Summer 2016 Updates

Teaching in the Ten Directions

In June Shugen Sensei met with the Woodstock-area Interfaith Council, and in July Sensei left for his annual visit to the New Zealand sangha. While in New Zealand he gave a talk, “Implications of an Enlightened Life: Being Awake in a Time of Uncertainty,” a retreat on “Being Born as the Earth” and a week-long sesshin as well as giving jukai to several MRO students who have been working toward this in their training.

Novice Ordinations for Moshin Ricci and Onjin Plant

On Sunday, June 26th, Robert Moshin Ricci and Jeffrey Onjin Plant received novice ordination at the Monastery from Shugen Sensei. A full zendo of sangha, friends and family came to share the day and support Moshin and Onjin in this next step on their path.

Similar to a jukai ceremony, novice ordination consists of the sixteen precepts of the Buddha way, as well as the five monastic vows of simplicity, stability, service, selflessness and accomplishing the Buddha’s way. The novice receives these vows provisionally and works with them in daily life and practice to help further discern his path and whether to continue on for full ordination in the future.

Moshin became a formal student in 2003, received the precepts in 2008 and became a postulant in 2014. He lives at the Monastery and serves in various projects for Buildings and Grounds. Onjin became a formal student in 2008, received the precepts in 2012 and became a postulant in 2014. He lives at the Monastery with his partner Ikusei and serves as the Monastery’s cook.

Sangha Weddings!

SUM16_2nd finn and mcOn May 15th, Finn Schubert and MC Halfpenny were married in a ceremony at Fire Lotus Temple with Hojin Osho officiating and the couple exchanging their wedding vows. Finn and MC live in Brooklyn, NY, where Finn helps organize the temple’s LGBTQ Group as well as an online project providing support for transgender Buddhists.

On May 29th, Valerie Meiju Linet and Jeffrey Gyokudo Roberts were married in a ceremony at Zen Mountain Monastery with Shugen Sensei officiating. Meiju and Gyokudo live near the Monastery in Boiceville, NY and are frequently involved with sangha activities, including the Zen Kids program and the Beyond Fear of Differences initiative, working to address issues of bias and oppression within the context of practice and training.

Greenhouse and Tool Shed for the Monastery Garden

On the northeast corner of the garden, right next to the beehives, the new greenhouse is being raised this summer and a toolshed has already been added just outside the garden fence. Built on a 18 x 36 foot concrete slab foundation, with solar-fed electricty and running water, the new greenhouse will provide the capacity to do year-round gardening for the Monastery. Many thanks to donors who helped make these projects possible, and to all the contractors and residential staff who have helped to get this important addition to the sangha up and running.

Jukai in New Zealand

This past July four Mountains and Rivers Order students received the SUM16_2nd NZ jukaiBodhisattva precepts in a ceremony of ciated by Shugen Sensei who was in New Zealand for his annual visit. Fellow sangha members and friends were in attendance for the ceremony at the end of a full-week sesshin. Recipients are , left to right, Tom Kusho (“Illuminated Sky”) Phillpotts, Marcus Kokusei (“Peaceful Valley”) Blosch, Shugen Sensei, Selina Seian (“Authentic Peace”) Clare, and Ed Kiju (“Radiant Pearl”) Coughlan.


In Memoriam: Blanche Zenkei Hartman, Roshi
May 8, 1926 - May 13, 2016

SUM16_2nd_blancheShunbo Zenkei Blanche Hartman, Roshi, a widely respected Zen teacher, former Abbess, and Senior Dharma Teacher of San Francisco Zen Center, died at age 90 this past spring. She was one of the first women to lead a Zen training temple outside of Asia when she served two terms as Abbess of San Francisco Zen Center between 1996 and 2003. Zenkei Roshi began Zen practice in the 1960s under Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. She ordained in 1977, receiving the name Shunbo Zenkei, “Spring Full Moon, Inconceivable Joy.” She received dharma transmission from Mel Sojun Weitzman, Roshi in 1988. She was a friend of Taizan Maezumi Roshi, Daido Roshi’s teacher.

Regarded as a central and stabilizing figure at San Franciso Zen Center for more than 40 years, her teachings and her dedication to Zen practice inspired generations of students. She leaves the legacy of several dharma heirs and students around the world. A recent collection of her teachings, Seeds for a Boundless Life, was edited by her student Zenju Earthlyn Manuel.

New MRO Students

In August, Weston Minnisali, Barry Preston, Matt Jones, and Ellery Eskelin, all passed through the five barrier gates to become formal MRO students.


The Monastery would like to thank Bill Amodeo and Simon Harrison for the wonderful plants contributed to the garden, John Caruso for his many offerings, anonymous donors and the Freulich Foundation for the new greenhouse, and Mandy Patinkin for the new garden tool shed. Appreciations to Robert Seiyu Lanaghan for the fleece spinning wheel and books on natural dye and to Tanya Pranther for her time and energy teaching dye techniques. Gratitude to Karen Spicher for her work on putting together the Temple Notes every week, and to those who donate used Mountain Records and other books to the NBPS.

Dharma Communications is grateful for transcribing work by Lyn Matoon, MRO, Carolyn Kamei McCarthy, MRO, Lindsey VanWagenen, MRO, and Connie Barrett. Our continued appreciation to all those bodhisattvas who donate their time to help with the caretaking, cooking, shopping and office work at the Temple.

Comings & Goings at the Monastery

Month-long residents in June were Bradley Schwarz, Charlotte, NC, Pascale Montedert, MRO, Brooklyn, NY, Kelsey Pallarin, Baltimore, MD, Dustin Wolinsky, NY, NY, Yuske Haffeman- Udagawa, Baltimore, MD, and Simon Harrison, East Haddam, CT. One week residents were Sushravya Ragh from Halfmoon, NY, and Sybil Seisui Thomas, MRO, of Whitesburg, GA, and two weeks for Polly Horne, MRO of Brooklyn, NY. Residents for the month of July were Roo Carrol, Brooklyn, NY, Yamila Estella, Madrid, Spain, Chris Saporita, Brooklyn, NY, Lawrence Souder, Philadelphia, PA, Margaret Mulholland, Belfast, North Ireland, Rami Eskelin, NY, NY, Katherine Spets, Middletown, RI, Scrap Wrenn, Catskills, NY, Megan Gillespie, Houston, TX, Luca Valentio, Woodstock, NY, and Jacob McGlaun, Dayton, OH. Beginning one year residencies in July were, Jeffrey Kein Martin, from Silver Spring, MD and Simon Harrison, East Haddam, CT, and three weeks Pam Jishin Dragotta, MRO. In August we said goodby to year-long residents Ra’Shaun Crawford, Flint, MI, Jordan Burnett, Brooklyn, NY, Joseph Greenberg, Cambridge, MA, Dennis Daiken Ferrill, MRO, New York, NY, and Chris Tyler, MRO, Phoenicia, NY.

Comings & Goings at the Temple

In June, Rajeev Balasubramanyam joined us for two weeks and Nicholas Gentile completed two months of residential training. We said goodbye to William Lee who completed four months of residency. In July, Sasha Elbaum, Thomas Huntington, Aki Shimazu and John Howland all began periods of residential training, and we also said goodbye to Jill Mijanovic who completed two months of residency.