In 1976 Yamada KÔun Roshi, Mrs. Kazue Yamada and Sr. Elaine MacInnes started a sitting group in the Philippines for Filipinos who wanted to learn the practice of Zen. Through their dedication and commitment to the Dharma and through the great efforts of the fledgling Philippine sangha led by the early leaders such as Tony Perlas and Nenates Pineda, we have witnessed the remarkable development of Zen Center Philippines. Zen Center Philippines is today one of the important sangha of Sanbo Zen International. I wish to express my heartfelt respect, appreciation and gratitude to these people who planted and nourished the seeds of the Dharma in the Philippines.
As you know, the objective of Sanbo Zen International is to lead people to discover their True Nature through the correct practice of Zazen, and to eradicate our attachment to enlightenment after the discovery of the True Self.
Zen is not a religion, a belief system, nor a philosophy. Zen is the way to discover, through direct and concrete experience, our True Self and to actualize and manifest this fact in our daily life.
What is this True Self? Our True Self does not have any form, weight, height or any dimension. Most people’s perception of reality, their selves and everything around them is mistaken. What they ordinarily perceive as a self or a thing or an event is nothing but a concept, a mental construct. This is true for everything in the universe – you and I, this chair, the trees and the plants around us, that camera, that building.
True nature has no substance. It is beyond the measure of time and it is one with the whole universe.
Zen is nothing but pursuing and clarifying the nature of this True Self. If we pursue this search earnestly and relentlessly, we will come to the same discovery that Shakyamuni Buddha made more than 2,400 years ago.
People have asked what the term sanbo means. Sanbo is a Japanese word that means “three treasures”. The three treasures refer to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. There are classical versions of these terms but let me just say that Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are nothing more than another way of naming your True Self.
One must grasp this fact by direct experience. Otherwise, he or she can never have true peace of mind. The way to this experience is zazen. All one needs is a set of cushions, and the will and perseverance to discover the True Self.
Zen does take discipline and regular practice but the effort is priceless when you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with being at home with your True Self.
Please continue to pursue authentic dharma – the Buddha Way. Keep your practice clear and pure – free from rigid notions of right and wrong as well as from all constructs of the mind.
Let me express my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to Zen Center Philippines for your steadfast and earnest practice, and to your present leaders for their devoted guidance. Let us continue to protect and uphold the Dharma together.
Thank you very much.