Zen Center abbot offers talks

Times Free Press, Jan. 14, 2011

Chattanooga, TN (USA) -- Chattanoogans interested in Buddhism and Zen will have several opportunities this month to hear Zenkai Taiun Michael Elliston, founder and abbot of the Atlanta Zen Center and the Silent Thunder Order. The Zen Group of Chattanooga, which is affiliated with the Atlanta Zen Center, is coordinating his talks.

On Sunday, at the invitation of the Rev. Jeff Briere, Elliston Roshi will give two talks at Unitarian Universalist Church. The 9:30 a.m. talk will be an informal session, with Q&A, on Buddhism and Zen. At 11:30, he will give a formal presentation on "Zen Buddhism: Its Relevance for 21st-Century America."

The following Saturday, Jan. 22, the Zen Group of Chattanooga will hold an all-day zazen sitting ("zazenkai") at ClearSpring Yoga, the group's usual meeting place. Elliston Roshi will lead the sitting, offer dokusan (one-on-one meetings with the teacher) and also give a dharma talk at the close of meditation. The public is welcome to sit with the group for all or part of the zazenkai or simply to come listen to the dharma talk.

Elliston's involvement with Zen began in 1966 when he met Matsuoka-Roshi, founder and head teacher of the Chicago Zen Buddhist Temple. After two years of training under Matsuoka-Roshi's supervision and at his suggestion, he underwent a combined initiation and discipleship ceremony and was given the dharma name Taiun, meaning "Great Cloud."

He was registered with the Soto Shu in Japan on July 13, 1969, and ordained as a Zen Priest on March 22, 1970. In 1977 he founded the Atlanta Soto Zen Center. He is the founder of the Silent Thunder Order, which links Zen groups affiliated with the Atlanta center throughout the United States.


• What: Zen Buddhism talks by Zenkai Taiun Michael Elliston.
• When: 9:30 a.m. (informal), 11:30 a.m. (part of service) Sunday.
• Where: Unitarian Universalist Church, 3224 Navajo Drive.
• Phone: 622-2862.

•What: All-Day Zazen Sitting (Zazenkai), concluding with dharma talk by Zenkai Taiun Michael Elliston.
• When: Noon-9 p.m. Jan. 22.
• Where: ClearSpring Yoga, 17 N. Market St.
• Phone: 622-2862.