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.
Shugen Roshi chose the theme “Buddha Ancestors” for this Fall Ango, and we will be taking up this study through selected readings, art practice, and work with our teachers. I’m looking forward to using this as a time to see into the humanity and vulnerability of the Ancestors, thus bringing them closer to me and making their experience more accessible.
Shugen Roshi asked me to serve as the Chief Disciple during this Ango, and I will do my best to do so. In my private life, I prefer to “blend with the woods,” and so the more public role of Chief Disciple is not something that will come easily for me. I will need your patience and help to grow into this role. As I engage this challenge, I hope we all can give support to each other in our practice and realize more of what we have vowed.
May our life reflect what we have seen to be true and may we be of true benefit to all sentient and insentient beings. Let us learn during this Ango to radiate kindness over the entire world in an unbounded way, as the Metta Sutta invites us to do.
Seishin started to study Zen in Germany with Joan Rieck, a teacher in the Yasutani Sanbo-Kyodan lineage.
Seishin began working with Daido Roshi in 1993 and became his student in 1995. While living in Colorado for two years, she studied with Shishin Wick Roshi, with Daido Roshi’s permission. She returned and took Jukai with Daido Roshi in November 2001.
After Daido Roshi’s passing, she studied for five years with Ryushin Sensei before becoming a student of Shugen Roshi early in 2017.
Seishin works as a service provider at the Wellness Center of the Omega Institute and as a teacher in the Center for Natural Wellness School of Massage Therapy. She also has her own healing practice in a private office locally.
She lives with her partner Kyosho close to the monastery.
The Mountains and Rivers Order training schedule cycles through periods of intensification and relaxation, mirroring seasonal changes and giving us varied opportunities to study and practice. The spring and fall quarters are ango—“peaceful dwelling”—nintety-day intensives that continue an ancient tradition dating back to the time of the Buddha, when the sangha gathered in forest groves during monsoon season to support each other in their practice and receive teachings from the Buddha and his senior disciples.
Each ango has a theme drawn from the Buddhist teachings. The theme for Fall Ango is “Buddha Ancestors.” We will be reading selections from the Therigatha, or Verses of the Elder Nuns; several Jataka Tales (traditional stories of the Buddha’s past lives); and excerpts from Great Disciples of the Buddha by Nyanaponika Thera and Hellmuth Hecker, all available on the Ango website. We will engage this teaching together during the ango’s Buddhist study sessions and the ango intensive retreat.
The training and practice of the chief disciple is another important facet of ango training. When a junior student is ready to make the transition to being a senior student, the teacher will ask him or her to serve as chief disciple for the training period, leading the ango and offering their sincere and wholehearted practice as a model for the sangha. The ango culminates with a special right of passage for the whole community: Shuso Hossen.
For more information about this Fall Ango and the various activities both at the Monastery and the Temple, please check out our website at zmm.mro.org. Read more
by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi
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Book of Serenity Case 14
Attendant Huo Passes Tea
Probing pole in hand, shadowing grass around him, sometimes he wraps a ball of silk in iron, sometimes he wraps a special stone with silk. To determine the soft by means of the hard is of course right; what about the matter of being weak when meeting strength?
Attendant Huo asked Deshan, “Where have all the sages since antiquity gone?” Read more
Deshan said, “What? How’s that?”
Huo said, “The order was for a ‘flying dragon’ horse but a ‘lame tortoise’ shows up.” Deshan let it rest.
The next day when Deshan came out of the bath, Huo passed him some tea.
Deshan patted Huo on the back. Huo said, “This old fellow has finally gotten a glimpse.” Again Deshan let the matter rest
Editorial: by Suzanne Taikyo Gilman
How do you experience gratitude? Gratefulness, as David Steindl-Rast writes, happens when the heart flows over and must be expressed. Gratefulness arises like the surf or a fresh breath, natural and in accord—a basic, personal awareness that something good has happened. When we look at our lives for these moments, we find them filled with gifts: a sudden smile; caring and being cared for; meeting a teacher of the Dharma; finding our way through the twisted tangles of our greed, anger and ignorance; and, being in the company of good friends and guides. Read more
by Jan Chozen Bays, Roshi
It is ironic that in countries where food is abundant, disharmony with food and eating is most common. Americans appear to have a particularly unbalanced and often negative relationship with food. In the 1990s, a research team led by an American psychologist and a French sociologist teamed up to do a study of cross-cultural attitudes toward food. They surveyed people in the United States, France, Flemish Belgium, and Japan. They found that Americans associated food with health the most and pleasure the least. For example, when Americans were asked what comes to mind when they hear the words “chocolate cake,” they were more likely to say “guilt,” while the French said “celebration.” The words “heavy cream” elicited “unhealthy” from Americans and “whipped” from the French. The researchers found that Americans worry more about food and derive less pleasure than people in any other nation they surveyed. Read more
Poem by Yusef Komunyakaa
Thanks for the tree Read more
between me & a sniper’s bullet.
I don’t know what made the grass
sway seconds before the Viet Cong
raised his soundless rifle.
Some voice always followed,
telling me which foot
to put down first.
by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done.”
In saying that kind and grateful people are rare, the Buddha isn’t simply stating a harsh truth about the human race. He’s advising you to treasure these people when you find them, and—more importantly—showing how you can become a rare person yourself.
Kindness and gratitude are virtues you can cultivate, but they have to be cultivated together. Each needs the other to be genuine —a point that becomes obvious when you think about the three things most likely to make gratitude heartfelt: Read more
by Sayadaw U Pandita
Meditation can be seen as a war between wholesome and unwholesome mental states. On the unwholesome side are the forces of the kilesas, also known as “The Ten Armies of Mara.” In Pali, Mara means “killer.” He is the personification of the force that kills virtue and also kills existence. His armies are poised to attack all yogis; they even tried to overcome the Buddha on the night of his enlightenment.
Here are the lines the Buddha addressed to Mara, as recorded in the Sutta Nipata:
Sensual pleasures are your first army, Read more
Discontent your second is called.
Your third is hunger and thirst,
The fourth is called craving.
Sloth and torpor are your fifth,
The sixth is called fear,
Your seventh is doubt,
Conceit and ingratitude are your eighth,
Gain, renown, honor, and whatever fame
is falsely received (are the ninth),
And whoever both extols himself and disparages others (has fallen victim to the tenth).
That is your army, Namuci [Mara],
the striking force of darkness.
One who is not a hero cannot conquer it,
but having conquered it, one obtains happiness.
by Brother David Steindl-Rast
A rainbow always comes as a surprise. Not that it cannot be predicted. Surprising sometimes means unpredictable, but it often means more. Surprising in the full sense means somehow gratuitous. Even the predictable turns into surprise the moment we stop taking it for granted. If we knew enough, everything would be predictable, and yet everything would remain gratuitous. If we knew how the whole universe worked, we would still be surprised that there was a universe at all. Predictable it may be, yet all the more surprising. Read more
Poem by Marilyn Nelson
Thank you for these tiny Read more
particles of ocean salt,
for the infinite,
by Dzigar Kongtrul, Rinpoche
When things go wrong in our lives, we tend to place all the blame on something outside ourselves, which only compounds our root problem of self-importance. “Realize all faults spring from one source” is the antidote to that confused and unhelpful mentality. “Meditate upon gratitude toward all” works with another distorted way of looking at things. This slogan and the problem it addresses are the mirror image of the previous one. Read more