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SOTOZEN.COM > What's Sotoshu?

What's Sotoshu?

The essence of the Soto Zen School was transmitted from China, eight hundred years ago, during the Kamakura period by Koso Dogen Zenji. The fourth Japanese ancestor of the school was Taiso Keizan Zenji who was instrumental in enhancing the teachings and expanding the school.


The Soto Zen School transmits the true (Buddhist) Dharma from Shakyamuni Buddha through the Ancestors. And recognizes two eminent Ancestors as our founders, Dogen and Keizan Zenji.

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A Message from the Head Priest of Sotoshu in 2021

Every year the Head priest of Sotoshu gives an official message, we have translated this years one for you.

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Shakyamuni Buddha & Two Founders

Shakyamuni Buddha is sometimes called "Shakuson," which is an abbreviation of "Shakyamuni" (Sage of the Shakya tribe) and "Seson" (World-honored One).

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Head Temples

Eiheiji of Fukui Prefecture(venerable founder Koso Dogen Zenji), and Sojiji of Kanagawa Prefecture(venerable founder Taiso Keizan Zenji)are the two head temples of Sotoshu.

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It was during the Southern Sung period that Dogen Zenji traveled to China to study the Dharma. After visiting many temples there, Dogen Zenji, at the age of 26, encountered Nyojo Zenji.

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Sotoshu promotes the five principles of Green Life. Protect the green of the earth; the earth is the home of life. Do not waste water; it is the source of life. Do not waste fuel or electricity; they are the energy of life. Keep the air clean; it is the plaza of life. Co-exist with nature; It is the embodiment of Buddha.

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