Zen in daily life

Zen teacher Dogen and the Soto approach to Zen

About Keizan

Keizan Jokin Zenji (1268-1325) was a great teacher and Zen leader of the Soto Zen in Japan. He was the disciple of Koun Ejo (1198-1280 and Tettsu Gikai (1219-1309). In the book 'Zen beyond Zen', Prof. Masunaga write about him, the following words.

As regards to basic thought on Buddhism and faith in the Buddha, Dogen and Keizan were the same, but they differed in personality and environment. Dogen was rigorous and stern, but Keizan was mild and gentle.

Generally we need two kinds of activities in religion. On one hand we must go a head to deepen our religious experience, on the other hand we must lead others to the depths of our experience. We must let them enjoy the knowledge of the law of the Buddha and the practice of Zen. Keizan was the right man to lead others to this joy. He was the friend of the common people. He met everything with a warm heart and shared the joy of others. These are the characteristics of a true man of religion. The Soto Zen was established by the stern, fatherly character of Dogen, and the compassionate motherly character of Keizan. The Soto Sect was founded by Dogen, but consolidated by Keizan. The profound philosophy of the Soto Zen Sect was built up by Dogen, and clearly explained by Keizan. Dogen educated few disciples, Keizan profited the multitude. In the Soto Sect the two patriarchs are compared to the two wheels of a cart for, if one is lacking, the other will be of no use in fulfilling its purpose.

The true spirit of Soto Zen will be grasped by following these two patriarchs, who handed down the true teachings of the Buddha to this day through their unsurpassed personalities, rather than through mere speculative philosophy.

In this site we are happy to present two important essays of Keizan, translated by Prof. Masunaga Reiho. Zazenyojinki and Sankon-Zazen-Setsu.

Keizan wrote a very interesting book titled Denkoroku - the record of transmitting the light. It is a Must book, for all Zen and Buddhism trainees. Combining History, teaching, stories and deep knowledge. The book was translated remarkably by Francis H. Cook. (And also by the great translator - Thomas Cleary) Keizan brings in 53 chapters the unbreakable chain of 53 Zen teachers, transmitting generation after generation the true law. Starting with Sakyamuni Buddha, Mahakasyapa, and Ananda through Nagarjuna, Bodhidharma, Hui-neng, Nyojo, Dogen and Ejo.