|*1: All Japanese names on this Web site are written in the original Japanese way, namely, the family names come first. In order to avoid possible misunderstanding all family names are written in capital letters.
* The First Abbot * YASUTANI Haku'un Roshi *1
The Sanbôzen is a Zen-Buddhist Religious Foundation (shûkyô-hôjin) started by YASUTANI Haku'un Roshi on 8 January 1954.
YASUTANI Roshi, who was born on 5 January
1885 in Shimizu City, Shizuoka Prefecture,
Japan, formally became a Soto Buddhist
when he was 13 years old. In 1925 he
HARADA Sogaku Roshi (1871-1961), and eventually became one of his Dharma successors. YASUTANI
Roshi deplored how the Soto monks of the time were preoccupied with superficially
carrying out Buddhist ceremonies and neglected the vital practice of realizing
one's true self. So he left the Soto school and founded an independent
religious foundation, the Sanbôzen, in order to re-vitalize authentic
Zen among those earnest seekers of the Way, who, at that time, happened
to be mostly lay people. "Sanbô," literally "three
treasures," signifies the three most basic principles of Buddhism:
Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. "Kyôdan," on the other hand,
means "religious organization." In this name, therefore, one
can perceive YASUTANI Roshi's aspiration as well as his determination to
create a religious community that purely devotes itself to maintaining
the true Buddhist Way.
The genesis of the foundation reveals already that the
basic character of the organization is that of the Soto line. But, following
the tradition stemming from HARADA Sogaku Roshi, the Sanbôzen integrated
the Rinzai method of koan study as well in its Zen training in order to
bring its students effectively to the realization of their true self.
YASUTANI Roshi thus instructed a countless
number of practitioners both in Japan and,
from 1962 on, in Europe and the United States.
In 1970 he resigned from the abbotship and
had YAMADA Kôun Roshi take the leadership
of the organization. YASUTANI Roshi passed
away on 28 March 1973.
* The Second Abbot * YAMADA Kôun Roshi
The second abbot of the Sanbôzen, YAMADA Kôun Roshi, was born in Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima
Prefecture, Japan, on 18 March 1907. He started
Zazen in Manchuria in 1943 under the guidance
of KÔNO Sôkan Roshi. Upon returning
to Honshu, Japan, in 1945 he devoted himself
to zazen practice under ASAHINA Sôgen
Roshi of the Engakuji in Kamakura as well
as under HANAMOTO Kanzui Roshi of the Mokusenji
in Ôfuna. However, he never became
a monk and continued to work in the business
world; his major position was president of
the Tokyo Kembikyôin Medical Center.
YAMADA Roshi received the
Buddhist precept from HARADA Sogaku Roshi
in 1950; through this connection he came
into contact with YASUTANI Roshi, HARADA
Roshi's disciple, whom YAMADA Roshi invited
in 1953 to launch the Zen group called "Kamakura
Haku'un-kai" and to begin a monthly
zazenkai in Kamakura. In the same year he
experienced an unusually deep enlightenment,
which led him to the Dharma succession in
1960. In 1967 he was appointed Zen Master
(shôshike) of the Sanbôzen. Three years later he became the president of the
|The San'un Zendo as the Central Dôjô
In 1970, Kôun Roshi, together with his wife Dr. Kazue YAMADA
, built the San'un Zendo in his family compound. ("San'un" means "three clouds,"
representing the three Zen masters in the same lineage: "HARADA Daiun
[big cloud]," "YASUTANI Haku'un [white cloud]," and "YAMADA
Kôun [plowing cloud]"). Subsequently the San'un Zendo became
the central dôjô [place of practice] of the Sanbôzen.
Here, YAMADA Kôun Roshi guided both Japanese and non-Japanese students
in the zazenkai (zazen gathering at the weekend, held twice a month) as
well as in the sesshin (zazen gathering for several days, held several
times a year).
Especially after Father Hugo M. ENOMIYA-LASSALLE became an earnest student of YAMADA Roshi,
many Christian priests, nuns and pastors
started to seek the guidance of YAMADA Roshi.
By the time of his passing on 13 September
1989 as many as 24 Japanese and 21 non-Japanese
disciples had finished the formal course
of Zen training.
the entrance to the San'un Zendo
Kôun Roshi with Mrs. Kazue Yamada
the board called han
* The Third Abbot * KUBOTA Ji'un Roshi
KUBOTA Ji'un Roshi, was born in Tokyo in 1932, and became YASUTANI Roshi's student in 1949,
finishing his koan training in 1970. After YASUTANI Roshi passed away in
1973 he sought YAMADA Kôun Roshi's guidance. In 1983 he was appointed
Zen Master (shôshike) of the Sanbôzen, and consequently succeeded
to the Dharma of YAMADA Kôun Roshi in 1985. After the passing of
YAMADA Kôun Roshi in September 1989 KUBOTA Roshi took over the presidency
of the Sanbôzen in October of the same year, remaining in the office
until October 2004.
* The Fourth Abbot * YAMADA Ryôun Roshi
YAMADA Ryôun Roshi was born in 1940 in Manchuria, and became YASUTANI Roshi's disciple when
he was 16 years old. In 1978 he finished his formal Zen training under
YAMADA Kôun Roshi, and in 1985 he succeeded to the Dharma of Kôun
Roshi. As a Zen Master (shôshike) of the Sanbôzen he took over
the office of the Abbot of the Sanbôzen in October 2004.
* Gundula MEYER Roshi
There are other Zen Masters (shôshike) in the Sanbôzen: Gundula MEYER (Zuiun-an)Roshi, born in Lübeck in Germany, is an ordained minister
in the Protestant Church. She became a disciple of YAMADA Kôun Roshi
in 1977, and has devoted herself in Zen ever since. Completing her koan
study after several years, she went back to Germany and opened her Zendo
in Ohof in northern Germany in 1987. She has been active in guiding a zendo
also in Sweden. In 2001 she received the Dharma from KUBOTA Roshi and was
appointed Zen Master (shôshike) of the Sanbôzen.
* TONOIKE Hekiun Roshi
Born in 1926 TONOIKE Roshi started his Zen practice under YASUTANI Haku¡Çun Roshi in 1968. After
Haku¡Çun Roshi¡Çs retirement in 1971 he practiced under YAMADA Kôun
Roshi. From 1976 on he was attendant to YAMADA Roshi, finishing his koan
study in 1978. For a long time he has been the secretary general of the
Secretariat of the Sanbôzen Society. He has long been guiding the
practitioners as the chief leader of the San¡Çun Zendo assembly as well
as the leader of his Kanda-Zazenkai in Tokyo. In November 2009 he was appointed
Zen Master (shôshike) of the Sanbôzen by the Abbot YAMADA Ryôun Roshi.
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