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Online: Hakuin Study Group

June 9, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Instructor: Masaki Matsubara Osho (Ph.D. in Asian Religions, Cornell University)

This class will explore Japanese Zen Buddhist traditions in general, and the Rinzai Zen school in particular, focusing on the seminal figure Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769). Hakuin is regarded as the founder, reformer and reviver of contemporary Japanese Rinzai Zen.

Masaki Matsubara Osho is abbot of Butsumo-ji in Chiba, Japan, which belongs to Myoshin-ji’s Reiun-in school. He lives in New York City for much of the year, and has given inspiring teachings at Shobo-ji in person and on line. He is both a Zen priest and a Zen scholar, teaching and conducting retreats at Cornell’s East Asia Program and at Brown University. His background includes many affinity links with the Zen Studies Society.

He told Shinge Roshi, “My father, who passed away in 2010 and who was together with Shimano Eido Roshi at Ryutaku-ji, served as an inji to Nakagawa Soen Roshi and also studied with Suzuki Sochu Roshi. My mother has a black-white photo of my infancy in which I, still swaddled, am in the arms of Soen Roshi. I still remember that my father took our three brothers to Soen Roshi and Sochu Roshi for shoken meetings at New Year’s Day every year. My mother was born at Uncho-an, at Engaku-ji. Her grandfather served as an inji to Shaku Soen. He later trained with Yamada Mumon Roshi and Inoue Daijyo Roshi at Tenryu-ji in Kyoto with Seki Seisetsu Roshi.”

After training at Heirin-ji in Japan, Matsubara Osho went to the United States to earn his master’s degree in Asian Studies and a Ph.D. in Asian Religions at Cornell University, with Professor Jane Marie Law (who visited us at DBZ several times). His doctoral dissertation was on Hakuin. He taught Buddhist Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Religious Studies at UC Berkeley (2009-2014) and was a fellow at the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford University (2014-16).

In this online course, we will explore Hakuin’s life and the core practices and doctrines of his school through selections of his key writings, including his autobiographical writings — as well as through his paintings, which are widely held to be masterpieces of Japanese Zen art. We will also examine some of the central questions raised by his work and practice. In particular, we will delve into the following dynamics of Hakuin as an important religious figure in the history of Japanese Buddhism: 1) Hakuin as the reviver of Japanese Rinzai Zen, with particular emphasis on the importance of koan practice; 2) Hakuin as an ardent meditation master; 3) Hakuin as a versatile artist, and 4) Hakuin as a social critic. Class readings will be translations of primary sources. The readings will be distributed after you register.

This course will include lectures, discussion and Q&A, and will meet Wednesdays starting May 19, 7-8 p.m. for seven weeks. Fee: $140; $100 for Zen Studies Society members.
Enrollment is closed. Please check the Zen Studies calendar for other events.


June 9, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm



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