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Sangha Reflections on the Jizo Project

· Reflections · , , ,

The Jizo Project is an important sangha-supported initiative to make Zen Mountain Monastery a more accessible and accommodating refuge for practice. Here are several reflections from sangha members on what the initiative means to them. Care to contribute your voice to the conversation? Email us at jizoproject@mro.org

“The Jizo Project bolsters the practice of the Dharma, opening up avenues to more people and providing care for our monastics, who give so much to the world. For me, supporting it is a way to generate good that I know will radiate out in ways I can’t even imagine.” 
Jessica Ludwig  

“ZMM has been my life raft for the last five years. It is lovely to be working together like this to keep it afloat.” – Jonathan Seiko Rosenthal   “I want to practice at Zen Mountain Monastery. I always want to be able to practice there. The Jizo Project is the path that allows us to fulfill our Vows there even as life events including illness, disability and age arise on that path.”
— Dorothy Taiju Hickey  

“Zen Mountain Monastery is a giant Dharma hive supported by an infinite number of bees. Some bring nectar, others provide care from the inside. Each bee has its own needs and challenges, but also a unique role to play. The Jizo project provides essential structural support to our Monastery so that it can provide refuge and offer teachings to the greatest diversity of beings at every stage of their lives. I am deeply grateful to be part of the Sangha hive and a contributor to this important effort.”
— Linda Shinji Hoffman
“For me, my clearest connection to the Jizo Project is Nenshin.  As a quadriplegic, he still loved to come to sesshin, even though it was very difficult for him.  Four strong people had to carry him into the building and up the stairs.  And we had to carry his power wheelchair separately, batteries first removed, because it was so heavy.  Once he got into the building, there were many more challenges such as in the guest room where he stayed, which was not set up for someone in a power chair.  I was often assigned as his attendant, taking care of all of his needs: helping him get dressed, helping him eat, helping him navigate obstacles to get into the dokusan room, and so forth.  Nenshin desperately wanted to come more frequently.  But it was just too difficult. “We will finally have a facility that would have accommodated Nenshin.  And perhaps, at the completion of the Jizo Project, there are or will be others in wheelchairs who want to come, and who now will be able to.” 
Andrew Hobai Pekarik

“For me, what comes to mind about this project is, ‘May all who seek the dharma have access to it.’  The Jizo Project is beautiful on so many levels.” — Rachel Yuho Rider

“I’ve been a student in the MRO since 1996. Since then, I’ve gone from being a healthy, energetic middle-aged person to an old lady with a legion of health problems past and present. I’m unable to do a full sesshin, and have increasing trouble with stairs. The Jizo Project will make it possible for me to continue to come to the Monastery. I’m overjoyed that it’s happening, and deeply, deeply grateful to all who can contribute, and to the foresight and generosity of this vision.” — Chase Takusei Twichell

“This practice and this place have given so much to me, changing my life for the better in so many ways. I have the experience of coming to the Monastery and feeling as if I’m “taking” — taking the enormous  generosity of the teachers, the monastics, the residents, the place itself.  We now have a tangible opportunity through the Jizo Project to give back, and that’s a wonderful opportunity for all of us.” — Richard Shozen Hamlin

“I am thrilled to think that I can be here my entire life, in a beautiful space, with my sangha family around me, practicing together.”  — Jody Hojin Kimmel, Sensei

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Diamond Net and Jizo Project

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The Buddha instructed his followers in the sangha to care for each other’s needs and not just focus on their own individual realization. In this spirit the Jizo House project, for which we are fundraising, is an on-going effort to rebuild accommodations for both able-bodied and differently abled visitors, residents and monastics, and the Diamond Net has taken shape as a sangha-at-large network to give voice, visibility and actions needed for accessibility-related changes. While the Jizo House Project makes our buildings and grounds more responsive, the Diamond Net is the human hands, eyes and voices of volunteers who can respond to and anticipate these needs.

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Watch the Jizo Project launch video

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On June 9, Shugen Roshi, along with the Jizo Project fundraising committee, revealed the scope of our current building plans, and asked the sangha for support.

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Taking Care of Our Hemlocks

· Earth Initiative · , , , , , ,

Hemlock trees native to the Monastery region of the northeast have been greatly threatened by an invasive insect known as HWA (Hemlock Wooly Adelgid). Sangha members in the MRO Earth Initiative’s “citizen science” project have been assessing and monitoring HWA on the Monastery property this past year and offer this update on protecting our trees.

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Manifesting Buddha, Spring Ango

· Sangha News, Zen Training · , , , , , , , ,

From the ango opening retreat Peaceful Dwelling in early March through the greening trees and blossoms of Shuso Hossen in late May, here are highlights from our ninety-days of sangha practice at the Monastery in Spring 2019:

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The Jizo Project comes to life

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Face To Face

· Creative Expression, Retreats · , , ,

Zen training in the Mountains and Rivers Order includes taking up creative expression—both the traditional Zen arts as well as contemporary arts—to deeply study the self through using our inherent human creativity.

Hojin Sensei spoke in March after her recent art practice retreat, “Face to Face,” offering these words: This exquisite magical display we call our body, our self. What is it? Of course ‘face’ does not always mean the physical part of the body. In another way it’s the surface of the mind’s mirror which is also being attended to—seeing our bodies, the directness with our embodiment, as a sacred awakened activity.

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Meet the Chief Disciple

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An interview with Ely Seiryu Rayek

by Diego Antoni

Seiryu knows his way from Mexico City to Mount Tremper inside out. He doesn’t even need to spend the night in New York City anymore, as when he was less familiar with the subway and the bus to Mount Tremper. He has now been coming to ZMM from his home in Mexico City several times a year since his first trip in 2007.

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Perspectives: Beyond Fear of Differences

· Beyond Fear of Differences, Reflections, Retreats, Sangha News · , , , , , , , , , ,

The Beyond Fear of Differences (BFoD) Planning Group held a public forum at the Monastery on Sunday, March 3, 2019—a moment 10 years in the making. It was a chance to welcome the whole Sangha into the development of the BFoD mission and vision process, to share the details about the process that the committee had been involved in, and to let people know how they can get involved. A similar forum was held one week later at the Zen Center of NYC.

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Healing the Wounds of Racism – a daylong workshop at the Zen Center of NYC

· Retreats, Sangha News · , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Saturday, January 5th, ZCNYC held its first retreat just for people of color: Healing the Wounds of Racism with Valerie Brown and Marisela Gomez. This program was the result of changes in the Programming Committee that brought people of color from the Beyond Fear of Differences Planning Group into the decision-making process around programming. With their help promoting this program—even with a cold rainy day—turnout was excellent, indicating a clear need for these programs going forward.

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