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Thread: Documentary on Antaiji: Seek Nothing, Just Sit

  1. #1

    Documentary on Antaiji: Seek Nothing, Just Sit

    A little English documentary on Antaiji, the temple of Kodo Sawaki and Uchiyama Roshis (although it was actually in a different place back then, later moved), where Friend-of-Treeleaf Muho Noelke was (until his recent retirement) the Abbot and one of the only non-Japanese Abbots in Japan ...

    ... a place with a unique emphasis on ZAZEN ZAZEN ZAZEN work ZAZEN work ZAZEN without much talk or ceremony, where Treeleaf Member Rev. Kakunen trained for a time and our Kyonin was privileged to visit for retreat.


    There is a time to sit short, a time to sit long, yet any moment of time is beyond measure of "long" or "short." Sitting at Antaiji, though, is certainly long ... and they sometimes go for 15 hours a day (!), 50 minutes at a sitting (!!), broken only by Kinhin and brief meals.

    ALL TO ATTAIN NOTHING TO ATTAIN, WHAT CANNOT BE ATTAINED!

    A footnote: And so unfortunate that Antaiji is not recognized as an official training monastery by the Soto-shu, and Soto-shu monks get no credit toward their "licensing" as priests for attending there. That is one reason that few Japanese priests come to sit there, as it is just "lost time" on their official training track. Why? Primarily because of the emphasis at Antaiji on Zazen and work and Zazen ... not ceremonies and such.

    So, everyone, as much as your body and physical condition allows ... sometimes sit long, sometimes short, but do not neglect either!

    Sorry to run long.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-28-2021 at 12:33 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Thank you Jundo

    Ideal non-training for an Olympic Zazen no-sided non-medal Very funny Zen of Everything podcast!

    Gassho, Yokai sat/lah
    Last edited by Yokai; 07-28-2021 at 01:13 AM.

  3. #3
    Two personal comments on the content:

    -- The fellow at the end forced to choose between his children and monkhood faces a very ancient dilemma, stretching right to the time of the historical Buddha. Even Dogen advocated leaving home and abandoning family for the greater calling of the Ordained path. However, some of us no longer buy that as the only path, and I (like my teacher Nishijima) willingly Ordain folks who find this Buddhist path in family, work and service to others. Each way is the rich path.

    -- The fellow from Kyrgyzstan who left after a year, saying that he worked so hard but "there were no results," and "it's like doing nothing" shows that, even then, one can still fail to understand the treasure of "seeking nothing, finding everything." It is a shame. Perhaps they are too silent at Antaiji, and it was not properly explained.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    I watched the first ten minutes or so of the film (I'll watch the rest later). It seems like Antaiji is a rehab center for lost souls.

    Gassho,

    Ryūmon

    sat
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  5. #5

    Documentary on Antaiji: Seek Nothing, Just Sit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Two personal comments on the content:

    -- The fellow at the end forced to choose between his children and monkhood faces a very ancient dilemma, stretching right to the time of the historical Buddha. Even Dogen advocated leaving home and abandoning family for the greater calling of the Ordained path. However, some of us no longer buy that as the only path, and I (like my teacher Nishijima) willingly Ordain folks who find this Buddhist path in family, work and service to others. Each way is the rich path.

    -- The fellow from Kyrgyzstan who left after a year, saying that he worked so hard but "there were no results," and "it's like doing nothing" shows that, even then, one can still fail to understand the treasure of "seeking nothing, finding everything." It is a shame. Perhaps they are too silent at Antaiji, and it was not properly explained.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Watched it last week and my thoughts on it were that the kids found exactly what they were looking for. The one who left probably needs a different path and more time before he can understand in his bones that “there is nothing to attain”. His case spoke volumes on the importance of sincerity before undertaking a challenge like that. Sincerity with oneself about the motivation behind the decision to do so.
    I don’t know how much I agree with Eko’s statement that one needs to go to extremes to attain something when it comes to zazen. Shakyamuni did that almost to the point of suicide and realized the middle way was the path. The idea of “sitting through unbearable pain” as it was put in the documentary, at least for me, especially when it is self inflicted, goes against both the ideals of the Middle Way and the concept of nothing to achieve. It was however just a once a year thing, so meh.. Not too bad.
    I do however find Antaiji as a wonderful place for anyone to immerse themselves into nothing but sitting and living each situation as it arises.
    Have many more thoughts but I’ve already used way too many words here. Sorry for the length

    SatToday
    Last edited by Bion; 07-28-2021 at 01:31 PM.
    Bion
    美音

    -------------------------
    Join me on Insight Timer
    Help me feed those in need by joining my Share The Meal team HERE

  6. #6
    Thank you for sharing, I look forward to watching! I didn't realize Muho had retired. Antaiji definitely seems like a tough place physically. I recall reading that they don't accept people over 40 for residency. Not surprising given the backbreaking daily labor as well as the hours-long daily sitting.

    -satToday
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (Open Heart aka Matt)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  7. #7
    Thank you, I also look forward to watching this. I am especially curious to watch out for how the fellow Jundo mentioned from Kyrgyzstan could possibly have ended up after a year feeling "there were no results". I wonder why it did not come about that the other practitioners expressing wisdom, insight and compassion through practicing zazen did not tune into his situation and support him...but then no doubt there is more complexity to the story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    -- The fellow from Kyrgyzstan who left after a year, saying that he worked so hard but "there were no results," and "it's like doing nothing" shows that, even then, one can still fail to understand the treasure of "seeking nothing, finding everything." It is a shame. Perhaps they are too silent at Antaiji, and it was not properly explained.
    Gassho,
    Charity
    sat/lah

  8. #8
    Just realized I have children too old to practice at Antaiji. Lordy!

    Shovel snow to shovel snow.

    gassho
    sat lah today
    Visiting unsui, take w/salt.

  9. #9
    That was a well done program.

    Does anyone know if Antaiji operated similarly when Sawaki Kodo was abbot, or if after Muho became abbot did it become a destination for non-Japanese? It looks like a serious endeavor, I wonder how many who have gone through the three years have gone on to teach or become a monk.
    Sat today,
    Chris

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by kurisu View Post
    That was a well done program.

    Does anyone know if Antaiji operated similarly when Sawaki Kodo was abbot, or if after Muho became abbot did it become a destination for non-Japanese? It looks like a serious endeavor, I wonder how many who have gone through the three years have gone on to teach or become a monk.
    Sat today,
    Chris
    I will ask Muho.

    Gassho, J

    STlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    I will ask Muho.

    Gassho, J

    STlah
    As soon as I was done watching it last week I went straight to Muho as well .. He’s been promoting this doc heavily, which just shows his love for the place (or so it seems)

    SatToday
    Bion
    美音

    -------------------------
    Join me on Insight Timer
    Help me feed those in need by joining my Share The Meal team HERE

  12. #12
    Thank you Jundo

    Gassho
    SatTodayLah

  13. #13
    Thank you. That was very interesting to watch.

    Each of the individuals made for interesting case studies that I suspect we all identified with to some extent.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  14. #14
    Oh nice, there's a few documentaties knocking around about Antaiji and I'm always keen to live vicariously through them and see more.

    Gassho,

    Heiso

    StLah

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by kurisu View Post
    That was a well done program.

    Does anyone know if Antaiji operated similarly when Sawaki Kodo was abbot, or if after Muho became abbot did it become a destination for non-Japanese? It looks like a serious endeavor, I wonder how many who have gone through the three years have gone on to teach or become a monk.
    Sat today,
    Chris
    My email just got to Muho, we should hear soon ...
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by kurisu View Post
    That was a well done program.

    Does anyone know if Antaiji operated similarly when Sawaki Kodo was abbot, or if after Muho became abbot did it become a destination for non-Japanese? It looks like a serious endeavor, I wonder how many who have gone through the three years have gone on to teach or become a monk.
    Sat today,
    Chris
    Response from Former Abbot Muho ...

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Dear Jundo,
    thank you for the question. Antaiji changed quite a bit under each of the abbots:
    Sawakai was the abbot from 1949 to 1965, but most of the time he was away while Uchiyama Kosho, Yokoyama Sodo and a few other students kept up the daily zazen and study practice. When Uchiyama was the abbot from 1965 to 1975, a lot of Westerners came both from the US as well as Europe. Mostly hippies. The only one who stayed for more than a decade and eventually became a teacher was Tom Wright, who translated "Refining your life" by Uchiyama and now lives in Hawaii. Another name from that time is Arthur Braverman. At the time, they had a 5-day sesshin each month but during the rest of the month there was lot of time for individual studies or working part-time in the city of Kyoto.
    The lifestyle changed a lot when Watanabe Koho moved the temple from Kyoto to its present location and Antaiji became self-sufficient in food stuff. All of the hippies left shortly after, but three Italians studied with Watanabe from 1980 to 1987, when my teacher, Miyaura Shinyu took over. I was the only foreigner most of the time when I lived at Antaiji between 1990 and 2002, but there were a few Westerners coming and going from time to time. When I became the abbot, I spent a lot of time in making the monastery more visible on the Internet, at one time the website was available in twelve languages. This led to a sharp increase in foreign visitors, but also led to a "guesthouse" atmosphere, which is the reason why I began to ask aspirants to learn Japanese in advance and look into a three year stay. I also changed the get-up time in the morning from 5:00 am to 3:45 am to disencourage the residents from drinking until late every evening (which was kind of the norm under my teacher).
    Eko, who is now the new abbess, is the only of my students who finished her training. An American spent four or five years at Antaiji, but he left before Dharma transmission.
    I am sure that Antaiji will continue to change in the future and am looking forward to the innovations that Eko will make.
    Gassho
    Muho
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Fascinating, thank you Jundo.
    Gassho,
    Chris

  18. #18
    Yes, that's really interesting. It must be hard to strike that balance between encouraging westerners and turning it into some sort of backpacker guesthouse as Muho mentioned. A 3 year stay will definitely stop the latter!

    Gassho,

    Heiso

    StLah

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