Continuity and Change in Zen

Wednesday 25th May 2011 at 6.30 pm

The Buddhist Society
58 Eccleston Square
London SW1V 1PH

Public Lecture

by Shinzan Miyamae Roshi

We live in a rapidly changing world. Every year it becomes more different from the milieu in which the Zen tradition came to maturity. Shinzan Roshi will reflect on how we as Buddhists respond and adapt to this ever-accelerating change and on what must be fostered to promote the unbroken continuity of the tradition.

Shinzan Miyamae Roshi is a Japanese Zen Master in the Rinzai tradition. Openly critical of the institutionalisation and routinisation of much of modern Zen and emphatic on the importance of genuine insight, he has charted an unorthodox course. Born in 1935 in Niigata, Japan, he graduated from Doshisha University with a degree in Economics. In his twenties he failed in three business ventures, experiencing great hardships. Contemplating suicide, he was by chance transformed upon reading a book on Zen. He was 31. He was ordained a Zen monk by Mitsui Daishin Roshi who sent him to train at Shogenji monastery with his own master, the formidable Kajiura Itsugai Roshi. Shogenji, known as the devil’s dojo, had the reputation of being the strictest training monastery in Japan. It was founded in the mountains of Gifu-ken on the spot where Zen ancestor Kanzan Egan (1277-1360) in his post-monastery training worked as a cow herder by day and sat zazen on a precipice by night. After completing his koan study, Shinzan Roshi took the unusual step of visiting every Zen Master in Japan seeking to test and deepen his insight. Later he restored Gyokuryuji, the hermitage of the great Zen master Bankei. He has become known for teaching outcasts and foreigners and protesting against institutional abuses. He withdrew from the Myoshinji branch of the Rinzai Zen School over the system of excessive charges for funerals. He has taught in the US, Canada and Europe and has written two books in Japanese, one about true Buddhism and one about finding happiness. Shinzan Roshi is intending to teach in the UK in spring 2011.

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