After years of visiting Japan for Zen Buddhist training, Robert Aitken and his wife Anne Hopkins Aitken founded the Diamond Sangha in 1959 by inviting friends to join them for zazen in their living room in East Oahu, near Koko Head. Shortly thereafter, they purchased a house in Manoa which became known as the Koko An Zendo. Initially, Diamond Sangha students received guidance and training from masters of the Sanbo Kyodan (Harada-Yasutani-Yamada lineage) and other respected teachers and Zen masters from Japan.
Robert Aitken received permission to teach in 1974, and dharma transmission in 1985 from Yamada Koun Roshi. During the nineteen seventies and eighties, many students found refuge with Roshi and Anne at the Maui Zendo, while Honolulu students continued to practice and live at the Koko An Zendo. Roshi traveled regularly to Australia and other practice centers around the world during these years, and today there are Diamond Sangha centers in North and South America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand founded by students and Aitken Roshi or his dharma heirs.
Aitken Roshi’s “Taking the Path of Zen” helped me find a path to practice that was both accessible and kind. His actions and strivings have benefitted me in more way than I can really express. From his book “Miniatures of a Zen Master”
Old age ain’t no place for sissies. Yes, that’s true. One must cope with a range of afflictions from incontinence to macular degeneration, not to mention peripheral neuropathy, strokes and cancer – and memory loss! Yet I don’t mourn my lost youth. What a confused mess I was! What time I wasted! All in all, I am really quite comfortable in these last years. Pass the marmalade.