In 2005 I was witness to the training going on here at Eiheiji. We, the late Iain Robinson and I were escorted everywhere and left in no doubt as to where and what was expected of us. Interesting, informative, educational, and stressful! The highlight for me was being invited to offer incense at the main altar during Morning Service. All very formal, we survived! I thought readers would want to view this ‘window’ on how young monks are trained to be priests in Japan.
Eiheiji is a world-famous Zen monastery located in the mountains 200 kilometers northeast of Kyoto. As the temple’s founder Dogen prescribed, the core practice is zazen: simply sitting to calm the mind and examine one’s self. Most of the 150 monks are in their 20’s. They live at the temple, devoting themselves to uninterrupted Zen practice. With unprecedented access inside this remarkable temple, where Dogen’s teachings have been practiced unchanged for over 770 years, the program follows the monks’ lives over the course of 6 months.
Update May 2021 – the video referred to above is no longer available. There are however a number of films showing the training going on at Eiheiji.