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Last updated: 03/02/2009
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Genjo Marinello Osho Completes Dharma Transmission
By Leslie Cohen, San Diego Aikikai

This past May in Seattle, I was invited to attend Genjo Marinello-Osho's dharma transmission ceremony, or inka. I have studied with him for many years, through sesshin in San Diego and Berkeley, and also at the several Rohatsu sesshins I attended. This was the formal representation of his joining the dharma lineage of his instructor, Eido Shimano Roshi, who leads both the Shobo-ji Zendo in New York City, and the Dai Bosatsu Kongo-Ji monastery in upstate New York.

In coming to this event, I truly did not know what to expect. What would a "dharma transmission" look like? Would I actually see something happen? And what exactly is that anyway?

I definitely did not come away with a concrete answer to what dharma transmission is, but I did leave with a powerful respect for all of those who have committed themselves to continuing this lineage.

As we waited for the ceremony to begin, there was a powerful calm and quiet amongst the mixed group of both Zen practictioners and Genjo-osho's friends and family. We had all come together to support him. Everyone was very "present"--it felt like sitting in sesshin.

The ceremony itself was very formal and was organized into different sections that included a "dharma examination," chanting and dharma talks by Roko Ni-Osho (another dharma heir to Eido Roshi), Genki Roshi and Eido Roshi.

For the dharma examination, Genjo Osho entered the room dressed in the simple robes of an unsui, or monk. In this section, he was challenged by each of six gatekeepers ( four of Genjo's dharma peers, and then Genki Roshi and Eido Roshi). At each gate, a question was put to him-- If you have ever done dokusan, then you can imagine what these questions were like—and if his answer was sufficient, that person would shout, "OK", and then Genjo moved on to the next "gate." At the last "gate," Eido Roshi forcefully stamped his ceremonial staff on the floor, and then passed it to Genjo Osho as a symbol of the formal transmission taking place.

Genjo Osho then retired briefly and returned wearing new robes to deliver the following incense poem:

The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are all empty.
What is there to treasure?
There is nothing to attain.
What can be transmitted?
Digesting entanglements,
Body and Mind are set free.
Nothing to do but listen to the thunder
       And follow the wind.

We chanted, and then there were talks by Roko Ni-Osho, Genki Roshi and Eido Roshi. Genjo Osho then gave Teisho (formal dharma talk) on Mumonkan, Case 18, which goes as follows: A monk asked Tozan, "What is the Buddha?" Tozan answered, "Three pounds of flax!"

In his Teisho, Genjo Osho made an anology between Tozan's three pounds of flax and the vast network of circumstances and connections that led him onto his dharma path. He spoke with gratitude of not only teachers who came before him, but also of the many friends and family who both challenged, loved and supported him as he came to this moment. Everyone present was made to feel an invaluable part of the "seamless fabric" of Genjo Osho's life and dharma: "Without each stitch of this seamless fabric, meeting each person when I did and how I did, we would not be here together today."

Eido Roshi spoke of Genjo Osho still being a new, "young" roshi, and thus asked us to continue to call him Genjo Osho as he grows into this new role.

I left with a great awe and respect for and all that have dedicated themselves to this traditional Zen path. This ceremony represented a Genjo Osho expressing his deep and lifelong commitment to a practice that we all know is not easy.

From a press release by Rev. Genko Blackman: The ancient process of Inka — Mind flowing into Mind down the ages in an unbroken stream — has now swept Genjo Osho into its mysterious current. And so it has been from the moment Shakyamuni held up a flower and affirmed the smiling Maha Kashyapa as his Dharma Heir.

In the Rinzai - Hakuin Zenji Dharma Line there are 27 generations in India counted from the Historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, until Bodhidharma brought what became known as Ch'an (Zen in Japanese) to China early in the Fifth Century. Another 27 generations passed in China until this lineage moved to Japan, and again another 27 passed in Japan before Eido Shimano Roshi established our sect in New York. This makes Genjo Osho the 83rd generation after the Historical Buddha.