Through the process of Dharma transmission—Mind flowing into Mind down the ages in an unbroken stream—Zen’s lineage can be traced through a long line of masters and disciples back to the historical Buddha.
On May 21, 2008, at Seattle’s University Friends (Quaker) Meeting House, Eido Shimano Roshi passed his staff to Genjo Marinello Osho, signifying such a transmission, known in Japanese as Inka. Eido Roshi is the abbot of the New York City zendo Shobo-Ji and the Dai Bosatsu Kongo-Ji monastery in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. Genjo Marinello Osho is abbot of Dai Bai Zan Chobo-Ji zendo on Capitol Hill in Seattle.
The ancient process of Inka has now swept Genjo Osho into its mysterious current. In his Rinzai-Hakuin Zenji Dharma Line, he becomes the eighty-third generation after Shakyamuni—who held up a flower and affirmed the smiling Maha Kashyapa as his Dharma Heir.
Among the dignitaries present to witness the transmission ceremony were Genki Takabayashi Roshi (Genjo Marinello’s ordination teacher and founding abbot of Chobo-Ji); Roko Sherry Chayat Ni-Osho, abbess of the Zen Center of Syracuse Hoen-Ji and Dharma Heir of Eido Roshi; and Meido Moore Roshi from Chicago, IL. Zen teachers from the Pacific Northwest included Eido Frances Carney Roshi of the Olympia Zen Center, Chozen Bays Roshi and Hogen Bays of Great Vow Monastery in Oregon, and the Ven. Shen-Ling Rossi of Dragon Flower Ch’an Temple in Tacoma. Another honored guest was Urasenke Japanese Tea Instructor, Bonnie Soshin Mitchell Sensei.
Ninety guests arrived for the ceremony. Shakuhachi music from Hanz Araki drew all into a state of quiet and the entrance of Eido Roshi and Genki Roshi opened the service. Four of Genjo Osho’s Dharma peers entered to serve as the initial four gates or barriers through which Genjo had to pass. Finally, Genjo Osho entered the room dressed in the simple robes of an unsui (monk) with the broad-rimmed round bamboo hat of a traveling monk in hand. Genjo was challenged by each of the six gatekeepers (the four peers, Genki Roshi and Eido Roshi). At each gate, a question was put to him. Each time the gatekeeper was satisfied and responded with a resounding “OK!” Once the six gates were passed, a ceremonial staff was stamped forcefully on the floor by Eido Shimano Roshi and passed to Genjo Osho as the symbol of the transmission.
Genjo Osho retired briefly and returned wearing new robes to deliver the following incense poem:
The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are all empty.
What is there to treasure?
There is nothing to attain.
What can be transmitted?
Body and Mind are set free.
Nothing to do but listen to the thunder
And follow the wind.
Roko Ni-Osho, Genki Roshi and Eido Roshi spoke, reflecting on the significance of this transmission and the new responsibilities of Genjo Osho as he carries into the future the lineage of Hakuin, Rinzai, Bodhidharma, and Gautama Buddha.
In her talk, Roko Ni-Osho reminded us all that this ceremony was truly a matter of trust. "I trust you, Genjo Osho," she concluded, the power in her words resounding through all who heard.
Genki Roshi said, "A day such as this is as rare and precious as finding a small diamond in a vast ocean. No yesterday! No today! No tomorrow! Just right now—strong Dharma!!!"
Eido Roshi spoke eloquently on the Rinzai lineage and the lineages of Soen Nakagawa Roshi and Nyogen Senzaki, which he carries through formal and informal transmission. Carrying these lineages forward into the future in their purest and strongest form is a deep responsibility. He expressed his confidence in Genjo Osho to do this in partnership with him.
Genjo Osho presented "Tozan’s Masagin," Case 18 of the Gateless Gate, and gave his first teisho (formal Zen discourse) as a Dharma heir. The teisho was rich with grateful remembrances of connections, support, challenges and love of many friends, family and teachers. "Without each stitch of this seamless fabric, meeting each person when I did and how I did, we would not be here together today."
Genjo Osho recounted in personal stories from his life the steps which led him to his vocation and maturation as a Buddhist monk. He said his first Zen teachers (Dr. Glenn Kangan Webb and Hirano Osho-san) opened his eyes. Genki Roshi and others showed him how to walk (bow, cook, clean, i.e. "Everyday open hearted activity is the Tao"). He spoke of Eido Roshi as his running coach. At one point Genjo Osho removed his glasses and said, "The opportunity to study with Eido Roshi has been like putting on my glasses after going without. Everything is so much clearer, sharper and transparent."
From both his biological father and Dharma father, Genjo received a do-or-die spirit that has helped him pass through and "digest" the challenges of life. He reported that combusting entanglements has steadily freed him to be a more caring human being.
To conclude the ceremony, everyone chanted the Four Great Bodhisattva Vows.
Contributor: Sally Metcalf
Photos: John Green