Turning the Dharma Wheel: Great Vow Resident’s Update


In March we had about 25 residents, we currently have 19 residents, with a few planning to leave at the end of the Summer. We will say good bye to Dharma Holders Soten and Shinei, who are finishing their priest commitment, getting married and beginning a new chapter in their lives of practice together. You can follow them here: https://walkingtogetherblog.tumblr.com/

Over the past few years Soten and Shinei have been leading Backpacking Wilderness Sesshin, which they will offer twice this year. Soten has been the Work Leader and Music Director at Great Vow, composing new melodies to our chants and writing some of his own songs. Soten has a deep love of zazen, is a natural leader and ultra marathon runner, he has a strength in inspiring people to realize themselves beyond their perceived limits.

Shinei has brought body practice and a love of embodiment to practice at Great Vow. Her many skills continue to rejuvenate the monastery garden, grounds and zen works. This year she planted we will be harvest thousands of pounds of potatoes and squash, as well as dry beans, carrots, rutabaga, beets, greens, green beans and corn thanks to her enthusiastic gardening skills! Shinei embodies both joyful, loving kindness and clear wisdom, she has a natural gift for teaching and has facilitated the Astoria Meditation Class for five years.

Jogen Sensei moved back to Portland OR to pursue studies and is beginning a Integrated Awareness Facilitation practice bringing together his skills in Voice Dialogue and meditation.  Find out what he’s up to here: https://www.solisluna.org 

He continues to lead ZCO retreats and sesshins online. You can tune into his weekly Meditation Gatherings every Wednesday at 7PM on Zoom. Jogen has been working hard to launch our much anticipated new website, and here it is!

Kisei Zenkan Sensei received Dharma Transmission at the beginning of July. She has begun offering sanzen and continues to co-lead retreats here at Great Vow. She is currently the Director of Training, President of the Board and is collaborating with Sangha leaders to bring conversations around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to our community. Kisei leads meditation on Zoom every Thursday evening at 7PM focused on the Awakening Poems of the Women Ancestors.

Kennyo is in his third year of ordination training. He has been working to bring conversations around institutionalized racism and systemic oppression to the monastery. He helped design our Black Lives Matter vigils and memorials and is working to create a living memorial in the Jizo Garden that recognizes the Indigenous Peoples who lived on this land. Kennyo has been instrumental in keeping our Zoom meetings organized and is one of the Caretakers of the Garden. Kenny supports the Longview Meditation Group weekly on zoom.

Myoyu is currently the Shuso and ZenWorks Store Manager. She will be taking on the position of Work Leader when Soten leaves. Myoyu has been developing her woodworking skills during our time in cloister. She is now selling made to order altar stands in Zenworks. Check out our website for more details!! Myoyu is also offering yoga teaching during retreats and during our Summer Practice Period.

Onshin is working as the Bookkeeper and Registrar. Onshin is a diligent practitioner and steady presence at the monastery. He began officiating morning service and is assisting Bansho with Metta/Compassion practice on Friday nights on Zoom. His enthusiastic perseverance has helped the community continue to put together a 3000 piece puzzle!

Kosho is the current tenzo/head cook. She has the interesting position of being cook in the time of COVID. One of the only members of the community to regularly leave the monastery, she has been sanitizing our groceries and keeping the community healthy, well fed and appreciative. Kosho is leading Meditation Instruction on Sunday mornings through Zoom. 

Shokan requested ordination at the beginning of our cloister and is currently sewing their robes. Shokan is the magician behind all of our online retreats and events. It seems there is nothing that can stand in their way of delivering Dharma practice through time and space! Shokan is assisting Hogen on Saturday nights with the Zoom Sutra Class.

Gensei requested postulancy, our pre-ordination trial period, a few months ago. He is in a period of discernment about ordination vows and commitment to this community. An avid meditator and outdoors person, Gensei has been organizing short day trips for residents to explore our local rivers on kayak and canoe.

Soshin is actively contemplating ordination as well. Soshin received Jukai from Maezumi Roshi when he was living at Zen Mountain Monastery in the 80’s. He has been practicing ever since and recently felt a pull back into monastic life. Soshin has trained in flower arrangement and recently taught a class for the residents. 

Hosen is finishing up his year of residency and plans to move back to Arizona and take on a teaching position. He has been the Housekeeper and Bread Baker this past year and the residential Sangha has benefitted greatly from his faith in practice and the depth of his vows.

Lucia has been at Great Vow for nine months. Originally from Mexico City, she graduated from Reed College in 2019 and then began full-time residential practice. She is the Tenzo’s assistant. Lucia has a deep passion for the Truth and her insight and vitality continue to energize the monastery.

Allie left Florida for the first time to come out West and join Great Vow for own Autumn Ango in 2019. She is the main sewer in ZenWorks and is beginning to help Shokan more with the audio/tech. side of our retreats. Allie took the precepts last month and is now working on Jukai.

Ry is a licensed psychologist and professor who has a deep mystical heart. He is a professional marimba player. Ry has been working mainly in the kitchen and is in discernment about his longterm plans.

Rachel is the first resident to join us since we entered cloister. She spent two weeks in quarantine and then dove right in. Rachel is a licensed acupuncturist. She has been one of the main gardeners since she arrived. Rachel has a deep affinity with Buddhist practice and has been meditating for almost 20 years.

Chozen and Hogen Roshi continue to teach and guide us. Chozen is busy in the garden planting a colorful array of flowers. Chozen Roshi is the main sanzen teacher for the ordained. Hogen Roshi has taken to the online scene. He is recording videos, teaching three nights a week on zoom and now offering office hours on zoom. He is also leading lunch discussions at the monastery twice a week on the topic of the monastic life/path.

Lama Lekshe is our resident Lama. She teaches formally only occasionally but is constantly teaching us with her presence and devotion to practice. A friend of Chozen and Hogen, Lekshe has made herself available to the residents as a mentor and spiritual friend and to the Sangha as a consultant.

We are beginning to take new residents for our Autumn training program. All in coming residents will need to do a two week period of quarantine in our retreat hut before entering the monastery. If you are interested in residency please contact the director of training, training@zendust.org

If you are interested in supporting our monastics financially, adopt a monk! Read more below.

Your financial support will help us continue to keep our monastics in quarantine healthy, well fed and cared for — while the monastery stays closed.

You can sponsor a monastic for $500/month —which covers our normal monthly training fee, (food, lodging, medical care, education, etc.). We figured it costs about $5/day to feed one person, so for $150/month you can feed a monastic! Smaller offerings will also help consider $50/month, $20/month or even $10/month. One time donations are of course appreciated. Sponsor one month of residential practice by donating $500 today. Sponsor one resident’s meals by donating $150. 

Your financial commitment will help us weather these times of decreased income until we can re-open. I know you care about the people who keep the Dharma Wheel turning in this world, and at Great Vow. Our practice is more important than ever. Thank you for supporting us and our beloved monastics during this time.