From Birth until Shukke (becoming a Buddhist)
Keizan Zenji was born on October 8th ,1264 (November 21st on the Gregorian calendar) to a family called “Uryu” in Tanemura, Echizen (Fukui prefecture). His mother was an enthusiastic Kannon (Avaloskitevala Bodhisattva) believer. At the age of three, he started to worship the Kannon statue with his hands together mumbling “namu, namu (words said as a chant worshiping Buddha). At the age of five, he made a clay Buddha statue and started to chant sutras. Some recognized him as a living Kannon Buddha. At the age of 8, his mother brought him to Eiheiji, where he was accepted as a junior trainee monk under the 3rd abbot of Eiheiji Koun-Ejo. When he turned 13, he became Buddhist priest following Koun-ejo Zenji, and his childhood name “Gyosho” was changed to “Keizan”. That’s when his life as a Buddhist started.
From the search for enlightenment until the establishment of Sojiji.
Since he started his training under Tettsu gikai zenji’s teaching, he read and digested the essence of Buddha teaching. He traveled over the provinces on foot to visit notable places of Soto Zen and Rinzai Zen. At Hieizan he acquired the essential teaching of Tendai Buddhism, then he returned to Eiheiji at the age of 21. When he moved to Daijōji in Kanazawa with his teacher Tettsu Zenji, he made an effort to educate others and spread Soto school teaching. When he was 28 years old, he became the abbot of Jōmanji in Tokushima prefecture and spread the teaching of Dogen. When he returned to Daijōji after 4 years, he established a system of practice halls for young monks. In addition, he opened several temples and tried to expand the guidance of young monks. By the time he opened Sojiji in Monzen-cho in Ishikawa prefecture, he was 54 years old.
In Soto Zen, Keizan Zenji is recognized as “Taiso” who devoted his entire life to spread the true teaching of Soto Zen. Nowadays, his great achievement still remains distinguished, even long after he left this world on September 29th, 1325 at the age of 62.