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Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi
September 21, 2006 13:31

Who is Genpo Roshi?


Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi is a revolutionary in the true tradition of the old Zen Masters who so completely embodied their heritage that they were able to revitalize and transform it for their day and age. As Buddhism moved from India to China to Japan and other Asian cultures, it found unique expression in each culture that made its fundamental teachings resonate for a new audience. Like earlier pivotal figures in Buddhism’s 2500-year evolution across civilizations, Genpo Roshi is working to transmit the essence of the Buddha’s teachings in a plain language and a non-intimidating, humorous style that can be readily heard and understood by Westerners in a way that makes Zen and Buddhism relevant to our every day lives.

The core of Genpo Roshi’s teaching is the unshakeable and contagious certainty that every one of us, regardless of our socio-economic, cultural or religious background, can attain enlightenment instantly like the great masters of old — like the historical Buddha himself, whose essential teaching was nothing less than this. Awakening to our true nature helps us shed anxiety and fear and learn to live more purposeful, compassionate and joyful lives. Roshi’s amazingly simple style of teaching, melding the ancient wisdom of Zen tradition with the insights of such visionary western figures as Carl Jung, Fritz Perls, and Hal Stone, has transformed western Zen teaching. Bringing the insights of Western psychology to play in his teaching methods, yet reaffirming this essential insight of Buddha’s enlightenment, Roshi has enabled thousands of people throughout the western world to experience enlightenment themselves in a way never before thought possible.

Dennis Genpo Merzel comes from a long line of Rebbes. Born in Brooklyn NY, he grew up in Southern California where he was a high school champion swimmer and All-American water polo player. Captain of his junior college team which went undefeated in 1963 against all the great four year universities, he won a gold medal as a member of the American water polo team at the 1965 Maccabean Games in Israel. He earned a Masters degree in education from the University of Southern California and was a teacher and lifeguard before ordaining as a Zen monk under the great Japanese Zen Master Taizan Maezumi in 1973. Completing formal Koan study in 1979 he became Maezumi Roshi’s second Dharma Successor in 1980, the first being the brilliant Bernie Tetsugen Glassman. He received Inka (final seal of approval as Zen Master) from Roshi Glassman in 1996, thereby becoming one of a small group of Westerners recognized as lineage holders in both the Soto and Rinzai Zen traditions.

In 1982, Genpo Sensei began teaching throughout Europe and founded the international group he named the Kanzeon (Love and Compassion) Sangha, centered in Salt Lake City, Utah, with affiliates in France, The Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Germany, England, and Malta. He has six Dharma Successors: Catherine Genno Pages, John Shodo Flatt, Anton Tenkei Coppens, Malgosia Jiho Braunek, Daniel Doen Silberberg, Nico Sojun Tydeman. He has given Inka to three Zen teachers: John Daido Loori, Catherine Genno Pages and Anton Tenkei Coppens. He is also the President of the White Plum Asanga, the worldwide community which comprises all the Dharma heirs of Taizan Maezumi Roshi, their successors, and the many groups they lead.

Roshi is the author of four books, The Eye Never Sleeps, Beyond Sanity and Madness, 24/7 Dharma, and The Path of The Human Being, and several DVDs. He is married to Stephanie Young Merzel, co-administrator of Kanzeon Zen Center International, and has two children, Tai Merzel, an aerospace engineer and graduate student at the University of Southern California, and Nicole Merzel, a mathematics major at the University of Puget Sound.

Kanzeon Zen Center Retreats

Kanzeon offers a variety of retreats and workshops led by Genpo Roshi and his senior students. For more information follw the links below:

Kanzeon Workshops
Kanzeon Retreats


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