Kodo Aishi Mike Elser
Kodo Aishi lives with his wife Guruma Amala in the beautiful little seaside town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They were married in July 1971 in Springfield, Pennsylvania, and ordained as Hollow Bones Rinzai Zen Priests in June 2015 at Dai Bosatsu Zendo in the New York Catskills. They have two very grown up and very married children along with two beautiful granddaughters and two granddogs.
Kodo found Hollow Bones and the Mondo process through the ManKind Project. He sat his first sesshin in the spring of 2010 with JunPo Roshi leading and his second sesshin that fall with DoShin Roshi leading. JunPo pointed with great clarity to the absolute purity of This Awakened Mind and the responsibility, with right view, to clean up one’s emotional baggage. With equal clarity, DoShin pointed to the value of adding Integral perspectives to right view as well as value trauma and shadow work. Together JunPo and DoShin cast a bright light on his path - Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.
Today the focus of Kodo’s work as a Hollow Bones priest is co-leading the three-day Integral Mondo Zen Retreats, helping to build the Integral Zen organization, building an awakening community of practice in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
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Over the years Guruma watched with some amusement as Kodo attempted to earn a right livelihood with a Master’s Degree in Woodwind Pedagogy. During the Vietnam War, he was drafted out of teaching elementary school instrumental music. This led to one of his earliest insights. He saw clearly that it would be best for all concerned if he carried a clarinet rather than an M16 rifle. This important insight led him to a position with the United States Army Field Band.
Three years later found him again teaching - this time high school instrumental music! Not finding complete fulfillment as a high school marching band director, Kodo also taught woodwinds at Susquehanna University and performed with the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony Woodwind Quintet, and various area recital venues.
By the early ‘80s the fresh air Kodo found on the marching band field was just not enough, leading him to seek a different path. Guruma watched with somewhat less than unbridled enthusiasm as he took a position with Aetna Life and Casualty. With his MFA degree in his back pocket, he stepped boldly onto this new path of life (insurance) and despite his degree, rose to become Director of Business and Estate Planning Services.
However, In the ‘90s, Kodo tired of the fresh? air of the boardroom and set off on a new path, this time as an entrepreneur. The next 17 years, Kodo and Guruma owned, operated and eventually sold several successful packing and shipping businesses. Along the way Kodo found the ManKind Project. He initiated in 2005, became the New England Center Director in 2009, and Chairman of the MKP USA Board of Directors in 2012. Most important is that his work with MKP led him to Hollow Bones, the Mondo Zen process and his present and final path - The Eightfold Path.