First the good news........
Mn. Bear Gokan Bonebakker has recently been given the title of Dharma Holder which means that he has formally begun the process to eventually receive Dharma transmission (Denbo). This is the highest level of formal training that is offered in Buddhist training.
Gokan first came to the Monastery in 1994, and received The Precepts in 2000 becoming a formal Buddhist. He has been in residence since 2007 and was ordained in 2014. He presently is the Operations Director, and also helps coordinate the National Buddhist Prison Sangha. He also works to maintain the monastery orchard.
Now the bad news....
Due to the newest COVID surge with the omicron variant, the monastery has again closed itself to outside participants. However this is expected to only be temporary. Nonetheless, when Zen Mountain Monastery may open again has not been determined. There will be periodic assessments and the goal is to open up again to the public when it is safe to do so. The Organizing Council of the Buffalo Zen Dharma Community mets monthly to reassess when we may open up to in-person gatherings. At the most recent meeting, it was decided that we would continue only with our Zoom options. However, opening up to in-person gatherings will still be assessed monthly.
David Kozen Williams, MRO has been a formal student in the Mountains and Rivers Order since 1997.