Monday, November 14, 2011

I Know a Way to Eliminate Suffering from Life




My friends Ingrid and Jiku-san came to Tokyo recently from Chile for a short visit. Ingrid is a student of Gudo Nishijima Roshi and Jiku-san is a student of a Japanese monk named Daisetsu Tangen Roshi. They both became interested in Zen Buddhism after they had been practicing yoga for a while.

Ingrid’s first experience with meditation was at a yoga class in Chile. After doing meditation there, she decided to try it at home, and continued to practice at home for 10 years. Later she began to practice with a small Buddhist group in Santiago. She came to Japan a few years later and met Nishijima Roshi in Tokyo. Afterwards, she started a Buddhist meditation group in Chile, and helped to organize Nishijima roshi’s visit for talks and retreats in Chile in 2004.

Jiku-san’s first name is Patricio, but people usually call him by his Buddhist name “Jiku-san”. He first encountered zazen when he was doing a yoga instructor’s course in Nepal. A few years later his job as a photographer brought him to Japan to do a feature on a Zen retreat at a temple named Bukkokuji. Bukkokuji is in a town called “Obama-shi” in Fukui prefecture. Daisetsu Tangen Roshi is the abbot there. When Jiku-san came to the temple, he liked the life there so much that he decided to stay. He eventually spent 10 years at Bukkokuji, before deciding to return to Chile to teach people about zazen and Buddhism. When he returned to Chile, he and Ingrid opened a Zazen dojo together and began to hold retreats and classes. Jiku-san also taught zazen at a prison there for 7 years. Recently, Ingrid and Jiku-san opened a new dojo called “El Zendo” in Chile. El Zendo is in a small town named Tunquen on the Pacific coast, about two hours from Santiago.

I asked Jiku-san and Ingrid to give a talk to our Saturday Zazen class while they were in Tokyo. They kindly agreed. Jiku-san told us about how he first became interested in Buddhism, and about life at Bukkokuji temple, including the daily schedule and going on begging rounds (called “takuhatsu”), and how the 10 years there changed his own life. He also told us about his experiences teaching Buddhism in Chile and at the Chilean prison, and about El Zendo. Ingrid told us about her experiences practicing at home on a daily basis for 10 years while raising her family, and how she ended up meeting Nishijima Roshi when she came to Tokyo, and later on began to practice together with Jiku-san in Chile.

I recorded the talk on my MP3 recorder. It lasts about 50 minutes. There’s also plenty of questions and answers during the talk. (The title of this post is something that comes up during the talk.) You can click here to download the MP3 file (47 MB).

By the way, one of the things that Jiku-san mentions during the talk is that people at the temple used to scrub themselves everyday with a “tawashi”. A tawashi is a small scrubbing brush that the Japanese usually use to scrub vegetables or pots and pans, but at the temple they found it was a good way to keep themselves clean too.

You can check out the El Zendo website at Jiku-san and Ingrid hold retreats there on a regular basis that everyone is welcome to attend. They told me sometimes people visit them from other countries in South America and from North America too.

Incidentally, the photo at the top of this post was taken the day we held the talk. Ingrid is in the center, and Jiku-san is on her right. The person on Jiku-san’s right is Harumi Saito. Harumi Saito began to practice zazen in the 1970’s with Nishijima Roshi at his Saturday classes in Tokyo, and has helped to organize the Tokyo classes for many years. He also taught zazen in a city near Tokyo for several years. He still comes to the Saturday zazen practice on a regular basis. On Ingrid’s left in the photo is Kimika, also one of Nishijima Roshi’s students. Kimika was one of the people who accompanied Nishijima Roshi on his visit to Chile in 2004. I’m the bald guy on Kimika’s left. (Thanks to Shinji for the photo.)

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