June 2017 Sun Buddha Sesshin

June 21, 2017 @ 7:00 PM – June 25, 2017 @ 9:00 AM
Grand Rapids
Members, $160.00; Non-Members $240


June 21st is the date that marks the summer solstice, that time of year when the number of hours of daylight are at their greatest. In acknowledgement of this astronomical event, the Great Wave Zen Sangha is pleased to announce the 2017 Sun Buddha Sesshin. This retreat will take place from Wednesday, June 21, at 7:00 PM through Sunday, June 25, at 9:00 AM, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Image of the Sun Buddha
In traditional Buddhist cosmology, Vairochana Buddha, AKA the “Sun Buddha,” resides at the center of the universe of the Five Buddha Families.  He dispels the darkness of ignorance and radiates the brilliant, white light of awakening.

This sesshin will provide participants a perfect opportunity to deepen their practice through extended periods of meditation, Dharma talks, private instruction with Gendo Sensei, oryoki meals, and scripture recitation. In addition, Ango-Entering and Fusatsu ceremonies will be conducted. The cost of sesshin also includes all meals.

Driving directions to our retreat location, as well as other details of the retreat, are available for all participants—simply login at https://greatwave.org/, complete our Event Registration Form, and pay the sesshin fee.

Please note that seating and on-site accommodations are limited.  You are therefore advised to register early.

We look forward to practicing with you!

Golden Wind Zazenkai, Oct. 22-23, 2016

Walkers in the park with falling leaves
Walkers in the park with falling leaves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A monk asked Yun Men, “How is it when the tree withers and the leaves fall?”
Yun Men said, “Body exposed in the golden wind.”

Yun Men did not stir a hairsbreadth, but just said to him, “Body exposed in the golden wind.” He answered most wondrously, and without presuming to turn his back on the monk’s question either. Since his question had eyes, Yun Men’s answer too was straight to the point. An ancient said, “If you want to attain Intimacy, don’t ask with a question.” If you really know someone, you know what he’s getting at as soon as he mentions it.

–from Case 27, Heikiganroku

To understand the fundamental point of the foregoing koan, you must practice with diligence. Thus, Great Wave Zen Sangha invites you to participate in an autumn extended zazenkai. This retreat will take place from 7:00 PM, October 22, 2016, until 5:00 PM, October 23, 2016.  It will provide a perfect opportunity to cultivate the deep practice of zazen, hear a Dharma talk, receive private instruction from Gendo Sensei, and participate in service ceremonies. As always, everyone who has received an orientation, regardless of experience, is welcome to participate.

To access driving directions, as well as other details of the retreat, please register for this event by using our extended zazenkai registration form.

We look forward to practicing with you!


Gendo Sensei to Read From His New Book, Oct. 12, 2016

West Shore Community College has announced that Gendo Sensei will read from his new book, The Driftwood Shrine: Discovering Zen in American Poetry, at 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 12, in the Administrative and Conference Building Café of West Shore Community College, in Scottville, Michigan.

All members and friends of the Great Wave Zen Sangha are cordially invited to attend.

John Gendo Wolff, Sensei, 2015 (Photo by Jessamyn Wolff)
John Gendo Wolff, Sensei, 2015 (Photo by Jessamyn Wolff)

Gendo Sensei is a college professor of writing and literature with numerous publications of poetry and essays. “My life is characterized by some seemingly long, intertwined vines of contrasting, if not competing, interests and activities. These include my enduring love of writing of all kinds, but especially of poetry; my firm commitment to the transformational power of education; the curiously creative and powerful ability of contemporary technology to stimulate and amplify our teaching and learning; and my now 30-year commitment to Zen practice,” says Sensei.

Gendo Sensei’s reading will be followed by a question and answer session. Copies of the book will be available for those who would like to purchase a signed copy. The book may also be purchased at most online retailers and in Ludington bookstores. For more information and to read excerpts from the book, please see The Driftwood Shrine blog.

Sumeru Books Press Release for The Driftwood Shrine

Representing a new approach to the West’s evolving understanding of Buddhism, The Driftwood Shrine: Discovering Zen in American Poetry is the first collection of Zen teachings to be based on the poems of great American writers. In reassuring, forthright, and often surprising language, Gendo Sensei explains how Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, H.D., Richard Wright, and many other poets enshrined the gentle light of the Buddha’s teaching in their work.

Cover of The Driftwood Shrine
The Driftwood Shrine: Discovering Zen in American Poetry, (Sumeru Books, 2016. ISBN 978-1-896559-28-5).ISBN barcode

Poetry lovers and Zen practitioners alike will find themselves moved toward a penetrating awareness of the realms of spiritual resolve, impermanence, desire, faith, and awakening.

“Through a two way mirror, American poetry and Zen mutually illuminate in this wise telling of the human story of awakening, rendered warm, intimate and authentic in its glimpses of the author’s own struggle and journey. Gendo Sensei holds nothing back in this compelling invitation to come face-to-face with ourselves through a fresh look at some of our most beloved master poets.”

—Susan Myoyu Andersen, Roshi,
abbot Great Plains Zen Center

“Rather than treating Zen as an exotic import from the East, this wonderful series of meditations discerns and extracts its essence from the heart of American poetry.”

Stephen Batchelor,
author of
After Buddhism

“I was deeply moved by this book. This is something subtle and beautiful, brought to us by a wise and generous teacher. Here the heart of the Zen way is fully revealed as we read some of the great poetry of the West.”

James Ishmael Ford, Roshi,
author of
If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break

“An eloquent, insightful and intriguingly personal account of the flourishing of the Zen mind in American writing, starting long before the word and the practice were known here, down through the glory days of the Beat Generation. The author finds in close readings of many poems some of the brilliance, humor and glad perplexity of the koan.”

Robert Kelly,
author of In Time


Invitation to Aug. 8, 10, and 12 Dharma Talks

John Gendo Wolff, Sensei
John Gendo Wolff, Sensei

Greetings, friends and members of Great Wave Zen Sangha.

As you may know, I will be leading a 7-day retreat in August.  During that week, I will deliver two Dharma talks and facilitate one group discussion.  All three events are free and open to the public, and there is no need to have had previous experience in Zen.  I sincerely hope you will consider attending.  As space is limited, we must, unfortunately limit attendance, so, at your option, you may wish to reserve a seat by sending an email to contact@greatwave.org.

The events will take place on Monday, August 8th, Wednesday, August 10th, and Friday, August 12th, from 10:40 AM to about 11:40 AM.  Because these events take place within the context of our retreat schedule, we ask that you arrive punctually at 10:30 AM.  This will give us time to get you comfortably seated.

You can find driving directions to our retreat location here.  (If the link is not working, please copy-and-paste this URL into your browser’s address window: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?amp%3Busp=sharing&mid=1BvILMEhsThkyBbn_JoTs2FcMpxs)

Please feel free to forward this information to anyone else who may interested.

I look forward to seeing you.

In Gassho,
Gendo Sensei




Register Soon for 2016 7-Day Sesshin!

Great Wave Zen Sangha is pleased to announce its 2016 7-day sesshin!  This retreat will take place from Sunday, August 7, at 7:00 PM through Saturday, August, 13, at 11:00 AM.  As well as providing a perfect opportunity to take your practice to a very deep level through meditation, Dharma talks, private instruction with Gendo Sensei, oryoki meals, and scripture recitation, this sesshin will offer a special opportunity to honor the lives of lost loved ones through the Gate of Sweet Nectar, or Kanroman, ceremony.  The Kanroman is a very moving and musically beautiful ceremony, replete with hundreds of candles that light the way of our memories.

At the end of the Obon festival in Matsue, Japan, paper lanterns are place on Lake Shinji, symbolizing the departure of ancestor spirits to the other world.
At the end of the Obon festival in Matsue, Japan, paper lanterns are placed on Lake Shinji, symbolizing the departure of ancestor spirits to the other world. Great Wave will perform a similar ceremony during its August sesshin.  (Photo by James Alexander Jack)

In addition to the Kanroman, we will also be holding a Jukai ceremony on Saturday morning, August 13.  During Jukai, one receives and vows to maintain the 16 Bodhisattva precepts.  This ceremony essentially marks one’s formal commitment to the Zen Buddhist path.  (If you are, or have been, seriously considering your own commitment to the path, please discuss this with Gendo Sensei.)

As always, everyone, regardless of experience, is welcome.  Driving directions to our location in Hamlin Township as well as other details of the retreat are available for all participants–simply log in and then complete our 7-Day Sesshin Registration Form.

We look forward to practicing with you!

Change in Weekly Meeting Time

Français : Zazen au dojo
Zazen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Great Wave’s weekly meeting time for zazen will change this week.  As of Wednesday, March 2, 2016, our new meeting time will be 5:30 – 6:45 PM, every Wednesday.  We hope to see you soon!

Please note that it’s easy to receive announcements of weather-related closures by creating an account at http://greatwave.org/ or by subscribing to our Facebook or Twitter feeds.