By Tova Green
On the weekend of October 22, 2022, Rinso-in, Shunryu Suzuki’s dwelling temple in Yaizu, Japan, celebrated the 550th anniversary of its founding. Meiya Wender, the Godo (Senior Teacher) and Tea Teacher at Green Gulch Farm, and Konjin Gaelyn Godwin, Abbot of Houston Zen Center, attended the weekend-long sequence of ceremonies and occasions. The occasions additionally included the fifty-year memorial service for Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (delayed a 12 months as a result of pandemic), and a memorial service for Mitsu Suzuki, his spouse, who died seven years in the past.
Japan was closed to guests because of Covid restrictions till October 11, a number of days earlier than Meiya and Gaelyn met in Yaizu. They arrived a day early to help the Suzuki household and temple members with preparations for the ceremonies, together with deep cleansing of the temple, its cemetery and grounds.
Rinso-in was initially constructed on the coast (Yaizu is a coastal city) in 1471 and was relocated to the next web site in 1497, as there have been predictions of an earthquake and tsunami. An earthquake did happen in the realm in 1498, and the temple survived it. The temple has been renovated many occasions and added amenities which make it attainable to host teams of Zen practitioners. Meiya described its uncommon location, nestled right into a hillside on the edge of a big hen sanctuary, shielded from growth. She considers it one of the crucial lovely temples she’s seen in Japan.
Rinso-in is the pinnacle temple for over 200 sub-temples. At least thirty clergymen from these temples got here to assist conduct the weekend’s ceremonies. Meiya and Gaelyn have been the one Westerners who attended.
On Saturday morning attendees sat zazen open air on the hill above Rinso-in. Issho Fujita gave a chat that afternoon. Hoitsu Suzuki Roshi, Shunryu Suzuki’s son, additionally spoke. He associated the way it was for the household and for the temple when Suzuki Roshi left for San Francisco in 1959. Hoitsu was a twenty-two 12 months previous faculty scholar on the time and was not able to turn into the Abbot, so Rinso-in had an interim abbot.
Meiya famous that 1959 was solely fourteen years after the ending of World War II. There was nonetheless a number of hardship in Japan; it was not the affluent nation it’s in the present day. She identified that after we consider the historical past of SFZC, we emphasize how great and fortuitous it was for Suzuki Roshi to reach in San Francisco. However, we don’t essentially take into consideration what it was like for his household and the temple members who have been left behind. The eventual founding of San Francisco Zen Center was, in fact, depending on the efforts of Suzuki Roshi’s college students, supporters, and donors in the United States. It additionally couldn’t have occurred with out the efforts of the members of Rinso-in, who supported the temple to proceed functioning throughout that point and till Hoitsu Suzuki was in a position to turn into the subsequent abbot.
Participating in this weekend celebration expanded Meiya’s understanding and appreciation of SFZC’s lengthy reference to Rinso-in, its neighborhood of practitioners, and the Suzuki household. “It’s like an underground aquifer. One doesn’t necessarily even know of its existence, but it endlessly supplies life-giving water, without which our temples would not be able to flourish.”
Rinso-in members appreciated Gaelyn’s and Meiya’s participation in the celebrations as representatives of the flourishing of Suzuki Roshi’s teachings and legacy in the United States. San Francisco Zen Center and its Branching Streams sanghas despatched flower preparations, which have been positioned on the primary altar, and congratulatory telegrams which have been learn aloud to the meeting. Meiya introduced a donation from San Francisco Zen Center accompanied by a letter of congratulations from Central Abbot Ed Sattizahn, translated into Japanese.
The celebration of Rinso-in’s 550-year historical past was additionally a possibility to rejoice Shunryu Suzuki Roshi’s affect in the expansion of Zen in the West at a time when his educating can also be spreading in Japan. Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind has been translated into Japanese and was printed in September 2022 as a paperback, with an introduction by Issho Fujita, extending Suzuki Roshi’s teachings again into the Zen custom from which they arose.