Term Intensive on the Horizon
Our January Rohatsu sesshin begins on Saturday, and on the Thursday of the following week (January 21), we’ll hold the Opening Ceremony for the Winter Term Intensive. If you’d like to join with others in making and fulfilling a commitment to ramp up your practice and work on whatever habits, good or bad, that call to you, fill out a TI form and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or print it out and send it in.
Information, instructions, and forms are all on the website (https://www.rzc.org/program-events/term-intensives/) and are also available at 7 Arnold Park in the Link.
50th Anniversary Celebrations
The Zen Center is gearing up for celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Zen Center. On July 1-3, 2016 we are planning a weekend of festivities at Arnold Park and Chapin Mill. If you would like to host guests in your home during this July weekend, please complete this online survey (via SurveyMonkey) to register the accommodations you’d like to offer. The planning team will use this survey information to match you with guests. We hope you will consider hosting. It is a wonderful way to connect with our far-flung Sangha members. The deadline to submit your accommodations is February 20, 2016. You will be notified no later than May 1 if you have been matched with guests. If you have already arranged for people to stay with you, there is a place in the survey to indicate that you are already hosting.
Questions? E-mail email@example.com and Dené Granger, the Accommodations Concierge, will reply.
If you have been considering having a robe (or an underrobe) made, now would be a very helpful time for Urszula Sapeta, who sews them. Order forms are available in the coat and shoe area of the Link, or you can download a form from Urszula’s website (http://endlessknotcushions.com/to_order.htm).
New Year’s Celebrations
Our New Year’s Eve ceremonies, with zazen, repentance ceremony, noise-making circumambulation, candle lighting, bell ringing, resolution reading and refreshments, begin at 8 p.m. on Thursday and run a little past midnight. A schedule for the evening is posted here. If you’re not able to make it by 8 pm, but would like to be here for the finale, it’s OK to arrive (or leave for that matter) at the tea break that happens at 10 pm.
There aren’t many better ways to see in the New Year, and unless you overdose on full-fat eggnog, you’ll wake up the next day with a clear head!
We’ll return from our holiday break with sitting and dokusan on Monday evening, December 28. The next morning, we’ll dive into the various corners of the Center for the annual “Cleaning of the Temple.” We’ll start with a short chanting service at 9:45 and end with a pizza lunch (alternatives available) at 12:30. Please join us in buffing the place up for the New Year. And, if you can come, send an e-mail to the Center’s receptionist (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thursday evening is New Year’s Eve, and we’ll begin our ceremonies and celebrations with zazen at 8 pm. You can see the full schedule here.
From Sangha member Andy Stern:
Deep in your heart you have always felt an ancient yearning to witness the wild. As a child the yearning was stifled by the time you were toilet trained. Now, you have an opportunity to revisit that wildness by embarking on a trip to the Heart of Darkness, to the darkest and most dangerous place on earth, the Central African Republic. There, join your guide, Andy Stern, who will take you to see the Zangha Bai, home to the African Forest Elephant, the largest herd of truly wild (they have never been toilet trained!) elephants left on earth. Come, if you dare!
Andy will give his talk on Sunday morning, January 3, after teisho and brunch (around 11 am).
Dokusan This Week
Since Roshi’s not leading the 4-day sesshin that begins this evening, Tuesday, December 8, he’ll be able to follow the usual dokusan schedule on Wednesday morning and Thursday evening this week. When in doubt, check out the online calendar.
No Sitting Sunday
Since the 4-day December sesshin will end on Saturday, December 12, there’s no formal sitting the following day. Roshi will give teisho on Sunday, December 20, just before the beginning of our holiday break.
Here’s a link to an Adobe Acrobat pdf of the calendar for the first quarter of 2016. You can download it and print it out or stop by the Center and pick a copy up.
The Milk of Enlightenment
Reminder: This Thursday evening, December 3, will be our annual Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony, a one-of-a-kind event with sutras read aloud by several senior Sangha members while circumambulating through the zendo. The warm milk-rice served afterward in the dining room may not lead to Supreme Perfect Enlightenment, as it did for Siddhartha, but anything is possible. . .
News from New Zealand
Amala-sensei recently visited the Center to take part in the November sesshin and to catch up with Roshi. She reports that the Auckland Sangha is doing well, and they are exploring the possibility of adding a second floor to the back part of the building they purchased last year, in order to create some living spaces for trainees and others wanting to live close to the Centre. Donations toward the investigation phase of the project would be gratefully received, and may be made through the RZC, so that the donation will be tax-deductible in the United States.
Are You a Library Scofflaw?
There are a number of Zen Center library books and other materials that are long overdue or just plain missing. If you suspect that you may have an overdue book, please make the effort to get it in. If it is lost or unreturnable for some reason, or if you wish to renew it, contact our librarian at email@example.com so that we can keep our records up to date. Also, be on the lookout for a slew of new additions to the stacks in the next month!
11 South Goodman Street for Sale
Our neighbors behind the Center on Goodman Street, the Amitabha Foundation USA, have put their house up for sale and are planning on relocating out-of-state, possibly to Hawaii. The building can be used either as office space or as a residence, and the asking price is $375,000. You can find details on the realtor’s website at http://www.pyramidbrokerage.com/properties/img/property/flyers/R1897.pdf.
Thanksgiving and Jukai Schedule
A link to the schedule of all the Center’s Thanksgiving and Jukai events is posted on the home page of the Center’s website (www.rzc.org). You can also access the schedule by clicking here. Or pick up a hard copy in the Link.
Thanksgiving Dinner at the Zen Center
We already have a lot of sign-ups for the vegetarian potluck Thanksgiving dinner, but the more the merrier. There’s a sheet for your name in the Link, or call the Center, and Cecily will pencil you in. Bring a vegetarian dish, hand-made or store-bought, to share. Dinner begins at 4 pm in the dining room at Arnold Park, but folks are welcome to come by earlier in the afternoon (say from 1:00 on) to socialize.
Roshi will give a teisho on the precepts on the morning of Jukai – this Saturday, November 28. Formal sitting starts at 8:30 am, and teisho will begin around 9:30 am. This year’s teisho will cover some yet-to-be-determined aspect of the precepts in depth.
If this will be your first Jukai or if you’d like a refresher, here are two recorded teishos that will give you a broader view of the precepts:
November 30, 2013: An overview of the 16 precepts.
November 22, 2009: The Three Treasures.
A Brief Outline of Jukai (Receiving the Precepts)
If this year will be your first time receiving the precepts, or if it’s been a while, here’s a rough outline of what to expect: The ceremony begins around 5 pm in the Buddha Hall, but you’re welcome to come early if you like and sit in the Arnold Park zendo. Anything you’re able to do ahead of time to slow down and clear the mind will help make Jukai more meaningful. A bit ahead of time, we’ll begin sending people out to the Buddha Hall, and once there you’ll be directed down the center aisle to make a monetary offering (for the teacher), do a prostration at the altar, and take your seat. When everyone is seated, Roshi will enter, we’ll chant the Prajna Paramita, and then Roshi will lead everyone through the Three Refuges and the Sixteen Precepts. The ceremony itself takes about half an hour, and afterwards, we’ll have refreshments in the dining room.
Jukai Donation to Teacher
In keeping with long tradition, the Receiving the Precepts (Jukai) ceremony this Saturday will include a chance for participants to offer a personal donation to Roshi as the officiant. Even a token amount is fine. Cash is preferred in order to maintain anonymity. This helps ensure that no one will feel any pressure to give more than he or she is comfortable with.
Public Sitting this Sunday
Next week will see world leaders gathering in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which many people now regard as the last chance, realistically, to slow down the global threat of climate change. This meeting has been in the planning for many months, as have efforts around the world to organize activities in support of the talks. Among the local activities planned for the coming week is the Rochester March for Global Climate Action this Sunday, November 29.
Just before the march gets underway, at 1:00 pm, a contingent of Sangha members (including Roshi) will be sitting together for an hour to fortify these efforts in our own way, much as we did at the Earth Vigil that took place at the People’s Climate March in NYC (described in Zen Bow) last year. This gathering will take place from noon until 1:00 pm at the Episcopal Church of St. Luke, 17 South Fitzhugh Street, where the march is to start. This sitting will be outdoors (so dress warmly) at the entrance to the church, on its broad front porch and, if necessary, on the front steps and sidewalk as well. We’ll plan to strike a bell two or three times during the hour for posture changes, but participants can sit as long or as briefly as they like. All are welcome, no meditation experience needed. Bring your own cushion or blankets and mat if you can, but there will be inflatable cushion-facsimiles available as well. Questions? Call the Center.
Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony
Next week, on Thursday evening, December 3, we’ll have our annual celebration to mark the Buddha’s great Enlightenment. After sitting, chanting, and sutra reading, we’ll gather in the candle-lit dining room for milk-rice – Shakyamuni’s pre-enlightenment meal. Come if you can!
If You Shop Online at Amazon.com –
The Zen Center participates in Amazon.com’s charitable donation program. When you make an Amazon purchase through smile.amazon.com, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charity that you designate.
No Thursday Dokusan
Due to Roshi’s preparations for a colonoscopy the next day, there will be no dokusan this Thursday evening, November 19. Consequently, this Saturday’s 10 am dokusan will also be open to those who would have gone on Thursday, as well as to anyone who is unable to come to dokusan on weekdays.
Famine Relief Ceremony Thursday Evening
On this same Thursday evening, one week before Thanksgiving, we’ll begin with an hour of sitting and follow with our annual ceremony for famine relief. There will be an opportunity to make a monetary donation to Oxfam (www.oxfamamerica.org), and the Center will match those donations. Residents here at the Center will be fasting that day as a way of experiencing in a very small way the hunger that millions of people around the world live with. Other Sangha members attending the ceremony may find that joining in on the fast will make the ceremony more meaningful.
Ceremony of Gratitude Sunday Morning
Our Ceremony of Gratitude this year will take place during the upcoming Sunday morning sitting. When you come into the Link that morning, notepads and pencils will be out, and you can write a sentence or two about anything you want to express thanks for. During the ceremony, we’ll be reading some of the statements. If you can’t make it Sunday morning but would like to offer up something of your own, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll include it in the mix.
Thanksgiving, Temple Night, and Jukai
Here’s a link to the schedule for the big week coming up. We’ll e-mail more details early next week. Please note that the potluck Thanksgiving dinner here at Arnold Park will begin at 4 pm, rather than at 6 pm as in previous years.