Mr. Abe was born into a temple family, but he did not want to become a monk. However, throughout his youth, he felt frustrated with his situation and his inability to progress academically, and at 18 he began to practice zazen for self-development. He went to Eiheiji Temple in Fukui Prefecture to train, spending two and a half years there. While training, he worried about his future, and his master continually reminded him to “live in the now.” When the time came to leave Eiheiji, he walked the 500km back to Yamagata, taking 21 days, and coming around to a major shift in mindset and a new understanding of the possibilities in life. He decided to go overseas, and became involved in the Soto Volunteer Association (now known as SHANTI). He was offered a position in a slum community in Thailand, and though he was robbed soon after his arrival, this experience taught him many lessons about trust, reciprocation, and sincerity.
When he returned to Japan, he followed advice from various older monks around him, and ended up studying Zen in Tokyo, and working a series of unrelated jobs, before becoming a monk full-time at the age of 30. He spent three years training full-time in Sapporo, where he also met his future wife. They married and moved back to Tsuruoka together and he took up a position at Zenpoji.
Message to participants in the Zen at Zenpoji Experience:
“The word for trust (信じる) has a double-meaning; it means to put your trust into someone, or to leave it up to them. If you don’t have this trust, then the relationship ends. If you think you’re being fooled by someone, they can sense that, so keep trusting in that person, and then they will learn to trust you, they will learn that your motives are sincere.”
“Keep studying other cultures and interacting with them as that is a great way to learn and grow. If you study other cultures, something good will definitely come of it.”
Hobbies: baseball and travel, because travelling around the country is a major part of his job
Zenpoji Temple, Tsuruoka City
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Yabase, Tsuruoka, Yamagata, Japan
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Megurun aims to support sustainable rural communities. To achieve these aims, we gained a travel agency license registered with the governor of Yamagata Prefecture: Region 282.