Press Kit - Awakening and Maturity for Spiritual Companions, by Genjo Marinello




In these three lines, Genjo Marinello sums up his approach to spiritual companionship and life. A Zen Master and Quaker, a spiritual companion/director and psychotherapist, Genjo is above all, a wisdom teacher. He has lived the arc of suffering, awakening and maturity that he writes about in this book.

Spiritual companions, spiritual directors, and all interested in a life of spirit, will benefit from reading Genjo’s chronicle of breaking apart and growing, healing and becoming whole.

Genjo Marinello Roshi began his Zen training in 1975. He moved to Seattle in 1976 to serve as a VISTA community organizer in the central district of the city. In 1980 Genjo was ordained as a Zen monk, and in 1981-82 trained in Japan at the Zen temple Ryutaku-Ji. In 1999 Genjo succeeded Genki Takabayashi Roshi as the second abbot of the Seattle Zen temple, Chobo-Ji, and became a Dharma Heir in his lineage of Rinzai Zen in 2008. Genjo has been a member of the University Friends Meeting (Quakers) since 1983. In 1989, Genjo completed a certificate program in Spiritual Direction (The Pacific Jubilee Program). For several years Genjo was the volunteer Buddhist pastor of the Twin Rivers Correction Center in Monroe Washington and has served as adjunct faculty at the Seattle campus of Antioch University.


“Awakening alone is only a foothold on the endless path of maturation. If we aren’t always beginning just where we are, we have been sidetracked into arrogance, ignorance or spiritual bypassing.”

“Spiritual practices nurture our roots and help us have access to the sun. Psychological practices work best with everything between our roots and the sun. Of course, a healthy tree needs nurturing on all levels. A healthy tree serves the forest and the world. Every healthy tree is an actualized bodhisattva naturally caring for all beings great and small, animate and inanimate. A tree naturally does its part for the forest, not more than its part and not less than its part. Staying healthy and balanced is the best way to serve the forest of humans and this troubled world. A tree that is sickly or broken, and yet has achieved psychological maturity with deep roots may still serve by being served, or if dead, serve as a nurse log for the next generation of trees.”

“Spiritual companions are the best resource possible when it comes to dealing with the fear and the dark nights that we all face from time to time. Spiritual companions provide a bridge from our fear to beyond fear. They offer a mirror to our deep-rooted nature.

“No one can grow and learn for us; however, our teachers may suggest what to explore, and may point to what we can’t know but can learn to feel. What they mustn’t do is give us the answers we are looking for. On the other hand, there is no harm done when our teachers leave cairns along the paths they have explored so that we may explore them for ourselves.”

“The path towards individuation, awakening and maturity is impossible without companions. For better and worse our maturation depends on our relationship to significant family members, teachers, and mentors. If we are lucky, we will find spiritual guides that mirror our shortcomings, are honest about their own, and point the way towards tapping wisdom and expressing compassion. A big part of any spiritual companion relationship is assessing where we are in our own unfolding spiritual journey, where we have been and where we may need to deepen or explore.”


This book is a luminous guide for those who wish to show up with full presence to companion others on the path to awakening, and thereby deepen their own journey of authentic being. The section that compares the legendary Zen Ox pictures with Teresa of Avila’s mystical masterpiece, The Interior Castle, moved me deeply. I never imagined how precisely these two maps for navigating the inner life would complement and enhance one another, activating the beauty and potency of both teachings in an entirely fresh and relevant way.
Mirabai Starr
Translator of Teresa of avila and author of "Wild Mercy"
Through Genjo’s compelling narrative, this wise and humble teacher reminds us that becoming spiritually mature is a continual commitment to both awakening spiritually and maturing psychologically. While it’s tempting to assume that the more we awaken spiritually the more we grow psychologically, this book offers a much needed reality check. With candor and concreteness, Genjo recounts the ongoing psychological challenges he has navigated and witnessed as a Zen priest and spiritual leader. Thank you Genjo for this masterful interweaving of insights from Eastern and Western wisdom with your lived experience. I highly recommended this thought-provoking, soul-stirring book to spiritual directors and all those who want to learn more about psycho-spiritual unfolding.
Diane M. Millis, PhD
Educator, Spiritual Director, and author of "re-creating a life"
This book is a boldly authentic journey into psychic and spiritual maturity. It is written with respect for the disciplines both of science and of mysticism. In profoundly juxtaposing the paths of Zen Buddhism and Christianity, Genjo Marinello opens many new and helpful insights into the spiritual path, among them ways of meditation and prayer.
Sister Ellen Stephen, OSH
This book cuts like a surgeon’s knife to the marrow of humanity’s soul. Through his personal journey, Genjo reveals how our deepest and darkest capacity for malevolence lives right next door to a spirit able to practically burst with love for life and everything and everyone in it. In this unique book, we ride on Genjo’s back through years of encounters with spiritual mentors and companions, as his own psychotherapeutic process becomes a form of self-therapy for us.
Jeff Chozen Skolnick, MD, PhD
Author of "Blessed by Distress" and "Awaken Your Brain"
Awakening and Maturity invites us to consider a heartful exploration of the inner life. Genjo Marinello shows us the importance of spiritual friendship without skipping the shadows. This book is a must read for anyone hoping to fully explore what a spiritual life can look like in our time and place.
James Ishmael Ford
author of "Introduction to Zen Koans" and "If You're Lucky, Your Heart Will Break"
This brave book is about what it means to practice Zen in our world today. A wonderful book!
Roshi Joan Halifax
Founder, Abbot, and Head Teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
This little book takes us on quite an amazing journey with an American Zen priest who is willing to share everything. You will feel you are by his side all the way, surviving with him the early traumas of his life, experiencing his path to the priesthood, and coming away deeply grateful for his insights into the nature of things. I know no book on Zen that is as personal, and as captivating, as this.”
Glenn Taylor (Kangan) Webb
is a retired professor of East Asian Art History and Religion.
This well-written book, by a person whom I admire and respect, explores the role of spiritual companions on the journey to find peace with our un-peacefulness. Reading his thoughtful and articulate reflections has encouraged me to again notice the impact of those teachers and spiritual friends I’ve met along the way, who have taught me so much about how to be—and also how not to be.
Claude AnShin Thomas
Abbot of The Magnolia Zen Center, author of "At Hell's GATE" and "BRINGING MEDITATION TO LIFE"

A compelling account of spiritual and psychological liberation paid for in sweat and tears over a lifetime of exertion. Measuring wealth as experience, this book is a gift of gold. With openhearted generosity, Marinello shares the harvest of a lifetime of searching, anchored in rigorous Zen training, refined through unflinching psychological self-examination, and enriched by Christian mysticism. He then presents, by example, the way that all true wisdom must show itself: through compassionate action. This is an account aglow with the uncompromising honesty demanded for awakening and with the spirit of generous service by which all true wisdom must reveal itself.

Bodhin Kjolhede
abbot and director of the Rochester Zen Center, and a dharma Successor of Roshi Philip Kapleau
I read once that a koan is ‘an anecdote used to provoke enlightenment.’ I would describe Genjo Marinello’s book as a koan of insight and inspiration gleaned from his life story. Using the metaphors of nature and nurture he bravely and compassionately shares his life story and the spiritual awakening and maturity that comes from the willingness to openly and gently step into your own life. His description of the spiritual life as not linear but more like an ‘expanding lumpy spiral’ invites each one of us to follow the path of our own lumpy spirals!

One of the most profound invitations of the book is to recognize that our stories are never finished, we can always re-enter them, find new perspectives and uncover new layers of meaning. This simple yet profoundly helpful step can take our stories of shame and embarrassment and turn them into our most redemptive stories.

Lucy Abbott Tucker
author of "Spiritual Direction Supervision: Principles, Practices and Storytelling"


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