Anton Tenkei Coppens, Roshi | I. Generation
Anton Tenkei Coppens was born in the Netherlands, studied art and art history, and worked for almost fifteen years as a painter and a teacher. He started Zen practice in 1976 in the UK and went to the Zen Center of Los Angeles in 1980 where he met Taizan Maezumi Roshi and Genpo Merzel Roshi. He became a close student of Genpo Roshi and followed him touring throughout Europe and the USA. In 1988 he received Tokudo, left the Netherlands and went to Maine, where Genpo Roshi had established his first residential training center. This center was relocated to Salt Lake City in 1993. In 1996 Tenkei received Shiho and for the following four years assisted Genpo Roshi full-time in teaching in Salt Lake City. In the footsteps of Roshi he also went to Europe regularly to conduct retreats and workshops. Inspired by the vast expanse of the USA he led many outdoor retreats in the desert of southern Utah, together with his wife Tamara (Tammy) Myoho Gabrysch. They both lived as resident students with Genpo Roshi for twelve years.
Tenkei Roshi and Tammy Sensei left the USA at the turn of the century and went to Japan to live and practice for six months in the temple of Maezumi Roshi’s brother, Junyu Kuroda Roshi (Hojo-san). In Japan Tenkei had the opportunity to officiate ceremonies in the two main temples of the Soto School, that qualify for becoming an abbot of a Zen temple. He and Tammy finally settled in the Netherlands in the fall of 2000 and, together with a fast growing sangha, established Zen River in Uithuizen. In September 2003 Tenkei was installed as abbot during a traditional Shinsan-shiki ceremony, officiated by Hojo-san. In November 2003 he completed a one month Tokubetsu sesshin at Zuioji temple, Niihama, Japan, which gave him further certification within the Soto School. Later he was granted the official status of Kokusai Fukyoshi (certified teacher who spreads the dharma internationally). On January 23, 2006, Tenkei received Inka, the final seal of approval as a Zen master (and the title of Roshi) from Genpo Roshi.
Although mostly at their home base Zen River after years of travelling and living abroad, Tenkei Roshi regularly visits other locations to conduct workshops, including The Hague, Düsseldorf and Madrid. He is the father of one adult daughter, Maartje, who lives in Amsterdam. Tenkei Roshi is co-editor of Beyond Sanity and Madness by Genpo Roshi. He has also edited a series of dharma talks that Maezumi Roshi gave in Europe, published under the title The Echoless Valley and Teaching of the Great Mountain.
Over the last few years he has engaged in new and interesting contacts with Buddhist traditions outside of Japan, particularly in China. Among other events, the annual UN Vesak celebrations in Bangkok, that attract thousands of Buddhists from all over the world, have been a great inspiration. As a result of these connections Zen River has been able to welcome many Asian teachers, monks, and lay people.
Zen River is an international Buddhist monastery that offers a year-round training programme under the guidance of abbot Tenkei Coppens Roshi and Myoho Gabrysch Sensei. As dharma heirs to Genpo Merzel Roshi they both are representatives of the White Plum Lineage that was established by the late Maezumi Roshi in the USA. They are also certified by the Japanese Soto School and maintain a close connection with Junyu Kuroda Roshi, brother of Maezumi Roshi and abbot of Kirigayaji in Tokyo. Zen River is officially registered in Japan as a Soto temple (Tokubetsu Jiin) and plays an active role in the development of the European department of the Soto School.
Zen River is located in a beautiful property on the outskirts of Uithuizen, a small village on the northern edge of Holland close to the Waddensea. It enjoys the spaciousness and tranquillity of the country-side and yet it is easily accessible by public transportation.
The programme is based on four elements of training (zazen, ritual, study and bodhisattva activity) and consists of a daily schedule as well as a calender of retreats and related events. Zen River functions as an ‘open’ monastery. This means that everybody is welcome to participate in all or parts of the programme, while the continuity of training is ensured by a team of full-time resident monastics (presently fifteen). Many members join on a regular basis as to support and deepen their practice at home. Newcomers receive special attention. The overnight accommodation has a capacity of forty two participants in total. All meals on regular training days are vegetarian. English and Dutch are the common languages spoken at Zen River Temple. Classes are held in English.
…more to come…