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