Saturday, February 17, 2018

1976 Camosun grad becomes Buddhist monk in retirement

October 29, 2014 by Sarah Tayler, contributing writer

Doshu Rogers has been a technician, a researcher, an entrepreneur, a construction worker, and a tree planter. But now the Camosun alumnus is exploring a whole new lifestyle in his retirement.

Rogers, a graduate of Camosun’s Electronics Technology Program in 1976, is now spreading the teachings and merits of meditation practice to the public as a Zen Buddhist monk.

“Well, it sort of approached me,” says Rogers about how he found Buddhism. While he was visiting a friend at Ten Mile Point in 1975, a book in the house’s library jumped out at him.

Doshu Rogers has been a lot of things in his life, and now that he’s retired, he’s a Zen Buddhist monk (photo provided).

“It was a Zen book. I picked it off the shelf and kind of cozied up in this big leather chair, and, whoa! I was just kind of smitten by Zen practice as a result,” he says.

Rogers practiced Zen meditation casually with various groups for years, but until he was diagnosed with leukemia a decade ago he didn’t fully dedicate himself to it. Rogers and his wife left their two teenage kids at home, and he was checked into a hospital in Vancouver for several months.

“It was quite a major illness, and a major family shake-up,” says Rogers. “It wasn’t a very promising prognosis, initially, but it was a really good experience in terms of focusing on what I thought was really important in life.”

Those priorities, he realized, were family and deepening his practice. When his friends asked him what he would do when he got out of the hospital, he had another realization.

“I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, you mean, that’s true, I might actually get out of here.’ I really thought that I’d leave in a wooden box or something, because it really was quite a dire circumstance,” he says. “When I reflect on it, I realized that really there were only two things that had any primal importance to me. The first was family, and the second was getting into my practice more.”

When Rogers recovered, he contacted the Zenwest Buddhist Society in Sooke and immediately became a student of teacher Eshu Osho. Now, as reverend and leader of the Zendo team, he invites anyone to deepen their experience of life through meditation at the University of Victoria Interfaith Chapel’s open house on Tuesday nights.

“When we come to practice we’re looking to add something into our lives, so that we’ll be better,” explains Rogers. “I came in that way, and a lot of people did, and do.”

Meditation’s goal is to unburden people from the roots of their suffering and to simplify life into a more harmonious state, he says.

“What practice is about is letting go of unnecessary baggage, rather than adding more thoughts and concepts and ideas, and all that in. We don’t need more of that stuff. We’ve got all we need. We could use a lot less, actually,” he says.

Cairo Sanders, a first-year student in Camosun’s General Arts Program, has attended two Tuesday night meditation practices. The focus that meditation teaches has already shown up in everyday life for Sanders.

“I notice the immediate effects,” Sanders says. “In my life I apply the meditation.”

It seems to work, though Rogers is uncertain of exactly how.

“We’re all intrinsically whole, complete, and lacking nothing,” he says. “It’s just that we don’t realize it.”

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