The Name ‘Entsuji’
(From the Spring 1997 Newsletter)
We are registered in the state of Washington as a non-profit corporation and our name is Entsuji. A Zen calligrapher wrote that this name expresses “not lacking, not superfluous.” Our Zen Master said it is a good name for a Zendo, and might be translated as “free from God, free from human.”
To be ‘free’ in the Zen sense does not entail getting anything or getting rid of anything. It means rather not reifying, not being hung up by anything as a fixed, separate self or object, It means being able to realize oneself as everything or as nothing, being able to move freely within and between the absolute (God, perfect) and relative (human, imperfect) aspects of life.
‘Absolute’ refers to Sunyata, and in the Judeo-Christian tradition it might be likened to The Garden of Eden before Adam & Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, or to the state of things before God created the cosmos, before any desire or intention. Being “free of God” means not making any place, person, thing, book, idea, activity, or what have you, into a final, all-good or holy thing, against which a non-holy, secular, bestial, or evil realm can crop up in opposition. It also means not misunderstanding Sunyata nihilistically as nothing opposed to something, or as nonexistence opposed to existence.
Without the relative aspect of experience we could not become adult human beings. Without it none of the uniquely human refinements of our experience could have developed, like the arts and sciences. But unless we can become “free from human” we remain victims of our own creations, severely limited by our notions of “reality” which we misperceive as imposed on us from the outside. Unless we can become free from the human we are tyrannized by the eternal soap operas of ego politics, pushed and pulled by the incessant polarities of rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, smart or stupid, young or old,, and so forth. Unless we can break out of the human domain our non-comparative faculties of wonder, love, childlike enthusiasm, and intuition dry up. Being free of both God and human then means living freely with both, as both, with neither, as neither.
We tried to come up with an appropriate English translation but could find nothing brief that does not leave out some important aspect of Entsu-ji. So, we are keeping the Japanese pronunciation of the original Chinese Ch’an (Zen) characters which, by the way, are these:
Otherwise we use a logo which derives from the north window of our zendo.