When Rev. Eido Frances Carney, known as Eidosan, returned from training in Japan in 1996, she began to sit Zazen in Olympia, Washington. From the very beginning, people began to sit together, and from daily and weekly practice of Zazen, a lay Sangha began to form.
Fundraising started within a year to find a place to establish regular practice. A 501(c)3 was obtained and the Sangha was young, yet able to take on the responsibility of caring for the teacher and the temple. An appropriate building appeared in 1999. The Sangha took on the task of restoring the house to its original health and redesigning it to include a Zendo and Dharma Hall for public use.
The property, about 5 acres, sits on the edge of a lake and wetlands which is a habitat for migrating birds including herons, eagles, and geese. The gardens were replanted to establish native plant species. At the completion of this, the county granted a conditional use permit, recognizing Olympia Zen Center as a fully functional and legal temple in the county.
Niho Tetsumei Roshi, Eidosan's teacher, came from Entsuji in 2001 to dedicate Olympia Zen Center, Ryoko-an. As Niho Roshi is in lineage with Ryokan san, the Sangha in Olympia has taken Ryokan san as its teacher and model. With Niho Roshi's agreement, a replica of Gogo-an was built to encourage solitary retreats, living in the simple, primitive style of Ryokan san.
The practice schedule includes morning Zazen, weekly evening Zazen and Teisho, group practice on Saturday mornings, monthly one-day Sesshin, summer Full Moon Sesshin, Rohatsu Sesshin, Ryokan san Annual Lecture and Retreat with a visiting teacher. Other trainings and events include Introduction to Zazen for beginners, calligraphy instruction, arts programs, individual retreats.
Olympia Zen Center has about 35 members and is Eidosan's main residence. The center has room for two resident students along with a guest room for visitors. People from all over the world have visited. Eidosan also teaches about Ryokan san in Europe, and Wind and Wolken Sangha in Northern Germany has now become an affiliate of Olympia Zen Center.
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