The mysteries of the inner life spoke to Jeremy from his early years. Seeking clarity he studied Theology at Bristol University and there encountered Zen. A mentor taught him to meditate in the Burmese Forest Tradition. Imbued with Christian spirituality, drawn by the East, pulled into the peace movement and social action,and years of work with refugees and survivors of political violence, his journey took him deeply into contemplative Catholicism.
Occasional meditation practice was utterly transformed when he met Fr Ama Samy, a Jesuit Priest and Roshi, dharma heir of Yamada Koun in India in 1998. Many sesshins followed in Holland, Germany, Belgium and India. He took a years sabbatical from work as a psychotherapist to live at Bodhi Zendo with his young family in 2006. A deepening appreciation of Zen co-existed alongside Christianity and transformed his appreciation of the mystery of the incarnation, which resonated with a timeless non-duality.
Back in England he met Fr Patrick Eastman, freshly returned from the USA, and joined the newly formed Wild Goose Zen Sangha, part of the White Plum Asanga, which led to Jukai in 2014 and transmission as Sensei in 2016. In the following year God just disappeared, the notion of living in a created world gave way to the ceaselessly unfolding mystery of the Tathagata, and at the centre of it the liberating beat of the Heart Sūtra: “Form is no other than emptiness.”
This hasn’t been a simple process, as he has delved into the mythos of Buddhism to lend scope to his experience. Work as a psychotherapist allows for a joyful wealth of answers to infiltrate that space; the form and containing rituals of just sitting with others in the quietness of the Zendo; the precepts and koans that invite us to pause in our all too solid venturing forth with our fixed opinions and responses; the profound presence of Bodhisattvas that open into our lives; the tongue-tied attempts to explain all this. And now friendship with Dave Keizan Scott of Stonewater Zen Sangha has led to a wonderful invitation to join Stonewater and to follow the path of ordination, which fills him with profound joy.
Jeremy Ryokan Woodcock, Sensei