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.
But he looked at me and he said, You look so happy. He said, What happened? I’ve tried all my life to make you happy. You look so happy. What happened? I said, I have never felt so peaceful and happy and content in my entire life and it’s not a result of anything outside of me. It’s a result of of working deeply within myself and meditating.
And so it’s fit well with my traditional, the way I had been before I found Buddhism, which was as an agnostic or atheist. So this there wasn’t any conflict between those different philosophies of life. The other part of Buddhism that I was extremely attracted to is that it was besides the fact that it gave you a pathway, a curriculum, it was very laid out to achieve this wisdom and this peace that comes from that.