More About the Author
From his first awakening in February of 1971, Genpo Merzel's life has been about waking up to our essential nature, our True Self. For the past forty years since then his purpose and his passion have remained the same: to deepen his own clarity and to assist others to awaken and realize their true nature.
A champion water polo player and swimmer in his youth, Merzel left his careers as a school teacher and lifeguard after his awakening and lived alone for a year in a rustic cabin deep in the mountains near San Luis Obispo, chopping wood and carrying water and spending four to five hours a day in meditation. In March of 1972 he met Zen Master Taizan Maezumi Roshi, and subsequently moved to Los Angeles where he studied closely with him for the next twelve years. In 1980, a year after completing formal koan study, he became Maezumi Roshi's second Dharma heir.
He founded the Kanzeon International Sangha in 1982, bringing together individuals and groups studying with him throughout Europe and America. He continued studying with Maezumi Roshi until the latter's death in 1995, and received Inka, final seal of approval, from Zen Master Bernie Glassman in 1996, becoming Glassman's first Inka successor. Genpo Roshi has fifteen Dharma heirs and has given Inka Transmission conferring the title of Zen Master to nine Zen teachers.
In 1999 he created what he named the Big Mind Process TM, later also known as Big Mind/Big Heart TM. Acclaimed by philosopher Ken Wilber as "arguably the most important and original discovery in the last two centuries of Buddhism," it is revolutionizing not only the teaching of Zen but also spiritual practices within and outside both Eastern and Western traditions. It has now spread to every continent and has helped many thousands of people from all walks of life have a genuine and sustainable awakening with little or no prior consciousness study, including persons of all faiths and religious backgrounds as well as non-believers. It is being used in the practice of psychotherapy, meditation, law, medicine, mediation, the arts, physical therapy, chaplaincy, yoga, business, athletics, social work, family therapy, primary through higher education and spiritual practices with prison inmates, hospital patients and the dying. Roshi continues to train people to bring this teaching out into the world even as he remains at the cutting edge of its evolution.
At the same time, like some of the outstanding Zen Masters of old, he has let go of even the attachment to Buddhism as an "ism" in order to transmit the essence of Zen, which is waking up to our essential nature free from all dogma, suddenly and immediately. In order to clarify certain inaccurate reports, he had considered stepping down as an American Soto Zen Buddhist Priest in February 2011 but this option was not allowed by the Japanese Soto Zen Headquarters in Japan or America and so he has been and still is a Zen Priest and has not stopped being a Zen Master. He is developing a Big Mind/Big Heart Zen that is free from much of the Japanese forms and "ism's" that have been transmitted to the West. This freedom from form and "ism" is consistent with the teachings of many of the Japanese Masters who came to the West and who also felt those in the West needed to discard many of the dogmas and forms as Zen takes root in the Western world.
His publications include The Eye Never Sleeps, Beyond Sanity and Madness, 24/7 Dharma, and The Path of The Human Being, and many DVDs. His latest book, Big Mind/Big Heart: Finding Your Way, has been published in twelve languages: Dutch Spanish, German, Russian, Polish, French, Italian, Hungarian, Croatian, Romanian, and Bulgarian.
Additional information about Genpo Roshi and Big Mind is available at www.bigmind.org or by calling 801 328 8414. For information about registering for or organizing an event, contact his personal assistant Mary Ellen Sloan at Maryellen@bigmind.org or 801 503-5656.