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Eisai Zenji 

Eisai Zenji

From The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen translated by Michael H. Kohn; © 1991 by Shambhala Publications, Inc. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., www.shambhala.com

also Myōan Eisai (Yōsai) or Senkō (Zenkō) Kokushi, 1141–1215; Japanese Zen master of the Ōryō lineage of Rinzai Zen, who was the first successfully to transmit the Zen tradition in Japan. Although his lineage did not last long, Eisai is considered the founder of the Japanese Zen tradition. He traveled twice (in 1168 and 1187) to China. During his second stay there, he received the seal of confirmation (inka­shōmei) from the Chinese master Hsü-an Huai-ch’ang (Jap., Kian Eshō) of the Ōryō lineage. On his return to Japan he founded the Shōfuku-ji near Hakata in Kyūshu, the first monastery in Japan in which Rinzai Zen was practiced. Later he was appointed abbot of the Kennin-ji monastery in Kyōto, where he taught Zen and also the teachings of the Tendai and Shingon schools. Later Eisai trans­ferred the main center of his activities to Kama­kura in the “shadow capital” of the shōguns. There in 1215 he founded the Jufuku-ji monas­tery. Kamakura became, along with Kyōto, the most important center of Zen in Japan. As the first Zen master of Dōgen Zen­ji, who later transmitted the Zen of the Sōtō school in Japan, Eisai is also important for that Zen lineage.


 

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