Can you offer a more comprehensive definition of Buddhism for curious students?
Soto Zen Buddhism brings together the Teachings of the Buddha and the Teachings of Zen Master Dogen as embodied in the practice of Zazen (seated Zen). Zen (Japanese) or Ch'an (Chinese) is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism first appearing in China in the 6th and 7th centuries. When Buddhism came to China from India, a syncretism of Mahayana Buddhism with the indigeneous Chinese religion Taoism gave Zen its great caution and reluctance towards using words and concepts as the path to enlightenment. Direct experience of our true nature is emphasized as fruition of the practice. From China, Zen then traveled to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. In 1223, Japanese Zen monk Dogen Kigen, traveled to China, where he met his teacher Ruijing, practiced rigorously at his teacher's monastery and experienced enlightenment. Dogen received transmission from Rujing, and brought the teachings to have received back to Japan.
Buddhism is a non-theistic religion originating in India in the 5th century B.C.E. Not a 'faith' in the western, Judeo-Christian worldview, the tradition traces its origin to the young prince Siddhartha Gautama (or Gotama), who is referred to as the historical Buddha (literally the "Awakened" or "Enlightened One"). Siddhartha observed the suffering in the world and set out to find an antidote. Through meditation and analysis, he attained an enlightened state of being that marked the end of attachments (and therefore suffering), and ultimately, upon his death, was released from the cycle of rebirth (samsara). The Buddha's teachings are summarized in the Four Noble Truths (the Truth of Dukkha (dissatisfaction), the Truth of the Origin of Dukkha, the Truth of the Cessation of Dukkha and the Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of Dukkha). The Four Noble Truths are the fundamental doctrine of the Buddhist tradition.
What role do you play within your faith? What kind of guidance can you offer students?
I am an ordained Soto Zen priest, heading a temple, where i lead Zazen, service rituals and ceremonies such as funerals and weddings, retreat, and Dharma seminars. I am transmitted Zen teacher in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. As a Dharma successor and lineage holder, i am authorized to teach independently, to guide students who request to study and train on the path of Zen, and to offer spiritual guidance and counseling to students of all faith traditions.
How long have you been involved with the Smith College Community?
I have been involved with the Smith College Community since 2005.
What have you learned from your time at Smith College?
I have learned, that as it has been so historically, students, as young adults, are more often far ahead of the older adults around them!
Is there anything else you would like Smith students to know about you, your organization or your faith?
Don't just do something, Sit There! and I would love to see you at the Wednesday evening meditation at the [Helen Hills Hills] Chapel!