STUDY HISTORY 2021.09.20

The History of Zen: Discovering the Roots of Sōtō Zen (25)

From Prof. KAGAMISHIMA Genryū’s Zengaku gairon kōgi nōto
(Introduction to Zen Studies Lecture Notes)

 Section Three: Sōtō-shū

 Japanese Sōtō-shū was first brought to Japan by Dōgen Zenji道元禅師 (1200–1253), and afterwards divided into three branches. The three branches of Sōtō-shū were the Dōgen-ha道元派, Tōmyō-ha東明派,*1 and Tōryō-ha東陵派,*2 but the latter two branches died out and only the Dōgen-ha maintains the Sōtō-shu lineage. For that reason, Japanese Sōtō-shū consists only of the Dōgen-ha branch today.
 Japanese Rinzai-shū takes the Chinese monk Linji as its founder宗祖, while the founders of Japanese Sōtō-shū are Dōgen Zenji and Keizan Zenji瑩山禅師*3 (because there are two founders, the term Two Patriarchs or ryōso両祖 is used). This is because while both are Zen schools, there are differences between Rinzai-shū and Sōtō-shū. To put in briefly, Japanese Rinzai-shū is a transplantation of Chinese Linji to Japan, while Japanese Sōtō-shū is the Japanese development of Chinese Zen.
 Today the Japanese Sōtō-shū honors Dōgen Zenji as its Highest Patriarch (kōso高祖), while Keizan Zenji, in the fourth generation after Dōgen Zenji, is honored as the Great Patriarch (taiso太祖), and so has two Patriarchs. The teachings of Japanese Sōtō-shū were initiated by Dōgen Zenji, and the spread of Japanese Sōtō-shū was begun with Keizan Zenji. Thus, Japanese Sōtō-Shū has two patriarchs. Its teachings were begun by Dōgen Zenji and those teachings were inherited by Keizan Zenji.

*1 One of the twenty-four branches of Japanese Zen, this branch was founded by Dongming Huiri (Jpn. Tōmyō Enichi東明慧日, 1272–1340). He came to Japan in 1309 at the invitation of Hōjō Sadatoki北条貞時, and taught Zen in the lineage of Hongzhi Zhengjue.
*2 One of the twenty-four branches of Japanese Zen, this branch was founded by Dongling Yongyu (Jpn. Tōryō Eiyo東陵永興, 1285–1365). He came to Japan in 1351 at the invitation of Musō Soseki夢窓疎石 (1275–1351), and was active in Kyoto residing in monasteries such as Tenryū-ji天龍寺 and Nanzen-ji南禅寺.
*3 Keizan Jōkin瑩山紹瑾 (1264–1325) is the fourth generation heir of Dōgen Zenji. Dōgen Zenji is considered to be the founder of the teachings, while Keizan is the founder of the religious order.