The lights dim in a black box theater while the stage remains illuminated at opposing angles. Right away nothing happens. You become aware of your own expectations, the state of your digestion, the other audience members. Perhaps they know something you don’t. And then, slowly, a powdery white figure begins to move. Crouched low, barely covered in ragged, stained garments. Have they been there the whole time, even when you entered the room? Or did they slip in while you and your friend sat down, checking your phones once more before turning off the alerts? Was the performer listening in on the audience’s conversations? How could they have been crouched there so long, not moving? Wait, are there two of them?
The Zen youth programs, (Kids, Tweens and Teens) have been online for well over a year. We’ve welcomed new sangha members from all over the country and even as far afield as Colombia, SA. The Zen Kids program (4-10 years) joins together once a week to sit zazen, create art, share gratitude, use our imaginations and read inspiring stories together.
Zazen with the young kids is the same as with us grown-ups, but different. We encourage the kids to sit in the same posture, but to find our mudra we might imagine we are taking care of a delicate dragon’s egg. Kids as young as age four participatie so Zazen can often be a playful adventure in locating where we find our breath. Can we find it in our nose, our toes? Our home, the trees and birds outside?
Sanctuary: A Meditation on Home, Homelessness and Belonging, by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel; Street Zen: the Life and Work of Issan Dorsey, 2020 reissue, by David Schneider; Contemplative Caregiving: Finding Healing, Compassion & Spiritual Growth Through End-of-Life Care, by John Eric Baugher
Home and homeleaving, taking refuge and building a sanctuary—these phrases resonate with our sense of place and belonging. Written decades apart, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel’s Sanctuary: A Meditation on Home, Homelessness and Belonging, and the 2020 reissue of 1997’s Street Zen: the life and work of Issan Dorsey, take us to the heart of homeleaving, spiritual inquiry and taking refuge. A third book, Contemplative Caregiving by educator John Eric Baugher, takes up the practice of spiritual care that both Issan and Zenju teach as refuge.
Many years ago, still in college, I hitchhiked north from Berkeley to the uppermost reaches of California, my last ride dropping me off at the foot of Mt. Shasta in the southern Cascade Range. I didn’t yet know of the Zen monastery there but I’d come on a quasi-spiritual quest all the same. A friend had recently committed suicide and, in his honor, I wanted to test the fragile membrane of my own existence, going deep into solitude amidst the quiet embrace of a mountain landscape.
This book is unlike any book I have ever read. Like a quilt, each
piece contributes a unique perspective and style, coming together to
provide warmth and comfort on the dharma path. Whether you are
cisgender, trans, questioning, or something else entirely, you will
find fresh perspectives on the dharma that will speak directly to
your own experience, as well as perspectives that you may have never
Author Lawrence Shainberg will be at the Zen Center of NYC on Saturday, October 5th for a reading from his new book, Four Men Shaking. We used this as an excuse to catch up with our old friend “Larry-san” and to talk about the new book and how it came into being.
Oh my gosh! How did the high privilege ever come to me to review this book? I am lost in it and continually astonished. Margaret Gibson’s newest book of poems, Not Hearing the Wood Thrush, is ripe and full and endlessly transcendent. Not hearing the wood thrush is a fine art that we would all do well to learn
She makes her way and takes us with her through the dozen doors and windows of her poems into the woods, the river, and the star fields.
It is perhaps a widely held assumption about the Zen arts that they occur in a bubble of tranquility and equanimity unsullied by the chaos of the world.
One might picture a solitary painter or poet, or a silent line of archers practicing kyudo (Zen archery), each focused singularly on the completion of a perfect act. That assumption might be correct to a point, but Painting Peace, Art in a Time of Global Crisis by Kazuaki Tanahashi opens up a different view.
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.