New Ways of Bringing "Spirit into Work" - at the Rio Olympics
- sent in by Colleen Coman
Rev. Zenji Nio is known as the Samurai Chaplain at the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, working as a spiritual and motivational coach for over 100 Olympians. Sports Canada has stated that "Nio is making an impact unseen at any Games before" and his trademark style of fusing Eastern philosophy with Western motivational speaking has been earned bi-partisan praise from international leaders, scholars and athletes across the world.
Rev. Nio also conducted the first ever marriage ceremonies at an Olympic Village, and the first ever ordination of an athlete as a Buddhist monk inside an Olympic Village, at the recent games in Rio.
Read more on Zenji here.
Also see Village Life article (page 4), from the Rio Olympics (PDF attached)
For more information on faith and spirituality at the Rio Olympics, you can read more from the Regional Interfaith Network here:
"Athletes come to the chaplains and worship spaces to pray for success, but also to mourn losses, celebrate victories, and receive support for any other concerns present in their lives at the moment, Tavares said. Dambman said he had ministered to competitors who have had deaths in their families, experienced injuries and who are grappling with depression..."
Press Release on Buddhist Ordination at Rio Olympics
Olympian ordained as Buddhist monk during Closing Ceremony
August 22nd, 2016 - While the world reflects on the Closing Ceremony of the Rio Olympics, Poland's race walker Adrian Blocki marks his new beginning as the first Olympian to be ordained as a Buddhist monk in an Olympic Village.
During the 2 hour ceremony Blocki was given the new spiritual name of Marg Cara - which translates from Sanskrit as "path-walker" or "trail-blazer" for signifying both his life as a race walker as well as his commitment to the Noble 8 fold path or Middle Way of the Buddha.
The ceremony was conducted by the Olympic Chaplain Rev Zenji Nio who - as per a report in the Olympic Village newspaper - teaches Samurai meditation practices to 50 medalists from all faiths. Nio also recently conducted the first marriage in an Olympic Village between Argentina's Yael Castiglione and Brazil's Marcus Eloe bringing together the rival nations in a unique way.
During his ordination, Blocki was given sacred soil, water, a Bodhi leaf and a Bodhi mala or rosary from the Buddha's home of Vulture's Peak in India. Blocki is also expected to spend time training in the Vulture's Peak temple of Kamakura that is being constructed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will be headed by Zenji Nio as the first Westerner to launch a landmark temple in Japan.
Blocki elucidated, "I have been studying Buddhism for years and yet when I met Rev. Nio I found someone who actually lived and embodied the principles I had only read about. I ended up visiting him twice a day every day to learn the Dharma and we even meditated under a tree before my race. By holding my ordination ceremony at the Olympic Village itself I am affirming that the focus should not only be about the few minutes or hours or days that an athlete competes here but about the spiritual journey that comprises the Game of Life itself. The life-lessons we learn are more valuable than mere medals or materialism".
As a novice monk, Blocki was given a Japanese robe and a copy of the Buddhist Bible as translated by Rev. Zenji Nio. Furthermore, before a 1st century stupa reliqaury of the Buddha, Blocki took his vows in the Bodhisattva tradition where he can continue to live in the real world and make a difference as a world class athlete who inspires others instead of renouncing everything and joining a monastery.
In addition, Blocki received a Japanese Daruma doll based on the Indian founder of Kung Fu and the patron saint of the Samurai - Bodhidharma - whose famous motto is popular with athletes - 'if you fall down 7 times, get up 8". Blocki will be practicing a form of Motivational Mahayana Buddhism taught by Rev. Nio that includes spiritual practices of Samurai and Shaolin monks.
Buddhist meditation and mindfullness have played an important role in the lives of other athletes as well. While Brazil Rugby 7´s Isadora Cerullo and Marjorie Enja made world headlines with their public proposal, their teammate Tais Balconi was working with Zenji to overcome the after-effects of a coma, crushed lung and multiple broken bones. Similarly fellow Rugby 7´s player Juliana Dos Santos used Zenji´s techniques to play despite a torn ligament. "Zenji changed our lives and we wear his Kannon bracelets everywhere" said the Rugby 7 players.
Similarly Argentina's Juliette Lazcano used Zenji's Buddhist practices to overcome a retinal detachment that had her wearing protective goggles on the volleyball court. Nio also conducted prayer services in Sanskrit for athletes from America, China and Japan as well as Austria, Sweden, Taipei, India, Bhutan, Mongolia and Nepal in the first tent designated for meditation in an Olympic Village.
Rev Zenji Nio is the head of the Panam Buddhist Temple which is registered in India as home to the oldest Buddhist lineage in the world and has branch temples in Japan, India and North America. It has represented Buddhism at many world events including the Rio Olympics, Toronto Pan American Games and World Parliament of Religions. He can be visited at http://www.Olympics.guru