Throw Yourself into the House of Buddha
By Tangen Harada
Translated by Belenda Attaway Yamakawa
Edited by Kogen Czarnik
Afterword by Bodhin Kjolhede
- Shambhala Publications08/08/2023Pages: 192Size: 5.5 x 8.5ISBN: 9781645471363Details
From narrowly surviving World War II through enduring the profound rigors of traditional Zen training, Tangen Harada’s fascinating life story and teachings present a classic picture of the Buddhist journey from suffering to realization.
On August 15th, 1945, at the age of twenty, Tangen Harada stood on an airfield and prepared to board the airplane on which he would undertake a suicide mission for his country. Only the voice of Emperor Hirohito on the radio—never before heard by the Japanese public—announcing Japan’s surrender saved his life. After returning from a Soviet POW camp in 1946, overcome with questions about the meaning of human life and suffering, Harada sought out the counsel of a Zen master. He thus embarked on the path of awakening and liberation to which he would commit the rest of his life, eventually teaching thousands of people from around the world.
Throw Yourself into the House of Buddha includes Tangen Roshi’s life story in his own words, as well as twenty-four teachings conveying the heart of his Zen understanding. Each chapter, paired with a beautiful calligraphy by the master, conveys his direct, uncompromising, yet encouraging message about the possibility of Zen realization.
“Wake up,” writes Harada, “and you can say for yourself, ‘The sun is my eye, the wind my breath, all of space my heart, the mountain and ocean my body. The sun shining brightly, vividly, is the eye of my life. The vastness of the sky is my heart.’ Who is the master of this boundless heart? No one else but you. This is your reality. Heaven and earth—same root, all things—one body.”Author BioBorn in Niigata Prefecture, Japan, in 1924, TANGEN HARADA trained at Hosshin-ji monastery and became an heir of the famous Sogaku Harada Roshi. At age thirty, Tangen Roshi became the abbot of Bukkoku-ji monastery, where he taught for close to sixty years. Maintaining a strict and traditional spirit of practice, he accepted all manner of students—monastic and lay and of all nationalities, gender, and ages. He was one of the most revered contemporary Zen masters of the Soto School, influencing the many students and teachers around the world who practiced under his guidance until his death in 2018.Praise
"This is a precious book. First you encounter the astounding story of how Tangen Harada Roshi twice narrowly escaped death, his subsequent vow to dedicate his life to ‘the Great Matter of life and death,’ and his ferocious Zen training under Master Daiun Harada Roshi. The second half of the book contains twenty-four pithy but eloquent Dharma talks on subjects such as Samadhi, Investigation, Repentance, and Vow. Many of the talks contain charming anecdotes—like his encounter with a cockroach on his lunch bun—that he uses to illuminate a Dharma theme but that also illuminates the all-pervading quality of Harada Roshi’s realization. I suspect that each reader will carry away a few of Roshi’s incisive sayings. Mine is: ‘The step that you take is never lost; just carry on.’" —Jan Chozen Bays, author of Mindful Medicine and Mindful Eating
"Overflowing with practical advice, words pointing out awakening, and very human warmth, this profoundly moving book is an important addition to Zen literature in the West. Now at last we can all encounter Tangen Roshi, among the most beloved and deeply realized masters of the past century. Zen students everywhere will be the better for it." —Meido Moore, author of Hidden Zen and The Rinzai Zen Way
"What a wonderful book—delightful, simple, clear, humble, and radiant on every page with the one true freedom that a life of practice deeply lived promises both to lead us to, and to be an expression of. A glittering example for all devoted seekers, and an inspiration for all those interested in the deepest possibilities of human wellbeing and the boundless compassion that deep, clear dharma practice can open. An irresistible read." —Henry Shukman, author of One Blade of Grass
"Having spent a year at Bukkoku-ji with Tangen Harada Roshi-sama twenty-five years ago, my heart is deeply moved by reading this collection of his talks, masterfully translated by his late student, Belenda-san. When she would read her translations of sesshin talks to the foreign students at the end of each sesshin day, I and the others listening would sometimes be moved to tears, even without Roshi-sama in the room. His sincere disciple Kogen Czarnik has devotedly collected and edited these translations, arranging them into a book that directly expresses the Old Buddha’s Zen heart. May these stories and practice encouragements continue to inspire Zen practitioners to throw themselves into the house of Buddha. I offer nine prostrations to Roshi-sama and all his students of the wholehearted Way." —Kokyo Henkel, wandering patch-robed disciple, currently residing at Green Dragon Temple, CA
"[An] illuminating entry. . . . [Harada’s] down-to-earth spirit pervades these talks, as when he invites practitioners to ‘release the desire to look this way and that way outside of yourself, the desire to arrive at the answers rather than to be the answer.’ Readers will relish these striking insights into the value of a sincere and devoted Zen practice." —Publishers WeeklySelected Reader Reviews