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Moku-Rai: Unraveling Enlightenment

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

November is Founder’s Month as we celebrate the life and teaching of Soyu Zengaku Matsuoka-roshi, on the 13th anniversary of the founding of the Silent Thunder Order (STO). Established by his student Taiun Elliston-roshi, Abbot of the Silent Thunder Order and the Atlanta Soto Zen Center.

This year marks the 83nd Anniversary of Matsuoka-roshi coming to America and the 74rd Anniversary of his founding of the Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago and the 46 year since Elliston-roshi founded the Atlanta Soto Zen Center. And also, the 13th year anniversary of the Founding of the Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha in 2010.

In celebration of all of this I draw your attention to one of the two current books presenting the teachings of Soyu Zengaku Matsuoka-roshi– Moku-Rai. The chapter for our review is Unraveling Enlightenment. Also this is the second of the two books edited by Taiun Elliston-roshi and reflects talks in the 1970. The chapter is in a section on The Exposition of Zen that provides key background ideas that form the spirit of Zen.

I was struck in our Fall STO Retreat by the talks of people who knew our Founder Matsuoka-roshi. To a person they conveyed a warmth and appreciation for his sharing the Dharma with them. Sometimes we can forget that Buddha Nature can indeed sway the shroud of “Human Nature.” They spoke with loving-kindness.

I will present seven points that inform my spirit (swirl) of Zen from Matsuoka’s chapter:

One: To unravel, uncover or locate is finding awareness of what exists. Our domain assumption is that we are Buddha or innate awake beings. As we find this, it shows through and true in our vision of existence. Here O’Roshi cautions us against being attached, clinging or being captured by the illusional aspect of words. Hence our experiential awareness versus word intake (consumption) is demonstrative of clarity of view. He also speaks of the scientific findings regarding energy=matter as underscoring the meaning of Buddha Nature.

Two: O’Roshi, uses the story of the monkey and onion or he could have used King Midas or the Goose and Golden Egg or Jack and The Beanstalk to illustrate his experiential take on enlightenment. We tend to think that matter and energy of form and emptiness are two separated things. This foundation for dual thinking is human nature in that what we see is what we get, at least on the surface or relative level. Yet we actually use duality to help dissolve duality in the terms Absolute and Relative Realities. As Buddha’s we see no difference except as Unpaya. As humans our comfort, and part of suffering, is we see separateness and lack of connectivity. Our personna or ego builds a facade of a person to do battle with the “Real World,” while our true self, that is the universe, is unfolding, opening its Dharma Eye, clearing the relative disbelief.

Three: Miracles are things of magnitude we cannot understand. So much so some say they must come from beyond. O’Roshi uses satori as an example. The term, more associated with Renzi and Soto teachings, projects overwhelming insight into…. I think he makes wonder or awareness of moment as always taking place “IT DEPENDS,”

If you’re living the life of Riley, strolling along easy street, or wallowing in hog heaven, your circumstances may be described as copacetic. A word of obscure origin, copacetic has for over a century satisfied those who’ve had a hankering to describe that which is hunky-dory or otherwise completely satisfactory. (If "of obscure origin" leaves you feeling less than copacetic, the note here will undoubtedly remedy that.) Life isn’t always beer and skittles, but when you do find yourself walking that primrose path, just remember: it’s all copacetic.

Removing blinds opens us to the essence we cannot see. Helen Keller (1880-1968) said she had compassion for sighted persons who could see but had no vision.

Four: Buddha Nature as directly pointing to reality (a-b-s-o-l-u-t/-e-r-e-a-l-a-t-i-v-e) is Upaya, while simultaneously being So or Thus or Inmo. We see the True Self. How? By sitting Zazen…”your everyday mind clears itself of cobwebs…” (p.46) and earlier on the same page from a Chinese poem saying… Do not seek the truth from outside seeing inward the True Self is…

Five: Shoshin means beginner's mind. It is not predisposed. It is free of opinion and expectation as MU. Meditation is enlightenment and not apart from ALL. “True mind is not attached to jewels, it thinks it has accumulated…” (p.47). It seems to afford a certain twinkle in the eye and like the aesthetics who saw Siddhartha walking toward them after his awakening and he appeared to have a certain countenance about him.

Six: Noone should assume to know what will happen when others are exposed to Zazen for the first time. As Matsuoka-roshi points out a group of teachers coming to japan after WWII to teach English asked to know more. On some level they sensed that knowing more about Japanese life would be helpful for making connections. Then to sit Zazen being enlightened (in all the ways this chapter suggests) they were appreciative, which is gratitude for the experience never had by them but a part of the culture of the time. The kyosaku spoke to them!

Seven: “Strip away the onion peel of the layers in your life, and find your Buddha Nature…”

Please join us Tuesday night November 14, 2023 at 7:00/ET as we pay homage to lineage:Zoom:

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Unshin Sangaku Dan Joslyn-sensei

Founder and Guiding Teacher

Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha

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