The Lineage Of The Santa Cruz Zen Center
Shakyamuni Buddha

The Soto Zen practice lineage at Warm Jewel Temple comes from Shakyamuni Buddha who lived in India in the fifth century B.C., through 28 Indian ancestors including the great sage of the subtle middle way, Nagarjuna; revealer of all as only mind, Vasubandhu; and the mysterious Great Teacher Bodhidharma, pointing directly to the human heart, who brought the lineage from India to China in the fifth century.

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In China, Bodhidharma passed on the lineage through 23 generations of Chinese ancestors including Huineng, the great sixth ancestor of Zen in China, expounding nonduality at Caoxi; and Zen Teacher Dongshan revealing the luminous mirror-like nature of mind. The names of these two masters were combined into “Cao-dong” (“Soto” in Japanese) which formed the name of this unique lineage of Zen in the ninth century.

Zen Teacher Eihei Dogen

In Japan, Zen Teacher Eihei Dogen went to China in the thirteenth century and inherited the Soto lineage from his teacher Tiantong Rujing, returning to Japan “empty-handed” to spread this directly transmitted straightforward Buddha-Dharma of “just wholeheartedly sitting and thus dropping off body and mind.” The lineage continued to be passed down from warm hand to warm hand through 39 generations in Japan up to Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, who brought this unique and precious gift to America, passing it on to his disciples. In this way, the teaching, practice, and realization has been intimately transmitted in direct succession from person to person as a living flame up to today.