Taigen Shodo Harada Roshi

Tahoma Zen Monastery's Abbot, Taigen Shodo Harada Roshi (center), with Assistant Abbots Dairin Zenji and Daichi Zenni. They were installed at Tahoma-san Sogenji's Mountain Seat Ceremony on September 14, 2011.

“We train to get to know our already endowed clear mind, we don’t gain it from training, it has been there since the start.”
~ Taigen Shodo Harada Roshi

Mountain Seat Ceremony at Tahoma Zen Monastery

Tahoma-san Sogenji Zen Monastery on Whidbey Island, Washington celebrated its first Shinzan Shiki or Mountain Seat Ceremony on September 14, 2011. This ceremony is traditionally held to welcome new leadership of a Zen temple or monastery.

Taigen Shodo Harada Roshi was installed as Abbot and Daichi Zenni and Dairin Zenji were installed as Assistant Abbots of the monastery. The event represents the formal birth of a vision of Shodo Harada Roshi and of his teacher, Yamada Mumon Roshi, to bring to the West a Rinzai Zen place of practice and training, a place where one can directly realize one’s True Nature.

Shodo Harada Roshi was born in 1940 in Nara, Japan. He began his Zen training in 1962 when he entered Shofuku-ji monastery in Kobe, Japan, where he trained under Yamada Mumon Roshi (1900-1988) for twenty years. He was then given dharma transmission (inka) and was subsequently made abbot of Sogenji monastery in Okayama, Japan, where he has taught since 1982.

In 1989, Harada Roshi made his first visit to Seattle, where he led a sesshin at the home of one of his senior students. He has returned since then to lead sesshins, at first once and then twice each year.

In the Mountain Seat Ceremony, the new Abbots are invited in by members of the sangha, and they assume their new positions with the formal recitation of poems written for the occasion. At the Mountain Gate, Shodo Harada read the following poem:

At Tahoma there is no gate—
Heaven and Earth, wide open!
Offering the One Drop of Sogen
We repay our deep obligation to the Buddhas and Ancestors.

His closing poem read:

Tahoma-san is full of smiling faces!
In this way all share in the merit of this occasion.
Hand in hand with those of the past who have helped us, we all attain Buddhahood,
Gaining boundless good fortune and peace throughout the world.

Tahoma-san Sogenji Zen Monastery is located in Freeland, Washington on Whidbey Island. Land was purchased fifteen years ago and the site has been in the process of being developed since that time. Shodo Harada makes semi-annual trips from Okayama, Japan each year to train Zen students. The recent ceremony marks the beginning of a new era at Tahoma as a residential place of practice with a full-time training schedule. All are welcome!

For more information about Tahoma Zen Monastery, please visit: www.onedropzendo.org/tahoma.php.

Video of the Mountain Seat Ceremony is at: wn.com/daviddaiku.

Contributors: Brenda Wajun Loew & Judy Myokyo Skenazy.
Photos: Kiki Shuho Giet.