Rev. Jiho Sargent Has Passed ...

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Rev. Jiho Sargent has left this little world. A Soto priest, a friend, guide, mother and tough as nails voice of reason and common sense for many people from around the world who sat Zazen with her in Tokyo over many years. I consider her informally one of my guiding teachers, a great inspiration for the creation of Treeleaf Sangha.

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I believe that I first sat with her in 1989 at the temple in Tokyo were she was a priest (Taisoji). She became a priest late in life, at age 49, and was also one of the few Westerners to be trained in a fully Japanese way exclusively in Japan (at the Soto school's special monasteries for women) and then served as an ordinary "parish priest" at Taisoji involved in the more mundane, "day-to-day" duties of a Zen priest in Japan ... a very unusual path for most foreign teachers.  She also fought for the rights of female priests in the "man's world" of Japanese Zen Buddhism.

She is the author of a book called "Asking About Zen" (also available in German, Spanish and some other languages)

... which was rather unusual for a Zen book, and can best be described as a "nuts and bolts," "tell it like it is" dry, "bringing it down to earth" guide to many subjects which are explained rarely if ever to Zen students (and thus, are misunderstood by the great majority - especially Westerners). Jiho had a "set the record straight" style that allowed her to comment on many aspects of Zen as it has come to be practiced in the West that are usually ignored or "papered over" by other writers because they are rather controversial within the Zen community (a lot of the same subjects we freely discuss here at Treeleaf, in fact ... she was a TREMENDOUS influence and source of much of what we do, and how we do it, in this Treeleaf Sangha).
If you would like to read a bit more about her, here is a simple newspaper interviewshe gave many years ago (I am not sure that all the quotes by her are exact, by the way, as the reporter may have been paraphrasing) ...

We will have a special Zazenkai this weekend that will include a memorial service for Jiho ... I hope you will sit-a-long ...

Gassho, Jundo

(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

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