What Sakiyama Saw

In these three articles I tried to convey something of what was exchanged between myself and influential Okinawan Zen priest and karate master Sakiyama Sogen, Roshi:

True Karate Do

His translation into Japanese, and distribution to the karate community on Okinawa, of my vision of the potential of dojo practice…

Sakiyama Sogen’s Last Letter   

His acknowledgement of our shared vision and passion for deep practice…

Sakiyama’s Final Challenge

The final koan he left me as the key to entry into the realm of real experience…

After publishing them I heard from a number of people who made it clear how much Sakiyama Roshi’s words echoed in their hearts. His vision of karate, his commitment and seriousness in practice, inspired them. I was so glad to share this.

But: Some people said that in his words to me, in his translation of my writing, and what he said about it, that they could tell he saw something extraordinary in me. I do not think this is the conclusion to draw. 

I am not sure that what he saw. But since we are all students, and many of us have students, it is worth considering, as it may be relevant to our practice relationships.  

I believe what he saw was that I was listening. I valued his experience and his advice. I intended to put it into practice. I do not think it is possible to infer anything more than that from what he said and did. 

But that is more than enough to make an exchange valuable to both teacher and student. 

When we parted company, it was because he was persuaded that an active engagement with the prajna paramitas was an interpolation that had no place in Zen. Maybe he was right, viewed from within the conventions of his doctrinal tradition and his practice tradition. But I was sure they were indispensable components of a life well-lived, including any life directed to the fulfillment of our realization, liberation and of the vows we took when we entered the path.

I did listen carefully to what he said, and I learned from him.


Post Copyright © 2022 Jeffrey Brooks, Mountain Karate Dojo, LLC, Yamabayashi Ryu honbu, located in Saluda, NC.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: