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Taiun Elliston-roshi compilations of his teacher Zengaku Matsuoka-roshi talks and writings, is striking. The word striking is homage to the Kyosaku, the stick of awareness used in Zen to awake the body to mindfulness. In silence there is thunder or Moku-rai. Kyosaku is lightning that brings thunder.

The essays in this book are from the 1960’s and reflect the time’s socio-cultural conditions in the United States, barely fifteen years after World War II. While destruction was turning to recovery for Japan, the U.S. was experiencing multiple changes of institutional norms, and personal styles of expression.

These changes were an opening for the teachings of Matsuoka-roshi , who was able to hit the right cord with a variety of people from hippies to the police.

Reading Kyosaku, as an expose of the 1960’s gives one insight into the sweeping change of the period and the change Zen training was beginning to be sought by American as the way of Zen caught on with the self-assessment movement of this generation.

All of the issues of the time are presented by O’Roshi, from outer space to civil rights, to institutional religion, and alignment with beliefs that once were labeled as “Eastern or Asian.” I believe in the years ahead this book will be seen as a seminal treatise or expose on the transition of a generation that has come to see Zen as an integral part of everyday life

I am most appreciative of the lightning nature of Kyosaku. I remember the first few times I was stuck with “The Stick.” Hojo Elliston one morning around 2002 snuck-up behind me as my mind wondered and asked “…would you like the snake?” I raised my hands in Gassho indicating yes. Then the clear sound of swoosh… as the stick was coming down on my shoulder followed by “swak” as it hit, followed by a small bolt of lightning through my body and then quickly it was repeated on the other shoulder. Remember I asked for this. That is, I trusted Sensei and he delivered!

I was like a computer rebooting, clarity followed as I continued zazen attuned to my breathing.

Matsuoka-roshi gave us gentle and strong taps of "Kyosaku." In this book page after page asks, do you wish to continue, are you open to the moment?

The essay on Going to the Moon is a jewel of many facets, and currently my favorite piece of writing. O’Roshi poses the question of this or that, duality, and consequence. The space race between the Soviets and the United States was moving rapidly to see which country would be the first to land an astronaut on the Moon. During the same time in the U.S., civil unrest was increasing. The question posed by O’Roshi was…Inner Peace or Outer Space?

When mindful of the moment, the Kyosaku seems a gentle rhythmical tapping with some zingers thrown in for good measure. During founder's month may we offer 108 bows to our ancestors for such teachings.

Join us at 7:00PM/ET, November 21, 2023,First Congregational Church of Falmouth or,

Password: FSZS

P.S. Here is a photo of Dr. Alex Kinsella and some members of our Sangha after taking Jukai on November 18, 2023. Please welcome Chogai, whose Dharma name means… transcend universe.


Unshin Sangaku Dan Joslyn-sensei

Founder and Guiding Teacher

Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha


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