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Silent Thunder Order

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STO News

This is a feed of News articles posted on
  1. November is Founder's Month in honor of Soyu Matsuoka-Roshi!
    Matsuoka collage3

    Please join us in celebrating Matsuoka-Roshi's (11/25/12-11/20/97) life and legacy. We invite you to celebrate in several ways.

    Both STO Affiliates and STO Supporting Members, make a special onetime donation and an ongoing pledge of Dana to STO in honor of Matsuoka's efforts bringing Zen to America. Click here to donate.

    Please help us continue to support Matsuoka-Roshi's legacy of bringing and sustaining Zen in the West. What he started in 1939 when he first arrived in the US continues today through Silent Thunder Order headquartered at Atlanta Soto Zen Center with 15 affiliates throughout US and Canada.

    Help fund the documentary of Matsuoka's Legacy. Click here.

    Matsuokas nephew
    Taiun Elliston-Roshi, Zenku Jerry Smyers and others traveled to Japan in October to gather information about Soyu Matsuoka-Roshi. Interviews, film footage, and pictures will be used to create a documentary about Matsuoka's legacy. Here the STO Pilgrimage Group is visiting Rev. Hideo Matsuoka, who is Soyu Matsuoka Roshi's nephew and Abbot, at our Founders' home Temple, Tenjoji, on an island south of Hiroshima. We will share film clips in coming weeks. Please stay tuned and help us off-set costs for the project.

    Purchase Matsuoka-Roshi's collected talks The Kyosaku and Moku-Rai. Click here for ordering information.

    "The original nature is already present and shining. Most of us have become so conditioned and so scattered in our thoughts, emotional surges of despair an elation, and in our livelihood and leisure actions, that we have forgotten this real self. In Soto Zen when we sit, we let this original nature shine as it is. Its rays are perfect and of their own nature seek to radiate abundantly in all directions. When we simply stop interfering, this original nature will melt all our hardness; will untangle our confusion; will blunt all our sharp and jutting angles; and will balance us perfectly without any effort of the small self directing an assault on the great and enlightened self." (excerpt from O'Sensei Matsuoka's "Dyannayanna" lecture from Moku-Rai)

    Practice Zazen!

    Support your local affiliate with your presence. Click here to find the affiliate nearest you.

    Read and hear more about Matsuoka-Roshi's life.

    Click here for Matsuoka-Roshi's biography on the STO website.

    Zenku Jerry Smyers shared a few pearls of wisdom from Matsuoka-Roshi.

    "One Sunday during tea after zazen and morning service, Matsuoka Roshi was asked the questions of, 'How do you know if you are making progress in your zazen practice'. Even though in our zen practice, of letting go of self-centeredness, we do not look to gain anything, Matsuoka Roshi, after a moment consideration said to the student, 'Sitting Mountain feeling'."

    "On another occasion, at a similar setting Matsuoka Roshi was asked by a student, 'What is the purpose of zen practice'. Matsuoka Roshi thought for a moment and said, 'Confidence in Everyday life'."
  2. Founders Pilgrimage to Japan
    Matsuoka RoshiImportant News!

    We are planning a STO Founders Pilgrimage to Japan for the month of October, 2015. Our primary purpose is to honor our lineage Founder Soyu Matsuoka Roshi, trace his history and visit important sites such as Sojiji, Komazawa University in Tokyo, and his home Temple near Hiroshima. We will also visit several Temples important to our Japanese Soto Zen Founder, Dogen Zenji. This trip will serve to deepen and broaden our understanding of our rich Zen history and Zen practice in Japan, and Japanese culture. We plan to stay at temples and monasteries, where possible, and participate in retreat schedules there. We are making arrangements to stay at the Soto Zen Headquarters at Eiheiji, for sesshin, at the conclusion of our trip. We will document our travels and share our experience with our STO Sangha and all interested. If anyone is interesting in more information about the trip or in joining the trip contact Zenku (below).

    I share this news with everyone so we can all participate and draw inspiration from the experience. For those who would like to support our efforts on this important trip we are starting a fund raising effort. We are looking to raise $10,000 by October to help cover Taiun Roshi's travel expenses and aid our efforts to create a trip documentary upon our return. All donations are welcome. For everyone making a donation of $100 or more we will bring back a special gift to express our deep appreciation.

    These special donations can be made online by directing the contribution to STO and indicating in the transaction comment message, "For 2015 STO Founders Pilgrimage to Japan". If you would like to give via check please make it out to STO and add the comment above on the check comment line and send it to Zenku Jerry Smyers, 25364 Old US Highway 93, Dayton MT 59914.

    If you have any questions please contact me via email or phone at or 847-721-0665.

    Thank you in advance for your help in making this Founders Pilgrimage possible.
  3. Welcome Sakura-ji, New STO Affiliate
    Zendo and garden.front viewSakura-ji, (Formerly Creston Zendo) is located in Creston, British Columbia, 13 km north of the BC/Montana border. Creston is a town of 5,000 people, and its major economic activity is agriculture. Cherries are the primary crop in Creston, which is why we have chosen the name Sakura-ji, Cherry Blossom Temple, for our centre.

    Our practice leader is Kuya Minogue. On May 17, 2014, Kuya became an STO Disciple, during the Zaike Tokudo Ceremony officiated by Zenku Jerry Smyers at the Mission Mountain Zen Center in Dayton, Montana. Kuya began her training in Soto Zen Buddhism taking the precepts at Shasta Abbey in 1986 and as a formal student of Kyogen Carlson at the Dharma Rain Center in Portland.


  4. Zen Sangha Letter
    We vow with all beings from this life on throughout countless lives to hear the true dharma. That upon hearing it no doubt will arise in us nor will we lack in faith. That upon meeting it we shall renounce worldly affairs and maintain the buddhadharma. And that in doing so the great Earth with all beings will attain the buddha way.
    — Dogen's Vow; Eihei Dogen Zenji

    Dear good friends and members of Atlanta Soto Zen Center
    , greetings from the ASZC and the Silent Thunder Order. We bring you our year's-end message of hope and appreciation, encourage you to continue practicing Zen meditation sessions, and invite you to continue supporting Atlanta Soto Zen Center in the new year. We come to you with a worldly affair, one with which Master Dogen was intimately familiar, that of maintaining the buddhadharma, as we recite in the Dharma opening verse:

    The unsurpassed profound and wondrous dharma is rarely met with
    Even in a hundred thousand million kalpas
    Now we can see and hear it accept and maintain it
    May we unfold the meaning of the Tathagata's truth

    This time of year, most members and friends of Atlanta Soto Zen Center make their year-end donation and offer a sustaining pledge for next year. Won't you join them?

    Make a Year-end Donation for 2014
    (Button below — Donors will receive an acknowledging letter)

    Join or Renew Your Membership for 2015
    Choose a Level:

    Pebbles  $10/month or $120/year
    Tiles       $20/month or $240/year
    Walls      $30/month or $360/year
    Trees      $50/month or $600/year
    Grass     $100/month or $1,200/year
    Earth      $125/month or $1,500/year

    Thus you will raise up buddha-activity at innumerable practice places of buddha-tathagatas everywhere, cause everyone to have the opportunity of ongoing buddhahood, and vigorously uplift the ongoing buddhdharma. Because earth, grass, trees, walls, tiles and pebbles all engage in buddha activity, those who receive the benefits of wind and water caused by them are mysteriously helped by the Buddha's guidance, splendid and unthinkable, and awaken intimately to themselves.
    — Self-fulfilling Samadhi; Eihei Dogen Zenji

    And thank you again, from your Sangha at ASZC!


  5. WINTER ANGO 2015
    This year's Winter Ango (90 day retreat) at ASZC will take place from January 1 through March 31, 2015. Everyone is invited to take part in the increased opportunities for practice and study. Rev. Tesshin James Smith, from the Atlantic Soto Zen Center, Halifax, Nova Scotia, will be in residence throughout the 90 day Ango.

    There will be an enhanced practice schedule including:
    • Weekday Morning, Midday & Afternoon Zazen
    • Monday Evening Zazen & Selected Readings with Gatsu Jabez Maurer
    • Tuesday Evening Cloud Dharma Skype with Elliston Roshi
    • Wednesday Evening Newcomers Workshop with Disciples in Rotation
    • Thursday Evenings: An 11-week Workshop: "Observing the Precepts, Deepening Samadhi"
    • Sunday Evenings: Group Sutra Study (Surangama)

    For those who like getting a little sawdust on themselves, Saturday afternoon zendo kitchen renovations.

    Additionally, on the last week of each month there will be an open mic musical entertainment evening. Come bring your instruments and voices to sing along with others. It will be held on either a Friday or Saturday evening. You can let us know which evening you prefer by emailing:

    All are encouraged to meet with Tesshin for practice discussion by appointment, at ASZC or for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or coffee as time allows.

    Tesshin will undergo Shuso (head student) and Shiho (Transmission) ceremonies while in residence. You will be invited to participate in the public parts of those ceremonies, which will be announced in advance and take place on appropriate Sunday mornings. This is the "PhD of Zen" as Matsuoka Roshi called it, so Jim is to be congratulated.