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Toshoji : A monastic life for foreign monks and nuns – By Sebastian Volz

Toshoji : A monastic life for foreign monks and nuns – By Sebastian Volz

Toshoji : A monastic life for foreign monks and nuns – By Sebastian Volz

~ By Sebastian Volz

Shinto priests had seen for a long time, in the hollow of this amphitheatre of hills with luxuriant vegetation , a place protected from typhoons, a calm and propitious place for minds to meet. In 8th century Japan, the place was naturally chosen to shelter the first nippon buddhist temple, which survived the ages, belonging successively to Shingon Buddhism and since the 17th century , to the  school of Dogen and Keizan.

Its spread was immense, with its 1200 affiliated temples and the protection of the great clans of Mori and Tokugawa, despite their otherwise mutual enmity. It sheltered the great poet monk Ryokan and more recently, its abbot has been the most prolific composer of chanted Baika poems, the musical art of our School.

About fifteen years ago, the temple of Tosho -ji, fallen into disprepair, was taken up by Suzuki Roshi, with the aid of affiliated temples, to construct a Sodo, a place of training for monks. His time spent in America and Australia meant that monks and nuns came from many parts of the world and for some years now a number of French practitioners from the great sangha of Master  Deshimaru.

These days, the temple is inhabited by a mixed international and Japanese sangha, mostly of mature years, who follow an age appropriate monastic life, which also takes account of their differing nationalities. Many who were once disciples of Master Deshimaru have done their Ango there, many foreign monks and nuns, including some from our sangha spending a year or more.

So what does this monastic life consist of? -Together with a single body- mind, manifesting Shikantaza, chanting and playing the instruments.Offering our respect, eating, working, studying, washing, resting.

By the collective and regular rhythm of this operation, what Master Dogen called ‘the pure assembly’ is born and lives.