Being Home – Vimala Muni John Nemick Roshi

I’d been questioning, seeking for a very long time. The formality, the majesty, ritual, of the old Roman Catholic Church was enthralling; bright robes, gold and crystal ornamentation, the Gregorian chant all that and more hinted at something I desperately wanted to know and feel. However, the more I tried, the more I learned, the less I could accept the fundamental mythology of the theism on which it all rested.

The course of my enquiry (not unlike so many others) led me away from my childhood views and into other ways of seeing life, the world. Cross-cultural studies, in-depth philosophical enquiry, yoga, meditation classes, more books, more thinking, greater emotional struggle; chipping away at the conditioned mind.

It was about 1985 when I saw a flyer hanging in the library announcing a week-end yoga retreat that also noted that a Zen Roshi would be there. I’d immersed myself in Zen enough to know that I should take advantage of this opportunity.  


I met Junpo at that retreat. I noted his great good humor, his discipline, saw his insight and training coming thorough as he offered the group basic zen instruction. He was doing Dokusan, I waited my turn; prepared with clever responses for what he might ask of me. When we were alone, he asked a question I’d read about and I gave him a reply that I’d read was correct. He said; ‘That’s a good response but it’s not yours, come back later’. I was hooked.

In the subsequent 30+ years, we founded the Green Bay Zen Center and brought Zen practice to many people. I’ve led and staffed many retreats in Green Bay and elsewhere. In 2013 Junpo invited me to take Inka and become Roshi and a Dharma Heir. I have been able to add tools to my kit; including Mondo Zen, Mankind Project practices, classroom presentations, Prison work and in my professional psychotherapy practice; which has become indistinguishable from my formal practice. Through all the personal challenges, the trials of those I know and love, the self-doubt and shadow states; practice continues.

I’m happy that I “came back later.”

I’ve been asked, “how does your zazen effect your normal life?”

There is no separation.

– Vimala

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