Rochester Zen Center

June 24, 2014

Dokusan Schedule at the Chapin Mill Work Retreat

This week Roshi will give dokusan at Chapin Mill during the evening sittings (7:00 to 9:00) on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Eryl will give daisan on Wednesday evening.

You’re welcome to come out for sittings even if you can’t be there for the work day.

Roshi Will Give Teisho This Sunday, June 29

We’ll have our regular format of sitting, chanting, and teisho this coming Sunday, June 29.

June 18, 2014

Tofu Burger in Paradise, 2014 Version!

Act now to reserve your place at this year’s Ralph Chapin Memorial Work Retreat (Tuesday evening, June 24 through Saturday lunch, June 28). We’ve got rooms, cushions, work, food and fun for everyone who’d like to join in. Get to know some of those people sitting alongside you in the zendo! Information and pictures from previous years are posted on the web site (click here). Give us a call or e-mail John Pulleyn (

As always, you can come for any part (whether sitting or work). We don’t charge anything, but if you would like to make a donation for food, there’s a donation box in the entry that will be happy to accept it. We do ask this year that you bring your own bedding; we have a rental that starts almost immediately after we finish up, so there isn’t time for multiple loads of laundry. The schedule is listed below – a nice balance of sitting, work, and recreation:

Tuesday evening
7:00-9:00 Zazen
5:15 am Wakeup
5:45-7:00 Zazen, chanting
7:15 Breakfast
7:45 Work meeting
10:30 Tea break in courtyard
12:45 pm Lunch in Retreat Center Dining Room
1:30-2:00 Clean-up
2:00-7:00 Fun! Hiking, swimming, chatting, ice cream runs…
4:15-6:00 Leftovers available for dinner in Retreat Center Dining Room
7:00-9:00 Sitting (with dokusan tentatively planned for Wed & Fri and daisan Thurs)
SaturdayBreakfast at 7:30, Work meeting at 8:00, Barbecue lunch at 1:00.

Big Day This Saturday

We have three very different events scheduled for this Saturday, June 21:

  • Cleaning up I-490 – Round 2: On our last outing, we made a great start on our adopted section of Interstate 490 (the stretch between exits 6 and 5 on the way out to Chapin Mill). We’re going to get ‘er done this Saturday, so join us if you can! We’ll leave from the Center at 10 am and be back in time for lunch (pizza!). Give us a heads up if you’d like to take part, and we’ll set you up with a ride, gloves, reflective vest, hard hat, and trash bag.
  • Rick Smith’s presentation on sleep and meditation: At 4 pm in the library on the third floor of 5 Arnold Park, we’ll screen a re-creation of Rick’s talk and slide show on the work he’s been involved in at the University of Wisconsin, studying the interaction of meditation and sleep. Rick made this presentation in person during SanghaPalooza last summer, and we got a lot of great feedback.
  • Potluck dinner: See the Sangha Engagement announcement below.

Sangha Engagement

  • Vegetarian potluck dinner: Saturday, June 21 at Arnold Park. Come early for informal zazen and be ready for the dinner bell to ring promptly at 6 pm. There will be an opportunity after cleanup for those interested to play games. Bring a favorite or take a chance on learning something new provided by the Board Game Appreciation Group. Contact Devin Wiesner ( to RSVP, ask questions, or coordinate a dish.
  • Literature workshops: Dwain Wilder and Valentina Kutyifa will lead three Sunday workshops titled “Touching Poetry, Touching Zen” at Arnold Park. The workshops will take place on July 6, August 10 and September 7 at 11 am following Sunday’s brunch and will include readings of prose or a few poems and a group discussion. See flyer for more details or contact Dwain Wilder in person or via e-mail at (

All-day Sitting

This Sunday, June 22, we’ll hold our last all-day sitting before the summer gets underway. (Actually, for those watching the heavens or searching the internet, summer will officially start Saturday morning at 6:51 am.) The next all-day sitting after this one is scheduled for September 7. Here’s the schedule for the day. You can come to any or all of the four blocks of sitting.

6:15 am        Zazen

7:30             Breakfast (Center will provide)

8:30             Zazen and Chanting

10:15           Brunch in the dining room

11:00           Zazen

12:50 pm      Lunch break (bring your own)

1:30-3:00     Zazen

Live Across the Street from the Zen Center

Two houses directly across the street from the Center, at 6 and 8 Arnold Park are up for sale. The listings are with Nothnagle Realtors, and the asking prices are $375,000 and $299,900, respectively. Additional information is available at these links: 6 Arnold Park and 8 Arnold Park.

June 6, 2014

Dokusan Next Week

Roshi will be here in Rochester next week while Gerardo-sensei is leading sesshin at Chapin Mill, and Roshi will give dokusan Monday evening, June 9, and Wednesday morning, June 11.  Because Roshi will be on vacation for the week following sesshin (June 14 through June 21), there won’t be dokusan during that week.

Seeing Through Racism Group

The next meeting is on Sunday, June 15, at about 11 a.m.

Trustee Election

When all the ballots were counted at the Center’s Annual Meeting on May 24, Sensei Gerardo Gally was elected to a 3-year term as a Zen Center Trustee.

May 24, 2014

No Dokusan Tonight, Thursday, May 24

Roshi’s one older sister, Tina, died in Phoenix, Arizona, this morning, at age 67, of breast cancer. For the past three weeks she had been on hospice, at home, with her sisters Lisa and Martha alternating as caregivers. Martha, as well as Tina’s devoted partner, Paul, were with her when she died.

Tina was a Sangha member who lived in Rochester in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and like four of her other five siblings attended some sesshins. She helped edit Roshi Kapleau’s Zen: Merging of East and West, and later accompanied him on a trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Tina asked that there be no funeral or memorial service held, at least publicly. Roshi and Angela will do their own, private services for her, but since almost no one now living in Rochester ever knew her, there will be no service at the Center.

Dokusan tonight is cancelled, but Roshi will give teisho on Sunday and dokusan next week as usual.

May 21, 2014

Temple Night

This year’s celebrations begin with Temple Night and Jukai on Friday, May 23. Temple Night is a time when the Sangha can come together – in a fluid, unstructured way – into this beautiful Buddha realm for personal devotions and sitting. You are free, on this night, to sit anywhere in the Buddha Hall, to join in the chanting or to remain silent, and to make prostrations and offer incense at either of the altars, as you wish. If you have a figure of a Buddha or bodhisattva at home that you’d like to bring in and place on the main altar, please do so.

You can sit late into the night, if you like, after the formal end of Temple Night. (For security reasons the doors to the Buddha Hall are locked to the outside after 9:30, so if you leave after that, you won’t be able to get back in.) Many people have found these late hours of Temple Night to be an especially fine time for zazen.

We’re going to try a simpler version of our usual setup this year: instead of enshrining the usual two or three extra figures in the Buddha Hall, there will be just one in addition to the large triple altar that is there year-round. That one figure, however, is a brand-new addition to our bodhisattva lineup! When staff member and priest Sudama was in her native Vietnam for a family reunion this past winter, she looked for an inspiring figure of Guanyin, or Kwan Yin, (a.k.a. Kannon, or Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion) for the Center. She found a lovely, large (around 125 pounds!) wooden figure, which has sailed from Vietnam all the way to Arnold Park. Our new Kannon will be taking part in the weekend festivities, and then will proceed to Chapin Mill, where she’ll preside in the Kannon Room.

Buddha’s Birthday!

Our big weekend begins with Temple Night on Friday, May 24, and continues with Birthday festivities on Saturday and games and fun at the Buddha Bazaar on Sunday. The full schedule is here. And if you’d like an idea of what to expect, you can scroll through pictures from past years’ celebrations on the Photo Gallery page of the Center’s website.

For the vegetarian potluck picnic on Saturday that follows the elephant parade, the Center will provide veggie burgers, drinks and dessert (Lou Anne Jaeger’s cupcakes of awesomeness, as well as home-made ice cream). This year we’re asking members to forgo bringing more desserts and to bring either a main dish or a salad (fruit salad counts). Please, no meat, poultry or seafood, and size it to serve eight.

Memorial Day Parade

Sangha member Jim Thompson has passed along this invitation to join in the 30th Annual Rochester Memorial Day Peace Parade:

On Monday, May 26th, at 10:00 AM at Arnold Park and East Avenue, immediately following the Rochester Memorial Parade by 100 yards. Line-up at East Avenue and Arnold Park. Show that we can honor all who suffer and die due to war by working for peace with justice. Please come with your members and walk with your banner. We are planning the biggest, most visible Rochester Memorial Day Peace Parade in years. There are some wonderful street theater elements planned for the parade.

The Peace parade does not seek to denigrate the sacrifices of our military and their families. Rather, it seeks to remind us of the suffering caused by war and the indivisibility of peace, justice and freedom. Let’s make a statement on Memorial Day that we remember all the victims of war and we want to create a future that delivers peace and justice.

Center members are planning to join in, accompanied by the Buddha’s Birthday elephant.

Center Closed for Short Memorial Day Break

The Center will be closed on Monday and most of Tuesday, with no formal sitting on Monday, May 26, or on Tuesday morning, May 27. Our offices will also be closed on Tuesday. We’ll resume on Tuesday evening, May 27, with the regular evening sitting and daisan.

Roshi Away

This Sunday morning Roshi will be meeting family in Phoenix, Arizona, to attend to matters related to his late sister’s recent death. He won’t return until the night of Thursday, May 29, and so there will be no dokusan next week.

May 16, 2014

Two Ways to Volunteer

Food:  The Zen Center group that volunteers to serve meals to the hungry has its next shift this Sunday, May 18, and could use some additional help. The location is Asbury First United Methodist Church at 1050 East Avenue here in Rochester, and the shift runs from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm. More information is available on the Center’s website, here. If you are interested in helping out during this, or any of the other upcoming shifts, or have any other questions, please e-mail Andy McClain (

Shelter:  The Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (RAIHN) is a local ecumenical organization that works with homeless families in the Rochester area. RAIHN provides food, shelter, advocacy, and case work for families who have fallen through the public safety net. The Zen Center is listed as a “support congregation,” and RZC volunteers serve at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, located a few blocks from the Center at 25 Westminster Road. Sangha members who are interested in volunteering should e-mail Alex Comardo ( or call the Center.

House for Sale on Arnold Park

The house directly across the street from the Center at 6 Arnold Park is up for sale. The listing is with Nothnagle Realtors, the asking price is $375,000, and additional information is available here.

May 3, 2014

Teisho Tomorrow, Sunday, May 4

We don’t know why the Zen Center calendar shows no teisho for tomorrow, but Roshi will be giving one.

We’re Adopting a Highway!

Staff (and volunteers) have long had a practice of picking up trash in our neighborhood as our own version of the ancient Asian tradition of takahatsu, where monks go out into their communities, offering up the Dharma and accepting donations. We’ve dropped the soliciting donations piece, but have found that offering up service in this way, with as much focus and awareness as we can bring to bear, is thoroughly rewarding.

We’re about to expand our efforts by committing to cleaning a stretch of Interstate 490 (west of the City on the way out to Chapin Mill). Our section is a bit less than two miles long, which is about the length of our neighborhood takahatsu routes. On Saturday May 10, at 1:30 p.m., we’ll tackle our first clean-up, and anyone who’d like to join us is welcome. If you’d like to take part, give us a call, and we’ll give you all the details.

Website Feedback

From time to time, we hear from members about parts of our website ( that are out of date or information that might be added, and it’s always great to get that input. If you have the time and inclination to poke around and send us any suggestions or questions that come up for you, we’d be glad to hear from you. E-mail

50th Anniversary

The Special Events Committee invites you to participate in a discussion on the Sangha survey results during brunch on Sunday, May 11. (We’re sorry that the meeting coincides with Mother’s Day – it was the best option for the Committee members.) In preparation for that meeting, the Committee invites you to review the survey, which are posted on the Center’s website here.

A few things to keep in mind:

(1) The survey results cover both the RZC 50th anniversary celebration and general activities throughout the year. For the May 11 meeting, we will focus especially on the 50th because of the need to schedule speakers, performers, et cetera, far in advance.

(2) The survey summary will serve as the groundwork for our discussion. We hope to create a kind of think tank at the meeting. A valuable brainstorming technique is to piggyback on an idea until a more fully developed vision is shaped.

(3) The survey responses reflect ideas for a wide variety of events. Which ones stand out the most to you? Note that some of the ideas may not be feasible, some may be more appropriate than others, and new ideas may emerge during our discussion.

The Special Events Committee appreciates your contribution to the survey and the “ideation” process. If you are an out-of-town member or would like to send us your input in writing, please contact the Committee co-chairs, Deb McDaniel and Donna Kowal, at and