“Us” is Rev. Charama Bhavika, JDPSN (Guiding Teacher and Founder), his wife Rev. Chasayk (Abbot)…and the members of the Only Love Zen Sangha.
Charama and Chasayk are fully ordained Zen priests in the lineages of Korean and Japanese Zen.
Ven. Charama began studying Zen in 2003 with Zen monk and author P’arang Geri Larkin, who was then the Guiding Teacher of Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple in Detroit. Her teacher was Korean Zen master Samu Sunim who, in 1967, founded the Zen Lotus Society (now the Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom).
P’arang is a witty, warm, one-of-a-kind person whose mere presence lights up a room and gladdens the heart. Her books are essential reading. A list of them can be found on the Guiding Principles page.
In July of 2010, Rev. Charama began formal Zen training (including Koans) with a former student of Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn, who founded the Kwan Um School of Zen.
Charama and Chasayk were ordained on Saturday, September 3, 2011.
On November 3, 2012, Charama received Inka during Sangha Weekend, which means he is a fully authorized Zen teacher holding the title of Ji Do Poep Sa Nim (JDPSN). Also during that weekend, Chasayk was given full precepts as a Bodhisattva Monk, or bhikkhunī.
In August of 2015, Charama and Chasayk parted ways with their Zen teacher and his Order.
Today, Rev. Charama is the student of Doshin Ku San Roshi (Barry Farrin) who studied under Robert Aitken Roshi, founder of the Diamond Sangha in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Zen Master Doshin Ku San lives in Queensland, Australia, and is the Founder and Guiding Teacher of Way of the Forest Empty Mountain Zen. Reverend Dosin possesses a keen sense of humor, unwavering patience, and piercing insight – a delightful (and essential) combination for a Zen teacher. Charama aspires to follow Roshi Ku San’s example.
In addition, Rev. Charama is honored by the friendship and wise mentoring of Bhikkhu Gunarantana, a Buddhist monk who is known around the world for his wisdom and compassion.
Because of our long and rich history (19 years and counting!) of studying with some of the best Zen teachers in the world, Only Love Zen Sangha is well equipped and committed to “Great Love, Great Compassion, and the Great Bodhisattva Way.”
Our Zen sangha is a small gathering of people (perhaps 2-8 in person; sometimes more online) who meditate (“sit”) for 20 minutes, chant and read selections from uplifting spiritual traditions, sit for another 10-15 minutes, then listen to a Dharma talk (similar to a sermon or homily), have tea, and then go our separate ways into the world.
(By the way, in Christian circles, this gathering of like-minded people is called a fellowship. In Buddhist terms, it’s a sangha.)
If you’d rather, think of us as a book club that sits on meditation cushions rather than chairs. (Although chairs are available for those unable to sit on cushions.) It’s relaxing, energizing, and just plain fun.
If you choose to join us in person, wear loose-fitting clothing, leave your shoes at the door, and bow to everyone.
Bowing is something we do a lot around here.
We bow to show gratitude, respect, affection, greeting.
Don’t worry. You’ll catch on.
We offer one public sitting: Every other Sunday evening from 5pm to 6pm, Eastern.
(We sit privately on the off weeks of public sittings.)
In our home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And online via Zoom. (E-mail for invitation to join us.)
We provide cushions and chairs. If you have a favorite cushion, chair, or sitting bench, you may bring it with you.
Incidentally, Only Love Zen Sangha is for people of all faith traditions. So please don’t feel like you have to be a Buddhist to sit with us. You may just want to park your keister for an hour, chat a bit, and enjoy some tea.