We are a community who follow the path of the Buddha. We began as a meditation group in the early 1990s and later became a Zen Buddhist sitting group. In 1997, we affiliated with the Atlanta Sōtō Zen Center.
The Southwind Sangha is a non-profit association incorporated in the State of Kansas. We are recognized by the I.R.S. as a 501(c)(3) charitable, religious organization. Our EIN is 20-0490262.
As a meditation group, we follow the instructions for zazen (sitting meditation) as given by Zen Masters Eihei Dōgen Zenji¹ (1200-1253), the first Japanese ancestor in our lineage, and Keizan Jōkin Zenji (1268-1325), the fourth Japanese ancestor. The Sōtō Zen tradition emphasizes the practice of zazen and individual effort. By learning to put our entire being into our practice, we practice to realize our original nature and to carry that experience into daily life.
The Sōtō Zen School (Japanese: Sōtōshū) has transmitted the Buddhadharma from Śākyamuni Buddha and the Ancestors to the present day. The essence of the School began in Japan some eight-hundred years ago with the work of Dōgen Zenji, founder of the School. The fourth Japanese ancestor, Keizan Zenji, further enhanced the School, making it more accessible to the laity. The doctrine of the Sōtō Zen School states that we are all children of the Buddha and come into this world endowed with the Buddha Mind. However, failing to realize this, we live selfish, willful lives, causing ourselves much suffering. For that reason, we take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and commit ourselves to lives guided by the Buddhist precepts.² We aspire to follow the Bodhisattva ideal of Mahāyāna Buddhism, in which we rejoice in being of service to others.
No matter how long we have been sitting, we aim for “beginner’s mind” and treat each period of meditation as if it were our first. We focus on the mechanics of sitting, including the posture, the breath, and the disposition of the mind during meditation. Our practice is rounded out with Dharma readings and teachings given by teachers and disciples of the Southwind Sangha and from the ASZC.
The Southwind Sangha traces its lineage from its current teacher, Zenkai Taiun Michael Elliston Rōshi,³ abbot of the ASZC, back to his teacher, Dharma Master Rev Dr Sōyū Matsuoka Rōshi, and ultimately to the historical Buddhas.
To read more about the disciples, priests, and teachers who compose our local leadership, click here.
¹“Zenji” is an honorific title that roughly means teacher or leader of the highest order.
²The precepts are not to kill, not to steal, not to engage in sexual misconduct, not to speak falsely, and not to cloud the mind with intoxicants.
³“Rōshi” is an honorific that means older, distinguished teacher.