Retreat Teachers


Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi is the Head of the Mountains and Rivers Order, abbot and resident teacher of Zen Mountain Monastery, and abbot of the Zen Center of New York City. Shugen entered full-time residential training in 1986 after studying mathematics and receiving a degree in classical music. He received dharma transmission from John Daido Loori, Roshi in 1997. His teachings on Zen, social justice and environmental stewardship have appeared in various Buddhist journals, and The Best Buddhist Writing 2009 (Shambhala Publications). His book of poetry, O, Beautiful End, a collection of Zen memorial poems, was published in 2012.

Events with Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

One Dharma: Having Desires & Knowing How to Be Satisfied
March 13, 2020

When the mind becomes quiet and clear, we can better understand the subtleties of the Buddha’s teaching and more clearly experience its relationship to our lives. Through silent meditation and inquiry guided by Shugen Roshi, we’ll examine our moment-to-moment experience of holding on, and how this constricts and binds the mind and body. We’ll also examine how in letting go, we become more relaxed, spacious and flexible. Roshi will begin the retreat with a short talk on the practice of desires drawing on Having Few Desires, one of the Buddha’s teachings on the Eight Awarenesses. He’ll speak to how zazen can be a powerful way for us to see and understand our binding desires clearly, so that we can release ourselves, without coercion, from their grasp. We’ll then spend the morning examining this more directly within silent meditation. Roshi will then lead a mondo (informal discussion) inviting participants to bring forth their questions, struggles and insight so we can learn from each other. The afternoon will begin with a teaching on Knowing How to Be Satisfied, another of the Eight Awarenesses, to examine positive desires and how to nurture these without becoming attached. Desires most often lead to dissatisfaction and disappointment.…

Ango Intensive Spring 2020 - Mountains & Rivers Sutra: The Mountains Belong to Those Who Love Them
April 9, 2020

These mountains and rivers of the present are the actualization of the word of the ancient Buddhas. Each, abiding in its own dharma state, completely fulfills its virtues. The Mountains & Rivers Sutra is one of the greatest and most unique teachings of the Zen tradition. In it, the deeply awakened 12th century Buddhist Master, Eihei Dogen, presents the teachings of mountains and rivers, rock and water, as the very expression of enlightenment, the word of the ancient Buddhas. Sublime in its poetic voice, and profound in its dharma teaching, it can both challenge and inspire dharma students at every level. Dogen uses mountains and rivers to express the intimate co-dependence of absolute truth and everyday phenomena as he urges us to examine reality deeply, and then to examine still more. Mountains do not lack the characteristics of mountains. Therefore, they always abide in ease and always walk. Examine in detail the characteristic of the mountains’ walking. . . If you doubt mountains’ walking, you do not know your own walking; it is not that you do not walk, but that you do not know or understand your own walking. Since you do know your own walking, you should fully…

Sangha Treasure Weekend
May 15, 2020

Being one with the Sangha, with all sentient beings, lead the people. Let harmony pervade everywhere. —Fusatsu ceremony liturgy This Sangha Treasure meeting is for both formal students and those who consider themselves to be active members of the MRO sangha. Friday will include a Fusatsu (Renewal of Vows) Ceremony and Saturday will include a Sangha Treasure meeting with small group sharing. We’ll cap the weekend off with Jukai on Sunday morning. You are welcome to come for the whole weekend or just parts. For many Buddhist practitioners, sangha—the community of fellow practitioners—presents the greatest challenge and opportunity for practice and training. The “other” is always the greatest threat to the self—as well as the most effective mirror, the most poignant barrier and the most potent gateway to freedom. We’ll be following the Monastery schedule for the weekend and on Saturday we’ll meet both as a large group and within smaller groups to examine how the sangha can support our practice. For, in the end, it is only within the sangha that we can realize our deepest intentions of clarity and compassion.  The weekend is by donation.

Precepts II: Entering the Way of Compassion
August 7, 2020

The vow of the Bodhisattva is to alleviate suffering and give selflessly for the benefit of all beings—to live with compassion. According to Buddhist teachings, each of us is naturally endowed with compassion. So why do generosity, kindness and skillfulness so often seem out of our reach? How does our self-clinging hinder our natural desire and capacity to be genuinely concerned for others?  This second-level retreat is part of the Mountains and Rivers Order training program for receiving the Buddhist precepts, yet it is open to all who are interested in practicing the Dharma. In this retreat, we will examine and discuss bodhicitta—the great aspiration to liberate self and other—and its important role in generating compassion. By exploring the issues that challenge us the most, we’ll see how we can bring compassionate action into our daily practice, both spontaneously and intentionally.   Please don’t let financial issues prevent you from attending a program at the Monastery. If you can’t afford the program fee, there are options.