CLATSKANIE - The Zen Community of Oregon announced the establishment of the Great Vow Zen Monastery May 28 in a former elementary school.

Codirectors and resident teachers Jan Chozen Bays and Hogen Bays said they are confident the development of the monastery will provide many advantages to the community, including increased diversity of cultural and religious traditions. "We feel that our use of the school as a Zen Buddhist monastery, seminary and retreat center will be of great benefit to the Clatskanie community as well as to many other people in the Pacific Northwest," Hogen Bays said.

"In addition we hope that our efforts will institute a new wave of energy coming into the Clatskanie community to help broaden and support its economic base."

Meditation classes, workshops and silent retreats are planned offerings for the monastery, which will also train lay and ordained teachers to carry on the teaching of Buddhist practices.

The core of Zen practice is seated meditation, which is offered mornings and evenings, Tuesday through Sunday. A 10 a.m. Sunday program includes a service, seated meditation, a short talk and lunch. Several ceremonies are also planned throughout the year, including a Fourth of July Pan-Buddhist Picnic and a Jizo Ceremony to honor children who have died.

Jan Chozen Bays was ordained as a Zen priest in 1977 and received Dharma transmission, or authority to teach, in 1983. She is a wife, mother and pediatrician working in the field of child abuse, and the author of "Jizo Bodhisattva: Modern Healing and Traditional Buddhist Practice."

Hogen Bays began practicing in 1968 and was ordained as a Zen priest in 1990. He is a naturopathic doctor with a master's degree in psychology who worked for the Oregon Department of Corrections for 15 years.

"We hope that members of the immediate community will feel a sense of peace knowing that a monastery is close by and accessible," Hogen Bays said.

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