Soko Morinaga

‘It was not due to reasoning but to actual personal experience that I was able to persevere with this kind of practice even through all my failures. It was having to live out my belief that made me break through with desperate concentrated effort, without grumbling. Rather than collapse when I found myself up against a wall, however formidable, I reexamined and reassessed, and then pushed on. I think the courage to persist in this way was the result of those very first lessons I was taught when trying to gain admittance to the monastery.’ (From Novice to Master)

This is a book I read many years ago; I just found a copy of it again at the recent Zen Center book sale. It was a delightful read for someone in monastic training – a wry look at the particular intensities of the Japanese system, starting with tangaryo, where the novice undergoes a stern test of their commitment before being allowed to enter the monastery officially. We don’t do it exactly the same way at Zen Center, but we still have our versions of it, more or less demanding.

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