Sangha News

Welcoming the New Year

· From The Mountain, Sangha News

The sangha chants the Four Vows during fusatsu, or renewal of vows ceremony.

Shugen Sensei officiated a fusatsu, or renewal of vows ceremony, shortly before midnight on Saturday, December 31st as the Monastery’s Rohatsu Sesshin drew to a close. The ceremony included a talk (video below) on the precepts, or moral and ethical teachings, and Sensei finished by encouraging the sangha to use the final minutes before midnight to reflect on their vow for the New Year.

Kaishu and Zuisei making a food offering at the beginning of the New Year’s service.

At midnight, the Temple instruments signaled the arrival of the New Year, and Sensei officiated a New Year’s entering service. After entering the zendo and offering incense, there was a food offering, and Shugen offered a poem for the New Year. While chanting the Heart Sutra, the sangha offered incense, making their personal vows for 2017.

The sangha lines up to make an incense offering for their personal vows for 2017.

Shugen Sensei’s poem for the New Year:

for the New Year ~

A cold wind at midnight –
circles the earth, pervades the heavens;
Everything is so clean and fresh.

Now, on this hallowed ground
Let your gaze be clear and long.

Find your courage –
the time for being idle and restless has passed
and a new year calls –
to bring you this closer,
to share you so larger.
See? So vast and wide,
even the sky can’t contain it.

Now, come with me – naked and simple –
Into the scars of the burning.
Let us together
Be the medicine and the song.

Dec 31, 2016

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Ron Hogen Green Receives Dharma Transmission in MRO

· Open Access, Sangha News

On Sunday, December 11th, Shugen Sensei officiated a Dharma Successor Welcoming Ceremony for Ron Hogen Green, formally marking the transmission of the dharma to Hogen. This brief, simple ceremony was the culmination of the week-long transmission process, held mostly in private in the Monastery’s Buddha Hall. The formal transmission began early the previous Monday morning. Monastery residents saw Hogen offering incense at the altars throughout the building several times each day, as well as officiating services. He also joined the residential sangha for meals.

In keeping with the tradition established by the Fifth Ancestor in transmitting the dharma to the Sixth Ancestor, Hui-neng, in a rice shed at midnight, on Saturday evening during the Buddha’s Enlightement Vigil, shortly before midnight, Shugen Sensei, Hogen and his attendant for the week, Zuisei, met in the Buddha Hall for the final aspects of the private ceremony.

After a special service on Sunday morning to mark the Buddha’s Enlightenment, Hogen entered the zendo and offered three bows to the Buddha, and then to Shugen Sensei. Sensei gave Hogen the transmission rakusu, and offered a few words. Hogen walked through the zendo in a walking bow, to receive the sangha’s support. He then turned to the sangha and offered his vows as a teacher of the dharma in the MRO.

Hogen Sensei began his formal Zen training with Philip Kapleau Roshi in 1978 and first came to Zen Mountain Monastery in 1988, eventually becoming a formal student and ordaining. After living at the Monastery for twelve years as a monastic and serving as the Director of Dharma Communications, Sensei returned to lay life. He currently serves as the Co-Director of the MRO’s city center, Zen Center of New York City in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, and lives on a farm with his family in Danville, PA.

Here is the talk that Shugen Sensei gave on Sunday, December 11th:

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Shuso Hossen Ceremony Concludes Fall Ango

· Open Access, Sangha News

Gikon Meets the Sangha in Dharma Encounter

photos by Joel Sansho Benton, MRO

On Sunday, November 20th, at the conclusion of a full and steady Shuso Hossen Sesshin, Chief Disciple Prabu Gikon Vasan offered his first talk and met the sangha in dharma encounter. After several sunny days that barely felt like autumn, Sunday dawned cold and snowy. Shoan, as head liturgist, declared it a most auspicious forecast for the Shuso Hossen Ceremony.

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Walking the Path of Peace

· Open Access, Sangha News

A Dharma Discourse by Shugen Sensei

One week following the US elections, many of us are still reeling with frustration, confusion, sadness, and anger. In the Karaniya Metta Sutta, the Buddha said:

This is what should be done by one who is skilled in goodness
And who knows the path of peace.
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech,
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm and wise and skillful,
Not proud or demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.

These are the values that our community, and many other people in this country and around the world, hold dear. And yet they seem flagrantly opposite to the characteristics manifested by our president-elect. How shall we view this new reality, and how shall we continue to walk our path of peace without feeling crippling discouragement?

On Sunday, November 13th, Shugen Sensei addressed these themes in a talk before the sangha. Urging us to ground ourselves amidst these turbulent times, Sensei states, “To be a person of the way means we must have courage to practice, to turn inward, to stop, to sit, to turn towards our own
resources, to act, to speak, to be heard. And to practice, ultimately, what’s true rather than what is easy. To be a person of the way means to be examining the contents of your own mind and what is good and what is true so that you don’t become turned upside down by the hundreds and millions of opinions.”

Watch the video recording of this talk here:

Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Sensei – “Walking the Path of Peace” – Zen Mountain Monastery – Nov. 13, 2016 from Dharma Communications on Vimeo.

Or listen to the talk here.

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We Are Enough Just As We Are

· Open Access, Sangha News

Wild Grasses Women’s Sesshin 2016

Post by Kestrel Ali Mills; photos by Annelisse Fifi

It was over a year ago that I left the Monastery after a three-month residency. It was the last day of Spring Ango and Shugen Sensei offered a Dharma Encounter. When the line opened, Shugen said, “Shoan will lead off.”

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Six MRO Students Receive Jukai

· Sangha News

On Sunday, October 16th, six Mountains and Rivers Order students received The Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts from Shugen Sensei. The Jukai Ceremony was the culmination of a week of precepts training for these students who have been formally training in the Order for many years.

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Beyond Words: 2016 Fall Ango Intensive

· Sangha News

post by Robyn Ikyo Love, MRO

On Thursday night, after a period of zazen, Shugen Sensei introduced the theme of the Fall Ango Intensive weekend to the participants in the zendo. We would be studying Dogen’s Genjokoan—the Ango theme—but he asked us to examine it through the lens of faith, which he said could be cultivated through a combination of trust, confidence and honesty.  

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In Memoriam: William Kishin Gamble

· Sangha News

William Kishin Gamble, a longtime Mountains & Rivers Order student, passed away last month.

Kishin was one of Daido Roshi’s earliest students, having begun his training at the Monastery in the early 1980s. He lived in New York City for many years and practiced actively at Fire Lotus Temple as well as at the Monastery. Kishin was a lifelong photographer and jazz musician.

A funeral is scheduled at Zen Mountain Monastery for Sunday, October 2nd at 2pm. The sangha is invited to attend.

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Funeral Service for John Shido MacKenzie

· Sangha News

Post by Chris Tyler, MRO
Photos by William Carpenter

A broad circle of mourners ringed the fresh grave—a stone square set flush in the earth, and a clean upright plank that reads “John Shido MacKenzie, 7.22.1946 – 8.4.2016.” The pine trees were still, and the vague slab of clouds held in a week’s worth of dense August air. Into the circle stepped one last woman, in a white suit with a broad-brimmed white hat. She laid down her orange marigold on the dull earth, paused, and turned away to join the circle. After a moment, a lonely train whistle came low and clear across the thick summer valley.

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Circles on the Water: Reflections on the Women’s Wilderness Retreat

· Sangha News

The week of July 19-24, 2016, fourteen women set off for Little Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks to attend Circles on the Water: A Wilderness Retreat for Women, led by Hojin Osho. What follows are the reflections of two of the retreat participants; photos by Carey Joyu DePalma, MRO.

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