Great Vow Zen Monastery

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Great Vow Zen Monastery
Great Vow Zen Monastery.jpg
Basic information
Location P.O. Box 368, Clatskanie, Oregon 97016
Affiliation White Plum Asanga
Country United States
Completed 2002

Great Vow Zen Monastery was founded in 2002 and is operated by Zen Community of Oregon[1] (ZCO) under the leadership of abbots Chozen Bays, Roshi, and Hogen Bays. The monastery offers weekend workshops, weeklong meditation retreats, and special events throughout the year.


Great Vow Zen Monastery is a training monastery in the White Plum lineage of the Japanese Soto Zen tradition. It is headed by Abbots Hogen Bays and Jan Chozen Bays.

Physical environment[edit]

The monastery is housed in a former elementary school on 20 acres (81,000 m2) of land overlooking the Columbia River floodplain near Clatskanie, Oregon. Two former classroom "pods" serve as dormitory wings for residents and visitors. Administrative offices and the meditation hall occupy the center of the building. Four unroofed courtyards punctuate the building.

The monastery building is surrounded by a meadow dotted with large conifers. A wooded area with walking trails sits behind the building.

Zen training[edit]

The overall style of training at the monastery is primarily in the Soto Zen vein, but incorporates elements from various schools of Buddhism, as well as from other disciplines.

The daily training schedule, which is followed by all residents, includes a wakeup bell at 3:50 a.m., two hours of meditation, a bowing and chanting service, breakfast, and two periods of work. Lunch and dinner are both preceded by a short religious service. Two hours of meditation in the evening end the day. The schedule may be modified at various times of year, or to accommodate special events or classes.

Weekend workshops are offered several times a month. Weeklong meditation intensives are held monthly.

Visiting teachers often lead or co-lead meditation retreats or weekend workshops at the monastery, sometimes on a recurring annual basis. Among them are Buddhist teachers Kyogen Carlson and Gyokuko Carlson; Ejo Patrick McMullen; Lama Michael Conklin; Alan Wallace; and Ajahn Amaro.

Great Vow also offers ordination and full-time residential training as a Soto Zen Buddhist priest.

Jizo Bodhisattva[edit]

The bodhisattva known as Jizo (in the Japanese tradition; Kṣitigarbha in Sanskrit) has an important role at Great Vow. Practice with Jizo Bodhisattva includes daily chanting of the Jizo mantra; manufacture of Jizo images for sale; a meditation retreat; biannual ceremonies for children and loved ones who have died; and a yearly Jizo-Bon festival event in August.


The monastery is sustained by the members of ZCO, which includes a substantial lay congregation that meets for sitting meditation in Portland, and a handful of associated satellite groups in Oregon and Washington.

The monastery is also supported by fundraising efforts; donations from visitors; retreat and workshop fees; and the sale of meditation supplies and Buddhist images.


Great Vow Zen Monastery has a Sunday morning public program at 10 a.m., which consists of a short service followed by meditation, a talk given by one of the teachers, and lunch.

Visitors may arrange a short-term stay at the monastery.

Both monastery residents and short-term visitors sleep in gender-specific dormitories of several beds to a room. All meals are vegetarian.


See also[edit]



External links[edit]

Media related to Great Vow Zen Monastery at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 46°09′14″N 123°09′09″W / 46.15389°N 123.15250°W / 46.15389; -123.15250