Katagiri Roshi was born in Osaka, Japan in 1928. He died in Minneapolis, MN on March 1, 1990.
Katagiri Roshi was ordained a Zen monk by Daicho Hayashi Roshi, Abbot of Taizo-in. He later entered Eiheiji Zen Monastery where he practiced for three years. There he studied under Eko Hashimoto Roshi. After Eiheiji he entered Komazawa University in Japan where he did both undergraduate and graduate study in Buddhism.
After his studies he was assigned by the Soto Zen International office to assist in serving the Japanese congregation in Los Angeles. In 1965 he then went to San Francisco to study English and assist Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in establishing the San Francisco Zen Center. In December of 1972 he was invited to come to Minneapolis where he established the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center.
There have been three books published of Katagiri Roshi’s lectures: 1) Returning to Silence, 2) You Have to Say Something, and 3) Each Moment Is the Universe. Each of these books is published by Shambhala Press.
Katagiri Roshi had the vision of establishing a traditional Soto Zen monastery in the Midwest for the training of American priests. He revered the Ancient Ways* and felt modern people would benefit from the practice of these Ways.
In one of his last lectures given in 1989 at Daijoji Monastery in Japan, Katagiri Roshi said,
“I wish to build a place and an environment to promote the quiet sangha life in unity . . . to practice the Way revering the Old Ways*. I think that the mode of old ways reveals the modern one from a different aspect. Modern life is artificially protected. When the artificial environment collapses, for instance in a natural disaster or an economic calamity, people suffer severely. Modern people, therefore, need to live in direct contact with nature and find a practice method in tune with nature’s rhythm. Old ways of life fit this purpose. Such a life will put the modern life in a different perspective and teach us how we should live. Therefore, I am convinced we must build such a practice place in America.”
He also said, “Sooner or later, I want to have a monastery.” (Returning to Silence,p. 115.)
Ryumonji Zen Monastery has been founded on this vision.
*Ancient Ways is a reference to Zen Master Eihei Dogen’s poem (13th C):
“Yearning for the Ancient Ways”
The Way of the Ancestors’ coming from the West
I transmit to the East
Yearning for the ancient ways,
Catching the moon, cultivating the clouds,
Untouched by worldly dust fluttering about
A thatched hut, snowy evening, deep mountain.