Filed in Work, Zen (Chan)

Beneath Belief

An interview with Hae Doh Gary Schwocho, abbot of Muddy Water Zen

Wisdom Collection

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Venerable Hae Doh Gary Schwocho, the abbot of Muddy Water Zen, in Royal Oak, Michigan, and the first American-born to be elected a bishop in the Taego Order of Korean Buddhism, has felt called to ministry since elementary school. Born to parents who were active in a fundamentalist Christian denomination that believes, among other things, that the Pope is the Antichrist, Schwocho strayed from the church while in college and was eventually excommunicated.

Still, the ministry called, and he was on track to become a Presbyterian minister when he attended an introduction-to-meditation retreat in 1987, led by Haju Sunim and Samu Sunim at the Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Schwocho received the precepts from Samu Sunim in 1997 and was ordained in 2003 by P’arang Geri Larkin, Samu Sunim’s dharma heir. The next year, Schwocho converted his garage into a dharma hall and moved the Muddy Water Zen sangha into his suburban Detroit home.

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