Soto Zen Buddhism Daihonzan Sojiji – Harmonizing the mind with the body through ”zazen”

Soto Zen Buddhism Daihonzan Sojiji
- Harmonizing the mind with the body through ”zazen”

Observing morning sutra reading

Sojiji, formally named Shogakuzan Sojiji, is a temple established 700 years ago. They enshrine ”Shogaku Kannon.” Sojiji used to be located on the Noto Peninsula as one the head temples with a status equaling that of Eiheiji of Soto Zen Buddhism. When the original temple was lost in a fire in the Meiji Period, they reassessed the temple’s meaning of existence and its mission in the modern world, and as a result, the temple was relocated to Yokohama in 1911.
Nakata visited the temple just as the sun was rising. At the temple, Buddhist priests were starting their morning sutra chanting. Nakata continued to observe the morning service as he sat in ”seiza” style in the main hall. His mind calmed down instantly. Priests assembled as they started to chant the sutra. The atmosphere of the silent hall changed completely.

Experiencing ”zazen”

Following the morning service, Nakata tried ”zazen.” First he was given a lecture on the etiquette and how to cross the legs for ”zazen”. First place your right foot on your left thigh, then place your left foot over the right foot on the right thigh. If you are crossing just one side, you should pull in the lower foot as close as possible to your body. Place your hands on your feet lightly forming a circle with both thumbs. Sit up straight, extend the back of your head toward the ceiling. Your ears and shoulders, your nose and navel should make a straight line to form the ”zazen” posture.
Breathing should be deep and slow, one breath at a time. Stay focused on breathing and do not be distracted by your own thoughts. Ignore them. Do not dwell on those thoughts. Allow the thoughts, good or bad, to come and go freely and continue to breathe deeply. It is important to maintain your posture and deep breathing. The mind will become calm. In ”zazen”, one can calm the mind with the body, not by thinking.

Conveying message of traditional Buddhism

Hokei Mimura, the ”zazen” instructor gave Nakata instructions on ”zazen”. ”The body does not lie,” he said. By studying one’s ”zaso”, the posture of one’s ”zazen”, Mimura can detect their worries, troubles, etc. Sojiji holds ”zazen” sessions on a regular basis. Some participants are beginners but some have attended the sessions for years. They frequently ask, ”What happens if I practice ’zazen?’” ”Soto-shu’s traditional answer would be, ’Nothing’” Mimura told us.
”But I say to them, ’You become yourself.’ You do not move every part of your body consciously. Through ’zazen’ you consciously maintain a straight posture, you are inspired to be aware of who you are. Take one step further and make yourself stronger. That is the meaning of ’zazen’.”
Do not concentrate on any particular thought, stabilize your mind with your body. It is rare to find an opportunity to do something like this in everyday life. ”We would like to continue conveying messages from Buddhism that is applicable in the modern world.”


Shogakuzan Sojiji
2-1-1 Tsurumi, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture