By Taiun Michael Elliston-roshi
Atlanta Soto Zen Center (ASZC) and in our affiliate centers of the Silent Thunder Order (STO) are engaged in an effort to establish a dharma-oriented, collaborative community (S. sangha) in the context of our contemporary American culture. Nobody said it would be easy.
As part of this collaboration, in consulting with members of the online communications committee for the STO, I respond to suggestions for topics or content for my monthly Dharma Byte (DB). Hopefully, my comments will address some of the concerns that are top-of-mind for our readers.
As one of our key online members reminded us, there will be three newsletters between now and the 40th Anniversary of ASZC and our annual Precepts Retreat. She suggests three DBs on Matsuoka-roshi; STO; and the ASZC. A series building up to the conference/retreat/celebration in July; speaking to the past, future, and present of our lineage and legacy.
In line with this suggestion, the following will address the first concern, recalling some pertinent and peculiar teachings of Matsuoka-roshi, which may not be recorded elsewhere, but are part of my anecdotal recollection of this Old Buddha’s message. My commentary hopefully fills in some of the unknowns in his meaning. There is a lot more to say in each case, but I will keep it brief.
“Zen is always contemporary”
Sensei always railed at the attitude that Zen was some arcane, irrelevant idea in history, perhaps worthy of study, but not to be considered a vital and essential part of our contemporary reality and practice. His life was an example of the central and crucial practice of Zen, and zazen, for our time and place.