Mind and Emptiness
Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi was born in Brooklyn in 1943. She studied Buddhism on her own during the early 1960s, while pursuing a degree in creative writing at Vassar College and doing graduate work in painting at the New York Studio School. She began Zen practice in 1967 with Eido Tai Shimano Roshi at the Zen Studies Society, where she also studied with Hakuun Yasutani Roshi and Soen Nakagawa Roshi on their periodic trips to the United States. She received lay ordination from Maurine Stuart at the Cambridge Buddhist Association in 1985 and full ordination from Eido Roshi at Dai Bosatsu Zendo in 1991. Eido Roshi acknowledged her as a Dharma teacher in the Rinzai tradition on December 8, 1992, and installed her as abbot of the Zen Center of Syracuse on October 18, 1996. Two years later, he gave her inka shomei, Dharma transmission, in the Hakuin/Torei lineage. She thus became the first American woman to receive official Rinzai Zen transmission. On October 12, 2008, after a 10-year process of advanced training culminating in a ceremony called shitsugo, literally “room-name,” she received the title of roshi and the name Shinge (“Heart/Mind Flowering") from Eido Roshi. It was the first time that this ceremony was held on American soil. On January 1, 2011, Shinge Roshi was installed as Abbot of Dai Bosatsu Zendo Monastery, located in the Catskill Mountains outside of Roscoe, NY.