The history of Zen Buddhism presents itself as a family saga. Each priest of the Sôtô school today belongs to an uninterrupted line which traces itself either to Gasan Jôseki Zenji (1276-1366) or to Meihô Sotetsu Zenji (1277-1350), two disciples of Keizan Zenji, all other Japanese lines having since become extinct. One is integrated into a lineage at the time of the ceremony of Transmission of the Dharma, by which the Master makes the Disciple his successor. Presented here is the chain of teachers that connects Eihei Dôgen Zenji to Gudo Nishijima Roshi, and in the 41st generation from Dogen, Jundo James Cohen of the Treeleaf Zendo. As well, its links are said to reach back in time through China and India, on to the historical Buddha, Śhākyamuni. The line is also closely associated, ever since the middle of the 15th century, with the temple Tôkei' in, located near to the Japanese town of Shizuoka. It is a long, yet continuing history. In an important sense, it is not to be limited to any place or nation, nor is it merely a timeline which flows from past to present: In Dogen’s teachings, past is present is future, while the future flows into the past as the past becomes the future. In this way, each teacher stands for all others, and all are with us now.
References: For a history of the development of Zen in Japan, please refer to William Bodiford, Sôtô Zen in Medieval Japan... read more