Guo Yuan Fashi is a Buddhist monk trained in Chan Buddhism. In 1985 he first encountered Master Sheng Yen’s teachings while attending a seven-day retreat in New York. He then decided to become a disciple before finally leaving his job in Toronto, Canada, to become a monk in the Chan tradition. He was ordained in 1987 in Taiwan. For over twenty years, he accompanied and became translator to Master Sheng Yen in various Chan meditation retreats in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and Mexico.
Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi is abbot of the Zen Studies Society’s mountain monastery, Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji, and New York City temple, New York Zendo Shobo-ji, and is also abbot of the Zen Center of Syracuse Hoen-ji in Syracuse, NY.
I’m the Buddhist chaplain at Syracuse University. Which is an amazing thing for me, because I came here as a student when I was 18, and this is where I learned about Buddhism and got interested in Buddhism. And then to come back much later in my life after I retired from a job teaching in the city schools here to to return to the very place that I used to hang out all the time.
And I met Allen Ginsberg there, and I met the Grateful Dead. Allen Ginsberg and, you know, Gregory Corso and he Wolfman a Bob Dylan. I just hung out there and Allen Ginsberg came up to me one day and he said, Do you look like you could try some meditation like Merton? And I said, Oh, okay. And so he brought me to a little room and there were other people there. And he said, You know, you just sit and breathe.
So my my spiritual journey, I started the Salt Lake Buddhist Fellowship about almost nine years ago after reading a book called River of Fire River of Water. And it was interesting because I had picked up the book off of the used bookshelf many times before. It had put it down, put it down, put it down. And then one day it just picked it up and read it. And it was pretty transformative, even though I didn’t I even though I didn’t buy everything in the book, like hook, line and sinker and like, Oh, this is Nirvana and this is what I wanted.
I would go to bookstores and actually the first book a guy recommended to me was, um, Sex, Spirituality and Ecology by Ken Wilber. And it's a thick, rough going read, right? But I dove into it and it just kind of really opened me up and I thought, okay, I'm going to go further. And I started reading other stuff of his and of course he talks about Buddhism and the relative and the absolute and, you know, these kind of things in there. And one thing led to another. I picked up a book by showing him Trungpa, uh, spiritual materialism, I think it was. And I read two or three of his others, uh, and then I found a book by Sylvia and became the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, and which is written in even more plain English than Trump was even.
And I was known for talking people down from bad trips and things of that nature. And he said, Oh, I don’t do that anymore. I just do Zen. Okay, well, that’s interesting. What’s that all about? And so I said, Well, I’m going this weekend. Why don’t you come with me? So that weekend I went with him to the temple on Halsted Street near Fullerton, on the North side of Chicago. I met Matsuoka Roshi, who became my teacher, so I sort of backed into that. Like everything else, I think I’d read maybe a book on Zen or to not not much.
And that's when I said, I need a break. It is a flier with one of the reverend's doing a retreat at the one Dharma Center, which is like four hours from here in upstate New York. That is my beginning of real, you know, waking up to ways of really cultivating myself under this long spiel. But now that's by way of introduction.