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Buddhist Monk Visits Thiel College

By Brian L Brink

“How do you make Zen entertaining?” Rev. Ryuun Joriki Baker, Osho asked when talking about what made him to decide to visit Thiel Campus on Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16.

Baker, an American Zen Buddhist monk, participated in the spring semester’s interfaith event that campus ministry put on. He is originally from Northern California where he was raised in a Lutheran family. He was ordained as a monk in Jan 1, 2001 after years of training and became the founder of Blue Mountain Zendo, monastery, in Andreas, Pennsylvania.

Baker is also a trained social worker who specializes in supporting dually diagnosed men and women. He also spent time as a police Chaplin with his local department. He said that this training has helped him as on Zen teacher while teaching kōans, judge’s cases.

An example of a kōan that Baker used in his presentation on Thursday was “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” He described kōans as glimpses into the psyche and said that when teaching them it is the teacher and the student talking one-on-one. He always carried a book of kōans with him, which he described as a book of psychology.

Although Zen is about staying in the here and now, Baker talked about the ebbs and flows of humanity while at breakfast with student; Jake Morgan and Josh Consider both of who are Buddhists. While talking with them he said how everything is constantly changing.

“Mother Nature, she knows what she’s doing,” Baker said while talking to the students about a spiritual revolution that they all agree is happening right now.

Baker is a self-described, “Zen Christian,” due to him having a background in Lutheranism. He said, “There is no way to escape being Christian.”

He trained in Washington state, which is where he said Zen first came to America. He told Morgan and Consider that the monastery he trained at was built thanks to a donation from the founder of the Xerox Company.

Baker attained the title of Osho, Zen teacher, on Jan. 22, 2014. During a ceremony at Blue Mountain Zendo. Osho, he said, translates to “tranquil mind” and that it takes approximately 20 years of training to attain.

He also spoke about the area, which is about 30 miles outside of Allentown Pennsylvania, in which his monastery is at and how it sits in the middle of the Appalachian mountain chain. He said that the area’s residents can be ignorant with other cultures and religions and has given him trouble.

“Even as a white male, I know what it’s like to be discriminated against,” Baker said while talking about the troubles he’s had with the locals. He told a story about how while in silent meditation with his congregation the locals will fire off their guns every couple of minutes just to disturb the sessions.

One can go on http://www.bluemountainzendo.org/ to find more information about Baker, his monastery and Zen Buddhism.

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