Spring 2017 Updates

In Memoriam: Sally Jinga Drummond

June 4, 1924 -April 9, 2017

Long-time MRO student Sally Jinga Drummond passed away this spring at age 92 in upstate New York. In addition to being an early student of Daido Roshi’s, Jinga was an abstract expressionist painter active in New York City from the 1950s onward, with paintings in permanent collections at MoMA and other museums and galleries.

In an artist’s statements Jinga said, “I believe that all great art is an attempt on the part of the artist to express his or her faith in the unseen…I believe there exists within the complex of nature, one pure undifferentiated power. It creates expanding form out of inert matter, gives direction to undisciplined energy.”

On May 7th the Monastery held a funeral for Jinga, and her ashes were buried in the cemetery, next to the grave of her husband, Wick. She is survived by her son, Craig.

Teaching in the Ten Directions

In March Shugen Sensei traveled west to visit a number of Dharma centers, joining with teachers and residents in their daily practice schedules. The Tara Mandala Center in the mountains of Colorado offered a colorful and striking contrast to Mount Tremper, and during his stay Sensei participated in Vajrayana Buddhist ceremonial pujas of offerings and prayers. Traveling further west, Sensei visited the San Francisco Zen Center, a bustling urban center with an expansive range of lay and residential programs. Among these he visited the Zen Hospice providing end-of-life care, and the Green Gulch Farm, a rural center raising organic produce for the Bay Area.

After his stay in California, Sensei traveled north to Oregon to visit with Chozen Roshi and Hogen Roshi at their Dharma centers, the Zen Community of Oregon in Portland and Great Vow Zen Monastery outside of the city. For a nal visit he continued north to Whidbey Island, Washington, to visit the Enso House hospice, a model end-of-life guest house operated by the sangha of Harada Roshi at the Tahoma Zen Monastery.

Back home in the month of April, Sensei and the Monastery hosted the regional Woodstock Interfaith Council’s annual Earth Day celebration with a panel discussion, and liturgy for the well-being and healing of the planet, followed by a community dinner. Among its other projects, the Interfaith Council continues to provide a compassionate response to the needs of immigrants and refugees in our region.

In May, Shugen Sensei traveled to visit the Buffalo Zen Affliate of the MRO, offering a two- part public talk, teachings and a full day of Dharma practice to the our active and growing sangha of the Western New York region, which includes participants from nearby Ohio and Canada.

Earth Initiative

The MRO Earth Initiative organized events at the Monastery and the Temple leading up to the People’s Climate March and other Earth Day events held in April. A screening of the documentary This Changes Everything, and a teach-in on NYC’s energy alternative programs and poster-making sessions were held. Several dozen sangha members traveled to Washington, DC for both the March for Science and the People’s Climate March, while others participated in sister marches in Philadelphia, New York City, and upstate New York.

Sangha Harmony Comment Box

A new comment box has been added to the Monastery bulletin board, providing a place for anyone who may have been negatively impacted here on the basis of race, ethnicity, ability, gender or sexual identity. This confidential comment box is there to help ensure that all people feel welcomed and nourished by their practice and participation in this and any affiliate group of the MRO. The box is checked regularly and the staff and seniors will address all comments.


On Sunday, April 23, Shugen Sensei officiated over a jukai ceremony for six students who have been practicing and studying the Bodhisattva precepts for several years. The group met with Shugen Sensei throughout the week to explore aspects of the moral and ethical teachings and were assisted in the sewing of their rakusus by Kaishin Jamieson, MRO. Jukai recipients are pictured from left to right: Rocio Myoho Aragon (“Persevering within the Mystery”), Erin Tosei Schulman (“Way of Sincerity”), Rachel Yuho Rider (“Deep Treasure”), Finn Jogen Schubert (“Complete Perfection”), Rachael Seijo Nevins (“Sacred Peace”), and Holton Shukei Walker (“Study the Unborn”).

Ango Intensive

In early April the Ango Intensive retreat, “Playing in the Buddha Field,” took up skillful means while living in a world of activity. Discussions were framed by dawn and evening zazen, with art practice and qi gong body practice, liturgy from the Lotus Sutra, breakfast oryoki and a Fusatsu ceremony. On Sunday sangha hiked into the foothills of Tremper Mountain on the Tanbark Trail led by the ango’s Chief Disciple, Valerie Meiju Linet.

Monastery Buildings & Grounds

Before the chill had even left the mountain, Yukon and Rudy could be found happily working in the new greenhouse. Now the gardens, orchard trees and bees are buzzing with activity and new growth. A brand new electric fence to protect our bees from hungry bears was installed early in the season and two buzzing hives were put back into place. In the main building, hand rails and grab bars were installed in the stairwells and bathrooms, with more upgrades and renovations to come.

Buddha's Birthday

With its trademark pagentry and dazzling creativity, the Zen Kids, Tweens and Teens offered a performance to the Monastery sangha community on Sunday, May 7th. “Princess Five Weapons,” a re-telling of a Jataka Tale of the Buddha’s life, was preceded by a birthday ceremony in the zendo with young sangha members offering flowers and helping to wash the baby Buddha.

New MRO Students

Sitting tangaryo in March were Scrap Wren, Theresa Braine, Richard Superti, and Steven Ross; in April, Sushravya Raghunath, Mika Shirota, Maureen Jisho Ford and Diana Strablow; and in May, Ian Falcon and Brian Daisen Holeman. All passed through the five barrier gates to become formal Mountains & Rivers Order students.


The Monastery would like to thank the bodhisattvas who continue with all manner of assistance at the Temple, and to Hattie Angeleah Cresse, for paints & knitting supplies, Bill Amodeo for new rose bushes, Gendo Press grow lights for the greenhouse, Ryoha Dunworth for garden supplies, Ikyo Love for supplies for the dye studio and on-going guidance, Achong Chen for kimchi fermentation jugs, materials and skill-sharing, and to Seigo Beres for delicious kitchen foodstuffs. Dharma Communications extends gratitude to Kristin Adolfson for expert graphics assistance, Polly Horne for calligraphy for the Women Ancestor’s chart, Kenshu Mieloch for audio assistance, and to Laura Close, Kamei McCarthy and Kyudo McCarthy for transcribing.

Comings & Goings at the Monastery

Residents for the month of March were Shannon Whitaker, Baltimore, MD., Kusei Barkett, Canaan, NH. , Alec Burroughs, Brooklyn, NY, Joshua Dittmar, Leeds, NY, Jogan Kain, Seattle, WA, Anthony Ligato, Warrington, PA and Shell Yang, Cannon Falls, MN. For a two week residency we welcomed Antje Boijens, Frankfurt, Germany, and Yan Ciupak, Munising, MI, and for one week Noa and Mushin Kaufhold, San Diego, CA. Residents for the three-month ango were Doug Hull, Portland OR, Claudia Young, Mount Tremper, NY, and Henry Whitwell Wales IV, of Holden, MA. In April we welcomed Francis Robitaille, Gatineau, Canada, for two months, and for one month Brent Kite, MRO, Brooklyn, NY, Anthony Saracino, Northampton, MA and Eliza Nappi, New City, NY. Also in April, Charmaine Han, Singapore, stayed for two weeks, and Joshua Aransky, Southington, CT for one week. May brought new residents Joden Rose, Anacortes, WA for one week, and Maggie Medlin, Greensboro, NC and Ajla Kamber of Atlanta, GA for a month of residency.

Comings & Goings at the Temple

New month-long resident at the Temple in March was Daniel Smith, and we said goodbye to Jean Ann Wertz ending a six-month residency. In April, Jeanne Scouten did one week of residency, and in May, Anastasia Gochnour and Julia Cestaro de Souza Pacheco stayed for a month of residential training.