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.
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.
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.
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!)
by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Sensei
The Zen tradition places a special emphasis on beginner’s mind because the mind of a beginner has qualities that are so important for dharma study. The beginner’s mind can be quite open and have a certain kind of innocence within the dharma. There can be a sense of eagerness to set out on a journey into unknown territory. And there’s no history with regards to practice and training, which means there’s not much accumulation, not much prejudice to cloud our view.
by Suzanne Taikyo Gilman
This life of mine is perfect and complete Buddha nature; the teachings state this directly. So this should be easy—just live as an enlightened being. But what is that, really? We come to practice to be completely liberated from suffering, but the old habits of solving problems, finding adjustments or applying ‘the fix’ aren’t the same as taking up the bodhisattva vows. The Buddha and his early followers wandered and practiced together, seeking the true path of awakening, and that’s where we all begin. This Buddha nature is innate, and it has to be verified personally, with one’s very own evolving experience.
The Avatamsaka Sutra
To all the buddhas, the lions of the human race,
In all directions of the universe,
through past and present and future: To every single one of you,
I bow in homage; Devotion fills my body, speech and mind.
by Jody Hojin Kimmel
Master Dogen taught in his fascicle Henzan—Encountering Everywhere, that whole-hearted practice of the Way is to take up the study of one thing and to understand it deeply. He encouraged us to “study each dharma exhaustively and then to study it still further.”
In Spring of 2000 during one of our three-month training intensives, called ango, we were presented with an art practice assignment: to choose one thing, one object, and be in its presence for next 90 days with full attention. Daido Roshi charged us to enter into the continuously changing nature of our experience, and bring our understanding into a form of creative expression.
By Robin Wall Kimmerer
We poor myopic humans, with neither the raptors gift of long distance acuity, nor the talents of a housefly for panoramic vision. However, with our big brains, we are at least aware of the limits of our vision. With a degree of humility rare in our species, we acknowledge there is much that we can’t see, and so contrive remarkable ways to observe the world. Infrared satellite imagery, optical telescopes, and the Hubbell space telescope bring vastness within our visual sphere.
By Dogen Zenji
Kashvapa Bodhisattva extolled Shakyamuni Buddha with a verse:
Although beginner’s mind and ultimate mind are indistinguishable, the beginner’s mind is more difficult. I bow to the beginner’s mind that lets others awaken first. Already a teacher of humans and devas, the beginner’s mind excels the mind of a shravaka or of a pratyeka-buddha. Such aspiration is outstanding in the three realms, so it is called unsurpassable.