Taikan Jyoji founded the Falaise Verte Zen Centre.
In 1989 he received the title of Kaikyo-shi, that is, Master founder, from the Myōshin-ji Rinzai Zen authorities. He also teaches Kyūdō, traditional Japanese archery, as a continuation of his Zen experience.
He’s a prolific author and has published several books on Zen and Kyūdō. He is also a regular guest on the French television programme Sagesses Bouddhistes on France 2.
Travel to Japan
Taikan Jyoji went to Japan in 1964 to study traditional Japanese architecture. He taught French there and spent his free time reading. He discovered Surrealism. Through its insistence on the importance of liberating the mind, Surrealism constituted his first encounter with the absolute. It’s in this context of inner searching that he heard about the Shōfuku-ji monastery through a friend.
Entry into the monastery
A few months later, he turned up at the gates of the Shōfuku-ji monastery wearing a suit and tie and carrying a suitcase. He later describes in his book Itinéraire d’un maître zen venu d’Occident (Journey of a Zen master from the West), how he was shaken to the core by his first sesshin and the tidewave of suffering that engulfed him. It was nevertheless from the heart of that internal fracture that emerged the determination to pursue this practice more than ever.
However, I stayed because I no doubt sensed that behind all this pain there was something to realise.— Taikan Jyoji, Itinéraire d’un maître zen venu d’Occident, Almora, 2008.
The first years in the monastery were mainly devoted to learning the discipline of monastic life. After two years of practice as a lay monk, he asked Mumon Rōshi for his ordination, which took place on 8 April 1970. Five years of intense practice and daily effort followed.
Return to Europe
After seven years of shugyō, that is, ascetic austerity, Mumon Rōshi said to him: “Now that the knife is razor-sharp, you have to continue sharpening it”, thereby indicating to him to return to Europe to teach Zen according to his own experience.
Born in 1968 in Lyon, Taishin Sōmyō studied engineering in France and then in the USA. He worked for a while in finance before discovering Zen Buddhism, realising very quickly that he had (at last) found his path.
He took part in his first sesshin at the Falaise Verte in spring 2000, then became resident. He was ordained as a Zen monk by Taikan Jyoji and, following in the footsteps of Taikan Jyoji, left for the Shōfuku-ji monastery in Kōbe, Japan.
He pursued his monastic shugyō for ten years, under the guidance of Konō Taitsū Rōshi, then Kimura Taihō Rōshi.
At the request of Taikan Jyoji, he returned to France in 2014 to become administrative director of the Centre.
In 2020, he succeeded Taikan Jyoji as the second jūshoku of the Falaise Verte Zen Centre.
He travels to Japan as regularly as possible to continue to deepen his experience and maintain close and active links with the source of Zen Rinzai Buddhism practice.