Spring Samu Sesshin (Free) May 15-17 2015

Our annual Spring Samu (work) Sesshin (retreat) will focus on landscaping our new temple grounds. We have two acres of virgin ground to shape into a peaceful refuge for the students of Blue Mountain Zendo and the community. The sesshin will include morning service, evening service and three meditation blocks daily. The rest of the day is spent working and meditating on the gardens. Spring Sesshin is great for those interested in a more relaxed schedule for existing Zen Students. The retreat is FREE for those who participate in the landscaping efforts. There are all types of activities that need to be addressed, so please, if you have physical limitation, please don’t let that dissuade you from attending.10463839_601105770006561_9222665778453439177_o

Blue Mountain Zendo, Andreas, Pa. Rohatsu Sesshin January 16-23 2015 w/ * Genjo Marinello, Osho

Blue Mountain Zendo, Andreas, Pa. 
Rohatsu Sesshin January 16-23 2015
w/ * Genjo Marinello, Osho


“Sesshin”, literally “to collect the mind”, is the Zen Buddhist seclusion or intensive, consisting of seven days of silent meditative practice, Dharma talks/Teisho, samu (work) practice, and a private interview (Dokusan) three daily with Genjo Marinello, Osho. During Sesshin, the Zen Student concentrates on nothing but collecting the scattered shards of mind, so that they may realize their rightful place within the universe, as the universe. This unifying experience many times feels hidden from us in our daily lives, and as a result, we seek outwardly for what we think we do not have. Insights into our true nature occur many times when we least expect them; walking, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, in art or music, in nature or simply doing nothing. These seemingly random experiences stir within us something deep and ancient. This nature, our nature, permeates the whole universe and is always present, however, there are times when we just do not see it. These quick flashes are the sparks which initiate our Zen Practice, although sadly many fail to explore them any further. The Zen rabbit hole is infinitely deep and for centuries, philosophy and theology have tried to explain it with shallow and fleeting results at best. The awakened mind is beyond word and letter and requires an honest and inward investigation to clarify, not the entanglement of more concepts and crutches. This honest and open readiness is the catalyst from which the restorative process begins, and our rightful places as true men and women of no rank is realized and embodied. Sesshin is a time to dedicate ourselves to the exploration of this great matter, and a time to heal the wounds which have limited our true freedom and happiness.

No partial attendance allowed, approved Zen students. RSVP, space is limited to the first 20 students who reserve a cushion. This event is a welcomed opportunity to do sesshin with Genjo, Osho in an intimate mountain temple located in the scenic Appalachian Mountains. Genjo, Osho visits Pennsylvania, once a year, to spend time with his east coast sangha practitioners who gather at Blue Mountain Zendo, a sister temple located in the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania. Engaged training and movement sessions (Aikido/breath work) will be offered daily by Testa Sensei.

Kokan Genjo Marinello Oshō began his Zen training in 1975 and was ordained as a novice monk,1503443_492621467521659_820981697_n in 1980. From 1981-1982 he trained at Ryutaku-ji in Japan with Sochu Rōshi and Soen Nakagawa Rōshi. Marinello later continued his training with Eido Shimano Rōshi, abbot of Dai Bosatsu Monastery. On May 21, 2008, Marinello received dharma transmission from Eido Shimano Rōshi, in a ceremony also involving his former teacher Takabayashi. Genjo Osho is a licensed psychotherapist, and member of the interfaith coalition.

Ryuun Joriki Baker Osho is an American Zen Buddhist Priest and founder of Blue1890465_10153950265050405_1856771416_o Mountain Zendo. He currently resides at the zendo in Andreas, Pennsylvania which is located 30 miles outside of Allentown.  For over twenty five years, Joriki has formally studied and practiced  Japanese Nichren Soka Gakki,  Soto Zen, and both the Vietnamese and Japanese forms of the Linji Chan. Joriki’s spiritual endeavors culminated on January 1 2001 when he was ordained by Thich Nguyen. Post ordination, Joriki would go on to study for several more years at Dai Bosatsu, a Rinzai monastery in upstate New York. Joriki recommitted his vows in the Japanese Rinzai Hakuin lineage with Genjo Osho and on January 22 2014, Joriki was named Osho (Dharma Teacher). 

Rick Gendo Testa, Sensei is the Chief Instructor (Dojo Cho) of Shoshinkan Dojo holdingRick-Testa1 the rank of Sandan (third degree black belt). He began his study of Aikido at Rhode Island Aikido (Shoshinkan Dojo) in 1998 under the tutelage of Frank Gallo Sensei (Godan Aikido Association of America National test committee member and Eastern Region Director & former Dojo cho of Shoshinkan). In mid-2014 Testa Sensei requested Jukai by Genjo Marinello, Osho and in September 2014, Rick Testa was given the Dharma Name Gendo. Testa Sensei’s new Dharma Name means the
Subtle/Profound Way.

For more information, please call:
Joriki Ryuun Baker, Osho

The heart of the matter.

DSC_0572A few months ago I received an email from the Chief of Police which was sent through the email database for the “Interfaith Coalition”. The letter was an invitation to meet with him to discuss the revival, and the expansion of the Police’s Chaplaincy Program.  As a Zen monk, and a social worker, I was used to dealing with the aftermath of arrests and law enforcement contact, however, as an asset to the arrestee. My time and effort was always geared towards helping men, women and children in crisis situations; for example, crisis intervention, helping homeless families find shelter, transporting men and women to treatment centers, intake and referral as well as the occasional supportive court appearance. To be honest, I had never really given any thought to what it must be like for the police, and how dealings with conflict day after day could affect a person. To be honest, what many of us see via the media makes law enforcement look cold and mechanized, and that was my assumption. Law enforcement in the United States has become jaded, and police officers are many times perceived to be a tool and method of oppression. I am in no way saying that there are not officers who abuse their power, there are, and interestingly enough most law enforcement will admit to this as well. However, maybe our view of law enforcement is limited in scope, and we are missing a vital piece of the puzzle, a piece called “heart”.


After a background check, credentialing and some preliminary police chaplaincy training, at the Police Academy, twelve chaplains were chosen. I think we are down to seven now, which is “par for course” due to clergy being so easily over committed. Soon after our preliminary training, we were fitted for our uniforms. It gets old quickly telling everyone, I am not an officer, I am a chaplain. Our new uniforms easily identify us as chaplains, and now that the community knows what we are, they appear very supportive of the pairing. Our next step was to begin our “ride-a -longs”, in which we are paired with an officer. These are different from the public “ride-a-longs” as we are there to offer a supportive role to both the officer and the community. The liaison for the program soon informs us that we are cleared to begin our “ride a longs”, and I schedule my first one, second shift.

Being ordained for 15 years, I have seen many unsettling things, from suicides to fatal car accidents, however, I had no idea what to expect on my first “ride a long”.  I was fairly confident as a social worker how to interact with many of the men and women I knew we would come into contact with, my steep learning curve was how to interact with the officers. We were instructed to attend “role call” and at that time we would be partnered with an officer. Just sitting in role-call was a lesson, the sergeant sat in front of the room and read the briefs for the day. “Does this stuff really happen here?” I asked myself. Soon after I was greeted by my partner for that shift, a young officer. I guess he ended up with the rookie chaplain as part of his dues. This young officer’s honest enthusiasm about his job immediately put me at ease, and in between calls, I listened to him speak. I soon realized that there was a young man behind that uniform, and that young man was much more ordinary than televisions shows like “cops” portray. He could have been my son or my nephew. He was a young family man, and spoke with excitement and pride when the topic moved to the new additions to his home, and family. He said he didn’t want to know if it was a boy or girl, and I blurted out, “neither did I”. It was during my first ride-along that I deeply realized, these officers are wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, brothers and sister and that their lives and dreams were no different than yours and mine, with the acceptation that on any night, these dreams could come crashing down during something as seemingly mundane as a traffic stop. Yes, those dreaded flashing lights behind you, after you push that yellow light a little too far. For us, this is a “Don’t you have anything better to do” moment, however, for a police officer, there is more to it. He has seen something you probably have not, the aftermath of what happens when you are not so lucky as to squeak through that intersection, and that parent returning home from a hard days work, never gets there.

On my next ride-along I found myself paired with a veteran officer who was also a medic. After that evening’s roll call, I knew I was in for a lesson, literally, the other officers said “You’re in for a lesson” and I could tell my partner, on this evening, was going to be colorful and interesting. This ride along started as the others had, with me asking “What are your rules”, as the police car is basically their office, I always make sure I am mindful and respectful of the officer’s work environment. This interaction also clarifies the officer’s expectations of me during calls. Most officers will have chaplains remain in the rear until the scene has been cleared, and is determined to be safe. At this time, the chaplain may be called “forward” to assist in a supportive role while interacting with the victims, officers or arrestees.  This shift happened to be a weekend night shift, and although I found it to be busy, I was assured by my partner, “it was quiet”. Several of our calls were for intoxicated men, and one of those calls was for a man who was found unconscious in the middle of the road. If not for the police, he surely would have been run over. I find myself standing in the presence of four other officers as they all shake their heads in the horror of what could have happened. Two officers bent down to wake the man up, and even with the mild shouts and nudges, he remained fast asleep. I see the man’s layers, and his two full tote bags and instinctually ask him “Do you have a place to live?”, and I hear a soft reply “everywhere”. It is cold, too cold for someone to be out on the streets, especially someone incapable of even remaining upright.  The officers looked at each other, and then at me, I quickly say “It is way too cold” and my partner replied, “There is no way we can leave him out here”. Another insight hit me at that moment, contrary to popular belief, at least the officers that I have worked with, they are not quick to site or arrest but, weigh the situation, many times bouncing the options off of one another. Sometimes a break is given, and other times it is not. It all depends on the particular call, and also, a very important factor, was the person honest? In this case though, there was no choice. For his own safety, this man had to be arrested and brought to a warm cell to “sleep it off”. The man finally stood up, with a little help from my partner, who also offered assurances to the man that he had nothing wrong, however, he could not stay out in the cold in his condition. Without feeling a need to handcuff the man, he walked him to his waiting wagon. It was via this interaction that I realized these guys have a heart behind that vest, and maybe my own views were shallow and limited to pop media. Arriving at the station, I continue to reassure the homeless man that it was okay, and that we were concerned for him. After he was “booked”, I found myself staying behind to speak with him in the cell block. I ended up speaking to many of the men in the block that night. The cell block was full, and most were intoxicated, just as the gentlemen we brought in. Some were bouncing off the walls, literally, while others were just bedding down to “sleep it off”. None the less, each one them had a story, and I felt myself just listening, this seemed to have an impact on the block, as I was complimented later that night. I listened, I did nothing really at all, however, bearing witness to their lives and stories seemed like something that night.

For a few moments between calls, I did a couple of “walk throughs” with my partner; once another officer joined us. It was a clear, cold night, and other than a young man sitting on his porch precariously, the streets were silent and still. By the moonlight, my partner showed me some of the gang graffiti that riddled the alleyways. He went on to explain the histories of the neighborhoods we strolled through, and he spoke about a recent shootout that had taken place on that very block we stood upon. Did I mention he would stop to feed stray cats throughout center city? Yes, you heard that right, and when he explained to me he had been feeding the strays for some time, I truly felt connected to this guy. He is a big guy, intense, and you certainly would not want to be on his bad side. However, his heart is as intense as the rest of his personality. I listened to story after story after that walk, and thought to myself, “I wish people could see this part of their police officers”, caring and down to earth, your neighbor or brother. “These are good guys and gals with a tough job”, I surmised, and yes, that ticket will never be welcomed, however, if we truly stop to ponder the potential of blowing through that stop sign, or running that red light, maybe we see their actions as corrective, not personal. I digress, let me get back to my ride along. I looked at my watch, the first time all night, and it read 5:30am. I had only intended to stay out until 3am. Before we parted ways, I felt I needed to ask one more question, I asked “How do you deal with so much trauma and conflict on a daily bases, with little to no recognition?” He started to respond, his answer was going to be in the guise of another story. As a chaplain, it is one of my vows, to never disclose anything anyone shares with me, unless they explicitly give me permission. I can tell you that the story involved a young girl, trapped in her car on a highway, and a seeming miracle in which the officer, the one seated next to me, saved two lives that night. This was not the only story I had heard of heroic measures. Each time an officer told me one of his stories, or was prodded by the others around him to do so, I could see the light and hope it generated for all of them. It seemed this was the heart of the uniform, and each one shared a piece of it through their stories, and their dedication.

I had no idea what to expect after committing to become a police chaplain, and I am still piecing that role together to date. I am grateful for the opportunity to be of service to those who have committed their lives to serve and protect others. I can relate in the sense that we both have a jobs in which we give a lot, and rarely receive praise in return. There must be a deep desire to help those in need, and to protect those in harm’s way. I was so moved by the contrast between the media portrayal of law enforcement and my personal experience, that I was compelled to write this story. What I have seen is a brotherhood of men and women who have a complex job, and who are driven by a deep feeling of responsibility to their community. Within this community, you will find their wives, mothers, fathers and friends; and it is with this at heart, that the men and women of the police, wear their badge with both urgency and honor.

Cease and Desist Order “West Penn Township” – Sangha prohibited from meditation and prayer.

Good evening everyone, in relation to our current legal matters with West Penn Township, I would like to extend an invitation to all of you to stand united with us against religious discrimination. As a Zen Monk, and as a spokesman for the sangha, I would like to convey that all we wish to do is exercise our constitutional rights guaranteed by Americans, for Americans to gather peaceably and practice our religion without interference from governmental bodies, while at the same time not interfering with anyone else’s rights. We are good neighbors, and we bother no one. We seek to enrich the neighborhood, not damage or degrade it in anyway. 10509549_611850095598795_7891306121560425589_nWe do not proselytize, nor do we place religious artifacts on the public roadway which may offend other religious traditions. This issue is not a “Zen Buddhist” issue, this is a constitutional rights issue. Our story always gets the same response, “How can they do that? You are in your own home.” , and all I can do is say “I know but, they are.” Slowly our right to practice the religion of our choice is being eroded away and we are being bullied. There are many other religious groups who have small religious gatherings, which meet in private homes, and will never encounter “cease and desist” orders or have to prove that they are not operating a house of worship, this is my zendo and my home. We are asking for the support of the community, both local and national, to attend the November 6th zoning hearing in West Penn Township to stand firm against such discrimination. It would be much easier for us to just give in and move, our nature as Zen Practitioners is to avoid creating suffering and conflict, however, the Blue Mountain Zendo Sangha perceives this as a necessary stand against those who seek to limit religious freedom. We are reaching out to not only the Zen community but, all of our brothers and sisters from other religious traditions and practices to speak with one voice against religious discrimination.

West Penn Township
27 Municipal Rd. New Ringgold, PA 17960
November 6th 2014 7:00pm

Summer Opening Sesshin September 5-7 2014

*Opening 3 day Sesshin at Blue Mountain Zendo
September 5-7  2014

“Sesshin”, literally “to collect the mind”, is the Zen Buddhist seclusion or intensive period, consisting of 3-14 days of silent meditative practice. Included in these periods are daily Zazen, Dharma talks/Teisho (sermons), Samu (work) periods, and private interview/meeting (Dokusan) twice daily with Rev. Joriki Baker, Osho. During Sesshin, the Zen Student concentrates on nothing but collecting the scattered energies of mind, so they may realize their rightful unified place within the universe, as the universe. This unified experience, many times, feels hidden from us in our daily lives, and as a result, we seek outwardly for that which we think we do not have. Insights into our true nature occur many times when we least expect them; walking in silence, sharing moments in life with family and friends, the death of a loved one, engaging art or music, or simply being still and doing nothing. These seemingly random experiences stir within us something systemic to our very being, something which envelopes us without a trace. This nature, our true nature, is the universe itself. This interconnection is always present, however, we are blinded by the ego habitually, and most of the time we just do not see/feel it. When we do experience the bursts of awakened unity, these quick flashes and sparks stoke the flames of our inner light, deep within our core we burn brighter and brighter, although sadly, for many these flames are left unattended and soon grow cold once again. For those few men and women who nurture and tend to the coals burning deep within, their potential is infinitely deep. For centuries, philosophy and theology have tried to explain this process, and their attempts at definition are intrinsically shallow and hollow at best. The awakened mind is beyond word and letter and requires not heroic means but, a simple and honest approach towards living life fully, and embracing the transition of death when it comes time to shed this form.This honest and open readiness is the catalyst from which the restorative process begins, and our rightful place as true men and women of no rank is realized and embodied. Sesshin is a time to dedicate ourselves to the exploration of this great matter, and a time to heal the scars which have long limited our true freedom and happiness in this life and beyond. We hope you will come and explore with us, as we support each other in our happiness, doubt, in this most noblest of endeavors.


Obon 2014

obon3Obon, at Blue Mountain Zendo, is Saturday August 10 2014 from 6-9:30 pm and we are preparing for a wondrous evening of family and celebration. Obon is an opportunity to take a backward step and celebrate life with our family and friends, bo…th living and deceased. With the rush of our daily lives, and our habitual pursuits, we loose our connection and grounding with those whose who have given our lives its shape. There appears to be a forward only direction when perceiving time in the west, and what is viewed as in the past, is forgotten and given little significance other than a passing cue and ensuing memory. Time is not so linear, within the present is both the past and future working within a beautiful synergy to create what is THIS. They reside within one another, and although we separate them, and draw clear lines between them, this is of no significance to anything but, ourselves. The mind can resurrect worlds of ash and summon things to come at the turning of word or the sway of a willow. During Obon we suspend linear time and invite the spirits to once again walk within our world and partake of food and drink through our presence. we light the temple bonfire call their names to help the spirits find us.

and IMG_6639 We also offer those stray spirits who have no one to call their names rice and water to honor and care for them. Our ancestors then visit with us and enjoy the food, drink and music that is offered in their honor. Through us, they once again return and remind us of their presence; in our lives, guiding our hand, in every exhalation and inhalation they sit in shadow, hidden by our linear mind. At the close of Obon, it is time for the spirits to return to their place, and they are sent off with silence and deep gratitude. In their rightful place, our ancestors are now content and live on as a part of us, our families and our lives.

Zazenkai July 19-20 2014

Zazenkai (uniting for meditation) provides one with the the opportunity for intensifying and deepening one’s practice through the experience of longer periods of uninterrupted zazen. Throughout zazenkai we use the exact techniques that are followed during sesshin (zen retreat). On these days and evenings of zazenkai, we practice zazen (seated meditation), chanting (kido), walking meditation (kin-hin), silence, jihatsu (formal eating), dokusan (private meeting w/teacher) and  Teisho or Dharma Talk (sermon)  by Joriki Baker, Osho.

2014-02-04 001 050Students may attend partial gatherings; however please view the schedule page for details on allowed entrance/exit times during the service.  Overnight zazenkai starts at 7pm the evening of the first day, and then ends at 7:30pm the next day.  All inclusive, housing and all meals included.

                 For more information please call 484-268-0724

          A $25.00 donation is standard for zazenkai