Meet & Eat with… Seigaku Higuchi - Laughing Zen Monch, Family Man, Mental Hygene and Life Simplification Activist

How would I describe Seigaku-san?
Seigaku-san is one of those people you meet and maybe talk a bit and very soon you sense this extreme human balancedness. He listens, answers, asks about this and that looks around, smiles or comments and you just feel that he is what he talks and lives the way he thinks he should live. I did not sense any sort of politics in his talk and actions, he just is as peaceful, open and friendly as he is, because that is the way he is. With his whole presence and actions he just offers you a permanent open invite to join him and share a bit of the path with him if you like.

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Place: Suicide Sue, Prenzlauer Berg

Food: Special Suicide Sue style sandwiches with lots of different stuff on them

What project would Seigaku push if he would be major of Berlin or could at least ask the mayor for a favour?

Seigaku-san does not have one big project he would push, but he would wish for a city without money or at least less driven by it. His take on this however is not to enforce things. As major he would just live the way he does already and hope that people would start to understand and adopt his way of living without money.

The Lunch (all links at the end)

Seigagku-san has been a lunch recommendation by Naho and similar to Naho he has taken a path many people might describe as extreme. I have to say I surely was impressed by him and as in most good conversations, did not just learn something about him, but also about myself. When he graduated from University, he not only got a degree in politics, but also started to sense a lot of social pressure on where he need to apply for jobs and what he will need to achieve in his professional life. The issue with this was that these expectations where just very disconnected from what he felt is important to him and what his inner self seemed to desire. Instead of giving in to these expectations, he followed the path his soul seemed to have pointed him towards and started to live in a zen temple.

What I found strikingly about the way Seigaku-san’s portrayed his time in the temple, was that eventhough the facts sound quite harsh, like for example getting up at 3 A.M. or the simple food they had, all I could see when he was talking about this time, was satisfaction. He talked about the valuable teachings he received and all the laughter and fun he had while being there. It was away from friends and family, there is no cinemas, karaoke bars or things like that, but all I could see was a smile on his face and all I could hear in the voice was genuine appreciation for the time. It must really have been an extended moment of clarity for him.

Never-the-less he decided to leave the temple after some time to design a new life for himself in which he could combine the life with his friends and soon his family, together with his active practice of zen buddhism. One thing I really liked about his way was the apparent lack of dogmatisms. I am not sure if this is typical for zen buddhism, but he seems to tune the practice and rules of zen towards a balance he really feels comfortable with.

Now he still gets up at 4 or 4.30 A.M. every day and practices zazen every weekday at 6.30 and at 10 on weekends. Anyone who likes to join is welcome to do so and join him in the cafe he is doing it. To sleep and get up this early is also a thing which really became important to him. He feels to sleep in the deep night together with the routine is important and he would wish more people would try it and maybe gain the same insight and benefit from it as he does. He believes in practice as the transmitter for a better understanding of the essence of things. Once the essential meaning of a practice has been understood, it is possible to adjust and tweak, but only after that deeper understanding has been reached it can be personalized.

Another thing I found quite impressive, was this immanent lack of pressure, both imposed and exposed by him. He is living his life with the aim to be in sync and at peace with himself and the environment around him, but he is not imposing his approach to achieve this to people in any way. Another simple explanation of this feeling of no pressure was time. He got two calls while we were talking, but still it did never feel like there was any pressure to get finished by a specific time. In general it seems like he just follows the directions and paths live opens up for him. To Germany he just came because a good friend asked him, if he want to come and join him and here he is four years later with both his kids being born in Germany.

We also talked a bit about Germany and Japan and the differences in how people organize their thinking. In Japan people ask for many opinions and try to reach agreement, where in Germany in many cases people try to solve problems themselves by going deeper and deeper and finally find the best solution. Both ways are quite different, but somehow they both achieve the same goal in end. A learning he took from this was that people find different ways to do things, but more often then not they reach similar results by different means. Openness to these different approaches by different people is an important step to personally develop and learn.

The amount of calmness, thoughtfulness and peacefulness Seigaku-san radiates in combination with the confidence, but also the openness and genuine interest in the world around him, is something rare and surely would make the world a much better place, if more people would have that.

Note to myself:

“Focus on less, fully appreciate what you have and what will be, might be the only way to gain everything”

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