What is Soto Zen?

The broken pine needle of Soto Zen

In the early 6th century a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma brought the Mahayana Buddhist practice from India to China. Mahayana Buddhism, also known as the ‘greater vehicle’, is the way of the Bodhisattva who vows to save all sentient beings from suffering, putting aside their own liberation to help others first. This became known as Chan Buddhism in China.

Later in the 6th century Chan Buddhism came to Japan and took on the name of Zen Buddhism.

Soto is a school of Zen Buddhism founded by Eihei Dogen and Keizan Jokin in 13th century Japan which emphasises continuous practice, making your best effort in each instant without goal- or profit-seeking, and that practice and enlightenment are not two.

Soto zen is zazen (silent sitting). The teachings of Soto Zen are described in Eihei Dogen’s ‘Shobogenzo’ (treasury of the true dharma eye).

Soto Zen came to Europe in 1967 when Master Taisen Deshimaru brought the practice to France.