The sole purpose and function of a Zen Teacher is to help students to realize their own true natures. This true nature has nothing to do with "personality" and so Anzan roshi insists that the personality of the Teacher is unimportant. Nonetheless, it can help to understand something about the background of the Teacher, and so this brief biography might prove useful.
The Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi is a Western-born elder celibate monk and Dharma-heir of the late Ven. Yasuda Joshu Dainen Hakukaze daiosho. He also had the opportunity to study with his Teacher's Teacher, Hanamatsu Daiji Tenku daiosho for several months.
During the early 1980s, before accepting his own formal students, Roshi also met with various Tibetan Buddhist Teachers of the Nyingma, Gelug, Sakya, Karma Kagyu, Drugpa Kagyu, and Shangpa Kagyu schools in order to better understand how the Dharma was being presented and understood in the West. While mainly comparing Dogen zenji's shikan-taza to Mahamudra (Chagya-chenpo) and Maha-Ati (Dzog-chen), he also received empowerment into various Highest Yoga tantras and completed the commitments for them. He was closest to the late Gelugpa Master, Geshe Khenrab Gajam and presented various classes and commentaries on traditional texts for him and other lamas. Roshi also translated several Mahamudra and Maha-Ati texts with the help of some of these lamas.
Roshi has translated over forty fascicles from the Shobogenzo of Dogen zenji and many other classical Soto Zen texts, as well as many other classic texts such as the Hekiganroku, in the annotated edition of his own Lineage. He is well versed in the Pali suttas, as well as the major Mahayana sutras, and has translated many of the more important texts for use by his students. As well, he often interprets such traditional Teachings as the Seven Factors of Awakening from a Zen perspective to give them new life. In his efforts to provide his students with a comprehensive body of Teachings that clarify all of the necessary aspects and levels of practice, he has written many books and essays (over fifty publications at recent count), and has given many thousands of teisho and Dharma talks.
Accomplished in Zen brush calligraphy, Roshi also teaches through his ikebana and playing of the honkyoku shakuhachi and his superb culinary skills. Almost every aspect of the physical arrangement of the environment of Dainen-ji has been designed by the Roshi to create opportunities for students to discover and unfold richness and simplicity. He encourages students to find ways to express their practice through various media and has integrated practice of the Zen Arts into the Zen Community's curriculum.
Roshi has worked ceaselessly for the establishment of clear foundations for the Transmission of the Complete Teachings. It is our responsibility to apply what we understand.
His dedication to his students takes the form of humour, katsu shouts, poetry, teisho, and his every intention and action.
Up until this time he was known as Sensei (Teacher) but having given these Transmissions and created new Teachers he is now referred to as Roshi (the old Teacher).