About This Center
Great Vow Zen Monastery is a residential community of lay and ordained people engaged in around-the-clock Buddhist practice. The practice heritage of the monastery is the Soto/Rinzai lineage of Taizan Maezumi, Roshi enriched by the teachings of the Tibetan and Theravada traditions.
Abbots Jan Chozen Bays, Roshi and Hogen Bays, Roshi are the spiritual directors and head teachers of the monastery with teaching assistance from other ZCO teachers, lay and ordained. Great Vow offers residencies, retreats, and workshops that are open and available to everyone. There are many ways you can practice here.
The monastery is located 80 miles northwest of Portland, Oregon on twenty forested acres overlooking the Columbia River flood plain. The monastery includes a spacious meditation hall, guest and resident dormitories, dining hall, and a large organic vegetable garden.
Within the forest is Great Vow's famous Jizo Garden, a memorial garden for people who have died, and the newly dedicated Shrine of Vows, a place where people leave tokens of their deep aspirations.
Venue HighlightsThe fundamental practice of Zen Buddhism is meditation, or zazen. In essence, zazen is being present, without adding like or dislike, grasping or aversion to our immediate experience.
Zazen is not a means to an end, but the ongoing practice of freedom from suffering. By keeping a spacious mind through whatever physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions arise, we see their fleeting quality and non-attachment and satisfaction develop. Thus, we become increasingly able to flow with the inevitable changes and difficulties that life brings.
Zen Practice is also a way of becoming more intimately present and engaged with our life, in all of our activities. We must admit that much of our life is spent lost in thought. We miss the present when we are distracted by worries about the future, regrets about the past, or fantasies.
The ability to be zestfully engaged in our life can be cultivated and grown over time, and Zen practice seeks to do just that. Through our wholehearted engagement with life, the imagined barriers between self and other drop away, we begin to find joy in taking care of the world.
Over time we become intimate with the truth that everything we experience is our own life, which is fine, just as it is. From this perspective nothing that happens is a problem, just something to respond to. This response can be made from a place of choice, and being able to make a choice about our response, even in difficult situations, is liberating. This is guided by our practice of the Bodhisattva precepts, so that our growing freedom is balanced by self-discipline and a concern for the benefit of others.