Dokusan at Kyoseikan Dojo, July 17, 2019

For those of you in, or near, Grand Rapids, I will be giving dokusan tomorrow evening during the regular zazen period, 5:30-6:30 PM, at Kyoseikan Dojo (located at the northwest corner of US-131 and Hall St., in Suite B-148). Dokusan is the private interview tradition by which Zen students get individual questions answered and work through practice issues or obstacles with a teacher.  It is an indispensable part of Zen practice.

Note that, because I will be in Grand Rapids tomorrow, the regularly scheduled Wednesday evening zazen at Myogenji in Ludington is canceled.

I hope to see you at Kyoseikan tomorrow!

[avatar user=”roshi” size=”original” align=”left” link=””]John Gendo Wolff, Roshi [/avatar]


New Affilliate Sitting Groups Forming


I wanted to write one more time to those of you who participated in the Zen Fundamentals course this spring to let you know that Great Wave will now be sponsoring a new affiliate sitting group at Kyoseikan Dojo in Grand Rapids.

Kevin Muzo Holohan

Postulant priest Kevin Muzo Holohan will provide informal leadership for this new group.  Meetings will take place on Wednesdays, from 5:30 – 6:45 PM, starting on June 19.

Another delightful outcome of the Zen Fundamentals course is that our Cadillac, Michigan, participants have begun to arrange for a half-day Introduction to Zen workshop, tentatively scheduled to take place on July 7, from 1:00 – 5:00 PM, at the First Congregational Church in Cadillac.  Here too we are hoping that an affiliate sitting group will take shape and continue meeting on a weekly basis.

Volunteer efforts to create and sustain affiliate sitting groups like those at Kyoseikan and in Cadillac go a long way toward helping Great Wave Zen Sangha fulfill its mission to perpetuate the Buddha-dharma.  I’m grateful to all of you for helping to make these things possible.

Of course, it is also important for all of us to sustain the organization through regular dana.  Dana is the first of the six Buddhist paramitas (or “perfections”), a practice of generosity, or giving, that helps us see through our self-clinging.  When dana is directed toward a Zen center such as Great Wave Zen Sangha, then the sangha has the means to offer practice opportunities to everyone who wants them, including those who cannot afford even nominal workshop, retreat, or course fees.

Dana also helps us support our practice by enabling us to purchase necessary office supplies such as paper, printer cartridges, staples, folders, and so on.

And dana is, of course, what enables us to purchase cushions and other meditation and practice supplies that we need to support our practice.  I hope, therefore, that those of you who are chartering and participating in new sitting groups in Grand Rapids and Cadillac will consider becoming members of Great Wave Zen Sangha.

Great Wave currently allows for different membership levels—two are most applicable here: for those of you who have requested (or wish to) that I be your teacher, pledging dana at the “Practicing Members” level is appropriate (and allows for significant discounts on retreat and workshop fees); for others who hope to be coming to one of the new affiliate sitting groups, the appropriate membership level would be “Affiliate Member.”

If you are a student, or are on disability income, or otherwise find regular dana financially difficult, you may want to opt to become a member of GWZS at the “Friendship” level.  (Note: No one will be turned away from GWZS practice opportunities because of a lack of ability to pay.)

To set up regular dana payments, please visit our membership page at

Thank you so much for your practice.

In gassho,

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Fragrant Grasses Zazenkai

Decorative image of grass with the following caption:

One day Chōsa went for a walk. When he retuned to the gate, the head monk said, “Oshō, where have you been strolling?” Chōsa said, “I have come from walking in the hills,” The head monk said, “Where have you been?” Chōsa said, “First I went following the fragrant grasses, and now I have returned in pursuit of the falling blossoms,” The head monk said, “You are full of the spring.” Chōsa said, “Better than the autumn dews falling on the lotus leaves.”

—Case 36, Blue Cliff Record (Sekida, trans.)

To practice Zen is to return to your true home. It is also to appreciate your life, just as it is.

We hope, therefore, that you will follow in Zen master Chōsa’s footsteps and join us at Kyoseikan Dojo in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the Fragrant Grasses Zazenkai. This retreat will take place on Sunday, June 9, 2019, from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Practitioners of all levels of experience are encouraged to attend this day that will be rich with opportunities for meditation, scripture recitation, teisho, and dokusan with Gendo Roshi. A vegetarian lunch will be included.

To participate, please complete our Event Registration Form by no later than June 5. Your timely registration and payment allow us to plan a menu and make other arrangements.

We look forward to practicing with you!

In Gassho,
Gendo Roshi

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Finding the Way of Reality

Dear Friends of Great Wave Zen Sangha,

If you’re like me, you are probably both numbed and shocked by world events—from the breakdown of civility in our culture to the UN’s recent prediction of the extinction of one million plants and animals in the next twenty years.  On a more personal level, you may, like most Americans, feel overworked and stressed out.  These are uncertain, volatile times.

It was under similar conditions that Zen grew to ascendency in ancient China.  It presented a life-path originally formulated by Shakyamuni Buddha, a way of being at peace in an unstable world.  It is a path that does not depend on escapism or denial but penetrates into the enduring root, or the source, of reality.  Serenity with engagement, peace of mind within daily life—this is what the Zen tradition offers, and it is why I’m appealing to you to register today for Great Wave’s brand new Zen Fundamentals course.

Image of an enso, or Zen calligraphic circle.
The Zen Circle (Copyright © John Gendo Wolff, Roshi, 2015 Onwards).

The Zen Fundamentals course will take place at Kyoseikan Dojo, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on four consecutive Sundays, starting May 12,  2019.  (Details can be found here.) I and a senior student will provide instruction in breathing meditation, Buddhist scripture and ceremony, Zen ethical precepts, and the student-teacher relationship.  Discussion, refreshments, print materials, and a class certificate will be offered.  Once you have completed the course, you’ll be in a position to go deep with Zen practice and to settle for yourself the “great matter of life and death.”

Seating for the Zen Fundamentals course is becoming increasingly limited, so please complete the Event Registration Form as soon as possible, preferably today or tomorrow.

I look forward to practicing the Way of Reality with all of you.

In Gassho,
Gendo Roshi




Zen Fundamentals Course Offered in Grand Rapids

Image of the Buddha Family Mandala. (Image by Aloka. Originally published at The Buddhist Center.)
Buddha Family Mandala. (Image by Aloka. Originally published at The Buddhist Centre.)

What is Zen?  What is meditation all about?  The answers to these and other questions about the Zen Buddhist tradition will be answered in a four-part introductory course, which will take place at Kyoseikan Dojo, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on four consecutive Sundays, starting May 12, 2019, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

Participants will receive instruction in the fundamentals of Zen practice, including breathing meditation, an introduction to Buddhist scripture and ceremony, the central importance of the Buddhist precepts, and the student-teacher relationship. Discussion, refreshments, print materials, and a class certificate will be offered.  Most sessions will be led by Rev. John Gendo Wolff, Roshi, resident teacher at Great Wave Zen Sangha.

As a culminating event, a traditional zazenkai (one-day retreat) will be offered at Kyoseikan Dojo on Sunday, June 9. (Please register for the zazenkai separately by visiting our Events Calendar where you can find more information about this retreat.)

Seating for the Zen Fundamentals course is limited.  Please complete the online Event Registration Form by no later than May 8.

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