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THE ZANMAI PROJECT

 

Zanmai is a Japanese Buddhist term meaning both  concentration of meditation (zazen) and peace of mind.

 

In May 2022, I will embark on a 35,000 km bicycle trip to Japan, passing through the northeastern United States, Canada, the American west coast, Central and South America, Australia, Southeast Asia, China and South Korea to spend 6 months in a Zen temple to continue my training as a monk. 

A bike trip centered on zazen

The practice and the study of a spiritual path make us realize - in principle - that there is no happiness more complete than that of turning towards others, of helping them. I then asked myself what was the best way for me to help others. The answer was immediate: to show the posture of zazen. Because it is humbly what I know how to do best, in any case, with the most confidence and faith.

 

Zazen is neither reserved for an elite, nor is it linked to religious or even mystical beliefs. I do not define myself by the word "religious". Too heavy of a meaning, this word arouses more mistrust than inspiration. I feel more moved by a universal way - that is to say that everyone can practice - which passes through the body and which has been transmitted from masters to disciples for nearly 2600 years, without any dogmatic belief to support it.  

 

This is the precise reason that pushes me - during this trip - to demonstrate zazen to those who want to experience it. I have the intimate conviction that if everyone practiced zazen for even a few minutes a day, the world would be a better place. Because zazen is to connect with the order of things and to stop the struggle in all its forms. Zazen is the return to the normal condition of the body and mind. But it is also to penetrate a larger and deeper reality that is common to all, and to extract oneself from that which is limited to our personal and discriminating consciousness. 

 

Thus my project is to make known this posture of awakening throughout my course. 

But also to go and meet other sangha, in other Zen monasteries (in the USA, Canada, South America).  A beautiful way, I think, to create a link and to understand the history of Zen throughout the world. 

The part of invisible

This trip is also an opportunity for me to continue an artistic work already undertaken through photography whose theme is the ineffable, the unspeakable. And to add to this a series of filmed interviews where the questions will go directly to the heart of the people. I am curious to go in search of the unspeakable through words. If words are limited, I am nevertheless convinced that human beings possess within themselves this eternal language, common to all forms of existence, which sends back to us a collective and primitive consciousness, stripped of dualism and discrimination. 

 

It is precisely around these questions that I wish to speak with women and men of all ages, confessions, or origins. 

Why the bike?  

The bicycle seems to be the most appropriate way to get in touch with the world and allows you to take unusual paths. Not to mention the ecological virtues of this fascinating invention.  

My itinerary is not set in stone. I initially wanted to cross Europe to Asia to go - with a background of pilgrimage - to the countries where Soto Zen took root and developed: India, where it originated 500 years before Christ, China, where it developed in the 5th century under the name of Ch'an, and Japan, where it took its present form in the 13th century. It was not until the late 1960s that Soto Zen spread to the United States and Europe through the mission of great Japanese masters (Shunryū Suzuki Roshi, Taizan Maiezumi Roshi, Taisen Deshimaru Roshi).

 

But the uncertainties related to the war in Ukraine have changed the game. And it is against the wind, that I will undertake this journey, passing through the United States, Canada, Central and South America before reaching Australia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, China, South Korea and finally Japan.

STANISLAS KOMYO WANG-GENH

Born in 1980 to monk and nun parents of the Soto Zen tradition, I grew up in the world of Buddhist dojos and temples. Since early childhood, I took as examples the practitioners of the Sangha (the community), sitting motionless in zazen, shaved head, wearing the august Kolomo (the black robe). They are today the precursors of the implantation of Zen on European soil. 

The origin of this story is the figure of the Japanese Master Taisen Deshimaru (1914-1982), who arrived in France in 1967 to plant the seed of Zen. My father Olivier Reigen Wang-Genh was one of his close disciples. He in turn became a Zen Master, and it is his teaching that I follow today.  

Still an infant, the Buddhist name of Komyo was given to me by Master Deshimaru in 1981. I took refuge in the precepts as a teenager, and it was not until 2014 that I received the ordination of monk (tokudo). For three and a half years, I trained at the Temple Zen Ryumonji in Weiterswiller in Alsace.

In May 2022, I undertake a journey of more than 35,000 km by bicycle to Japan to continue my training as a monk in a Japanese temple (Ango).

Graduated from a school of journalism (CELSA) and a school of audiovisual production (CLCF), I have always exercised the profession of reporter-director. In the Zen lineage of Master Deshimaru, monks and nuns can work in the social world and have a family life.  

 

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Le moine zen Stanislas Komyo Wang-Genh