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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.