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A Tribute to Sojun Matsuno Roshi
By Guy Mokuho Mercier
On November the 8th, Sojun Matsuno roshi left us at the age of 89.
He is the master who agreed to pass on to me the Dharma (the Shihô) in the zen soto
Today, as I am introducing him to you I want to pay tribute to the good, simple and discreet man he was, and I dare say without pretence. I also wish to thank him for the favour he did to me by accepting to register me in his lineage.
He was born in 1928. He studied to become a chemist engineer at Keio University in Tokyo, which trains top executives in all fields of technology and economics. That took him to work for a Japanese petroleum com pany for several years ; afterwards he decided to continue his studies in the USA, in the Rensselear polytechnic institute, an American university and research institution specialized in science and technology, from which he obtained his Phd.
Then he went to work for Esso (Exxon Mobil group in Japan) before returning to the MIT in New York in the seventies to resume his studies. He continued his career with Esso, becoming its deputy chairman in the latest years of his professional life. As a reward for his contribution to public welfare he received the “Blue Ribbon” medal.
On top of his professional responsibilities, he also became president of the “Shanti volunteer association”, a nongovernmental organization for educational help and logistic assistance to childhood in Afghanistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand.
And quite unexpectedly, at the age of 58, he became a Zen monk ! attracted to Zazen !
I met him in Tokyo in 2006 and he was very fatherly to me, eager to understand why a
French man could be interested in Japanese zen. As he spoke excellent English, we had
quite a few good talks, but unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to spend much time with him. He came to the Gendronnière on several occasions and he was very surprised to see how far western Zen had developed in such a short time after Master Deshimaru came to Europe.
Today, I have a feeling of loneliness. It is always very moving when a master departs. He goes away to rest and trust us to continue to teach the Dharma of the Buddha. I make a profound sanpai to him and will keep him in this large place in my heart, where all those I love are.
And today I am inviting all the nuns and monks who, since 2008 have received the ordination from me to pay him a special tribute and spare in their heart a grateful
thought for him as they have received a ketsumyeku on which his name appears right above mine.
Guy Mokuho Mercier