhism, and some ended up at Antaiji – under the abbacy of Uchiyama at the time. Unlike other Zen temples, Uchiyama’s Antaiji welcomed westerners from all walks of life, male and female. He was a frail and gentle figure, the complete opposite of his strong and powerful master Kodo Sawaki. Uchiyama would always use the phrase, a violet blooms as a violet; a rose blooms as a rose, when comparing himself to his teacher. While there were impressive characters like Sawaki that resembled roses, there were also precious violets like Uchiyama. When he […]

My Teacher’s House, April 20th 2019

Muho: “Adult Practice”
Muho: “What does it take to become a full-fledged Soto-shu priest and is it really worth the whole deal?”
Kosho Uchiyama: “To you who has decided to become a Zen monk”

My Teacher’s House

Shinyu Miyaura and the History of Antaiji in Hyogo According to Muho Noelke
(by Edward Moore)

I – Introduction

By the roadside leading up to the temple he watched over, Shinyu Miyaura was found fatally wounded, face down in the shallows of the mountain’s river. Some hours before, the abbot had driven a bulldozer over the bank and was crushed beneath. While the vehicle moved up towards Antaiji, he stumbled a few feet in the other direction before collapsing unconscious.

His body was discovered by an American monk. A practitioner at Antaiji for over a year, this monk was with Miyaura shortly before the accident had happened. Miyaura was using the bulldozer to help bring down a guest who stayed at the temple the night before. As it was 14 February, the middle of winter, there was too much snow on the road for a regular car to drive through without assistance. While Miyaura was saying his goodbyes to the guest at the bus stop by the base of the mountain, the American monk was told to go ahead back up to Antaiji as it would soon be time for the communal bath. After a few hours, he and the other residents realised something was wrong, so they made their way back down the mountain to search for Miyaura. One could only imagine the shock of discovering that wreckage, and seeing their teacher’s broken body amidst the blanket […]