We have an all-day sitting scheduled this Sunday, February 19. The usual Sunday sitting that begins at 8:30 am is one of the day’s four blocks of sitting. You’re welcome to come to any or all of the four blocks. Additional details are on the Center’s website here. And here’s an outline of the day:
6:15 am Zazen
7:30 Breakfast (Center will provide)
8:30 Zazen and chanting
10:15 Brunch in the dining room
12:50 pm Lunch break (bring your own)
February 2-Day Sesshin
We’re a week away from the 2-day sesshin that begins Friday evening, February 24, and ends after noon on Sunday, February 26. Acceptances are being e-mailed today, but there’s plenty of room if you’d still like to apply.
Free Tax Assistance for Low-Income Members
Longtime Sangha member Notch Miyake is a volunteer with CASH, an IRS-certified tax preparation service for low income people. He’s willing to prepare income tax returns at no charge for members who fall within CASH’s income guidelines ($55,000 or less for families with children and $40,000 or less for those without). If you’re interested, contact Notch (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you’re looking for some indoor fun over the next couple of weeks, you might want to check out a couple of member-recommended film/discussion events that are coming up.
Sangha member Jen Byrnes is inviting members to a screening of Thinking Money: The Psychology behind Our Best and Worst Financial Decisions on Saturday, February 25, at 2 pm at the Rochester Central Library, 115 South Avenue. Thinking Money explores:
—Ways behavioral biases affect your financial decisions
—Why too many choices can be paralyzing
—How a good “nudge” can help you achieve your financial goals
—How technology can be embraced to help you save money
—Steps you can take to achieve greater financial security
The film will be followed by a discussion with Dr. Christopher Niemiec of the University of Rochester Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology. For more information or to register, click here.
Sangha member and palliative care physician Miyeon Oh recommends a documentary on care for the dying entitled Being Mortal, which will be screened at the Lifetime Care Center, 3111 South Winton Road, on Thursday, March 2, at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm, with a discussion following. Being Mortal delves into the hopes of patients and families facing terminal illness. The film investigates the practice of caring for the dying and explores the relationships between patients and their doctors. It follows a surgeon, Dr. Atul Gawande, as he shares stories from the people and families he encounters. When Dr. Gawande’s own father gets cancer, his search for answers about how best to care for the dying becomes a personal quest. If you’re interested in attending, the event flyer is available here.
Starting this Saturday, February 11, through February 18, Roshi will be on vacation in Mexico.
Saturday Dokusan: Making It Easier to Enter
When Roshi gives dokusan on Saturdays (the next one will be March 4th), there’s no need, if you arrive after 9:30 am, to ring the front door bell or to go around the back. We’ll start opening the front door for every Saturday dokusan.
Notch Miyake’s Talk – Update
Last week’s e-mail gave a short description of Notch Miyake’s talk (the history of Japanese-American internment camps during World War II), a date (Sunday, February 12), but not the time. It will start around 11:00 am in the Center’s dining room.
Zen Bow: Call for Submissions
Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back
into the earth;
for heavy are the mountains, heavy are the seas.
Fürchtet euch nicht zu leiden, die Schwere,
gebt sie zurück an der Erde Gewicht;
schwer sind die Berge, schwer sind die Meere.
—Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, Part One, Sonnet IV
Physical pain is a mainstay in our lives; it is unavoidable in that, sooner or later, whether temporary or chronic, we will find ourselves in pain. For some, the pain of sitting in a meditation posture itself becomes a major obstacle to deepening practice. The fear of pain might even lead us to steer clear of trying a 7-day sesshin. Yet, as Roshi Philip Kapleau writes in his introductory remarks to The Three Pillars of Zen, the problem is not the pain but rather “our evaluation of pain from which we stand apart.” He continues, “pain, when courageously accepted, is a means to liberation in that it frees our natural sympathies and compassion even as it enables us to experience pleasure and joy in a new depth and purity.”
The editors invite submissions of essays, poetry, photographs, and illustrations on the topic of “Working with Pain.” Send your submission to the editors, Donna Kowal and Brenda Reeb, at email@example.com. Submission deadline: March 24, 2017
Upcoming Mindful Practice Workshop for Medical Practitioners
Center member Mick Krasner, M.D., and Ron Epstein, M.D., will be leading a workshop retreat for medical practitioners at Chapin Mill from May 3 to 6. Drs. Epstein and Krasner are both faculty members at the University of Rochester. If you’d like to learn more, click here.
If you have questions about this event, or want assistance with registering online, please contact the Center for Experiential Learning, University of Rochester Medical Center, at 585-275-7666.
Seeing-through-Racism Meeting This Sunday
There will be a Seeing-through-Racism meeting this Sunday, February 5, at about 11 am. Jim Thompson writes that the group will be discussing strategies to live fully in the midst of the current political crisis.
Talk by Notch Miyake
On Sunday, February 12, Center member Notch Miyake will give a talk on the history of Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. He and his wife Margaret visited all ten of the camps, and Margaret’s photographs were on display at the University of Rochester. Notch has spoken there and – together with Margaret – was a guest of WXXI radio host Evan Dawson on December 7.
Welcoming New Members
Did you have a rough time starting practice at the Zen Center? Afraid of making too many mistakes in zendo protocol? (Note: We don’t care. We understand it’s a lot.) Angela Hakkila, a Madison Zen Center member, recently moved to Rochester and has been thinking about how we can create “softer landings” for newly arrived members, fresh out of their introductory workshop. She is seeking any input from the Sangha on skillful ways to reach out to new members. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations for Refugees
We have an opportunity to help the children and families of the Rochester International Academy, a local school that teaches English to newly arrived children and helps integrate them into the public school system. Here’s a link to an article about the school from the Washington Post.
Sally Bonn, a good friend of staff member Tom Kowal, has asked for help collecting toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo, toothbrushes, soap, deodorant, etc.), as these are a constant need for the children and their families. Leave donated items in the Link by February 14, and we’ll pass them along for Sally to deliver. Books and clothing would also be well received.
Four Friends’ Photography
From 1:00 to 5:00 on Sunday afternoon, February 12, there will be a show at Artisan Works, 565 Blossom Road here in Rochester, presenting the work of Josh Kneer, a former Center staff member, as well as locals Bobby Henchen, Michael Krieger, and Sangha member Amber Powers. There will be music by Paul Swiatek, as well as half-price admission ($6) to the rest of Artisan Works for everyone coming for the exhibit. There is an event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/239864853123429/.
Cleaning Every Corner!
The Arnold Park staff will be heading out to Chapin Mill this Saturday, January 28, to join the residents there for our annual Cleaning of the Temple. We’ve always had the same event at Arnold Park, just before New Year’s Eve, but there isn’t time then to squeeze in a Cleaning of the Temple at Chapin Mill.
What we call Cleaning of the Temple is an annual ritual, adopted from Japan, in which we tackle the less visible corners and crannies and hard-to-clean areas that don’t require frequent attention. There are myriad such areas at Chapin Mill, but this annual assault keeps things from building up. And doing it with so many others is fun!
We’ll get underway at 9 am and finish with lunch at 12:30. Give us a call if you’d like a ride out and back.
Where’s My Zen Bow?
Some of you may have noticed that you haven’t received Zen Bow in recent months. Because so much time, energy, and Sangha volunteers (including the Zen Bow editors) were devoted to coordinating our 50th anniversary events, something had to give, and unfortunately it was the production of Zen Bow (we also sacrificed the June 7-day sesshin last year). However, the editors and writers are “back on track,” and the next issue on “Time” will soon make it to your mailbox. The editors are also feverishly working on a special 50th anniversary edition, which will come out this spring.
Stay tuned for an announcement on other upcoming Zen Bow topics. That said, the editors welcome the submission of essays, photographs, and illustrations on any topic related to Zen practice at any time – whenever the inspiration strikes! E-mail submissions to the editors, Donna Kowal and Brenda Reeb, at email@example.com.
One of Roshi’s favorite books has disappeared, possibly lent to someone: The Geography of Thought, by Richard Nisbett. If you borrowed it, please return it, and there will be no questions asked.
We have an all-day sitting scheduled this Sunday, January 29, with Roshi’s teisho during the usual block of sitting from 8:30 to 10:15. You’re welcome to come to any of the four blocks of sitting or to all of them. Additional details are on the Center’s website here. Here’s an outline of the day:
6:15 am Zazen
7:30 Breakfast (Center will provide)
8:30 Zazen and chanting
10:15 Brunch in the dining room
12:50 pm Lunch break (bring your own)
Funeral Service Sunday at 11 AM
As we wrote on Wednesday, one of our long-time members, Irene Wehbring, died after a long bout with Parkinson’s disease. Irene’s funeral ceremony will begin in the zendo around 11 am tomorrow, January 22, following our regular Sunday morning sitting, teisho, and brunch. The service will last about 35 to 45 minutes, and anyone who would like to attend is welcome. Robes are not required or even encouraged.
Memorial Service This Afternoon, Wednesday, January 18
Long-time Center member Irene Wehbring passed away last night after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. We’ll have a memorial service this afternoon at 3:00 in the zendo, and if you’d like to come, you’re welcome to. A funeral service will be held later, date and time to be determined.
Winter Term Intensive Begins on Thursday
Thursday evening, January 19, around 8 pm in the zendo, after an hour of sitting, we’ll have the opening ceremony for this winter’s five-week Term Intensive. If you’re interested and want to find out more, check out the TI webpage and fill out a form. Call John Pulleyn, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or catch him at a sitting if you have questions.
After nearly every sesshin, Roshi urges those who’ve struggled with leg or back pain to take up a regular practice of stretching or yoga. It’s not easy to make that or any other good practice become a reliable habit, but we can make a lot of headway in a five-week TI.
New Date for Sangha Entertainment
We have a number of key people who will be out of town on February 4, the date scheduled for Sangha Entertainment. After some checking around, it appears Saturday, March 18, will work better, and we’ve rescheduled it for then. If you were planning to pull an act together at the last minute, you now have many more minutes available.
Sailing into 2017
A final pitch for New Year’s Eve at the Zen Center — If you’re open to ringing (literally) in the New Year without alcohol, and to feeling buoyed when you walk out into the dark in the first hour of 2017, come join with others in the Sangha for traditional Buddhist rites + eggnog and cookies. For the many members who come back to this year after year, it’s an uplifting experience. The schedule for this evening is posted here.
On the subject of “ringing,” you can bring your own noise-maker or select one from our collection. We want to avoid hurting anyone’s ears, so we have someone assigned to check out your implement when you arrive. And ear plugs are available for extra sensitive ears.
Countdown to the New Year
Sittings and work at the Center resumed today, and tomorrow (Wednesday, December 28) we’ll dive into our annual Cleaning of the Temple, aiming to get into those nooks and crannies that get overlooked in the usual housekeeping routine. If you’d like to come by and join in, we start with chanting at 9:45 and finish with lunch (featuring pizza) at 12:30.
The rest of the week will be devoted to preparing for New Year’s Eve (schedule here). There are many ways to welcome 2017, and our annual mélange of zazen and ceremony, starting at 8 pm and ending just after midnight, is one of the best! Everyone is welcome: there’s a break at 10 pm, and if you need to leave or arrive then, you can do that.
“You Do Believe in God, Don’t You?”
As promised, we recorded this morning’s discussion about family, the holidays, and finding the right balance in talking about Buddhism and Zen practice. Roshi led the conversation, and you can listen to it here.
All Members Are Invited To Come By over the Break
During the week or so that the Center is closed (beginning after teisho and brunch this Sunday, December 18), the zendo will be still be here, ready for any member who’d like to sit. You’re also welcome to use the library or make yourself a cup of tea in the staff kitchen.
New Year’s Celebrations
As soon as the Center re-opens on Tuesday, December 27, we’ll start preparations for our New Year’s ceremonies. Keith Carpenter, who’s in charge of Housekeeping, is hoping for help with decorations. If you can volunteer, let him know at 585-260-0912 or email@example.com.