Shouzeri[Mar 2013]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Shouzeri[Mar 2013]

KOBORI Sojitsu (the 13th Grand Master of the Enshu Sado School )

Soon it will be March. February has so few days and goes by so quickly. Since the beginning of the year gets particularly busy at our house, just as I begin to feel as though I can relax, the official day for the end of winter passes, the first day of spring arrives and all of a sudden it is March.

Actually, I am writing this at the end of January and would like to continue to share my thoughts about the first tea serving of the year like I did last month on the subject of 'standing' which arose at the year's first poetry reading with the Emperor.

Shouzeri is a term which appeared in the 8th provision of the Blue Cliff Record book in Zen Buddhism. It is read as either 'Shouzeri' or 'Shouya'. Choukei Eryou uttered the word to a Zen master by the name of Suigan Reisan, who worked with Seppou Gizan.

While I am not qualified to interpret this, my understanding of the word's original meaning comes from the story of how the 17th century monk Suigan once asked how his eyebrows were, knowing that there was a saying in Buddhism that excessive kindness led to one's eyebrows falling off. To this, Choukei responded 'Shouzeri' to mean, 'they are growing'.

I would like to overlay this word with what he chief monk of Daitoku-ji temple Kougetsu Sougan had once written. Of course, my intention isn't based on the exchange these two monks had. Instead, it is something that was evoked in my mind by the term 'standing'. The Japanese character for 'standing' is used in words such as 'departure', 'success', 'independence' and so on, words which have to do with moving forward.

I lost my father, the previous Honshin Shukei leader of Enshuryu, two years ago. Now that time has passed, this year should be one of new beginnings. Furthermore, two years ago Japan and its people suffered great loss and tragedy as a result of the Tohoku earthquake which was inflicted on us by the heavens. We must 'stand' strong and 'bolster' our spirits in the aftermath of all of this.

This is the year of the snake and it is fitting as when a snake sheds its skin it is reborn.
Moreover, while in recent years the politics, economy and diplomacy in Japan has been weak, I believe this year will be lively and full of hope. I strongly feel that this should be the year when we take the first step to rebuilding this country into one with a strong reason for living and thus I chose the word 'Shouzeri'.