As Autumn is swiftly approaching and we experience the impermanence of those lovely summer days, we can be reminded of and reflect on the limited time we have in our own life to manifest what we came here to do.
Shugen Roshi chose the theme “Buddha Ancestors” for this Fall Ango, and we will be taking up this study through selected readings, art practice, and work with our teachers. I’m looking forward to using this as a time to see into the humanity and vulnerability of the Ancestors, thus bringing them closer to me and making their experience more accessible.
Shugen Roshi asked me to serve as the Chief Disciple during this Ango, and I will do my best to do so. In my private life, I prefer to “blend with the woods,” and so the more public role of Chief Disciple is not something that will come easily for me. I will need your patience and help to grow into this role. As I engage this challenge, I hope we all can give support to each other in our practice and realize more of what we have vowed.
May our life reflect what we have seen to be true and may we be of true benefit to all sentient and insentient beings. Let us learn during this Ango to radiate kindness over the entire world in an unbounded way, as the Metta Sutta invites us to do.
Seishin started to study Zen in Germany with Joan Rieck, a teacher in the Yasutani Sanbo-Kyodan lineage.
Seishin began working with Daido Roshi in 1993 and became his student in 1995. While living in Colorado for two years, she studied with Shishin Wick Roshi, with Daido Roshi’s permission. She returned and took Jukai with Daido Roshi in November 2001.
After Daido Roshi’s passing, she studied for five years with Ryushin Sensei before becoming a student of Shugen Roshi early in 2017.
Seishin works as a service provider at the Wellness Center of the Omega Institute and as a teacher in the Center for Natural Wellness School of Massage Therapy. She also has her own healing practice in a private office locally.
She lives with her partner Kyosho close to the monastery.
The Mountains and Rivers Order training schedule cycles through periods of intensification and relaxation, mirroring seasonal changes and giving us varied opportunities to study and practice. The spring and fall quarters are ango—“peaceful dwelling”—nintety-day intensives that continue an ancient tradition dating back to the time of the Buddha, when the sangha gathered in forest groves during monsoon season to support each other in their practice and receive teachings from the Buddha and his senior disciples.
Each ango has a theme drawn from the Buddhist teachings. The theme for Fall Ango is “Buddha Ancestors.” We will be reading selections from the Therigatha, or Verses of the Elder Nuns; several Jataka Tales (traditional stories of the Buddha’s past lives); and excerpts from Great Disciples of the Buddha by Nyanaponika Thera and Hellmuth Hecker, all available on the Ango website. We will engage this teaching together during the ango’s Buddhist study sessions and the ango intensive retreat.
The training and practice of the chief disciple is another important facet of ango training. When a junior student is ready to make the transition to being a senior student, the teacher will ask him or her to serve as chief disciple for the training period, leading the ango and offering their sincere and wholehearted practice as a model for the sangha. The ango culminates with a special right of passage for the whole community: Shuso Hossen.
For more information about this Fall Ango and the various activities both at the Monastery and the Temple, please check out our website at zmm.mro.org. Read more
The National Buddhist Prison Sangha (NBPS) was started over twenty-five years ago by John Daido Loori, Roshi after he received a letter from an inmate at Greenhaven Correctional Facility. The correspondence program developed by the Zen Mountain Monastery community now provides guidance in Zen Buddhist spiritual practice for people in prisons all over the country. This guidance is provided by Practice Advisors who are experienced students supported by the NBPS Directors. Read more
This summer, July 5 – 8, some of the country’s most celebrated contemplative poetic voices will be headlining the first ever Buddhist Poetry Festival at Zen Mountain Monastery. The festival spans an overflowing weekend of workshops and readings, writing and reflection, designed for anyone who resonates with Dharma and poetry, regardless of their own previous level of engagement. In addition to featured events, participants will have opportunities to join monastics and residents in periods of meditation, as well as liturgy, and communal meals. Yet the festival will also open up the usual Monastery schedule to be more, well, festive. In short, there will be something for everyone. Read more
by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi
LISTEN TO THIS TALK>
Book of Serenity Case 74
Plenty has myriad virtues; swept clear, there’s not a mote of dust.
Detached from all forms, identical to all things: taking a step atop a hundred foot pole,
the universe in all directions is one’s whole body—but tell me, where does it come from?
A monk asked Fayan, “I hear that in the teachings there is a saying‚
‘From a non-abiding basis are established all things.’
What is the non-abiding basis?”
Fayan said, “Form arises before substantiation,
names arise from before naming.”
Without tracks, No news
The white clouds are rootless—What color is the pure breeze?
Spreading the canopy of the sky, mindless,
Holding the carriage of the earth, powerful;
Illumining the profound source of a thousand ages,
Making patterns for ten thousand forms.
Meetings for enlightenment in the atoms of all lands
in each place is Samantabhadra:
The door of the tower opens
everywhere is Maitreya.
The enlightened path is to practice and awaken to the Buddha mind that each and every one of us possesses. Though it is our very nature—it is never apart even for an instant—to directly realize this truth is both subtle and profound. To engage the teachings that point to self-nature is also a challenge. There are teachings that are challenging and so we need to engage them thoughtfully and carefully, and take time trying to understand what they are saying. This means that in the beginning we are using our rational mind to reflect on and understand conceptually what the dharma is pointing to—something that is itself, beyond all concepts and knowing. Read more
Editorial: by Suzanne Taikyo Gilman
In creative work, facing a blank page or canvas calls for patience as we attune and express ourselves—a patience much like the receptive stillness of zazen. In zazen itself, we renounce our storytelling and let contact with mind deepen. The instructions to “let thoughts go” seem to defy the impulse to create, to narrate, to write the next line. And yet, language can also reveal the universe, our home beyond words. Read more
by Toni Morrison
Once upon a time there was an old woman. Blind but wise. Or was it an old man? A guru, perhaps. Or a griot soothing restless children. I have heard this story, or one exactly like it, in the lore of several cultures.
Once upon a time there was an old woman. Blind. Wise.
In the version I know the woman is the daughter of slaves, black, American, and lives alone in a small house outside of town. Her reputation for wisdom is without peer and without question. Among her people she is both the law and its transgression. The honor she is paid and the awe in which she is held reach beyond her neighborhood to places far away; to the city where the intelligence of rural prophets is the source of much amusement. Read more
by Eihei Dogen
The miracles I am speaking of are the daily activities of buddhas, which they do not neglect to practice. There are six miracles [freedom from the six-sense desires], one miracle, going beyond miracles, and unsurpassable miracles. Miracles are practiced three thousand times morning and eight hundred times in the evening. Miracles arise simultaneously with buddhas but are not known by buddhas. Miracles disappear with buddhas but do not overwhelm buddhas. Read more
by Vanessa Zuisei Goddard Sensei
The poet Wallace Stevens wrote:
After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends.
No was the night. Yes is this present sun.
The last line of the poem reads, “It can never be satisfied, the mind, never.” Is this true, that the mind can never be satisfied? From a conventional perspective, from the perspective of desire, we would say, “Yes, it’s true.” The mind always wants more and more, and this endless wanting keeps the sense of self going. As Annie Dillard once said, the mind wants to live forever. But is it possible for the mind to be satisfied—to know itself as complete and without lack? Read more
by Rev. angel Kyodo williams Sensei, Lama Rod Owens and Jasmine Syedullah, Ph.D.
North Atlantic Books
Review by Theresa Braine, MRO
Barbecuing, AirBnB-ing, Waiting, Living…While Black. Police interactions ranging from traumatic to deadly. Not to mention: redlining, gentrification and incarceration-for-profit. The outrages abound. Where does Buddhism land in all this? Enter Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, which starts the conversation with a road map for cutting through the collective conditioning of the white supremacist mind-set that we all, knowingly or unknowingly, live with. Read more