Rohatsu and Master Hakuin

The Rohatsu sesshin is the most intensive sesshin [meditation retreat] in Zen, particularly in Rinzai Zen; this teisho was given the first day of that sesshin this year at Mountain Gate, by Mitra-roshi. Traditionally in Rinzai monasteries Hakuin's Rohatsu Exhortation is read during these sesshin, and his First Day Exhortation is included here along with Mitra-roshi's comments. Hakuin was responsible for rehabilitating and reenergizing Rinzai Zen practice from the near demise it had reached in his time, and his teaching was so strong and widespread that today all Rinzai lineages trace their ancestry through Hakuin.

Rohatsu and Master Hakuin II

Continuing with Hakuin's life story and his Rohatsu Exhortations during this second day of sesshin, Mitra-roshi also encourages all present in the sesshin—not to mention anyone listening to this talk anywhere else—to have faith that they, too, can realize True freedom.

Rohatsu and Master Hakuin III

On this third day of sesshin, Mitra-roshi continues to share vignettes from the early years of Hakuin's Zen practice, including what motivated Hakuin to become a Zen Buddhist monk. She shares as well the very different motivation of contemporary Zen master Harada Shodo Roshi to do so.

Rohatsu and Master Hakuin IV

On day four of Rohatsu, Mitra Roshi talks about the importance of practice in action in the context of ever-deepening awakenings that are integrated in daily life, using examples from the life of Hakuin and practicing at Mountain Gate Temple.

Rohatsu and Master Hakuin V

In day 5 of Rohatsu sesshin, Mitra-roshi talks about Hakuin’s deeper satori experiences and discusses the importance of post-satori training. She offers vignettes from her time training at Sogenji and the life-changing inspiration Harada Shodo-roshi, abbot of Sogenji, experienced when encountering Yamada Mumon-roshi one day on an early morning, rush hour bus in Kyoto.

Rohatsu and Master Hakuin VI

On day 6 of Rohatsu sesshin, Mitra-roshi relates enlightenment experiences from Buddhist history, including those detailed in Hakuin’s Rohatsu Exhortations and in his autobiography, Wild Ivy. Drawing on her own experience, as well as the stories from Hakuin’s writings extolling the courage with which his Dharma ancestors undertook their training, she talks about how to overcome obstacles in the path toward Awakening.

Rohatsu and Master Hakuin VII

On day 7 of Rohatsu, Mitra Roshi presents stories about deep Zen practice and the Buddha’s enlightenment. She describes difficulties Zen practitioners may encounter through deep practice, like the tension-driven striving that Hakuin experienced early in his practice life, and she reveals the necessity of finding the middle way on the path to Awakening. Writings by Hakuin, both from Wild Ivy, and his Day 7 Rohatsu exhortation, are also presented.

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