When I began Kyudo with Hirokazu Kosaka Sensei in 1983, we used a large staff like a bokken for our warm up to Kyudo. So it all flowed together for me. Kosaka Sensei is a Shingon Priest and I consider him my root teacher in Buddhism.
In 2000 I wanted to deepen my meditation and practice and asked Kosaka Sensei what to do. He told me to find a Zen temple near my home and go there everyday. So I started looking and visiting, but nothing 'clicked'.
One day at the local Japanese Bookstore, Kinokuniya, the had a list of Buddhist temples and I the book fell open to the page for Kanzeonji. I said, 'wow here's a great sounding Zen Temple, and it's right by my house'. I wrote down the number and called them. The fellow on the phone (who turned out to be the Abbot) said, 'Don't bother to come start, we're moving the temple to Ojai, too far away, so we're not taking any new students'.
I was a bit disappointed but, kept looking. A year or two later we were at jamba juice and saw a flyer for kids yoga. My daughter had been doing yoga poses as a baby and forever after just for fun on her own, knowing nothing of yoga. So we called, the number sounded familiar. When we arrived at Kanzeonji for the kids yoga class, the Abbot came to welcome us. I heard his voice and asked, "Hey, isn't this the same Kanzeoni that's 'moving to Ojai?'" "Oh," He said, "All the students begged me to stay, so we're keeping this space too." "Why don't you come sit with us."
So the next day I started sitting there every morning with the monks. I had no plans other than that, just a group to sit with every day.
3 years later he said, "one of our Kohai is taking nyumon tokudo (initiate vows); why don't you take it too. "ok" I said, I was just doing what he asked, since he asked.
They started me helping around the place etc and teaching me stuff.
3 years later he said, "You're kohai is taking zaike tokudo (lay discipleship), you should take it too." "ok" I said.
About 3 years later he thanked me for taking care of so much at the temple and kept having the monks teach me stuff. I would run the temple when they went to Japan on pilgrimage and such.
On one return trip he said, "I'm sorry, you're just like a monk (training there everyday and helping etc)" But I have nothing else to give you. (All of our tokudo ceremonies above zaike tokudo were for people who had actually lived in the temple).
Didn't really matter to me. Than one day he said, I could still give you dendoshi (a kind of transmission). I didn't know what it was, but that he wanted to give me something 'special was appealing'. So then we started teasing eachother about it; till he backed off and said, "Well, on my deathbed, I'm going to open one eye and see who is standing there, if it's you, I'll might give it to you."
Since it was just appealing and not that important to me I stopped asking about, realizing I had gone too far, and not really caring that much about it, just a kind of joke really.
But a few years later some of my kyudo students were asking to sit with me in the little zendo I made in the backyard. I wasn't really comfortable with having 'Zen' students though. I told this to Ryugen Osho (the Abbot of Kanzeonji). He said that with zaike tokudo I could teach meditation in my Zendo no problem, and answer any questions I knew the answers too, no problem. But he could see I still hesitated. I said that if he would come do a blessing ceremony for the zendo, that I would consider this his permission. He agreed and we arranged it.
He came and did a beautiful blessing ceremony. It was much longer and more in depth than any blessing ceremony we had done before; I'd been helping him with house blessing ceremonies etc. So when I took him home, I thanked him for the indepth blessing ceremony and for naming the zendo Jizo-an.
He responded, "Oh, that wasn't a blessing ceremony. That was a temple dedication ceremony. You're Zendo is now a Temple, Jizo-an, and you are it's Anjyu, please take good care of it.
When I asked what an Anjyu is, he just told me stories about different Anjyu in history. From then on he called me Anjyu-san.
Then, year before last he started talking about Dendoshi again. I realized that as the Anjyu of of Jizo-an, that in a way, I had been 'living' at the temple, and thus 'sort of' fulfilled that requirement of his.
But by this point I didn't really care if he gave me dendoshi or not, and told him so. This seemed to convince him even more. But we didn't do it right away. After one morning service that only he and I attended. He gave me the dendoshi certificate. I have his old robe, begging bowls, etc... that he just kind of casually gave me.
Shortly after that, he started talking about semi-retirement and me taking over, at least while he was traveling etc. When we would do a ceremony, he would say, if I'm not around you should do these ceremonies. Things like that.
At this time when we discussed his semi-retirement, he talked like this would be the end of 2017. But early 2016 he suddenly announced that he was closing Kanzeonji, and what did I want to do? Would I keep it running. I said of course. He said what do you want. We discussed it. He gave me all the main altars and temple items and asked me to keep the spirit alive. Gave me a few more pieces of paper. Said I was now the Abbot of Kanzeonji...