Zen master Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1944. Soon after, his family moved to Long Beach, California, where he grew up. He received a bachelor's degree from California State University at Long Beach in 1966, and a master's degree in educational administration from the University of Southern California in 1968. From an early age, he was active in competitive swimming and water polo, and was named All-American in those sports. Genpo Roshi taught school in Los Angeles and Long Beach from 1966 to 1971.
In 1972, after spending a year in the mountains of California in solitary retreat, Genpo Roshi started formal Zen training at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, under Maezumi Roshi. He was ordained a monk by Maezumi Roshi in 1973 and given the title Hoshi (Dharma-Holder) after completing Koan study in 1979.
In 1980, Genpo Roshi received Shiho (Dharma Transmission) from Maezumi Roshi, followed by Zuisse (Empowerment Ceremony required to become an abbot) in Japan in 1981. In the following year he began to conduct retreats in England, Holland, Poland, France, and Germany. In 1984, he left Los Angeles to devote himself completely to the international community of students he named "Kanzeon Sangha." This Sangha now includes thousands of members in the United States and Europe.
In 1988, Genpo Roshi completed Shinsanshiki (installation as abbot) at Hosshinji Temple in Bar Harbor, Maine. In 1991 he moved to Oregon and in 1993, at the invitation of the Wasatch Zen Group, he relocated Hosshinji (Kanzeon Zen Center) to Salt Lake City, Utah.
Genpo Roshi received the certificate of Dendokyoshi Kenshuso in 1995 at Green Gulch Farm in California. In October of 1996, he received Inka from his elder Dharma brother, Bernie Glassman Roshi, in New York City. Roshi Bernie had received Inka from Maezumi Roshi shortly before the latter's death in May of 1995.
To date, Genpo Roshi has given Dharma Transmission to Catherine Genno Pages, the late John Shodo Flatt, and Anton Tenkei Coppens. Genpo Roshi gave Inka to John Daido Loori in 1997.
In 1999, after studying voice dialogue with Hal and Sidra Stone from 1983 - 1984, Genpo Roshi discovered the Big Mind Process. This method allows anyone who wishes to open their mind to a more universal consciousness to do so in a relatively short amount of time. Individuals or groups are able to do so quite easily without any previous formal Zen training. It is a non-threatening technique which uses the ego instead of trying to destroy it. Genpo Roshi has established a non-profit, non-sectarian organization that brings the Big Mind Process out to the world.
Genpo Roshi's written work includes:
The Eye Never Sleeps:
Striking to the Heart of Zen
Beyond Sanity and Madness:
The Way of Zen Master Dogen
Impermanence, No-Self, Nirvana