Zen Training

Shuso’s Letter Fall Ango 2018

· Sangha News, Zen Training · , , ,

Dear Sangha,

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.

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Receiving That Which Can Not Be Given – Reflections on Zuisei Sensei’s Dharma Transmission

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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.

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Shuso’s Letter Spring Ango 2018

· Sangha News, Zen Training · , , , ,

Dear Sangha,

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.

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Death as a Mirror for Living

· Essays, Retreats, Zen Training · , , ,

by Theresa Braine

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.”

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Monastic Ordination and Enlightenment Vigil

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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.”

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Photo by David McNamera, MRO

This is the Way I Express My Gratitude

· Dharma Discourses, Zen Training · , , , ,

by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

In the Mountains and Rivers Order we have two paths by which a student can practice and realize Buddhadharma—a lay training path and a monastic path. These make up the fourfold sangha as established by the Buddha: female and male monastics, and female and male lay students. The lay and monastic students together create an interdependent and co-dependent body that is sangha. Each path has its own integrity and is mutually dependent upon the other, and the differences between the two paths helps to give each its vitality.

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New Zealand Sesshin, July 2017

· Reflections, Retreats, Sangha News, Zen Training ·

NOTE: This July, Shugen Arnold Sensei made his annual trip to New Zealand to lead retreats and public programs with our substantial sangha there. He first visited NZ almost 30 years ago with Daido Loori Roshi and he and other teachers in the Order have been visiting ever since. In this blog post, sangha member Navina Clemerson shares her reflections on the sesshin that took place . To read an account of the public talk given by Shugen Sensei in Nelson, click here to read another post by Myokei Adams and Gensei Moore. 

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Rakusan Moshin’s Ordination Day

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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.

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Dharma Transmission for Hojin Sensei

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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. 

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Falling into Summer

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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!)

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