In October Hazy Moon members traveled into the heart of Southern Song Dynasty Chan country, a region just south of Shanghai known as Zhejiang Province. There the great Chan masters cultivated the spiritual and artistic traditions that would later have such a profound influence on the Japanese.
The tour, led by guide Andy Ferguson of South Mountain China Tours
, promised to retrace Soto Zen founder Dogen's footsteps during his pilgrimage from 1223-1227. Amid the forested hills dotted with rebuilt Buddhist monasteries and pagodas, Hazy Mooners prostrated in respect at the memorial stupa for Dogen's teacher, Tendo Nyojo. We particularly enjoyed a Chinese tea "ceremony" at the national tea museum and teahouse.
The highlight of our trip was easily our visit to Jingde (Bright Virtue) Monastery on Mt. Tiantong, where Dogen studied and received transmission from Tendo Nyojo. It was here that the 12th-century master Hongzhi spent the last 30 years of his life, building the monastery into one of the larger training centers in China. The buildings have all been rebuilt since Dogen's time, but the original footings were used and so the monastery looks much the same today. It was amazing to walk up the beautiful valley road and enter the same courtyards overlooking the bamboo covered hills viewed by Hongzhi and Eihei Dogen. This indeed was what we came for.
Andy Ferguson's South Mountain China Tours
are recommended for any Western Zen student. Thank you Andy!Top right: The Yellow Mountains. Middle: Mt. Tiantong. Below: Ento and Doman at a temple on Puto Shan Island.