CloudWater Zendo began with a dream to bring authentic Zen and related practices to people on Cleveland's west side. This dream originated in the mind of Shaku Shu Ho, a senior student of Rev. Koshin Ogui of the Cleveland Buddhist Temple, in 1990. Having received permission to teach by Rev. Ogui, Shaku Shu Ho founded a Zen meditation group at a United Methodist church in Lakewood, a near-west suburb of Cleveland. After several years, Shaku Shu Ho decided to take the next step: the formation of a small Zen temple and meditation center named CloudWater Zendo.
In 1994, CloudWater Zendo opened on the west side of Cleveland with Shaku Shu Ho as Resident Instructor. The space which was rented for the purpose of Zen meditation was modest to say the least. However, response to the new center was favorable enough that in 1995 the Zendo left its first humble home to take up residence in Fairview Park, a nearby Cleveland suburb.
1995 through 2000 were years of continued growth and maturity for CloudWater Zendo. The new, slightly larger facility was conducive to regular group meditative practice, lectures, plus T'ai Chi and Reiki classes. It was during this period that the Zendo's first senior students were trained and subsequently ordained as Shramaneras or Novice Monks.
The Fairview Park years also witnessed the creation of the CloudWater Zendo website, the acquisition of the Great Buddha which now resides in the Recitation Hall, the first Winter Retreat, the Zendo's Prison Outreach Program, and the creation of affiliated Sanghas in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania. The first Animal Release Service (now called the Animal Memorial) was also held.
1998 was a significant year for Shaku Shu Ho. In January he was ordained as a Buddhist Sensei (teacher) by Rev. Ogui with whom he had studied for 12 years, and in May he was ordained as a bhiksu (fully ordained monk) by Ven. Shih Shen-Lung of the Dragon Flower Ch'an Temple, with whom he had studied for 8 years. Shaku Shu Ho took the Chinese version of his original Dharma name, Shih Ying-Fa (Dharma Eagle), and was named Abbot of CloudWater Zendo. The following year he was named Spiritual Director of the Dragon Flower Ch'an Temple by Ven. Shen-Lung. The Zendo, meanwhile, shifted its meditative emphasis from Japanese-influenced Zen to Ch'an, the tradition from which Zen derives.
In 2000 CloudWater Zendo announced that it was moving back to the west side of Cleveland, to a site less than 2 miles from its original home. The new facility was three times larger than the Fairview Park Zendo, opening up many more options for practice and study. Lectures and classes were expanded, and a new emhasis was placed on the practice of internal energy. The new Social Hall facilitated multi-week classes such as the twice-yearly, 8-week Basics of Buddhism class as well as the annual Lunar New Year Celebration. The Zendo also hosted a calligraphy workshop with world-renowned calligrapher Master Kim Tae-Jung, as well as an 18.5-mile memorial walk on the 1-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
CloudWater Zendo continues to refine its efforts to facilitate meditative realization and an understanding of the Buddha-Dharma for all. Each year brings new insights which help to drive our efforts, but our primary motivation is the Bodhisattva Vow to assist all sentient beings to become liberated from suffering and to realize the Highest Perfect Enlightenment. We humbly offer three bows in deepest gratitude to those beings who have helped us along the way and who will continue to assist us in the future.