Stonewater Zen Sangha and Keizan Scott Roshi
Stonewater Zen Sangha is led by David Keizan Scott Roshi, a Dharma successor within the lineage of the founder of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, the Venerable Taizan Maezumi Roshi (1931-1995). Keizan Sensei is the UK and European representative to the White Plum Sangha, the international network of Soto Zen teachers within Maezumi Roshi’s lineage. Keizan Sensei is also a widely published writer on Japan, Zen Buddhism, comparative religion and cookery. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Short History of Stonewater Zen Sangha
Maezumi Roshi’s father, Baian Hukujun Koroda had been a prominent and well-connected priest in the Japanese Soto Zen Sect who introduced his son to the Rinzai master, Koryu Osaka Roshi. Maezumi Roshi received Soto Zen Dharma transmission from his father and went on to study under the Rinzai master, Nyogen Senzaki Roshi, and another Soto master, Hakuun Yasutani Roshi in the USA and Japan. He received inka (the final seal of approval) from both Yasutani Roshi and Koryu Roshi, and integrated koan study into his Soto Zen teaching methodology at the Zen Center of Los Angeles and Zen Mountain Center in Southern California.
Maezumi Roshi visited the UK several times, beginning in the early 1980s, when his Dharma successor, Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi, agreed to lead sesshin in England several times each year, which he continued to do until the end of the 1990s. In the 1980s and 1990s Genpo Roshi built a strong core of experienced and committed Zen practitioners in this country, before withdrawing to focus on his work in the USA. With the support of David Keizan Scott (who was made a Dharma holder by Genpo Roshi), another of Maezumi Roshi’s Dharma successors, Charles Tenshin Fletcher Roshi began leading sesshin in the north of England in the 1990s. A strong centre of practice for the British Sangha began to develop in Liverpool at the Stonewater Zen Centre, in Hope Street.
in 2009, Dave Scott received shiho from Tenshin Roshi and became Keizan Scott Sensei. The same year, the Zen Practice Centre Trust was reorganised and renamed the StoneWater Zen Centre Trust, to act as the charitable support vehicle for Keizan Sensei’s work in the StoneWater Zen Sangha. Tenshin Roshi gave him inka in 2019, making him Keizan Scott Roshi.
In 2020, Keizan Scott Roshi gave shiho/transmisson to Shinro Doubleday Sensei, in 2021 to Suigen Kenworthy Sensei and in 2022 to Kogen Heale Sensei
Zen Sangha today
Stonewater Zen Sangha has grown to include students from across the world, coming together for sesshin and training periods in and around Liverpool and the Lake District, or in their own local areas. The regular annual programme of events includes two weeklong sesshin near Crosby, Lancashire, a month long training period in the Lake District, concluding with a shuso hossen ceremony for the head monk, and number other retreats and events in Liverpool and nationally.
Keizan Roshi places particular emphasis on the importance of Sangha, encouraging students to work together to build a strong sense of community within their practice. Three Dharma holders and five assistant teachers assist him.
Stonewater Zen practice
Beginners are welcomed at Stonewater Zen Centre and its affiliated local groups, irrespective of their background. Experienced Zen practitioners readily offer guidance and instruction in zazen.
Students in Stonewater Zen Sangha may be lay practitioners or ordained monks. There are three levels of commitment to practise: shoken, jukai and shukke tokudo.
Shoken is a ceremony in which one formally enters the student / teacher relationship; the student makes a personal commitment to the teacher and the teacher to the student. The short shoken ceremony takes place in private during a 1:1 interview session with the teacher. If a student wants to do shoken, he or she must ask the teacher to accept her or him as a student, it is not something that the teacher will initiate.
Jukai is the taking of the Mahayana Buddhist precepts. In doing this, students take refuge in the three treasures: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. Jukai is a student’s formal acknowledgement of his or her intention to lead life according to the Buddha’s teachings. Students usually undergo a period of study before the Jukai ceremony. Jukai is a personal and public commitment to aspire to follow the sixteen precepts at the heart of Soto Zen practice.
Shukke tokudo is ordination as a Zen monk. The expectation of those wishing to become monks is that they have a mature Zen practice and a strong personal connection with Keizan Sensei. Shukke tokudo is a serious commitment to serve and provide pastoral support to the wider Sangha.
In keeping with the methodology of Maezumi Roshi, Keizan Roshi encourages students to practise zazen as sitting in pure awareness (shikantaza) or to follow the White Plum Sangha curriculum of koan study, depending on their individual needs. In the koan system students will typically work through 200 introductory koan, followed by more advanced koan collections known as the Mumonkan, the Hekiganroku, the Shoyoroku and the Denkoroku, and then concluding with Tokusan’s ‘Five Ranks’ and the Mahayana Precepts.
Working with a teacher is central to the practice of Zen in the Stonewater Zen Sangha and optional interviews in dokusan with Roshi or daisan with his successors or interviews with Dharma holders take place during the regular classes at the Zen Centre or locally in London, Northampton, Kent. Keizan Roshi is also willing to support more distant Sangha members by email.
Interviews are open to practitioners who attend classes regularly and who support the Sangha. They are brief, face-to-face encounters that provide an opportunity to discuss Zen practice and seek guidance from an experienced practitioner. Their intent is always supportive but, since the core of Zen is self-knowledge, they can also be questioning or challenging.
All Stonewater Zen sesshin include opportunities for private interviews, as well as Dharma talks, work and exercise periods and ceremonies (such as the collective chanting of the Heart sutra).
Full details of the training on offer and the central practices and methodologies of Stonewater Zen Sangha will be found on the website at www.stonewaterzen.org as well as details of various sitting groups and details of successors Senseis Shinro, Suigen and Kogen .