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Rinzai-shu 臨済宗 and Obaku-shu 黄檗宗 are Japanese schools of Zen Buddhism, both in the lineage of the Chinese Zen master Linji Yixuan 臨済義玄 (J., Rinzai Gigen, d. 866). The two schools have worked together for many years through the Joint Council for Rinzai and Obaku Zen to determine mutual educational policy and foster understanding of the Rinzai tradition of Zen. The Rinzai–Obaku Zen website is part of this effort, providing access through the Internet to information on the history, culture, and practice of the schools.
On November 29, 2000, the Japanese government enacted the Basic Law on the Formation of an Advanced Information and Telecommunication Network Society (IT Basic Law), signaling its commitment to the development of a world-class IT network. Since the law’s implementation, the widespread penetration of broadband technology has made Japan a world leader in the area of Internet communications, and stimulated the growth of a vast network of digital resources for accessing and disseminating information.
The development of Internet technology over the past few decades has revolutionized the way people acquire knowledge and communicate with one another. Sophisticated search engines have made it possible to locate information much faster with the Internet than with standard reference works. Important material can be accessed without time-consuming visits to libraries; indeed, much material found on the Internet is available nowhere else.
Information on Zen is plentiful on the Internet, as would be expected with a subject that has attracted so much interest. Many excellent websites presently exist, but along with these are many pages whose accuracy is difficult to verify. In addition, representation of the traditional schools of Japanese Zen has been limited; for example, of the fifteen head temples of Rinzai-Obaku Zen, in 2001 only Nanzen-ji, Shokoku-ji, and Manpuku-ji maintained websites.
Thus in 2001 the Joint Council for Rinzai and Obaku Zen decided to establish a committee to maximize use of the new opportunities offered by the Internet for educational and communicative purposes. The Rinzai-Obaku Network Management Council, under the direction of Mine Kogaku Roshi 嶺興嶽老師, has two specific objectives: first, the creation of an official site for providing information on the teachings, practices, and institutions of the Rinzai and Obaku traditions of Zen; and second, the establishment of an Internet communications network for Rinzai and Obaku temples and priests.
The English site focuses on the first of these objectives, providing information about the basic stance of Zen, its history, scriptures, ceremonies, music, and head temples, and about the practice of zazen. Videos and photographs relating to Zen can also be viewed. Links introduce other sites with additional valuable information.