Sanbo Kyodan

三宝教団The Sanbō Kyōdan (Japanese: 三宝教団) is Zen Buddhist sect based in Japan. The term Sanbō Kyōdan can also refer to the style of Zen practiced by various related groups, many of which are no longer or were never part of the organiztion. In this latter sense, Sanbō Kyōdan Zen is synonymous with the Harada-Yasutani School.

The Sanbō Kyōdan (literally “Three Treasures religious group”) was formally founded on January 8, 1954 by Yasutani Hakuun (安谷白雲), one of the principal successors of the Zen teacher Harada Daiun (原田大雲). Harada and Yasutani had officially been members of the Sōtō Zen sect, although Harada had also studied extensively with Rinzai teachers. Both felt that Sōtō and other established Buddhist groups had become complacent, focusing on performing ceremonies rather than seeking enlightenment. When the laws controlling religious groups were liberalized during the American occupation, Yasutani took the opportunity to found an independent organization.

Sanbō Kyōdan has been highly influential among Western Buddhists. Yasutani had three influential Western students. The first was Philip Kapleau, an American who became a student of Harada’s in 1953 and was later a disciple of Yasutani’s. Kapleau broke with Yasutani in 1967 and went on to establish the Rochester Zen Center which now has branches throughout the United States and other countries. Robert Aitken was another American who studied with Yasutani. Aitken later became a disciple and dharma heir to Koun Yamada, the second abbott of Sanbō Kyōdan. He established the Diamond Sangha network of temples based in Hawaii which remained part of Sanbō Kyōdan until 1995 when it became a completely independent organization. Also derived from the Diamond Sangha network that Aitken established is John Tarrant’s Pacific Zen Institute and through Tarrant, Joan Sutherland’s Open Source and James Ford’s Boundless Way Zen. Yasutani’s students also in included Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle, a Roman Catholic priest who eventually became a Zen teacher while retaining his Christian faith. Almost all of Sanbō Kyōdan’s current membership outside of Japan is made up of Zen-Catholic teachers influenced by Enomiya-Lassalle, along with their supporters.

Taizan Maezumi, a Japanese Buddhist priest who founded the influential Zen Center of Los Angeles was also a recognized successor to Yasutani Hakuun, although he was never a member of the Sanbō Kyōdan organization.

Sanbō Kyōdan has an affiliate group for lay supporters, the Sanbō Kōryūkai.

Abbots of the Sanbō Kyōdan

  1. Yasutani Hakuun, 1954-1970
  2. Yamada Koun, 1970-1989
  3. Kubota Jiun, 1989-2004
  4. Yamada Ryoun, incumbent since October, 2004
buddha monk

buddha monk