Shundo Aoyama

‘One person alone cannot form a sangha, or community of believers. Well aware of human weakness, the Buddha cautioned against solitary practice. Alone, it is hard to practice zazen even for an hour. But if one is part of a group, an intensive zazen retreat of three or seven days or a monastic life of many years is possible.
Zazen is not a form of competition. Even though we may think that we can practice in isolation, we cannot. As Dogen pointed out, “People should help each other by combining their strengths as they practice religious discipline.” It is because we derive such strength from the group that we are able to persevere in our religious practice. That is why monks make excellent friends.’ (Zen Seeds)

I have been fond of my namesake for a long time, and go back to Zen Seeds regularly for her advice and wisdom. I have not often used it for teaching, though, as I find her practice lens of life-long Japanese monasticism might look quite severe for most of the people I work with.

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