The original Mt. Equity Zendo Jiho-ji (MEZ) was located on Mt. Equity Road in Pennsdale, PA. The name means “meditation place on a mountain of equanimity, a temple of compassionate teachings.” It was founded by the Reverend Dai-En Bennage Roshi, who began offering classes and retreats there after returning from several years of Zen training in Japan. With the support of a growing number of students and friends, MEZ expanded within the building, incorporating in 1998 and becoming a 501(c)3 non-profit religious organization. In 2000, MEZ purchased the building to serve as a meditation center. Thanks to the ongoing support and generosity of MEZ friends, both in the United States and Japan, Rev. Dai-En was officially installed as Abbess of Mt Equity Zendo Jiho-ji by the Japanese Soto Zen School in May, 2005. In 2014, the large manor house in Pennsdale that housed Mt. Equity was sold in order to downsize and a smaller dwelling, less than a mile away became a temporary refuge for practice. In 2017, Rev. Dai-En retired, and moved from Pennsdale to Lewisburg, PA, where she continues to teach and to offer the practice of Zen meditation near the Susquehanna River.
Between the years of 1996 and 2014, the Mt. Equity Sangha grew steadily and rich opportunities for practice were offered, including weekly evenings of zazen for local practitioners and monthly sesshin, drawing practitioners on a regular basis from throughout Pennsylvania and surrounding states. With regular attendance, our Sangha matured as the Dharma was deeply engaged through multiple forms of practice including full Soto Zen service, gyohatsu meal practice, preparation for and receipt of the precepts, extended week-long sesshins, and regular opportunities to study with visiting teachers from Japan, the United States, Europe and Latin America. It is this depth of practice which provides the solid foundation from which our practice locations continue to spread the Dharma.