On Sunday, December 10, Shugen Roshi officiated Tokudo, the full Monastic Ordination, for Shea Zuiko Ikusei Settimi. During the morning ceremony at the Monastery she received the kesa, zagu, monastic bowl and lineage chart as well as the monastic name Zuiko, which means “auspicious peace.”
This step along Zuiko Ikusei’s path is the culmination of many years of residential and lay training in the Mountains and Rivers Order. Beginning practicing with the Order in 2004 while living in New York City, she soon joined the Monastery’s residential community and eventually became a postulant monastic at the Monastery in 2012. Zuiko Ikusei currently oversees the Monastery Store and is involved in a range of initiatives at both the Monastery and Fire Lotus Temple.
Shugen Roshi shaves the last of Zuiko Ikusei’s hair.
Receiving the zagu, the monastic bowing mat.
Shugen Roshi and Zuiko following the ceremony.
The full roster of monastics posing for a commemorative moment with Zuiko.
Listen to the full morning program here: ordination
Auspiciously, Sunday also saw the conclusion of the Buddha’s Enlightenment Vigil at the Monastery and at the Temple, honoring the awakening of Shakyamuni Buddha upon seeing the morning star. During the morning program Shugen Roshi offered this poem:
for Shakyamuni Buddha—
Your Diamond Seat
opens the gateless gate;
Your Mountain Form
swallows earth and sky;
Your Great Awakening
illuminates time and space;
Your Lion’s Roar
fills the echoless valley.
we bring life to your gift of the deathless.
Because it is not yours to give,
we bow in deepest gratitude.
Because it is beyond all knowing,
it is the Great Compassion.
Doshinji, December 10, 2017 Read more
On November 19, 2017, we ended the three-month ango training period with Shuso Hossen, where the Chief Disciple Patrick Yunen Kelly offered his first public talk and engaged the sangha in Dharma Encounter. Yunen, now a senior student in the MRO, will continue to help keep the dharma flame burning at Fire Lotus Temple near his home in Brooklyn, as well as at the Monastery.
Earlier in the month on Sunday, November 12, Shugen Roshi gave Jukai to six students of the Mountains and Rivers Order. Having already practiced and studied at the Monastery and the Zen Center for many years, this ceremony of receiving the precepts marks their formal taking of the Bodhisattva Vows.
In preparation, the group stayed at the Monastery throughout the proceeding week, working on their rakusus and meeting daily with Shugen Roshi to explore the nature of these precepts in ever greater depth. During the ceremony the students received a lineage chart of the ancestors, a dharma name reflecting their personality and aspiration, as well as their inscribed rakusus.
The participants are seen in this photo (from left to right): Ely Seiryu Rayek (“Dragon Vow”), David Shokan McNamara (“Illuminated Barrier”), Pascale Koho Montadert (“Abundant Peace”), Donna Shoho Forgey (“Sacred Service”), Tom Tokusei Van Sickle (“Authentic Sincerity”), Kristen Keimu Adolfson (“Enlightened Dream”)
Shugen concluded the ceremony by offering these words from Daido Roshi, founder of the MRO:
“When the true eye opens, everything is realized as one. When the dharma eye opens one is realized as everything.
When the true eye functions, it clears away all discriminating thoughts and allows us to see the pure dharmakaya, the absolute oneness of the universe. When the dharma eye functions it creates a clarity the allows us to see that nothing in the universe is hidden. Everything is revealed, everything is just as it is.
The true eye is the eye of wisdom which is like diamond sword of Manjushri cuts through all illusions.
The dharma eye is the eye of compassion. it is the unconditioned love of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Samatabhadra Bodhisattva; it is working for the alleviation of all suffering.”
Everyone has these two eyes, as does the Buddha and you. When we open the two eyes we realize Buddha mind, and when we realize Buddha mind we realize that self nature and true nature are one. This is the treasury of the true dharma eye, Shobogenzo. This is giving life to all Buddhas.”
On September 3, in addition to opening the Fall 2017 Ango training period, the Monastery also held a different sort of opening ceremony. Shugen Sensei and Hojin Sensei performed an eye opening for two new images, created specifically for the the main altar in our zendo. Read more
The current main sink situation. The new kitchen will have twice as many sinks to help meal crews run more efficiently.
Since the founding of Zen Mountain Monastery in 1980, the Monastery kitchen has been an emotional hearth, a training hall, and the birth place of approximately 38,850 meals. It has also remained functionally the same for much of that time, even as other parts of the main building have been renovated and other structures on the property have been raised or rehabilitated. Read more
The monastic calling can sweep up the young in their daisy-eyed enthusiasm. It can take root in older practitioners, too: a penchant for absolute commitment previously unknown to the individual. It can also burn steadily, if flickering, throughout decades of practice, finally being realized when circumstances come together or after a very long period of discernment. Read more
On Sunday, June 18, 2017, Shugen Sensei completed a process of dharma transmission to Jody Hojin Kimmel as a large gathering of sangha shared the moment. Denbo, the actual transmission empowerment, took place—in accord with tradition—at midnight the evening before without witnesses. Dharma transmission is an intimate expression of the student meeting the teacher’s understanding and conveyance of the Dharma. Hence it is referred to in Zen as a direct mind-to-mind transmission, beginning with the Buddha and his student Mahakashyapa and onward through the ages. Read more
Shuso Hossen with Valerie Meiju Linet
With the onset of summer, our Spring Ango training period came to a close with multiple displays of dedication and playful inquiry. First, on May 17 and 18, art presentations were held at the Zen Center and at the Monastery, giving ango participants the chance to share their work. Over the course of the ango, we took up the Karaniya Metta Sutta as an entry point for creative explorations. The results came in photos, poems, sculptures, video, watercolors, collage and in just about every size and shape you could imagine. (Medium, short, small, or otherwise!) Read more
On Sunday, April 23, Shugen Sensei officiated over a jukai ceremony for six students who have been practicing and studying the Bodhisattva precepts for several years. Read more
Something fermented this way comes.
Recently, sangha member Achong Chen visited the Monastery kitchen to share some of her passion for kimchi. Normally associated with Korean cuisine, kimchi is also very popular in Japan, Taiwan (Achong’s home turf), and increasingly in the US. While there are many different recipes, Achong had us make a fairly standard kimchi using daikon radish, carrot, napa cabbage, ginger, garlic, scallions and the salt and chili that give all kimchis their distinctive, fermented punch. Read more