The Birth of the Zendo (1976 to 1979)
Zen is brought to the Philippines by Sr. Elaine MacInnes, OLM in 1976. It is in this year that she is assigned by her community, Our Lady’s Missionaries, to this country after spending several years in Japan. By this time, Sr. Elaine was already the disciple of Yamada Koun Roshi, abbot of the Sanbo Kyodan lineage of Japan, and was well along in her koan studies.
In her first year in the Philippines, Sr. Elaine is asked by fellow seekers to lead meditation sessions and teach them the way of zen. In April 1976, Yamada Roshi appoints Sr. Elaine as resident teacher of the fledgling Philippine sangha then known as the Manila San’un Zendo.
Regular zazenkai are held at homes of members and, later, at the chapel of St. Bridget’s School in Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City.
Yamada Koun Roshi makes several trips to the Philippines to hold sesshin. Most of these are held at the Ateneo de Manila dormitories. In 1978, the first four kensho experiences are confirmed. Yamada Roshi notices the regularity of kensho experiences as well as Sr. Elaine’s ability to discern them.
During this period, the primary objectives of Sr. Elaine are to have the fledgling Philippine sangha recognized by the Sanbo Kyodan and to have Zen practice accepted and recognized by the Catholic church.