Extract from the speech given by Taïkan Jyoji for the official consecration of the Zendo on 13 June 2010.
As words don’t come easily to me, I’ll be brief!
Everything started in Okayama’s Korakuen garden in 1985 with a group of zen students. We were walking and I told Gérard: ‘ It would be nice if we set up our own Centre.’ I mentioned the project to Taïtsu Roshi and he gave us his full approval. The hard part was yet to come: gather up energy and support, collect funds, purchase a place. On this occasion, Taïtsu Roshi became the first to make a significant donation.
The backbone of the project was to erect two main buildings, a dojo and a zendo, starting with the dojo because you can do zazen in a dojo, but in a zendo you can’t do anything else, and as there was money for enough for one building only, we built the dojo.
In this way we founded the first European Temple dedicated to Rinzai Zen in 1987. A few years later, Taïtsu Roshi came on a visit and he observed: ‘What about the zendo, when will you build it ?’… because he had given money for a zendo but not for a dojo.
So I said: ‘OK, we’ll build it,’ wondering where to start.
We had a meeting in Paris with Gérard, Ivan, Daniel, Anne-Dauphine and a couple of other people, including someone from Switzerland I had asked to come too, all of them practicing zen at the Falaise Verte Centre. It is always useful to have a Swiss for financial matters. At one point, he asked how much was needed. I said one million euros. He told us, ‘I can get it for you.’ Finally, he never gave once penny but indeed a lot of hope.
As you all know, you can’t do zazen without takus [two parallelepipedal pieces of wood that are struck together to punctuate zazen sessions]. So we started making takus and we built the zendo around them. It was that simple. In other words, we put the cart before the horse.
Acting this way has always worked for me.
My privileged relationship with Taïtsu Roshi has a long history, since when Mumon Roshi died, I continued to do sanzen with him. Not only do I regard Taïtsu Roshi as my master, but a long friendship has grown between us. From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank him for coming to the Falaise Verte Centre regularly, and this year especially as he is travelling with a delegation of 18 – temple heads, lay practictioners and friends. It is a great honour.
And then I would like to thank all those who have helped us, providing encouragement and financial support – well, especially those who have provided some financial support.
A truly exceptional event happened to Taïtsu Roshi on 1st April, and it isn’t a joke… He was appointed Kancho of Myoshin-ji. ‘Cardinal’ in a way, for more than three thousand temples affiliated to Myoshin-ji, their head monastery. In the meantime, my friend Matsui Soeki has also been appointed Myoshin-ji’s Secretary General. We are now then in the company of Myoshin-ji’s number one and number two !
Perhaps I have been a bit long but fortunately words don’t come easily to me, so I’ll just stop. But as I am talking now, I’ll give you my last teaching: always remember this new saying that fully cancels and replaces the old one: ‘For a project to come through, you need to put the cart before the horse!’