Advent of Kongo school of Zen in Japan

At the Shorin Temple, where the Shorin martial art originated, there still exists a hall known as the White Robe Hall. On the northern and southern walls of this hall are two huge wall-paintings showing dark and fair skinned monks happily practising kempo techniques in pairs.

Doshin So realized that, while he had learned the techniques in single form, and without any basic philosophy, he saw on the wall-painting that the monks were practising in paired form. This led him to an understanding that the philosophy behind training was not to knock down one's opponent, but to practise in pairs for the benefit of both parties. Thewu-shu training he had received from the Daoist monks, he realized, was not designed to achieve the best results from the students by sharing the process of learning.

Doshin So further understood instantaneously that the Shaolin martial art had been transmitted by Bodhidharma from India along the Silk Roads. He saw the names inscribed on the wall-paintings as Tenjiku nara no kaku [fighting art from heaven (India)] and Arahan no ken [fighting art of monks]. It gave Doshin So an impression of what Bodhidharma must originally have taught to the monks during his nine-year stay at the Songshan Shaolin Temple.

Doshin So thought that if Bodhidharma's Indian martial art had been transmitted in the same way as his philosophy of Zen Buddhism had been transmitted, it must necessarily have changed during the 1,500 years since Bodhidharma's visit to the Songshan Shaolin Temple.

During the passage of time, Buddhism of India, changed a great deal from its original teachings. While it was in the process of transmission through the various countries of East Asia, it was influenced by the local religions and cultures.

The original Buddhism, which was taught by Gautama Buddha, enjoined that every human being should strive to make the maximum effort possible to use his or her spirit and abilities to make life worthwhile. Even the smallest efforts bring a meaning to life since it is acknowledgement of life.

In present day Japan, Buddhism has become a ceremonial ritual for the dead, and personal effort is ignored. Every Japanese is born a Shinto and dies as a Buddhist. Finding a place after death in paradise has become more important for the Buddhist than the attainment of perfection in this world. The doctrine of reincarnation is used as an excuse for being idle as one cannot be held responsible for the fate of one's previous life.

The teachings of Doshin So were based on this return to fundamental principles, and became a crusade. He felt that practicing his fighting arts develops both the mind and the body, helping to transform the students into balanced people. They have the mental prowers to solve the problems of life and the physcial strength to act when necessary. In Shorinji Kempo, regardless of the Buddhism taught in China and Japan, the teachings are kept original as that taught by Gautama Buddha. In the Kongo school of Zen, we understand and follow what the Buddha taught, which is to improve ourselves and our spirit. To use our ability to the maximum is the message behind the teachings.

Based on the Indian philosophical system, Doshin So built his philosophy and named it as Kongo Zen. His teachings are fundamentally moral. Kongo Zen Sohanzan Shorinji was founded in Japan by Doshin So in 1947.