May 3, 2018

New “Finding-Your-Seat” Series

After some experimentation, we’re pretty happy with the format for our Finding-Your-Seat program, which runs on Saturday mornings between Introductory Workshops. Whether you’re new to sitting and the Zen Center or not, please join us if you’d like help getting your sitting habit established and becoming more comfortable with coming to the Center.

If you’ve attended one of the Saturday Introductory Workshops, no matter how long ago, you qualify. Our first meeting in this current series is this Saturday, May 5, in the Community Space behind 7 Arnold Park, from 11:00 to noon. Give us a call at 585-473-9180 or email if you’d like to come.

Sangha Dinner

Please join the Rochester Zen Center community on Saturday, May 5, for a vegetarian dinner in the Center’s dining room.

We’ll start cooking at 5 pm and begin eating around 6:15 pm. Participants may arrive any time before 6:15 pm to help cook or just to eat. After dinner we’ll clean up the kitchen.

The menu will consist of rice, lentils, and a lightly seasoned salad.

If you plan on attending, please email Devin Wiesner at The dinner is free.

Concert on Friday

The Dharma Arts Group will be going to the Eastman School of Music this Friday (tomorrow, May 4) for a free performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah. Check it out here.

If you’re interested in coming along, contact Devin Wiesner at The concert runs from 8 to 10 pm in the Kodak Hall of the Eastman Theatre.

Crazywise: a Documentary

Center member Joel Lesses sent along this invitation:

Greetings, I am having people over to my apartment (on Arnold Park) Saturday night to watch Crazywise, a documentary regarding mental health as a potential spiritual opportunity. About the film:

“Crazy…or wise? The traditional wisdom of indigenous cultures often contradicts modern views about a mental health crisis. Is it a ‘calling’ to grow or just a ‘broken brain’? The documentary CRAZYWISE explores what can be learned from people around the world who have turned their psychological crisis into a positive transformative experience.”

You can watch the trailer here and can contact Joel by email or Facebook PM at

April 27, 2018

Roshi’s 70th Birthday!

Cake, spreads, focaccia bread, and other surprises await for the upcoming brunch, this Sunday, April 29, in honor of our teacher.

Seeing Through Racism Meeting, Sunday May 6

An invitation from the Committee:

The Seeing through Racism Committee, with the support of the Sangha Engagement Committee, is communicating with a local community organization, RocActs. The RocActs program pairs different faith communities to join in “Sacred Conversations on Race and Action.” A number of faith communities in the Rochester area have been participating for several years. These Sacred Conversations start with two 4-hour workshops led by trained facilitators from the RocActs organization. Following the workshops, the newly paired groups continue conversations and choose actions. The first step toward joining RocActs is a meeting we will hold with two of their facilitators who will give us more information about their organization and answer our questions. The meeting will be held at the Zen Center on Sunday, May 6, at 11 am, right after the brunch. We will meet in the community space in the dormitory behind 7 Arnold Park. All interested Sangha members are invited to join us for the meeting.

The Zen Center Book Club Is Back

After a dormant winter period, the book club is springing back to life: on Sunday, May 20, at 6:30 p.m. in the community space at the Zen Center, we will pick up where we left off last year and finish discussing Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. After that, we’ll choose our next book.

If you do not have time to read the whole book, that is OK! Just read what you can.

Susanna Guarino promises to bring discussion questions and a snack or two. 

April 20, 2018

Dharma Talk and All-Day Sitting, Sunday, April 22

Staff member Tom Kowal will give a dharma talk this Sunday. The tentative title is “Dharma and Depression.” We’ll also have an all-day sitting; the schedule is below, and there’s more information on the website here. As always, you can come for any or all blocks of zazen.

6:15 am         Zazen

7:30              Breakfast (Center will provide)

8:30              Zazen, chanting & dharma talk

~10:30          Brunch

11:00            Zazen

12:50            Lunch break (bring your own)

1:30-3:00      Zazen, ending with The Four Vows

“Yeah, but is she any good?”

That was what our Head of Zendo, John Pulleyn, asked Sangha member Jonathan Hager about his daughter’s cello playing when Jonathan suggested she might perform at our annual Sangha Entertainment Night three or four years ago. Needless to say, “Jackie is.”

Recent winner of the 2018 Jo Amish Young Artist Competition, Jackie will be playing two upcoming concerts:

  • Tuesday, May 1, Hochstein Performance Hall, at 7:30 pm: Rachmaninov Cello Sonata. This is the David Hochstein Competition Winner’s recital. And it’s free. Additional information is available here.
  • Monday, May 7, Penfield High School, at 7:30 pm: First Movement of the Dvorak Cello Concerto .with the Penfield Symphony. Additional information is available here.

Tickets are $15 adults, $12 over 60, students with ID free. You can also get two free tickets if you sign up on the PSO website here.

March 30, 2018

Eryl–Down But Not Out

Eryl Kubicka had a hip replaced on Monday, and went home on Wednesday. She won’t be back on the tennis court right away, but–no surprise–is recovering nicely. She won’t be giving her regular Friday private instruction, at Arnold Park, until after April sesshin.

April Fool’s Day Teisho

People planning to attend the teisho this Sunday should not come expecting Roshi’s most serious teisho.

Dharma Arts Group

Devin Wiesner is starting up an informal group to go to musical performances and art exhibitions together.  This Sunday, April 1 from 3:30 to 5, you are invited along to a voice recital performance by Eastman student Brianna Robinson.  There’s information about the concert here.  On Wednesday, April 4 from 8 to 10pm, there is a chamber orchestra concert, info here.  Both concerts are free, and you can contact Devin at

Alan Temple

Alan Temple passed from this world to the next this past Monday surrounded by his family.  Alan was one of the first members of the Center, heavily involved in rebuilding 7 Arnold Park after the fire in 1968 as well as in the construction of the Chapin Mill Retreat Center.  We held a chanting service for him here on Wednesday, and his family is hoping to hold a memorial service on or around his 85th birthday, which will fall on Father’s day (June 17) this year.  You can contact Charles, his son, at for more information about the service.

Ben Taylor – Thing Maker

Long-time Sangha member Ben Taylor (the older of our two Ben Taylors and the husband of Marion Taylor) has an exhibit at Flower City Arts Center entitled The Birth of the Universe, opening April 6 and running to April 30. Here’s a link to the press release and an example of Ben’s work.

Sangha Member Seeking Room for Rent (Short-term)

Former Zen Center staff member Stevan Veljkovic will be visiting Rochester from April 11 to 21 and is looking for a room to rent for his stay. He says that something close to Arnold Park would be splendid, but not essential. You can contact Stevan at

March 22, 2018

Zen Bow in poly bags?

Due to an unanticipated mailing glitch, we had to enclose the first issue of the redesigned Zen Bow in plastic mailers in order to comply with bulk-mailing rules. Future issues will be mailed without the plastic.

Help Wanted

A Sangha-related landscaper needs a helper, with transportation, who is “honest, reliable, self-motivated, hardworking, and trustworthy,” who has some landscape experience, and is a non-smoker. Part-time work is possible. If interested, call Dharman Bays at 478-0906.

Max Adler Oboe Recital, Sunday, March 25

Sangha member and Eastman School of Music student Max Adler is working hard and gearing up for his senior degree recital. If you’re interested in attending (it’s free), the recital will be Sunday, March 25, at 9 pm in Eastman’s Hatch Recital Hall (in the modern East Wing of the School).

March 18, 2018

Announcing New Sesshin Hygiene Policies – A Letter from Roshi

The worst of this flu season has passed, but it took a toll on our Sangha as never before. At our January sesshin, about half of the participants came down with colds, coughs, and/or “flu-like illnesses.” It is clear now that we can no longer rely on the relatively loose sesshin hygiene policies that we’ve gotten away with (more or less) in the past.

To minimize sickness and contagion in sesshin going forth, I recently consulted with four Sangha physicians, our regular sesshin monitors, and others to adopt stricter preventive measures and responses. The strongest of these measures, which are still under discussion, will not go into effect until the next flu season – fall and winter. That allows time for us to gather more information, including reports from January sesshin participants, who were recently canvassed for feedback.

Irrespective of the influenza virus itself, the following “public health” and other policies will go into effect starting with the upcoming April sesshin:

Before sesshin

  • All participants must bring their health insurance cards with them.
  • Participants who feel they might be coming down with something that could be contagious to others should report their symptoms to the monitors, who might ask them, regretfully, to bow out of sesshin for the sake of others if not themselves.

During sesshin

  • After a symptomatic participant reports his or her condition, the monitors will assess, in consultation with a health professional if necessary, whether the ailing participant needs to leave sesshin or remain but be isolated. Isolation would mean either a room change or temporary removal from the zendo (to the Kannon Room or Piano Room) or both. At a large sesshin this could involve moving the symptomatic participant into an “infirmary” (such as the Mill House) with others who are in the same condition.
  • Local participants who seem unlikely to recover enough to rejoin sesshin could be driven home by the sesshin runner (the person each sesshin who is assigned to run errands). An out-of-town participant unlikely to be able to rejoin sesshin could be driven to our Arnold Park center until having recovered enough to go home.
  • A moderately symptomatic participant – e.g., one with a cough or cold worthy of the name – could be asked to wear a hygienic mask, a supply of which now will be part of the sesshin “pharmacy.” Even a healthy participant may ask to wear a mask in the zendo.
  • Other new hygienic measures (too detailed to enumerate here) will be deployed in the kitchen, dining room, water table area, soaking bath rooms, dokusan room, and during calisthenics.
  • We will, of course, also keep with the standard guidelines we’ve always announced, such as for people: not to put their fingers in their eyes, mouth, or nose; to sneeze and cough only into the crook of their elbow (robe sleeve); and to wash their hands frequently.

A concern: After fifty years of sesshins with few actionable critiques of our hygiene policies, are we, in reaction to an exceptionally bad flu season, now overcorrecting? I can hear Zen master Mumon’s warning from the Mumonkan: “Rather than giving relief to the body, give relief to the mind.” It would be regrettable indeed if with these stiffer policies we inadvertently encourage people in sesshin to become preoccupied with germs. We want to change the microbial culture of sesshin without changing our focused sesshin culture.

Most of our sesshin participants, it would seem, have always been less concerned about contagion than about the terminal illness we all share: being born in the first place. Why else would people with sesshin experience under the previously looser guidelines have kept returning? The truth is, if your foremost concern is contagion, sitting day and night in one room with dozens of others is not a good idea.

The foregoing new policies are sure to place more demands on the sesshin monitors and work supervisors, both before and during sesshin. But these guidelines reflect our best first try at taking health risks in sesshin more seriously, yet without getting obsessive. They are not set in stone, and our trial run at next month’s sesshin could prompt us to revise them a bit. Meanwhile, input from the Sangha (especially those with sesshin experience) is welcome. (please send any comments or suggestions to

I apologize, belatedly, to sesshin participants over the years who suffered unnecessarily due to the Center’s casual hygiene policies. Sesshin participants themselves can help, though, by recognizing the huge importance of the immune system and by bolstering it through good diet, exercise, emotional stability, and most of all, daily zazen!

—Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede


Dokusan This Week

With Roshi leaving on Thursday to lead a 2-day sesshin at the Madison Zen Center, the last dokusan offered this week will be tomorrow morning, Wednesday, March 21.

March 14, 2018

Finding Your Seat: A Six-Week Program for Beginners to Zazen

Are you trying to get your Zen practice going, but you’re not quite there yet? Still wondering about certain zendo protocols? Or do you have some posture questions? The first in our new series of “Finding-Your-Seat” sessions will start this Saturday, March 17, at 11:00 am in the dining room. All are welcome, especially newcomers to the practice who are trying to get some traction. Trueman Taylor and Cecily Fuhr, the leaders for this first meeting, will answer questions and offer help; the meeting will also include a short period of zazen. We’ll begin at 11:00 and finish up at noon. Hope you can make it!

St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 17

Starting at 10:00 am on Saturday, East Avenue will be closed off for Rochester’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. If you’re coming to the Center, you may have to enter Arnold Park from Park Avenue, even though it’s the “wrong way.”

Chapin Mill Sleepover for Sangha Kids!

We will be holding a sleepover for the Sangha youth at Chapin Mill this Saturday, March 17. Come in time for supper at 6 pm on Saturday, or just come Sunday, arriving by 9:40 am. Bring clothes and footwear suitable for snow and outdoor fun! On Sunday morning we will have a short Youth Program with chanting and interactive games and finish after lunch at 2:00 pm. To save on linens, bring sleeping bags for kids, and bring helmets for sledding (snow depth and slipperiness permitting). In order to plan for meals, it is helpful to know numbers (we already have 12 kids plus parents signed up!). Please email or text her at (585)-409-6497. 

Tangen-roshi Has Died

We just received news that on March 12 Harada Tangen Roshi, of Bukkoku-ji, died after a long illness. As a young monk at Hosshin Temple, Tangen-san was of great help to Philip Kapleau as a translator, mentor, and friend during the latter’s first three years in Japan. Indeed, Kapleau-roshi has said that without his dear friend, he may well not have been able to persevere through that period of rigorous monastic training.

Over more recent decades, quite a few members of the Rochester Zen Center have visited Tangen-roshi, including Bodhin-roshi, who trained with him for several months. 

We will have a memorial service for Tangen-roshi this Sunday, March 18, after a teisho honoring him and his teaching. All are welcome. 

All-day Sitting this Sunday, March 18

For a bit more information on the website, look here.

6:15 am                 Zazen

7:30                       Breakfast (Center will provide)

8:30                       Zazen, teisho, & memorial service

~10:45                   Brunch

11:15                     Zazen

12:50                     Lunch break (bring your own)

1:30-3:00                Zazen, ending with the Four Vows

Spring Calendar Available

The Center’s spring 2018 calendar is posted on the website here. Copies are also available at the Center in the Link.

March 9, 2018

Daylight Saving Time, Sunday, March 11

A reminder that when you wake up Sunday morning, we will have “sprung ahead,” giving back that hour we gained in the fall. Hope to see you anyway for sitting and teisho, beginning at 8:30.

6-Week Program for Beginners to Zazen

We’re going to experiment with a new weekly version of our Finding-Your-Seat program beginning Saturday, March 17, and ending Saturday, April 21. Besides answering questions and offering help with getting traction in Zen practice, each meeting will include a short period of zazen. We’ll begin at 11 and finish up at noon. Anyone who wants to work at getting the habit of daily sitting established is welcome to attend, and we’ll be inviting everyone who comes to the March 10 Introductory Workshop. More details to come.

Silver and Gold

The Center is looking for someone who can give an appraisal of a gold ring with gems, left to the Center by Ruth Kunz, as well as a silver coin.