Summer 2017 Updates

In Memoriam: Joseph Deumer, MRO

May 31, 1951 – June 27, 2017

MRO student Joseph Deumer passed away at the end of June at his home in upstate New York. Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Clarkson University, Joseph taught for twenty-eight years, focusing on contemporary American poetry and translations of Vietnamese poetry. He received the 2011 Poetry Award from American Literary Review and the 2001 Ohio State University Press/The Journal award for his book, Magical Thinking, which includes this poem:

For Wittgenstein

Days are like grass the wind moves over:
first the wind & then the silence—
what cannot be said we must pass over
in silence, or play some music over
in our heads. Silently, a wind goes over
(we know from the motion of the grass).
Days are like grass; the wind goes over:
first the wind & then the silence.”

Joseph is survived by his wife Carole Mathey and four dogs, Dash, Oliver, Candy and Buckle.

Teaching in the Ten Directions

In June Shugen Sensei attended a workshop hosted by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, “Undoing Racism,” in New York City. Throughout the day, facilitators helped attendees to identify and better understand internalized personal and institutional bias. The workshop was specifically for community and business leaders to appreciate their unique role in affecting change.

Also in June, Sensei participated in an exploratory meeting of The American Buddhist Progressive Alliance, a coalition of Buddhists united by the conviction that our ethical commitment to the Dharma obliges us to advocate for and promote progressive social, political, environmental, and economic policies.

In July Shugen Sensei flew to New Zealand for his annual two week visit with our kiwi sangha. In Nelson he gave a public talk, Illuminated Mind: ​Seeing into the Illusory Self, and a weekend workshop, Playing in the Buddha Field: Compassion and Skillful Means. The following week the sangha gathered for a full week sesshin in the mountains outside of Nelson, a well-attended event both by long-term and newer sangha.

Monastic Ordination for Robert Moshin Ricci

On Sunday, July 9, 2017, Robert Moshin Ricci was fully ordained as a monastic in the Mountains and Rivers Order at a ceremony officiated by Shugen Sensei, who gave him the ordination name Rakusan, “Joyfully Relaxed Mountain.” Rakusan began practicing Zen in the late 1960s at Rinzai-ji and Mount Baldy in Southern California, and then in New Mexico. He came to Zen Mountain Monastery in the 1990s, receiving the precept name Moshin (“Strong Heart-Mind”) from Daido Roshi in 2008 and entering residential training in 2013. Rakusan serves as the maintenance supervisor at the Monastery.

Hojin Sensei Receives Dharma Transmission

On Sunday, June 18, 2017, Shugen Sensei completed the process of dharma transmission for Jody Hojin Kimmel. Dharma transmission is an empowerment, giving sanction to teach and take students. In Zen this is referred to as a direct mind-to-mind transmission, that began with the Buddha and his student Mahakashyapa, and onward to the present day, here on Tremper Mountain.

Hojin Sensei began studying with Daido Roshi in 1990, when she entered residency at the Monastery. In 2007, Daido Roshi recognized her as a dharma holder, indicating his intent to give Denkai, the priestly transmission of the precepts, though he was not able to do this before his passing in 2009. After Roshi’s death, Hojin continued her studies with Shugen Sensei, and received Denkai in 2012. With this recent dharma transimssion, she will begin taking on her own formal students. She will continue in her roles as training coordinator and co-director of Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn.

In offering words to the sangha at the end of the week-long dharma transmission, Hojin Sensei said, “I ask for your guidance. I rejoice in your virtues and the virtues of all things, and I offer any virtues that I have.”

Monastery Buildings and Grounds

Kitchen renovations at the Monastery kicked in to high gear on August 1st with the arrival of a 28-foot long cooking trailer, an outdoor dish room, and a creative reconfiguration of the dining hall to include food storage, refrigerators and freezers. The full scope of work continues through the end of September, although early site work and much detailed planning has been underway for weeks prior. This major renovation will upgrade kitchen and basement plumbing, replace all floors, add walk-in refrigeration and freezer space, install ventilation, and provide a new layout for the dish room and kitchen. These upgrades and improvements will leave us with a sparkling new Monastery kitchen to serve the sangha for decades to come. Follow progress on the renovations in Sangha News at

Shusso Hossen

Last spring’s Shuso Hossen sesshin culminated in a ceremony that ushered the ango’s chief disciple into her new role as a senior student in the MRO. Valerie Meiju Linet delivered her first formal talk on a koan. Following the talk, Meiju engaged in dharma encounter, a spirited and insightful exchange with sangha members who questioned her on the koan’s meaning and use for their own lives. As a senior student, Meiju will begin taking on other responsibilities within the sangha, such as offering beginning instruction, serving as a monitor, and sitting on the Guardian Council.

New MRO Students

Sitting tangaryo in July was Mary Bosakowski, Simeon Joffe and Manjula Wijerama; and in August, Annelisse Fifi and Dick Hampton. All participants 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 David Kozen Williams for various garden tools, Steve Miron and Achong Chen for a wheelbarrow, Linda Shinji Hoffman for a Blend-Tec for the kitchen, George Milne for a Ugee Screen, Susan Zuifu Brody for a MacBook. Thanks to Robin Ikyo Love, Patricia Kaishin Jamieson, Claudia Young and clyde fusei forth for their ongoing help in developing the Monastery’s stitchery, and to Seiyu Lanaghan for his work in the dye studio. Deep gratitude to all who have made donations to the kitchen renovation and a big thank you to all of you who submitted photos for the issue. Please keep shooting and keep sending your work. Our next MR theme is “Gratitude.”

Comings & Goings at the Monastery

Joining residential training in June were Julio Garay of Bronx, NY and Michael Gasparrini of Trumbull, CT. Eli Peck of Corinth, NY and Alex Rothstein, East Brunswick, NJ both began a year in residential training, and Eliza Nappi of New City, NY joined us for three months with consideration for a longer stay.

In July month-long residents included Joan Lichtman, Cincinnati, OH; Anna Robertson, Sugarland, TX; Himdeep Singh, Amherst, NY; Brittany Goldman, Asheville, NC; Angus Gorman, North Hampton, NH; Wonder Lee, NY, NY; Andrea Nieves, Hyde Park, NY; Shikito Cunningham, UK. Joining us for one week were Sharon Miller, Waterbury, CT and Miruna Stanica,  Alexandria, VA.

Monastery residents in August included Caroline Benish, Armonk, NY; Mustafa Yashin, Netherlands; Grayson Gurney, Boulder, CO; Chantal Stocker, Switzerland; Nanja van Zundert, Netherlands; Yilmaz Akgunlu, Turkey; Scrap Wrenn, Catskill, NY, and Henry Whitwell Wales of Holden, MA. Donald Brown of PA and Ben Bertino of Atlanta, GA each joined us for one week of residency.

Comings & Goings at the Temple

New month-long residents at the Temple in June were James Mansfield of Australia, and George Milne, MRO, of Michigan. In July, Anahi Russo and Andre Szabo stayed for the month, and Liam Delany for one week. Emily Gitlin entered residency in July for several months as did Andrew Gantt. August was also the end of a six-month staff residency by Jordan Burnett who served as the Temple staff person.