Gotō Zuigan

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Gotō Zuigan
Senior posting
Based inMyōshin-ji
PredecessorTetsuo Sōkatsu
SuccessorOda Sessō
Sōkō Morinaga

Gotō Zuigan (後藤 瑞巌, 1879–1965) was a Buddhist Rinzai Zen master[note 1] the chief abbot of Myōshin-ji and Daitoku-ji temples,[3] and a past president of Hanazono University of Kyoto, also known as "Rinzai University." [4][note 2]


Zuigan was influential in the development of Buddhism in America in the early 20th century. He was a student of the Zen master Tetsuo Sōkatsu and followed him to California in 1906 with a group of fourteen who went to the US with Tetsuo Sōkatsu in 1906, attempting strawberry farming in Hayward, California, and founding a branch of Ryomo Kyokai on Sutter Street in San Francisco.[5][note 3]

Zuigan returned to Japan in 1910. In 1916 Sōkatsu bestowed upon him the Inka Shōmei.[note 4] He then spent fifteen years as a missionary in Seoul.[3]

Later, he returned to Japan and taught at the temple Daitoku-ji in Kyoto.[3]

Notable students[edit]

Among Zuigan's notable students were:

  • The American religious scholar Huston Smith who studied with Zuigan for fifteen years.[6]
  • Pianist Walter Nowick who studied with Zuigan at Daitoku-ji beginning in 1950 until Zuigan's death in 1965.
  • Sōkō Morinaga, Nowick's Dharma brother, who wrote in "Novice to Master: An Ongoing Lesson in the Extent of My Own Stupidity", who was also a head of Hanazono University.[7][note 5]
  • The Dutch author Janwillem van de Wetering who lived a year and a half in Daitoku-Ji with Nowick under Zuigan's successor Oda Sessō, and described this period of study in the book, "The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery."[9]

Dharma heirs[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shike", which is used for a select group of people, both in Rinzai and Soto, who are qualified to supervise the training of priests-to-be in the sodos, the training halls,[1][2]
  2. ^ Rinzai is one of three major Zen sects in Japan, in addition to Sōtō and Ōbaku
  3. ^ The Ryomo-kyokai may have been the first Zen center in modern Japan dedicated to teaching meditation to laypersons, and it became the model for the urban lay meditation centers that were so influential in the propagation of Zen practice in western America.[5]
  4. ^ Inka Shomei, or Dharma transmission, qualifies one to train students within the Rinzai sect as a Shike (master).
  5. ^ Darhma (dhamma) is a term for the collective teachings (doctrine or personal reality) of the Buddha.[8]


  1. ^ Bodiford & 2008 276.
  2. ^ Borup 2008, p. 177.
  3. ^ a b c Stirling 2006, p. 49-50.
  4. ^ Rinzai Zen Temple - Our History
  5. ^ a b Fields 1992, p. 176.
  6. ^ Stirling 2006, p. 21.
  7. ^ "The Buddhism Place". Archived from the original on 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
  8. ^ The Three Jewels of Buddhism. Belief-Net
  9. ^ The Philosophical Exercises of Janwillem van de Wetering
  10. ^ a b Kraft, 20
  11. ^ a b Smith, viii
  12. ^ a b Levine, 316
  13. ^ a b Miura, xvi