Open Access

Sangha Reflections on the Jizo Project

· Open Access, Sangha Reflections

The Jizo Project is an important sangha-supported initiative to make Zen Mountain Monastery a more accessible and accommodating refuge for practice. Here are several reflections from sangha members on what the initiative means to them. Care to contribute your voice to the conversation? Email us at

“For me, what comes to mind about this project is, ‘May all who seek the dharma have access to it.’  The Jizo Project is beautiful on so many levels.” — Rachel Yuho Rider

“I’ve been a student in the MRO since 1996. Since then, I’ve gone from being a healthy, energetic middle-aged person to an old lady with a legion of health problems past and present. I’m unable to do a full sesshin, and have increasing trouble with stairs. The Jizo Project will make it possible for me to continue to come to the Monastery. I’m overjoyed that it’s happening, and deeply, deeply grateful to all who can contribute, and to the foresight and generosity of this vision.” — Chase Takusei Twichell

“This practice and this place have given so much to me, changing my life for the better in so many ways. I have the experience of coming to the Monastery and feeling as if I’m “taking” — taking the enormous  generosity of the teachers, the monastics, the residents, the place itself.  We now have a tangible opportunity through the Jizo Project to give back, and that’s a wonderful opportunity for all of us.” — Richard Shozen Hamlin

“I am thrilled to think that I can be here my entire life, in a beautiful space, with my sangha family around me, practicing together.”  — Jody Hojin Kimmel, Sensei

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All the Ancestors Are Like This

· Dharma Discourses, Open Access · ,

by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

The True Dharma Eye, Case 101

Nanyue’s “Its Not Like Something”

Main Case

Zen master of Nanyue went to study with the Sixth Ancestor, Huineng. The Sixth Ancestor said: “Where are you from?” Nanyue said, “I came from National Teacher Huian.”

The Sixth Ancestor said, “What is it that has come like this?” Nanyue could not answer.

He attended on the master for eight years and worked on this question. One day he said to the Huineng, “Now I understand it. When I first came to study with you, you asked me, ‘What is it that has come like this?’ The Sixth Ancestor said, “How do you understand it?” Nanyue said, “To say it’s like something misses it.” Huineng said, “Does it depend upon practice and enlightenment?”

Nanyue said, “It’s not that there is no practice and enlightenment. It’s just that we should not be defiled by them.”

The Sixth Ancestor said, “Just this non-defilement is what buddhas have maintained and transmitted. You are like this. I am like this. All the ancestors in India were like this.”


Blue sky, bright sun

there is no distinguishing east from west.

Yet acting in accord with the imperative

still requires dispensing medicine when the sickness appears.

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Ending Well, Beginning Well

· Editorial, Open Access ·

Shugen Roshi wrote the following preface for issue 37.1, the final quarterly print issue of Mountain Record. This long-considered change reflects how communications have evolved since we began publishing the journal in the 1980s. Starting this spring, follow our on-line updates and offerings, here and through our newsletters, and look for our annual print journal, available December 2019. —The Editors

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Serving the Spirit

· Open Access · , ,

Mondo by John Daido Loori, Roshi
originally printed in Mountain Record in the issue Spiritual Calling (2008)

In the Zen Buddhist tradition there are several ways of engaging with a teacher and one of them is mondo, an informal question and answer session on some aspect of the Dharma. This mondo was held with John Daido Loori, Roshi, the founder of the Mountains and Rivers Order, at Zen Mountain Monastery in 2008.

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Wilderness Camping as a Retreat

· Open Access ·

by Robert Genjin Savage
originally published in the Mountain Record journal on Compassion (1991)

Before I discovered Zen, week-long solo backpacking trips were my sesshins. The absence of human references in the blank stare of nature can either quiet the mind or drive it crazy. I’ve experienced both.

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Shikantaza is for Wimps

· Open Access ·

by Maureen Jisho Ford
originally publishing in Mountain Record journal: Wellness (1990)

It was in the fall of 1985 that I first came to Zen Mountain Monastery. What had brought me here was the same search that, 25 years earlier, had taken me to the Novitiate of the Sisters of Mercy. The decision to be a nun had been made in early childhood, and, in retrospect, I realize that it arose from a desire to experience God. As a child I had been fascinated by the stories of the saints and mystics, and although many of the stories had an almost fairy tale quality, I nevertheless sensed that, at their core, they contained an account of something I wanted for myself, namely, union with God, the mystical experience. What better place to find God, I reasoned, than in a convent. 

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The Immoveable Spot

· Dharma Discourses, Open Access ·

by Jody Hojin Kimmel
Originally published in Mountain Record journal: Zazen (2013)

Just resting is like the great ocean accepting hundreds of streams all absorbed in one flavor. A practitioner of the way follows movement and responds to changes in total harmony. Moreover, haven’t you yourself established the mind that thinks up all the illusory conditions? This insight must be perfectly incorporated. Discontinue leaks and do not act on them.

— Master Hongzhi

Cultivating the Empty Field

How do we leak the vital energy we need for spiritual awakening? What do we have to do to, “discontinue the leaks and not act on them,” as Master Hongzhi teaches? 

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Lone Zen

· Open Access ·

by Bill Kigen Delaney
Originally published in Mountain Record journal: “Fear and Fearlessness” (1992)

At the very un-monastic hour of seven AM, in the basement of a house in the hills outside the Chilean capitol city of Santiago, the South American branch of the Mountain and Rivers Order begins the day. The ringing of a bell, forty-minutes or so of zazen, chanting the Heart Sutra. Zazen again in the evening, ending this time with the Four Vows.

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Cars and Trucks, too

· Open Access ·

by Sybil Seisui Rosen
originally published in Mountain Record journal: Teachings of the Insentient (1998)

“Is everything in the world in the middle of my heart?” my nephew Austin asks me, out of the blue. He is four; I am dumbstruck. “Y-yes, absolutely,” I stammer. “Cars and trucks too?” he goes on. “Uh-huh,” I reply. 

I don’t think he’s looking for answers be­cause he already has them. He just wants to see if l have them too, though I’m sure my experi­ence of them is less direct than his at present. 

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Being Born

· Open Access ·

by Annie Redman
Originally published in Mountain Record journal: “Mystic Earth” (2002)

Midwives say that at every birth, a mother is also born. During all of the difficulty of my first months with Simon, it was comforting to remember that the great cycle of birth that was manifested here included me, too. That being born inherently involves a mother. And that I was a newborn, too.

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