From Buddha to the present day, the essence of our practice has been transmitted from master to disciple. After blossoming in India and China, zen was introduced to Japan in 1200 by the monk Eihei Dogen, where it had a profound influence on Japanese life and culture.
In the 20th century, Master Kodo Sawaki revitalized zen in Japan. He emphasized shikantaza (just sitting) and tirelessly brought the practice to laypeople as well as ordained followers. He traveled around Japan, lecturing and showing the posture in schools and prisons, organizing sesshins and summer camps in various places. His "moving monastery," his refusal to become a monastic in the classical sense, and his tendency to travel alone earned him the name "Homeless Kodo". He died on December 21, 1965. His close disciples - including Taisen Deshimaru and Kojun Kishigami - continued to spread his teaching in Japan, North America and Europe.
Because of his uncompromising zen practice and his pioneering mission to plant the seed of authentic zen in a new land (Europe), Mokudo Taisen Deshimaru has been called "the modern-day Bodhidharma" (by Zenji Reirin Yamada , former Chief of Eiheiji Temple, former President of the Japanese Buddhist Federation). Deshimaru was 18 years old when he met Kodo Sawaki. He became his disciple and followed him over a span of thirty years. A month before he died, Sawaki ordained Deshimaru and a year after Sawaki's death, Deshimaru went to France. He arrived alone in Paris in 1967. Slowly, people began sitting with him, and his reputation grew. He organized sesshins and summer camps and opened more than a hundred dojos in Europe and North America. When he died on April 30, 1982, he left a large sangha of hundreds of European disciples, many of whom had become true monks and nuns.
Reiryu Philippe Coupey met Mokudo Taisen Deshimaru in 1972 in Paris. He followed him closely until Deshimaru's death and then continued the transmission of his master's teachings. Today he practices in Paris, teaching in the Paris Zen Dojo. He also conducts many sesshins across Europe. Philippe Coupey is the master of the Sangha Sans Demeure. He has received official transmission of the dharma from Kojun Kishigami, who received it from Kodo Sawaki.