Hohm Press

Translated (from the French) by Richard Collins
Foreword by Reiryu Philippe Coupey

A story of bravery and false starts, Autobiography of a Zen Monk candidly recounts Deshimaru’s development from a typical, although highly mischievous, Japanese boy into a world-renowned sensei (teacher) of Zen. Adventures and crises abound: with stories about alcohol and women during his student years, and with his activities during World War II in working for the arms industry in Malaysia, where he was sympathetic to the underground freedom movement.

This first English-language translation of Taisen Deshimaru’s autobiography will enlighten many people all over the world who have been influenced by his Zen teachings, especially his notable book on Zen and the martial arts. Furthermore, this memoir fills an important gap in our knowledge of Kodo Sawaki’s influence on the world of Zen and serves as a fitting follow-up to Hohm Press’s offering in Fall 2021: TO YOU: Zen Sayings of Kodo Sawaki. The story of how Deshimaru met Sawaki as a boy, and later received monastic ordination after several years of importuning him, is the story of a lifelong friendship of two extraordinary characters in the history of modern Zen. Additional interest extends to historians who will find a fascinating story of his involvement in World War II, including his internment in a prison camp.

Translator Richard Collins, a longtime Zen practitioner, and currently the Abbot of the New Orleans Zen Temple, is a literature scholar and author of several books including No Fear Zen, Hohm Press, 2014. His knowledge of the subject matter and his finesse with language combine to make this book a delightful read for those who appreciate an inspiring and well-written memoir

“Superbly translated. . . tale of a bodhisattva who achieves enlightenment but stays in the world to help people.”
—Jay Martin. Edward S. Gould Professor of Humanities and Government at
Claremont McKenna College; author Journey to Heavenly Mountain.


Autobiography of a Zen Monk