You are in: home > ekizen > ekizen

EkiZen - Newsletter by the Sangha of Shinnyoji

Autumn 2014 - n. 20 year V

Sanbo-kie, Taking Refuge
Zaike Tokudo, Bodhisattva Ordination
Shukke Tokudo, Monk Ordination


Shinnyoji Temple
Firenze, 28 September 2014

On September 28, at Shinnyo-ji Temple in Florence, Master Iten Shinnyo presided at and celebrated the ceremony of Shukke Tokudō, monk ordination, Zaike Tokudō, Bodhisattva ordination and Sanbō-kie, taking Refuge in the Three Treasures.

Shinden was ordained monk, Chiara received the Dharma name of “Keishin” while Piergiorgio and Cecilia took refuge in the Three Treasures.

The ceremony took place under the firm hand and presence of Master Rev. Iten Shinnyo, abbot of Shinnyo-ji and Master of the Precepts for the occasion.

The first thought and gratitude was for Ryushin Azuma Roshi, 72nd abbot of the Daijo-ji Monastery in Kanazawa, Master of Iten Shinnyo, whose presence was alive and palpable, an immanent materialization.

Mighty was the presence of Rev. Nakano Ryōkyō, Godo Roshi of the Daijo-ji Monastery and abbot of the Tōzen-ji Temple of Tokyo, assisted by Rev. Tamura Genryu of the Beisen-ji Temple of Nigata; they were both commendable for the strenght that – remaining still - impressed over the whole ceremony; all our thoughts and gratitude go to them.

A special thought goes to Ven. Master Aigo Seiga Castro, leader and Master of the Zen Center Abhirati “Tradición Budadharma Zen Soto” of Valencia. His presence at Shinnyo-ji in the day of the ordinations contributed to the wealth of the Dharma.

Equally precious was the presence of the Maestro and orchestra director Volfango Dami who opened and closed the ordination ceremony on the notes of "IN", improvisations at the cello, musical creations dedicated to Shakyamuni Buddha for the day of the ordinations at Shinnyo- ji.

The strong and vital presence of the Sangha supported us all; equally the strings vibrated for the presence of the practitioners, friends, family members and all those - thirty-four people – who attended the ceremony at Shinnyo-ji.

Opening the Ceremony, music by Maestro Volfango Dami

Rev. Iten Shinnyo Roshi purifies the Zendō

Rev. Nakano Gōdō Roshi, Rev. Tamura Genryu and Rev. Aigo Castro Roshi.

The ordainees: Shinden, Chiara, Cecilia and Piergiorgio.

Autograph letter from Rev. Tenrai Ryūshin Azuma Docho Roshi

Translation of the letter received from Rev. Tenrai Ryūshin Azuma Docho Roshi

Rev. Iten Shinnyo Roshi.
Unfortunately due to personal reasons, I was forced to change my initial plans.
To assist with the Ceremony at your Temple, I am now sending Rev. Nakano Ryōkō, Gōdō Roshi of Daijoji and Tamura Genryū, a brother in Dharma who studied at our Monastery.
I hope that Shinnyo Roshi’s faith, which is as solid as iron, and her compassionate drive, which is as fiery as fire, will be forever more intense.
I also pray for Shinnyo Roshi’s good health and that Shinnyoji Temple will flourish and grow.

Daijōji, 12 September 2014

Tenrai Ryūshin
74° Abbot of Diajoji Monastery

Speech delivered by Rev. Iten Shinnyo Roshi at the end of the Ordination Ceremony.

As we close this Ceremony during which Saiten Shinden was ordained monk, Keishin Bodhisattva, and Piergiorgio and Cecilia took Refuge, I turn with profound gratitude to my Teacher Azuma Docho Roshi and to the Rev. Nakano Ryōkyō, Gōdō Roshi of Daijoji. Gōdō Roshis presence, true testimony of our Lineage, offers protection to the ordained, to the Sangha and to the Temple. I wish also to thank Genryū Roshi, who for the second time attended a Shukke Tokudo Ceremony here at Shinnyoji, thus fuelling a bond that will continue to grow and bear new fruit.

I look at the future of our Temple and I hope it will be bright and solid, strengthened by the ordination of a new monk at the eve of our admittance to the Italian Buddhist Union.
Best wishes too to our Sangha, who steadfastly continues with its efforts to consolidate the foundations of this Practice which was born in Japan, and to Japan is bonded, but thrives here in Italy and is part of the greater family of European Sōtō Zen.

Particular thanks to Rev. Aigō Seiga Castro Roshi, Founder of the Zen Sōtō Buddhadharma tradition in Spain and Spiritual Guide of the Zen Abhirati Centre. He travelled all the way from Valencia to bear witness to this Cerimony and strengthen the bonds that link our two Sangha’s, both members of the European Sōtō Zen Sokanbu Buddhist Union.
I also wish to thank Rev. Massimo Squilloni, a Teacher in the Rinzai Zen tradition, who is representing the Italian Buddhist Union.
Together with the entire Sangha of Shinnyoji, I express particular gratitude to the Maestro Volfgango Dami whose cello opened and closed the magic circle that encased the pathos of this ordination ceremony.
Thank you to Shinobu Sensei for her support and efforts as a translator and liaison with our Japanese guests.
Thank you to my daughter Ambra, who has been so close to us in this particular moment in the life of our Temple.
Thanks to Lisa Tenshin san who travelled from the US to be here with us.
Lastly, I want to thank all of our practitioners and friends for the loving participation to this event.

Speech delivered by Rev. Nakano Gōdō Roshi, Word Zen Center, Daijōji Zen Monastery
Ordination Ceremony at Shinnyoji, 28 September 2014

Good morning. I am pleased for the invitation to the ordination ceremony at the Shinnyoji Temple in Florence, an ancient city rich of story and culture.

I come from the Training Monastery of Daijōji, in Kanazawa in Japan, which has a special bond with Rev. Shinnyo Roshi.

The highest rank, Docho, of the Training Monastery is held by Azuma Ryushin Dochoroshi. He is Shinnyo Roshi's Master and he is Master Shike, the highest rank in the training of practitioner monks, he is a great Master, with great virtues.

My role at Daijōji Monastery is “Gōdō”, which means Responsible for the training of the practitioner monks, and as such, I direct and lead the monks' trainers in the life of the Monastery.
My title is “Junshike”, which means Associate Zen Master, and I teach Buddhism and Moral Education at the womens' University in Komazawa.
I believe that it is very important to transmit the correct teachings not only to the monks, but also to the young people and among the society.

I am monk in the Sōtōshu Tradition. Sōtōshu is the larger Buddhist Tradtiion in Japan.
I practiced for many years at Eiheiji, the main Monastery of the Sōtōshu Tradition.
After the experience at Eiheiji I felt the need to stay spiritually closer to Shakyamuni Buddha, beyond the space and time.
In order to know Zazen as directly transmitted by Shakyamuni, I went to Sri Lanka, a country where after 100 years after Shakyamuni's death, Buddhism was spread for the first time outside India by Master Mahinda.
In Sri lanka it is preserved the most ancient form of Buddhism in the world.
This teaching was spread from Sri Lanka to other countries in South East Asia, such as Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. This Buddhist tradition is called Theravada.

I studied Theravada Buddhism for 6 years in Sri Lanka, first at the University and then specializing with a master at a Research Institute. At the same time, I used to live and practice in the Monastery as a Bikku, monk.
I often used to go to Thailand as a monk, living on Takuatsu, which means collecting alms; from time to time I used to make Zazen in the jungle, because I always had in my mind the thought of getting closer to Shakyamuni Buddha and correctly knowing Zazen as he had transmitted.

Dōgen Zenji, who eight hundred years ago took the Way of the Buddha to Japan, correctly transmitted, was surely moved by the same desire to get closer to Shakyamuni, and left to China to search for the True Dharma.
And, with the same thought, Shinnyo Roshi also went to Japan to knock on the door of the Daijōji Monastery, which is known for the severity of its practice.

As you know, Shinnyo Roshi opened for the first time a Zazen Center in Florence. Today, in the ordination ceremony at the same temple, Dharma made one more step forward. This is a very significant fact.

I wish with my heart that the correctly transmitted Zazen in the Dharma, taught by Dōgen Zenji through Shinnyo Roshi may take root and spread in Italy and I also wish that Shinnyo Roshi and the Shinnyoji Sangha may develop and have great prosperity in the future.
Thank you.
You are in Dharma.

中野良教(Nakano Ryokyo) World Zen Center, Daijo-ji Zen Monastery, 2014/9/21

ボンジョルノ この度、歴史あるこの素晴らしいフィレンツエにある真如寺の得度式にお招き頂き心から嬉しく思っています。









Speech by Rev. Genryū Roshi at Shinnyoji
27 September 2014 – Ordination Ceremony 28 September.

My name is Tamura Genryū, I am the vice Abbot of the Beisenji Temple at the Nigata Prefecture in Japan. I dedicated myself to the practice in the Daijōji Monastery with the Abbot Shinnyo from 2006 to 2008. Today Shinnyo Roshi asked me to speak on the Way of the Buddha.

In Buddhism there are three main holidays which are called Sanbukki.
The first is Gotan-e , which is celebrated on April 8, the day when Buddha Shakyamuni was born. The faithfuls visit the Temple and pour the Amacha tea on the head of the statue of the baby Buddha. The second is Jōdō–e, celebrated on December 8, the day when Shakyamuni Buddha reached the Enlightenment. We, monks of the Sōtōshu tradition, follow Buddha Shakyamuni who reached the Enlightenment through Zazen and we entirely dedicate ourselves to Zazen from December 1 to the dawn of December 8. The third, Nehan-e, is celebrated on February 15, anniversary of the death of Shakyamuni Buddha. I will speak in more detail of the last ceremony.

In the Daijōji Monastery, where Shinnyo Roshi and I practiced together, Nehan-e is celebrated on the 14th and the 15th of February to remember, in the anniversary of his death and in the previous day, the great merits left by Shakyamuni Buddha. After the ceremony we offer sweeties to visitors; the sweeties are of different colors and are called Dango, they symbolize the relics of Shakyamuni Buddha's bones. We offer Dangos wishing a new life without illness and accidents for the New Year.

The faithful wait with joy for the sweeties to be offered; if Nehan-e comes in a week day hundreds of people come to the Temple; if it comes in a holiday, more than 500 visitors come to the Temple and take the sweeties back home with them. We use as ingredients 120 kg of rice flour, and with the help of the faithfuls who live nearby, we make the sweeties by hand for three days. During the ceremony of Nehan-e in the main room of the Temple is placed a picture called Nehanzu: in this picture are represented all the sentient beings who gather and mourn for the death of Shakyamuni Buddha. The death of Shakyamuni is called Nyūmetsu, which means entering Nehan, Nirvana, and this is the reason why the picture is called Nehanzu. Nehan corresponds to the Sanskrit term Nirvana and means the state of Enlightenment, the state where the flame of the Bonno, the attachments and the confused thoughts, is off.

In the Sōtō Tradition temples we hang the Nehanzu and celebrate the day of February 15th. In the places where it snows a lot, according to the ancient lunar calendar, we celebrate the holiday one month later. In my Beisenji temple too, where it snows a lot in the winter, we postpone the Nehan ceremony for one month. In the Nehanzu picture are wonderfully expressed the feelings of each character and animal; they make us deeply reflect on the death.
Today I have with me a book on Nehan-e. After the ceremony I invite each of you to give a look.

This is the third time I am invited at Shinnyoji. Every visit strengthens me because I see as Shinnyo Roshi and the Shinnyoji Sangha intensely and deeply dedicate themselves to the practice and to the Way. This encourages me to dedicate myself to the practice. I wish that all the Sangha follows Shinnyo Roshi's teachings dedicating more intensely to the practice.

私は日本国、新潟県にあります米泉寺(べいせんじ)の副住職をしている田村元隆(たむら げんりゅう)と申します。2006年から2008年にかけて真如老師と一緒に大乗寺での修行に励みました。本日は真如老師から少し時間をいただき、話をさせていただきます。












Contributions from Ordainees

It 's the first time that happens to me to be involved in person in a Ceremony. I was so calm, a calm which corresponded to a sort of centering around myself, to a total presence, I felt no embarrassment or shyness or even panic.

Now I'm more excited than before!

The night before I had slept with no problems and the next morning, Sunday, I was happy for "the Day", I was so 'normal' that I wondered if I was really so, and I was like that .

For me seeing Shynnyo Roshi in her role in such a Ceremony was very important, with this 'last' act it seemed to me to be able to thank Roshi even better, say Thank you, Thank you for having met each other in this life, thanks for Shinnyoji, thanks for her Zen that I've done and where I 'reference', Zen that fully expresses the Life, joyful and rigorous Zen, a Zen of Liberation.

At the same time 'double presence', a double feeling, past and present in a present, in Vallombrosa, the air was that ... the air before the first Ceremony many years ago, how much progress! and how no way! ... could be ... yesterday and today!
The ceremony was very intense, was opened as a sacred book of which we knew the words but not the Power ...
I tried not to move me too much, because the words of Shinnyo Roshi resonate within me and they also express my emotion, not just that of course ... A symphony that passed from the beautiful notes of Master Dami was expressed with other notes in the 'symphony' that Roshi made us, gave us her words so close to us and so far ... and I can not say more ... we are beyond words The presence of the Rev. Godo Roshi and the Rev. Genryu was very much felt during the course of the ceremony, and I'm happy, they could feel and see personally our Sangha and, above all, for this particular moment, the great work of Rev. Shinnyo Roshi.

It was great to sit next to Chiara, now Kei-shin, Gianpiero, Cecilia, because it was a sort of choral also full of hope, for my past events means a lot, between us there was a ‘ collective participation ', although the personal choices , a commonality expressing a belonging that I think we have strengthened, if ever it was needed ...

I came to this decision after years of a path, a path that now I reiterated because Zen, Zazen, 'is the life of my life', along with daily life, family, friends, poetry, cinema, music.
A dedicated path to the other people in an act of sharing, listening and support. A melting pot of 'lives', that make me who I am and who I will become, which are not and do not will become ... Everything in a continuous and permanent natural transformative act that makes me happy.

So a western with an eastern tradition monk,
in which secularism and religion, life and Zazen can merge harmoniously and express ...I hope.

A deep thanks to my Master Roshi Rev. Shinnyo for teaching me Zazen, this ‘kind’of Zazen, supported and 'accompanied' me up to here, and that so much has done and is doing for Zen in Italy and in Europe, to whom I express deep respect and faith.
Thanks to Rev. Godo Roshi who honored us with his presence on behalf of the Rev. Azuma Roshi of Daijoji and Rev Genryo Roshi.

A precise thanks to all the Sangha who shared active this ceremony in an intense manner.

A long-lasting, deep and moved thanksgiving to my Master Rev. Shinnyo Roshi.



It has been a busy day, very intense. The feeling that I had is that it has turned the corner. The book is always the same and each chapter is related to the previous ones and future ones. The book is not short, it is indeed a long novel. Each chapter is important and fundamental and there is no book if I do not I could recognize and accept each individual page. But, at this point of the plot, I like this novel, soothes me, dissolve doubts that until some time ago tormented me, they thought inexplicable and unacceptable. Nothing has changed about me, but in my eyes starts to be something different.



I’m climbing the stairs from the guesthouse to the Temple, when I catch a glimpse of the glass door that shows me Vittorio Emanuele Street: so we are still in Florence, my town. Little space, many places writes Fosco Maraini in his book “Ore Giapponesi” (Japanese Hours). He means that in little japanese islands the experience seems to amlify because of the plentiness of paths and history. And so it is for us at Shinnyo-ji in this days: japanese guests Rev. Godo Roshi Nakano Ryokyo and Rev. Tamura Genryo, the formal rite for traditional meals, zazen time in zendo the reharsal for the Ceremony, all of that put us in a particolar mood. Not an hermitic existence, on the conrary one in deep and constant communication with life out of the Temple: we are a Sangha of people who work. Despite of that, we succeed in giving a full meaning to any gesture and to any detail. Preparing meals and tiding up become meditation and mindfulness.

We have the opportunity to hear the kusen about the basis of zazen taken by Rev. Godo Roshi, who put emphasis on particulars that one would defines technical, but that attract attention on being “here and now”: “hearing with every pore of the skin”, eyes “beyond the wall”.

Rev. Tamura Genryo takes a Teisho on Zen Festivities, expecially the one of Nehan-e and its celebration at Daijo-ji Temple, showing us an illustrated book about Nehan’s pictures, and always keeping attention on concrete details: he says the exact number of flour kilos used at Daijo-ji to prepare the traditional sweeties.

It’s only a short time I attend weekly zazen, and from looking to the Ceremony reharsal as a simple spectator-enchanted by ritual and by deep echoes that also who simply sits in hearing can appreciate- I become an ordained Sanbo-kie.
These are the words I wrote in the ordination request to our Master Shinnyo Roshi:
What lies between trunk and branch/ between step and step/ between the hand and its shade/ between breath and breath?/ What between sky and sea:/it is a line the horizon or the Refuge.



It was a really wonderful day! This is – I suppose – the thought that each of us took with himself leaving the Shinnyo-ji Temple on the afternoon of Sep. 28th, when the ceremony was over. And, really, it was a wonderful day.

My memory selects, first of all, the friendliness and harmony that reigned over the day; friendliness and harmony which was in the air, beyond the people. But this is all secondary, because what moved us – what moved me – stand beyond the sensation of harmony.

In facts, beyond my selective memory, Sep 28th was a day of transition and changeover. It is always hard to say where consciousness starts and ends and where tthe rational thinking takes place, and anyway, after one week, the idea that comes and knocks on my mind is “transition”. Taking refuge in the Three Treasures meant, for me, being present, body and mind and cross a ford, feeling smoothly the strength of the flow, like a light whisper. And with me, I felt that the ford was being crossed by all the people who were there.

As in the deepest relationships, it is necessary to be a couple to make the path of changeover, and, at last, the change comes for both, for the one who gives and for the one who receives. This path has just started.

At the end of the ceremony, the words of Godo Roshi, still and essential like his presence, torn a veil and still echo smoothly in my ears: you are in Dharma.



It was months my thought was going to September.

Ordinations at Shinnyo-ji Temple, hopfully in the presence of Master Azuma Docho Roshi: a rare and precious opportunity to have the presence in Italy of my Master Shinnyo Roshi’s Revered Master.

He, at last, was replaced by Rev. Godo Roshi from Daijo-ji Monastery, who came and represented Him.

Anyway, Japan is present. Lineage reveals Itself.

So much emotion, so much responsibilities and also so much work for our Sangha, which is made up of people who work and have their own families, and are proud to be spiritual components of the Temple, spiritual evidence for the Temple and for them who attend It in their own Practice path. I find myself over and over in a delicate balance between little physical strength, including concerning for money and health, little time for keeping care of relatives and of other dear ones, dealed to hard working and my great desire in holding up the tresure that our spiritual community is.

Our Sangha has lost some of Its members last months, for many different reasons, and so they who remain was forced to work out hard and harder.
At last, all that must have done to organize an adequate Ceremony and for a warm welcome to the Japanese Guests has been done. But in exchange for a running life that hanged the Heart and the strength of our Sangha as it never happened before.
We were proud to hold up our Master Shinnyo Roshi in this little great deal, for which all of us worked out hard, we at he same time were close to each other for weeks, and much more than any other previous time, we got well along as a Sangha.
It was surprising for me, at last, to discover it was easy to cope with the lack of sleepiness, physical and mental weariness, and anxiety for such a happening.
I feel enthusiasm and determination in performing tasks, and deep happiness, these feelings often deleted any weariness and created an inner tissue of balance and trust in achievement to which I hoped to contribute.

The example of faith and dedication Shinnyo Roshy always gave to us, and moreover this time, was a steady landmark and a contact between reliability and activity one needed. She also instill us an also necessary distance and objectivity, one could say wit, in facing any expectation of absolute perfection.
I mean any expectation that went beyond upper limit we could raise as physical and emotional support in the Sangha.
A Sangha, made of people who work in the society out of the Temple, who have their own family, as we said before.
At last, it was easy for me offering my energy and working in and for a team. It was this, active working, my usual, effective keybrick in facing this new circumstance.
A more physical and concrete action, in spite of thinking and reflection.
Also, I have to say I was advanced, luckly, for I had to take care of tasks which fit my own inclination.
Working, and above all working on a background that goes along with body and spirit’s wishes, this makes satisfaction easy.
All of that is always a koan to my eyes.
I notice any time I have to face tasks I find difficult and thankless, accidental -or only seemingly so- facts tend to happen, bringing with them loss of energy, falling in attention and mood, and so spotting with imperfection any satisfaction.
The opportunity any difficult and thankless task gives to me creates a wave and wakes up my mind, gently forces it to choose, to hang up to the idea it’s a right thing devoting onself to tasks that fit his inner inclination, expecially in a Road as that of Zen, so deeply in touch with nature and with physical experience in the range of spirituality.
Beauty, perfection of what is “inborn” in any incarnation, that is formerly perfect just as it is. Doubt…
Singing myself, just as anything in nature sings itself, with my imperfection, my personal inclinations…

Or otherwise compelling myself to a thankless task, to wounderful Upaya, which peeks my body and my soul, mill them as flour and give a new shape to me. A shape, therefore, who is hardrly able to reveal itself as beauty, who often is out of tune, who clashes, instead of singing itself in nature?
I cannot choose, and it is at this point, maybe, that any time an unlocking turn of key have to come. This is sometimes easy, but often tormented, it is the going beyond, the step walked with Faith a Master shows clearly in His outlooking and that is so a fragile thing for us, for me, that is so difficult to define, to hold close.
Sometimes it seems you can get its profile, catch it, live into it: it is burning, it holds up. Sometimes otherwise clumps, frosts, cracks and becomes tiny as a thread, a thread that seems to be much thicker when it sews other lives’ tissue then your own one.
At last what if Faith, in facing easiness and difficuly, was only simply “sitting in Zazen” , without so many reflections, debasing inner battles, without wanting to “understand” or to “forsee” what this Faith is?
Drop which dig stone and smooth down it?
Being less self-centered, being Faith, being Zazen the more often it is possible, and giving one own self time and opportunity to do it.



Newly ordained Shinden, Keishin, Cecilia and Piergiorgio with our Master Rev. Iten Shinnyo and Rev. Nakano Gōdō Roshi.

The ordained Sangha at the end of the Ceremony.

Shinnyoji’s Sangha at the end of the Ceremony.

Kusen by Rev. Nakano Gōdō Roshi, Shinnyoji – 26 September 2014

You should not listen to the words spoken by Gōdō Roshi with your ears, but through the pores of your skin, through your body.
Today I will talk about Zen and Zazen.
Normally the word Zen is associated with the practice of Zazen but it has a much broader meaning. In fact its influence can be traced in culture and literature as well.
If we look at Zen as on a two-dimensional graph, on the horizontal axis we find the broader significance of Zen: culture, art, literature while the vertical axis represents the time-axis, the development of Zen through the ages.
If we look closely at the vertical axis, we can trace Zen to its origin back to 1500 BC when sitting cross-legged in meditation was first described in the ancient Indian religious text: the Vedas.

Talking about the breadth of the horizontal axis: as you all well know, Zen had a profound influence on Japanese culture through the Tea ceremony or martial arts, but it also influenced everyday life though the way that family meals are taken or people greet each other in formal relations. Unfortunately today’s youths have little or no knowledge of Zen.
Going back to ancient Zen for a moment, yoga practitioners adopted the meditation techniques of the Vedas of ancient India. Shakyamuni himself, in the early year of his ascetic practice adopted this kind of meditation but he was not satisfied with it. He therefore abandoned it and sitting below the Bodhi Tree in kekkafusa, he reached enlightenment. We can thus say that the very origin of Buddhism is Zazen. For this reason, our Sōtōshu School places Zazen at the apex of our Practice.
This very Zazen then moved across China and landed in Japan in the 13th Century when Dōgen taught the true Dharma of Buddha Shakyamuni.
This is the Zazen that we practice. We do not speak of Zen, we speak of Zazen or, simply, of Za, sitting.
As I said earlier, Zazen is not just meditation, it unites three elements: Kai (precepts), Jō (concentration) and wisdom. Zazen is not just a particular method of practice, it should be self-awareness and essential everyday-life practice. Zazen starts with the correct posture. That is sitting correctly whether in kekkafusa (full-lotus position) or hankafusa (half-lotus position). The position of the eyes is of great importance – they should be semi-closed like you can see in the statues or paintings portraying Buddha Shakyamuni, Kannon Bosatsu or Jisō Bosatzu sitting in Zazen. All of these statues look upon us in a gentle, caring and compassionate way. You should also adopt the same look when you are sitting. You should never close your eyes because if you do, sleep will overcome you. Just simply lower your eyes to appoint 1-1,5 meters in front of you.
Now you must concentrate on your breathing. Take deep breaths and then breathe out slowly. Possibly, you should breathe out by flexing your abdomen. Repeat this exercise a few times and then continue to breathe normally – do not breathe in any particular way.

Your mind should not be concentrated on anything nor grasp any thought. Dōgen Zenjii once said “Chishin”, which means: let go of your mind, do not be attached to anything, do not grasp the thoughts that arise in your mind. It is also called Hishiryō, the thoughtless thought, going beyond thought. Concentrate on this.

Regarding the three points I mentioned above:

1. adopt the correct posture,
2. breathe correctly,
3. Chishin

You must remember to keep them well focused in your mind when you sit in Zazen. Do not separate them because true Zazen depend on all thrre being present.
The monks of the Sōtō School often talk about Shikantaza. It simply menas: just sitting. Evn untrained monks can state this but do not be misled! You should not consider it lightly – to simply sit requires a long training!
Zazen should not be practiced and developed in a selfish way, but under the supervision of a Teacher – Shike o Junshike. You must consider this very carefully!

You are in Dharma.

中野良教(Nakano Ryokyo) World Zen Center, Daijo-ji Zen Monastery, 2014/9/26











 さらに、よく曹洞宗の僧は「只管打坐(しかんたざ)」といいます。その意味は「ただ坐る」ことなのですが、この言葉は修行の浅い僧侶でも簡単に言うことが出来ます。ですから、間違ってはいけません。簡単に使ってはいけないのです。この「ただ坐る」ことには手がかりが必要なのです。よって坐禅は必ず、自分勝手な独断的方法で実践・展開するものではなく、師家 (zen master)・准師家(associate zen master)に参じて進めていくものであるのです。留意すべきことなのです。

You are in dhamma,


The Robe

I wash my Samu-e
Squeezing out the soapy water
I rinse it again
And I hang it outside
Tiny droplets
Fall from the black cloth
As it gently sways
In the wind


Lisa Tenshin


What is practice?
Tomorrow is the birthday of a dear friend. This evening I should bake her a cake, but then I think: “if I bake the cake I will be in bed late and tomorrow morning I will not be up in time for Zazen. Perhaps I will make her a cake some other day”. What’s the purpose of my practice? It’s best I stay up one hour late, make the cake and perhaps I will wake in time for Zazen.


Lisa Tenshin

Sitting in Zazen with a Japanese Teacher

It might sound obvious that on Ekizen we write of the recent visit to our Temple by two Japanese Teachers. I just want to express the emotions I felt when I sat with Gōdō Roshi. During Friday evening’s Zazen session, he delivered his Kusen in Japanese. Even though I was unable to understand the meaning of his words, I could clearly perceive the power and energy he radiated. Like an arrow flying to hit its mark.


Michele Gerbasi

Living at Shinnyoji

Teacher, thank you with all of my heart for this beautiful week at the Temple. Thanks so much for letting me stay in the guest quarters. As I learned from my visit last year, returning to the Temple after a year abroad is a reflection of my practice during my year of absence. My return last year helped me become aware of the reality of my Practice, like a person walking though the fog, I realized that I was soaked, that I really practiced even if alone in America.
Coming back this year brought me a lot of comprehension. I understand the amount of strength necessary to continuously walk along the Way. Also, I understand the importance of dedication and work that our Practice requires. I now better recognize the effort from our Teacher's actions and thoughtfulness for taking care of the Temple and Sangha. I also saw this effort in Daishin, it warmed my heart even more. I Shin den Sin between the Teacher and I became tangible in our hugs, I profoundly appreciated the time spent with her this week. This visit didn't actually seem like a visit, more like a superimposition of my physical body in a place where my heart always lives, a continuation from my last visit. as if I had never left.
The Sangha changed a bit, I miss the old smiles, but it was truly a pleasure to meet new practitioners. I'm happy to have met Chiara Keishin, she is very inquisitive, has a kind spirit, without a trace arrogance, I can see this through the way she welcomes Zen, she is flexible, not rigid. I really like Cecilia too, she reminds me a little of Margherita. I know that if I still lived in Florence, we would spend a lot of time together. She is sweet, friendly and warm. Also Piergiorgio has a warm heart and comforted me during my moments of confusion. I see a big difference in Shinden. When I met him in 2010 he seemed a bit cold and distant, now you can see that he is much closers, warmers and loving, and not because he has become a monk, but because he has a happiness and serenity shining from within him. I also think that my way of welcoming others has changed.
I could see the depth of our Way looking into the eyes of Godo-Roshi. I have never seen a person who moves with such delicateness and precision, with a lightness and concentration at the same time. Sitting next to him and the Teacher together planted a seed in the depths of my heart that will grow and flower.
The Sesshin and ceremonies were obviously more work than usual. The air was full of caution, diligence, effort and tiredness, I felt a frenetic energy between us. I'm not criticizing the Sangha in any way, I think that we did well collaborating and that the ceremonies went well in harmony and purity. I felt the sense of urgency and tension in the atmosphere. I wanted with all of my heart and body to help as much as possible during this extraordinary event, but I thought too much like a perfectionist. For example- if she some asked me, "Tenshin san, move these pillows." I asked myself: Which ones? Zafu or the Zafuton, both? Only these? Where do I put them? I know that thinking like this is not Zen. The more I thought, the less I understood. I eventually develop of sense of uselessness, of being in the way, incapable. Then with the arrival of many guests and the summer heat I broke down and cried, trembling out of control. I felt embarrassed by all of the attention people where giving me, which was in reality just an expression of your compassion, I was very grateful for this and it make me cry more. I didn't want to stop the Teacher and Daishin during these last few crucial moments before the ceremonies, this made me cry more. I attended the ceremonies with teary eyes and a pink face from all of my commotion. All of my life people have told me that I need to be stronger and less sensitive, that I need to "toughen up". I can't . Without this sensitivity I would lose aspects of my character that I really appreciated and hope that grow: empathy, intuition, and welcoming others and their emotions.
Godo-Roshi's fever and the inconveniences of our flights weighed my heart, but the chance to say goodbye one last time in the Bologna airport was a joy.
This visit gave me a solid ground upon which I will walk while I am once again physically absent from the Temple. I understand the importance of participating in the Sangha and passing days together in Zazenkai and Sesshin at the Temple. I would like to be there to develop a more formal and social Practice, but for the moment I can't live in Florence, it's my Karma to practice alone, faraway from Shinnyoji, I accept it.
Thanks again to the Teacher for her Teaching and loving expression. Thanks for her trust in me as a Bodhisattva from Shinnyoji abroad. I love her very much. I love our Practice and I will try to express and protect it everyday.


Lisa Tenshin

Shinnyo Roshi is my Teacher.
Seeing her again and reciting together the Hannya Shingyo was overwhelming.
I am unaware. I struggle forth, blindly letting life draw me in like a shipwreck drifting out at sea.
I know there’s plenty of work I must do and change scares me. Yet, in my blindness I recognised her immediately. Her presence in my Mind is the drive that keeps me going forward.



Zazen in Norway

sitting on a rock
my back straight and firm like the trunks of the pine-trees that surround me
nothing more.




Calligraphy lesson with Teachers Paola Billi and Nicola Piccioli.

Sesshin 27-29 June

Sesshin 11-12 July

Conference by Prof. Hiroo Nakajima

During the June Sesshin, our Teacher Rev. Shinnyo Roshi invited Prof. Hiroo Nakajima from the University of Florence, to hold a conference on the topic of “Buddhist Art in Japan”. The conference was highly appreciated and saw the participation of many practitioners and guests.


The day of Sep. 28th was the chance for the first visit at Shinnyo-ji of a delegate of UBI, Unione Buddhista Italiana (Italian Buddhist Union).

Some months ago “Centro Zen Firenze” applied to join UBI in order to share its institutional experience and promote the Sōtō-shū tradition in our country.

After the first formal checks and an initial exchange of correspondence with the UBI Consellors, Rev. Massimo Shidō Squilloni of the Scaramuccia Bukkosan Zenshinji Temple, as a delegate of UBI, visited Shinnyo-ji and attended the ordination ceremony of September 28th.

In the morning Rev. Massimo Shidō Squilloni and Master Iten Shinnyo, after checking most of the documents, shared a moment of discussion and opinions exchange on the buddhist perspectives and projects in our country with reference to the recent ratification of the Agreement signed by UBI and the Italian Government.

The mentioned Agreement is important – although still largely unknown even by the buddhist practitioners in Italy – because the Italian Government recognizes several prerogatives to UBI and to the entities that it represents. Amongst other, the right to establish schools and educational colleges, the right to provide spiritual assistance to the military, to those who are hospitalized or to inmates; the recognition as “cults” for the meditation practices, for the religious ceremonies and the training of the monks and Teachers. The Agreement protects the buildings open to public buddhist worship and the cultural assets belonging to UBI.

In the hope of an imminent admission of our Center to UBI, we want to thank Rev. Massimo Shidō Squilloni, for his generosity and support in the ordination day at Shinnyo-ji.


Douglas Onkatsu Kagel, a practitioner at the l’Heart of Wisdom Zen Centre
visited Shinnyoji with his wife Katie. He sent the following email.

Dear Iten Shinnyo, Roshi
Katie and I want to thank all of you for your generous welcome last
night. I am sharing a picture with you of my zen organizations
We have a monastery in the countryside but I practice usually in the
city at Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple.

Thank you and hope to see you on Monday!


Sesshin: 27-29 June, 11-13 July, 12-13 September, 19-20 September.
Ordination Ceremony: Zaike Tokudo, Shukke Tokudo e Sanbo-kie, 28 September

During each Retreat, Master Shinnyo Roshi conducts a Teisho on Precepts.

Photographs by Fabio Daishin
Editing by Ivano EiShin

Weekly practice events:

Zazen – every Monday evening from 20.00 to 22.00.
Zazen – every Tuesday morning from 6.30 to 7.30.
Zazen – every Friday evening from 20.00 to 21.30.

Zazenkai – one Sunday each month from 9.00 to 18.00.

Sesshin – one weekend per month. Starting Friday at 20.00, ending Sunday at 14.00.


Go back to all EkiZen