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
Today, the Monastery Store takes a big step in increasing its offerings of sangha-made items. For several years we’ve featured bird house gourds, incense holders, beeswax candles and of course honey from our own hives. All of these products and more have celebrated age-old traditions of handcraft using resources cultivated and harvested from our own grounds. As you’ll see and read below, a number of these endeavors have been fermenting and evolving behind the scenes and we’re very excited to now share them with the wider world. (For now, most of these items will only be available at our in-person store, but we’ll expand to offering them online as quantities become available.) Read more
By Robyn Ikyo Love
On April 8, 2018, Shugen Roshi completed the process of dharma transmission for Vanessa Zuisei Goddard. Zuisei first came into residency in 1995, fresh out of university. She spent 14 years as a monastic and returned to lay life in 2014, continuing to work full time for the Monastery in various capacities. She became a dharma holder in 2015, enabling her to begin leading retreats and training as a teacher both at the Monastery, at the Zen Center of NYC, and with our affiliate groups. Read more
Posted by Danica Shoan Ankele
Among the present blessings of my monastic life, I count the chance to be part of a newly formed collaboration between members of the Temple’s People of Color Tea Group and the Monastery’s Beyond Fear of Differences Planning Group. Together, nineteen of us (about half of us identify as people of color and half as white) are working on creating a more inclusive and diverse community within the MRO. We’ve been referring to our joint group simply as POC/BFOD. Read more
On Mt. Tremper we are alive in cold February. The wind stings, the ice cracks underfoot, and at night we are dazzled by bright, bright stars. What a privilege it is to live on this mountain and feel the earth turn from season to season and to share our practice with the sun and snow. Now the sun swings around and begins to consider Spring 2018, and we begin to consider Ango. Again, like softening earth, we’ll deepen our practice and find what grows within us. Read more
MRO Sangha Members join Buddhist Progressive Gathering in NYC
How does a group from various Buddhist traditions respond to the pressing moral issues of our day? How do we bring Buddhism’s practices and teachings to the larger world without proselytizing, and without losing the unique perspective that Buddhism offers? And how can Buddhists, who traditionally eschew political involvement and partisanship, step forward for the good of all sentient beings, at what appears to be a pivotal moment in human history?
The organizers of Buddhist Action Day on February 3 tacitly acknowledged those dilemmas, while asserting that the overriding question facing Buddhism today is not whether to engage, but how. Read more
On Sunday, January 28, 2018 over 75 sangha members gathered to share and investigate ways to actively and intentionally channel our collective concern for our world into beneficial action. Read more
The room was dim. About sixty bodies arranged themselves wall-to-wall in rows, eyes closed, supine on zabutons. Imagining themselves dead.
“How did you die?” intoned a voice. “How old were you when you died? Where were you when you died? Who was with you, or not, when you died?”
The questioner was Zen priest and chaplain Trudi Jinpu Hirsch-Abramson, who conducted the retreat Death & Dying: Using Death to Teach Us How to Live, on January 13 at Zen Mountain Monastery. What was most surprising about the weekend was the degree to which we did not talk about death—at least not about our fear of it—but about our lives.
“The prospect of death,” Hirsch-Abramson said, “can launch you into you.” Read more