Things-As-It-Is: Reading the Sandokai


  • Teacher: Rev. Choro Antonaccio, Guiding Teacher of Austin Zen Center
  • Date/Time: Six classes. Oct. 19, 26, Nov. 2, 9, 16 and 30. 6:45-8pm
  • Location:  AZC Zendo and online via Zoom 
    (Meeting ID: 813 9209 4978 Passcode: 405029)
  • Program Fees: $60 for all 6 classes REGISTRATION IS CLOSED
    Please set an intention to attend most or all of these meetings.
    Contact to inquire about scholarships

On these six Thursdays we will study an important teaching text in Soto Zen: Sandokai – a poem written by our Chinese ancestor Sekito Kisen (or Shitou Xiqian in Chinese, who lived from 700-790 CE). This ancestor also wrote the poem Soanka, or the “Song of the Grass Roof Hut” (or Hermitage) that we chant some mornings at AZC.

The Sandokai text was the subject of six weeks of lectures by our Japanese founder in this country, Shunryu Suzuki, in the summer of 1970, about a year and a half before he died. The thirteen talks that resulted were edited and published in 1999 as Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness (Berkeley), edited by two senior dharma teachers at San Francisco Zen Center. 

I encourage you to read the Sandokai aloud as you prepare for class each week. We will also be chanting it as part of services during the practice period. You may find yourself memorizing it by osmosis!

See below for links to a PDF copy of the book and other resources. We will explore different wordings. 

For the first meeting:  An introduction to ancestor Sekito Kisen, and his poem(s).

Start reading the sutra yourself, just let it sink in by reading it aloud. Notice what strikes you, or perhaps makes no sense. You may also want to read his other important poem, “Song of the Grass Roof Hut” (Soanka). You may also want to read the two introductions by the editors of the book.

Starting with Week 2, we will read and discuss two talks per meeting from the book Branching Streams.

There are multiple translations of the text of the Sandokai. One version is in the book Branching Streams. (This links to the complete PDF of the book)

Here is the one we chant at AZC:

If you’re interested, here is a link to a compilation of a large number of translations, with some comments in each (page dates to 2007):

Other resources: Suzuki Roshi archive (search for transcripts of original lectures and recordings)

Commentary by Rev. Domyo Burke, Part 1 and Part 2 (if you want a quick overview)

Please reach out to AZC’s Guiding Teacher with any questions about attendance. 

Rev. Choro Antonaccio began formal Zen practice at Chapel Hill Zen Center in 1999. She received lay precepts from her teacher, Rev. Josho Patricia Phelan, in 2001 and priest ordination in 2010. She was shuso in Chapel Hill in 2016. Rev. Choro has practiced at the three temples of San Francisco Zen Center including practice periods at Tassajara and Green Gulch Farm. In Chapel Hill she served for multiple years in the positions of Tenzo, Work Leader, and Ino and also served as member at large and president of the board of directors. She decided to end her career in academia in 2018 and moved to Austin to practice with the sangha at AZC in 2020. 

Click here to join the classes via Zoom Oct. 19, 26, Nov. 2, 9, 16 and 30. 6:45-8pm

Please consider offering dāna in gratitude for these teachings.
For scholarship information, please contact