Rochester Zen Center

March 25, 2014

If You Shop Online at –

The Zen Center has recently signed up to participate in’s charitable donation program. When you make an Amazon purchase through, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charity that you designate.

In addition, Amazon has informed us that from now through March 31, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate an extra $5 for each customer who makes an eligible purchase at in support of the Zen Center.

Use this link to have your purchases support the Zen Center: Full details of the AmazonSmile program are explained at

March 22, 2014

Sangha Survey Reminder

Don’t forget to submit your Sangha Survey! The Special Events Committee is looking for your input on (1) the Center’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2016 and (2) other events and activities throughout the year. If the link has disappeared into the depths of your inbox, here’s another one: You only have until tomorrow – Sunday, March 23 – so hop to it!

Two Requests for Donations

Bethany Toups who teaches yoga for twelve-steppers in the Buddha Hall writes:

Yoga for Recovery is a free introduction to meditation and yoga offered by Bethany Toups and Melanie Thomas, geared towards those in twelve-step recovery. The class has been well attended and continues to blossom into its second year of existence. This class acquaints the student with basic meditation techniques as a foundation for building his or her own practice. In addition, we incorporate the fundamentals of yoga on a beginner level in order to sustain recovery, as well as overall health and wellness. Students at all levels in their recovery and practice have benefited from their participation. Feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive, and we have established a loyal group of committed practitioners.

In order to continue services to this community, we are required to obtain yoga insurance. We are requesting donations toward the costs of the annual fees so that we may continue to provide this opportunity free of charge.

The cost of insurance is $198 per year. Please help donate what you can!

Thanks in advance for all of your generosity,

—Bethany Toups & Melanie Thomas

And Dwain Wilder continues to lead a sitting group at Attica Prison:

For a number of years, Sangha member Dwain Wilder has been travelling to Attica prison several times each month to run a sitting program for inmates there. Dwain’s Attica-related travel expenses are running about $1,000 per year, and financial support from the Sangha would very much help ensure the continuation of this worthwhile program.

If you’d like to help out with either of these initiatives, you can make a designated donation to the Center, and we’ll use the funds to reimburse Bethany or Dwain for their expenses.

Old Laptop Computer Needed

The software for configuring the Center’s aging telephone system will not run on versions of Windows newer than Windows XP, and so cannot run on the Center’s Windows 7 PC’s. If you have an old laptop (with a modem and Ethernet port) that you’re not using, please consider donating it to the Center. We’ll install Windows XP on it and use it for the phone system. Contact the Center’s Business Manager, Scott Jennings at

March 15, 2014

Calendar Notes

Roshi will be back next week and give dokusan Wednesday morning, March 19. Tomorrow (Sunday, March 16) we’ll hold an all-day sitting, and there will be a Dharma talk given by John Pulleyn during the usual 8:30 to 10:30 block.

Here’s the full schedule:

6:15 am      Zazen

7:30            Breakfast (Center will provide)

8:30            Zazen, Chanting, and Dharma talk

10:30          Brunch & Sangha meeting in the dining room

11:00          Zazen

12:50 pm    Lunch break (bring your own)

1:30-3:00    Zazen

March 11, 2014

Guest Lecture Series

Dr. Anthony Cerulli gave the first of his three scheduled guest lectures this past Sunday. If you’d like to hear his talk, click here. The next two are slated for April 6 and May 4, around 11 am, after the Sunday sitting and brunch. Links to Anthony’s talks this year, as well as talks from previous years both by him and by Center member and RIT professor Shudo Brian Schroeder, are posted on the Sangha Engagement page of the website.

The Special Events Committee Needs Your Help

The Committee asks that Sangha members complete a short survey about events and activities serving to foster connections between the Zen Center and the wider community. Specifically, the survey invites your input on (1) the Center’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2016 and (2) other events and activities throughout the year.

Please use the following link to complete the survey:

The survey will be accessible through Sunday, March 23. You may re-enter and edit responses until you complete the final question (No. 14).

We want your ideas, half formed, fully hatched, or out of the ball park! To get those creative ideas flowing, an overview and discussion about the survey will take place at the next Sangha meeting on Sunday, March 16.

The Special Events Committee will share the results of the survey at a future meeting.

SanghaPalooza Update

The next SanghaPalooza will take place during the summer of 2015. Thereafter, we plan to schedule subsequent SanghaPaloozas biennially.

March 4, 2014

News from New Zealand

The Auckland Zen Centre, our sister Center led by Sensei Amala Wrightson, has closed on property in the city that they’ll be converting over the next few months into their zendo. Amala-sensei writes that much generosity is what made the purchase possible, including contributions from American donors over the past ten years. But there is still a way to go to pay for all the work that needs to be done. The Auckland Centre needs to raise about 30,000 New Zealand dollars ($25,000 US), and Sensei is busy working on material for a webpage where people can learn more about the project. In the meantime, here’s a link to a video.

Anyone who would like to help out may make a U.S. tax-deductible donation to the Rochester Zen Center, noting that the money is for the Auckland Zen Centre Fund.


Zen Center residents sometimes want to use their time off to do private retreats away from the Center, which was the original purpose behind staff and trainee time-off. They can do this while camping in the late summer, when the Center is closed each year, but winter presents problems, since some residents have too little money to go south to camp.

If you have a cabin or little house that you might want to see used by a Center resident (in winter or summer) for a private seclusion of a few days or more, please contact the Head of Zendo, John Pulleyn ( In exchange, you could receive not only a bit of merit but an infusion of zazen energy in the cabin!

Free the Mind

Once again, the Little Theater will be screening “Free the Mind,” a recent documentary on brain scientists who are using meditation to treat conditions like PTSD and ADHD. The first Zen Center-sponsored showing on February 9 was a huge success – so huge that it sold out, and more than fifty people were turned away at the door! Given the enormous demand, the Little has scheduled an encore screening on Sunday, March 9, at 1 pm, so you’ve got a second chance if you missed it the first time around. For more information on the film, including a trailer, have a look here.

Roshi Away

Every year or two, Roshi gives himself a sesshin, led by one of his disciple-teachers, at which he can just face the wall for seven days without teaching at all. This Thursday he is going to Germany for ten days to attend a sesshin conducted by Sensei Robert Goldmann. Roshi will be visiting with our sister Sangha in Berlin for the first time since 2007, when he gave his last sesshin there.

Roshi will return on the night of Monday, March 17. This means that after tomorrow morning (Wednesday, March 5) the next dokusan will be on Wednesday, March 19.

February 19, 2014

Calendar Notes

Roshi will be out of town until Monday, February 24, so there won’t be dokusan tomorrow evening, Thursday, February 20. This weekend most of staff will be out at Chapin Mill for the 2-day sesshin, but we will have regularly-scheduled sittings here at Arnold Park. Cecily and Alex will be holding down the fort, so come by and keep them company.

Seeing Through Racism

Jim Thompson has asked us to announce that the next meeting of the Seeing Through Racism group will be on Sunday, March 2.

First Guest Speaker Lecture on March 9

Dr. Anthony Cerulli, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Asian Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, will offer the first of three lectures on Buddhist topics on Sunday, March 9, in the Arnold Park dining room, around 11 am, after sitting and brunch. Dr. Cerulli’s talk is titled, “The Four Noble Truths in Context: the History and Representation of the Four Noble Truths in Early Buddhism.”

“Free the Mind” Heads Up

The screening of the documentary, “Free the Mind,” at The Little Theater was sold out, and the theater tells us that about 50 people had to be turned away. We’re working with the distributor and The Little to see if we can schedule a second showing. Stay tuned!

A Souvenir of Sangha Entertainment Night

Thanks to the initiative and video editing prowess of the Center’s Board Chairman, Tom Kowal, a number of staff members and trainees (not to mention Tom’s wife, Donna) finally made their big movie debuts. First, you’ll want to watch the trailer for the work that inspired this effort, a fondly-remembered artifact of our Business Manager’s misguided youth: Then you’ll be ready for the Zen Center version: As I think you’ll agree, everyone involved should probably plan on keeping their day jobs.

February 11, 2014

Sangha Entertainment Night!

This Saturday, February 15! 6 PM! In the Buddha Hall! Music, comedy, and who knows what else. Come see what discursive minds have dreamed up this year. We aim to wrap up by 8 PM.

And if you, yourself, would like to entertain, e-mail with the details of your act. Once again, Phil Swanson and his keyboard will be here from Massachusetts to provide musical backup for anyone who needs it. (If you’d like Phil to accompany you, be sure to e-mail Cecily with the details, so that Phil has time to prepare.)

Upcoming Mindful Practice Workshop for Medical Practitioners

Dr. Ron Epstein and Center member Dr. Mick Krasner will be leading a four-day workshop retreat for medical practitioners at Chapin Mill from May 7 to 10. The retreat is hosted by the Center for Experiential Learning, University of Rochester Medical Center. Drs. Epstein and Krasner are both faculty members at the University of Rochester. If you’d like to learn more, click here.

Namgyal Lamas in Rochester

Monks from the Dalai Lama’s Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala, India, will be creating a sand mandala and speaking on loving-kindness and compassion at Nazareth College on April 2, 3, and 4. There are two parts to the event: The construction of the sand mandala is free and open to the public, while the talk on loving-kindness and compassion is a ticketed event. Tickets for the latter are on sale through the event’s website:

February 6, 2014

This may be the most event-filled weekend in recent memory: cleaning, eating, sitting, skiing, and watching movies – something for everyone!

Temple Cleaning

This Saturday, February 8, at 9 am, we’ll have our annual cleaning-of-the-temple at Chapin Mill. Call or e-mail if you can come and would like a ride. We’ll work ‘till lunch is served at 12:30.

Potluck Dinner

That same evening, at 6 pm, we’ll have a vegetarian potluck dinner at Arnold Park. Everyone, member or not, is welcome, and if you’d like to sit beforehand, the zendo is available.

All-day Sitting

Sunday, February 9, we have an all-day sitting. Come for any or all of the blocks of sitting. Here’s the schedule:

6:15 am        Zazen

7:30             Breakfast

8:30             Zazen & Teisho

ca 10:15       Tea break in the dining room

11:00           Zazen

12:50 pm      Lunch break (bring your own)

1:30-3:00     Zazen

3:00             The Four Vows

Cross-country Skiing at Mendon Ponds Park

Dan Esler reports that the last outing was thoroughly enjoyable, despite lack of snow and only one other skier. Now we’ve got snow! So bring your skis to the Mendon Ponds Park “Lookout” Pavilion, this Sunday at 2 pm.

Free the Mind

And finally, at 7 pm Sunday evening, The Little Theatre ( will offer a one-time screening of the documentary, Free the Mind. The movie highlights some of the work of the neurologist and researcher, Richard Davidson, at the University of Wisconsin, studying the effects of meditation in children struggling with anxiety and combat veterans recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Roshi and Dr. Michael Krasner will lead a discussion after the screening.