George, American (living in Japan), Office worker
After years of intensive mindfulness/Vipassana practice, a friend introduced me to Jisho-san and true Zen; Zen has been both fascinating and deeply rewarding. Jisho-san's instructions and guidance were invaluable, and allowed me to start sitting correctly. Below are my key impressions of working with him, and why I recommend his guidance to others interested in truth and Zen.
Guidance is extremely direct: Jisho-san doesn't mince words or soften messages to avoid offending; he confronts misunderstandings frankly, even if the message is upsetting. This is ultimately very helpful.
Language is very clear and practical: He speaks without embellishment, decoration, or reverence, stripping all unnecessary idealizations that could cause misunderstandings or multiple interpretations.
Highly accommodating in one-on-one guidance: Jisho-san spent as much time with me in one-on-one guidance as I needed, patiently addressing all my questions and concerns.
Jisho-san is purely a guide: There is no hierarchical group, rules, or beliefs to conform to in Jisho-san's guidance, and he doesn't claim to be special or superior to others; he just happened to realize enlightenment before me, and points out how anyone can realize it.
Thibaut de Veyrac, French, Former Nissan program director
I attended 4 zazen sessions with Jisho-san in 2018 at the very end of my expatriate life in Japan, which started in 2013. It was my first opportunity to have a personal dialog with a zazen sensei.
Every time was precious. I could express my questions and got clear answers that were completely unexpected! It helped me to understand what true Zen practice actually is and to approach sitting with clear and simple direction. It also gave me relevant keys to understand some behaviors of my Japanese colleagues and some principles like “go-to-genba.”
My Japanese language skills were not enough to dialog with Jisho-san alone, so I had the chance to be supported by Madoka-san. She was there to enable our dialog, sitting beside us and translating gently. Her experience in zazen and spiritual practices like yoga facilitated calm dialog and good mutual understanding. Her constant smile brought serenity and trust.
To testify how much I enjoyed it, bear witness to the fact that when I returned to Japan a year later for the Christmas holidays, the first thing I did on my first day back was to attend Jisho-san’s zazenkai!
S.Z., Chinese, Student
Madoka-san introduced Jisho-san to me when I was deeply intrigued by religion and spirituality and was seeking answers particularly from Buddhism and mediation. I attended Jisho-san’s zazenkai from August to December, 2020 for about 30 sessions and did one-on-one dokusan almost every time I attended.
It is no exaggeration to say that this became a turning point in my life which helped me to sort out a lot of questions and relieved many of the burdens I was bearing. Receiving the right teaching from the right teacher on what Zen is and is not, as well as the importance of why and how to sit correctly, will set a huge milestone in one’s journey of searching for truth, especially considering how often truth is misinterpreted and people are misguided in the world. I would recommend anyone on the spiritual path to learn from this great teacher, whom I believe to be an enlightened one and whose teaching is both accessible and profound.
I first started zazen after I graduated from college, when I was going through a new phase of life with considerable anxieties and insecurities about myself and my future. During that time, I held a number of mistaken ideas of religion and Zen, which were pointed out and clarified immediately by Jisho-san, with his ineffable wisdom and acute perception, accompanied with a deep sense of compassion and care. Jisho-san and Madoka-san were so generous and considerate toward me that all my questions were kindly answered and the guidance was always given in a respectful and clear manner. The teaching from Jisho-san is simple but unfathomably powerful, useful yet beyond practicality, able to dismantle all false beliefs for it speaks nothing but the truth. It is truly a blessing that I have been able to be Jisho-san’s student. I am wholeheartedly grateful for the instruction and support he has offered to me.
I.G., Japanese, Part-time teacher and tutor
For over twenty-five years, I was deeply involved in Osho's meditation and his gatherings. At some point, I felt that I needed something else, and I started to look for it. Then I found zazen and Jisho-san. Jisho's teachings are simple and direct. He shows us the essence of Zen.
Attending weekly online zazen gatherings helps me to sit alone. During teisho and question-and-answer sessions, he gives clear and precise explanations on truth, satori, and how to sit. He uses plain words, so I can understand him easily. He sometimes shares his own experiences of zazen that are helpful for us. He also has a good sense of humor. We laugh together sometimes. Even when he is answering a question that I am not interested in, I still learn something from his response. In dokusan (one-on-one), he gives me the right answer for the right moment. After the zazen gathering, something feels clearer inside myself. I really appreciate his help.
In addition, his interpreter, Madoka is excellent. She can translate appropriately what he and the participants are saying.
S. Koyama, Japanese, Company employee
Below are examples of how I think Jisho-san’s one-on-one instruction is different from the teachings of other Buddhist monks.
First of all, if my understanding is correct, it's impossible to describe in words what satori (enlightenment) is. However, Zen masters—even those who are enlightened—tend to describe it using words and phrases, perhaps intending to be kind. But their kindness confuses me a lot. For example, you always think that the subject is separate from the object. But, they say those two are not separate, and that they are one. So, I tried very hard to think that way, but nothing came out of it. Jisho-san is very careful not to use misleading explanations and makes sure I do not get mixed up.
Another example is, I used to try to create some special state of mind, which I thought was ideal for zazen. I tried to apply the PDCA (plan-do-check-act) cycle to zazen. Jisho-san corrected my misunderstanding. His instruction is, "Doing nothing. Just leave it alone." He also explains, "Zen is not a method. There is no methodology.”
He uses plain words to explain without complicated Buddhist terminology. Unfortunately, he is not famous, but is just an ordinary middle-aged man, similar to me :)
One more thing I'd like to add. Madoka always does a really great job with translating.
Y.T., Japanese, Retired
Jisho-san’s zazenkai. After four years of zazen practice, I happened to read articles about Kando Inoue Roshi and his father Gien Inoue Roshi, which emphasized that the correct way to sit is to sit doing nothing. The articles intrigued me as I found it difficult to follow the methods which had generally been advised. At the same time it confused me as their teaching was so different from what I previously learned.
This is my third year attending zazenkai presided by Kando Roshi and then by Jisho-san. Jisho-san now conducts zazenkai through the internet every weekend. He is very enthusiastic about teaching us why and how to sit correctly. His talk on zazen is certain, clear and simple. He always encourages us to have dokusan (one-on-one Q&A) in order to correct one’s way of sitting and to answer our questions or doubts about zazen.
His words directed to me at my first dokusan were, “You’re sitting the wrong way!!” It was so straightforward and puzzled me for a while, but then he clearly pointed out my mistakes and taught me how to sit correctly.
At one time I brought up a personal matter unrelated to zazen, but he answered it saying, “Daily life is Zen.”
He repeatedly tells us: “All you need is to sit doing nothing.” “Don’ t be bothered by whatever comes up in your mind. Just leave it aside.” “You can sit on the floor, on a chair, recline, or even lie down if you are not feeling well.” “You can even sit at intervals at your office, at home, or in commuter trains.”
He is not bound by traditional ideas of zazen and that makes it easier for me to understand and practice. His teaching is unique and thoughtful, which I suppose comes from his own experience of long-term quest for truth, which led to enlightenment.
Now his teaching enables me to sit correctly (I hope) and supports me to “sit whenever and wherever possible”.
I am sure his excellent guidance would be a great merit to those who are interested in zazen.
Aug 25 Our next zazenkai will be in November. Please check here for dates.
Aug 7 Please reserve early. Reservations will close 24 hours prior to the start of zazenkai.
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July 13 We changed our name from "Simply Zen" to "Simply Zen Online."
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