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Spirit of Zen, Mind of Rei
In Eiheiji, a well-known temple of Zen Buddhism (Eiheiji town)
January 23rd, 2017
by Yoshihiro Hosokawa

In order to ease mental stress, mindfulness has surged in popularity over the last few years in western countries, applying to various fields, such as medical care, education and business.  It is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to things as they are, which is based on Zen (禅), the mind concentration and meditation to take a good look at ourselves.

Eihei-ji (永平寺) was founded in 1244 as one of the two main temples of the Soto school (曹洞宗) by Master Dogen (道元禅師), a Japanese Buddhist priest and the founder of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism.  It is located about 15 kilometers east of Central Fukui,where 600-year-old cedars and 70 large and small buildings line up.  Today, surrounded by perfect silence and clear air, 150 Buddhist monks called Unsui (雲水) practice their Buddhist austerities there. 

An Unsui spends two hours in Zazen (座禅), seated meditation, everyday.  He follows the teachings of Dogen known as Shikantaza (只管打坐); nothing but precisely sitting, doing only Zazen whole-heartedly.

Everything in his daily life, including Zazen, is a part of the ascetic practices.  According to Dogen’s strict manners, he gets up in the early morning, washing his face, taking a meal, cleaning, bathing and sleeping at night.

Eihei-ji Junior High School near Eihei-ji has had the unique education of Rei-no-Kokoro (礼の心) based partly on Zen Buddhism for about 30 years so that students may foster their autonomy.  Under the education, they learn to exercise self-control and conform to the rules of etiquette and formality at school.  For example, they bow politely to the school building in arriving at school.  And then, they meditate before class.

Mugon Seiso (無言清掃), cleaning up silently, is also a part of the education.  They wipe the floors of the classrooms, corridors, a gymnasium and restrooms without talking anything for 15 minutes; facing themselves and refining their minds.  They spontaneously cultivate concentration and patience through Mugon Seiso.  Other schools in and around Fukui have also introduced such Mugon Seiso for educational purposes.

Elementary and junior high school students in Fukui have had a top-ranking academic achievement and physical fitness.  A study by schoolteachers visiting from outside of Fukui suggests that Mugon Seiso may be one of the keys for high academic achievement.

Zen is not only a Buddhism school but has greatly influenced Japanese culture as a whole.  For example, judo (柔道), kendo (剣道), sado (茶道) known as Japanese tea ceremony and shodo (書道) meaning Japanese calligraphy, are based on the concept of do (道), mastering one thing whole-heartedly, which is very similar to that of Zen.

Zen also influenced Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple.  He had met Zen when he was young and his inventiveness and creativity were greatly inspired by it.  He devoted himself to Zen to seriously attempt to become a priest of Eihei-ji for a period of time.

Zen gives you a chance to face yourself and even guides you into a new world.  Eiheiji has Zen practice programs that involve staying for a night or a few.  Why not stay at Eiheiji, face yourself and find something new to you?

 

【抄訳】

ストレス軽減のため、マインドフルネスは、近年、欧米で人気が高まり、医療や教育、ビジネスなど、様々な分野に応用されています。これは、今この瞬間に目を向け、あるがままに受け入れる意識のことで、精神を集中し、瞑想して、己をじっくり見つめ直す「禅」に基づいています。

永平寺は、曹洞宗の大本山のひとつとして、曹洞宗の創始者である道元禅師が1244年に創立したものです。福井の中心部から15キロ東に位置し、樹齢600年の杉の木や大小合わせて70もの建物が並んでいます。現在、静寂と澄んだ空気に包まれ、雲水と呼ばれる150名の僧が修行をしています。

雲水は毎日2時間、座禅をします。「ただ座り、無心で座禅をする」という道元禅師の只管打坐の教えによるものです。座禅を含め、日常生活のすべてが修行です。早朝起床し、顔を洗い、食事、掃除、入浴をして、夜、眠るまで、道元禅師の厳しい教えに従います。

永平寺の近くにある永平寺中学校には、生徒たちの自律心を育むべく、禅宗の一部にならった「礼の心」という独自の教育が30年以上あります。この教育では、学校生活を通じて、自らを律し、社会の規範や礼儀にかなった行いをする力を身につけます。たとえば、生徒たちは、登校時に、校舎に向かって丁寧にお辞儀をします。また、授業が始まる前には、黙想をします。

無言清掃もこの教育の一部です。生徒たちは15分間、一言も話すことなく、教室や廊下、体育館、トイレを雑巾がけし、自分を向き合って、心を磨きます。無言清掃を通じて、自然と、集中力や忍耐力が養われるのです。福井内外の学校でも教育的な目的から無言清掃を取り入れるようになっています。

福井の小中学生は、学力、体力ともにトップクラスをとってきました。福井県外の教員らの研究では、無言清掃が、学力の高さをもたらす要因のひとつではないかとみています。

禅は仏教の宗派のひとつにとどまらず、日本文化全体にも大きな影響を与えています。例えば、柔道や剣道、茶道、書道は、“全力を込めてひとつのことを極める”という“道”の考え方によるものですが、これは、禅ともよく似ています。

禅はアップルの共同創業者であるスティーブ・ジョブズにも影響を与えました。ジョブズは若い頃、禅と出会い、発想力や創造力が大いに刺激されたといわれています。禅に傾倒するあまり、一時期は、真剣に永平寺への出家を考えていたそうです。

禅は、自分と向き合う機会を与え、新しい世界にすら導いてくれます。永平寺には、1泊から数泊滞在する禅の修行体験プログラムがあります。永平寺に滞在し、自分と向き合い、新しい何かを見つけてみませんか。


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