Oda Sessō

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Oda Sessō
Religion Zen Buddhism
School Rinzai
Born 1901
Died September 16, 1966[1]
Senior posting
Title Rōshi
Predecessor Gotō Zuigan

Oda Sessō (小田 雪窓, 1901–1966)[2] was a Rinzai Rōshi and abbot of the Daitoku-ji(大徳寺) in Kyoto, Japan, a Dharma successor of Gotō Zuigan. He was elected abbot of Daitoku-ji upon Goto's retirement from that post in 1955. At Goto's request, Oda opened Daitoku-ji to foreigners. His western students included Gary Snyder,[3][4] Janwillem van de Wetering, Irmgard Schloegl, and Philip Yampolsky.

Snyder described him as

[T]he subtlest and most perceptive man I've ever met....His teisho were inaudible, his voice was so soft. Yet as one of the head monks at Daitoku-ji Sodo said much later, 'Those lectures of Oda Rōshi we couldn't hear I am beginning to hear today.'"[5]

Alan Watts said,

[H]aving a conversation with him is like dropping a pebble in a well and never hearing it drop. The soundless pebble in the bottomless well."[6]

Janwillem van de Wetering gave an account of his stay at Daitoku-ji in his book "The empty mirror".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stirling 2006, pg. 125
  2. ^ Stirling 2006, pg. 50
  3. ^ Snyder 1980, pp. 97, 98
  4. ^ Kraft 1988, p. 20
  5. ^ Stirling 2006, pp. 74-5
  6. ^ Kyger 2000, pg. 264


  • Kraft, Kenneth; Morinaga, Sōkō. Zen, Tradition and Transition (1988) Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-3162-X
  • Kyger, Joanne. Strange Big Moon: The Japan and India Journals: 1960-1964 (2000) North Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-55643-337-5
  • Snyder, Gary. The Real Work: Interviews & Talks, 1964-1979 (1980) New Directions Publishing. ISBN 0-8112-0761-7
  • Stirling, Isabel. Zen Pioneer: The Life & Works of Ruth Fuller Sasaki (2006) Shoemaker & Hoard. ISBN 978-1-59376-110-3

Further reading[edit]

  • Janwillem van de Wetering, The empty mirror