On Saturday, October 8, 2011, the members of Seattle’s Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Ji sangha held an Opening Ceremony for their new Residential and Practice Center with approximately 100 sangha members, friends and neighbors in attendance at the new Zendo. Chobo-Ji is a Rinzai Zen temple under the direction of Genjo Marinello Osho. Located in what was formerly an apartment building in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, the center now is able to offer practice and living space for residential students as well as non-resident members of the sangha.
The dedication ceremony began with Rev. Genchoku Johnson playing the shakuhachi (Japanese flute), followed by Charlie Taishin Blackman playing the Makah drum. Following a traditional incense poem, the group chanted sutras.
Genjo Marinello Osho made opening remarks emphasizing the need to be good caretakers of the land as the First Peoples learned to be. Thanks were given to the earth, heavens and wildlife, especially salmon – the harvest and processing of which provided major funding for Chobo-Ji’s new center through the generosity of one of its members. Carolyn Josen Stevens spoke words of gratitude on behalf of all of the Chobo-Ji community for the many people who gave generously of their funds and their time to create the center.
Genko Blackman ni-Osho and Rev. Genchoku offered ceremonial tea at the main altar. Unable to attend in person, Chobo-Ji’s founding abbot, Genki Takabayashi Roshi, sent a recorded message urging sangha members to “Practice, practice, practice!”
Genjo Osho’s concluding remarks thanked the many who were not mentioned by name but who also made invaluable contributions of one kind or another. Though the center’s practice space is new, it feels old, he said, because of the many years of practice, training and experienced execution that have gone into creating it.
After the ceremony many stayed for a potluck lunch. As usual at Chobo-Ji there was much good food and fellowship over the meal. Joining the celebration was John Daijo Lowrance, one of the center’s Dharma Angels who made its expansion possible. Later an Open House was held where friends and neighbors could tour the space.
Chobo-Ji began in 1978, when Genki Takabayashi Roshi arrived in Seattle at the invitation of Dr. Glenn Webb, professor of art history at the University of Washington (see article this issue), to become a resident teacher. By 1983 Genki Roshi had formalized his teaching style around a small group of students and founded Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Ji (“Great Plum Mountain Listening to the Dharma Zen Temple”). Genki Roshi trained for nearly 20 years at Daitoku-Ji, one of the major Rinzai Zen training monasteries in Kyoto, Japan. Before coming to the United States he also directed a Rinzai Zen temple in Kamakura, Japan.
For more information about the Chobo-Ji practice center and programs, please visit: www.choboji.org.
Contributor: Genko Blackman; adapted from Plum Mountain News,
vol. 18.3, Autumn 2011.
Photos: Courtesy of Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Ji.