Tatsugami Roshi

Dogen often called zazen sanzen, or just one word, san, which means “to practice, to examine carefully”.  You should practice directly towards the truth.  You should practice zazen according to Dogen’s advice so that your small senses do not create any ideas.  And you should never judge your practice in terms of your small senses.’

If you read the stories of the early days of Tassajara, as I was fortunate to do through the shuso logs (you can also read about it in Crooked Cucumber)it would be tempting to think of Tatsugami Roshi as the ‘bad cop’ to Suzuki Roshi’s ‘good cop’. There came a point, a couple of years into the formative monastic practice in the late sixties, where Tatsugami was brought over to teach the students how to really do the forms, and to practise in a way that was closer to Japanese training monasteries. A few people didn’t like the new levels of discipline, and left. I have wondered if Suzuki Roshi didn’t feel able to insist on these things himself, but still wanted them to happen. In any case, tough as Tatsugami apparently was, those who stayed loved him, by all accounts. In an archived (and I assume translated, as I believe he didn’t speak much English) transcript of some of the talks, he sticks to explaining Dogen, in a clear and simple way.

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