Ciska Matthes stayed in a Japanese Zen monastery from 1999 to 2005. In this episode she speaks with Joost van den Heuvel Rijnders about her stay. 'You come to Japan and everything is written in characters. You are suddenly illiterate'. Life in a Zen monastery is very simple. 'I was looking for a place where I could sit a lot. Very little was spoken. The idea was that you stay in the exercise the whole time. For example when cutting vegetables. Just deal with it from rest. I loved it, such an intense life of short nights, getting up early, heavy physical work and a lot of sitting. In the monastery it was very natural to live for spiritual freedom'.
It wasn't easy. “Sometimes I wanted to break out. Then I would slip out at night and wander the neighborhood'.
She learned many life lessons and after six years the monastic life had been enough for Ciska. 'My Zen master said: go to your mother, your mother is your teacher'. Finally, Joost asks about which part of her time in the monastery is still present on a daily basis. Ciska's answer: 'Don't put yourself first'.
A series of articles by Ciska about her Zen master Harada Tangen Roshi has been published in the Boeddhistische Dagblad boeddhistischedagblad.nl.
Book by Janwillem van de Wetering www.milinda-uitgevers.nl/asoka/boek/3538/de-lege-spiegel
Ciska .'s website www.hetoogvandeorkaan.nl