Shinge Roshi Roko Sherry Chayat
Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi was born in Brooklyn in 1943. Her father, Leonard Corlan, was killed during World War II. Her mother later married sculptor Maxwell Chayat and the family moved to rural New Jersey. Sherry studied Buddhism on her own during the early 1960's, while pursuing a degree in creative writing at Vassar College and doing graduate work in painting at the New York Studio School. She began Zen practice in 1967 with Eido Tai Shimano Roshi at the Zen Studies Society, where she also studied with Hakuun Yasutani Roshi and Soen Nakagawa Roshi on their periodic trips to the United States.
She received lay ordination from Maurine Stuart at the Cambridge Buddhist Association in 1985 and full ordination from Eido Roshi at Dai Bosatsu Zendo in 1991. Eido Roshi acknowledged her as a Dharma teacher in the Rinzai tradition on December 8, 1992, and installed her as abbot of the Zen Center of Syracuse on October 18, 1996. Two years later, he gave her inka shomei, Dharma transmission, in the Hakuin/Torei lineage. She thus became the first American woman to receive official Rinzai Zen transmission. On October 12, 2008, after a 10-year process of advanced training culminating in a ceremony called shitsugo, literally,“room-name,” she received the title of roshi and the name Shinge (“Heart/Mind Flowering") from Eido Roshi. It was the first time that this ceremony was held on American soil.
On January 1, 2011, Shinge Roshi was installed as Abbot of Dai Bosatsu Zendo Monastery, located in the Catskill Mountains outside of Roscoe, NY (vision statement).
Shinge Roshi travels widely to give Zen talks, workshops, and retreats. She compiled, edited, and wrote the introduction for Eloquent Silence: Nyogen Senzaki's Gateless Gate and Other Previously Unpublished Teachings and Letters. With Eido Tai Shimano Roshi and Kazuaki Tanahashi, she compiled, translated, and edited Endless Vow: The Zen Path of Soen Nakagawa. She wrote the introduction to, compiled, and edited Subtle Sound: The Zen Teachings of Maurine Stuart (both 1996: Shambhala Publications). The author of Life Lessons: The Art of Jerome Witkin (1994: Syracuse University Press), she has written many articles and reviews for such journals as Buddhadharma, Shambhala Sun, Tricycle, Sculpture Magazine, ARTnews, American Ceramics, Present Tense,and Lilith. She is a member of the Round Table of Faith Leaders of InterFaith Works, and is a member of the American Zen Teachers Association.
Shinge Roshi has one child, Jesse Hassinger, a filmmaker.