50th Anniversary

Rochester Zen Center

May 24, 2017

Buddha’s Birthday

Coming up in just a few days, we have our annual Big (Fun) Weekend. Everyone – you should come! Starting out on Friday evening, it’s…

… Temple Night

Our weekend kicks off with Temple Night and Jukai (taking of the precepts) on Friday, May 26. Before the Jukai ceremony begins and after it’s over, sitting and devotions are unstructured. You are free, on this night, to sit anywhere in the Buddha Hall and to make prostrations and offer incense at any 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 Jukai ceremony ends. (For security reasons the door to the Buddha Hall is locked from the outside after 9:30, so if you leave after that, you won’t be able to get back in.) This is a nice chance to do late-night sitting outside sesshin with no wakeup bell looming at 4:10 the next morning!

We’ll continue as we did last year with stacking cushions in a few locations rather than setting them out. This way those who come to sit may feel a little freer to sit wherever and however they want.

Buddha’s Birthday on Saturday

Festivities continue on Saturday with music, story-telling, a parade, food, and games. 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 that follows the elephant parade, the Center will provide veggie burgers, drinks and dessert (and by dessert we mean ice cream as well as Lou Anne Jaeger’s amazing cupcakes). Please bring either a main dish or a salad (fruit salad counts). This year we’re asking people to take their dishes home with them when they leave – just to simplify cleanup. Please, no meat, poultry or seafood, and size it to serve eight.

If you’re a parade veteran and would be willing to miss it this year and help with food setup, let Dené Granger know (dagrange@syr.edu). You may free a staff member who’s never been in the parade before to follow in the footsteps of the Elephant!

One more note: it’s fine to park on East Avenue, and we also have permission to park in the lot of the Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word (entrance on Goodman Street). Just be sure not to park in the spots reserved for the Harry Bruno Salon. These are along the side of the lot closest to our Buddha Hall.

Annual Corporate Meeting on Sunday

We’ll start with an informal sitting from 8:30-9:30. Dokusan for out-of-town members will be available then. Afterwards, we’ll have our Annual Meeting in the Buddha Hall at 9:30 am.

May 12, 2017

Calendar Notes

Roshi will be gone this weekend, so rather than teisho on Sunday, May 14, John Pulleyn will give a Dharma Talk. Roshi will give teisho on Sunday, June 4. On that same Sunday, following teisho, there will be a meeting of the Seeing through Racism Committee.

Schedule for Buddha’s Birthday

Buddha’s Birthday weekend at the Center is two weeks away (May 26-28).

Here’s a link to the schedule. Take note that there are some significant changes in the schedule this year: for instance, the Annual Meeting is on Sunday morning instead of the usual Saturday.

“We’re Getting the Band Back Together!”

It’s our annual call for all musicians for the Saturday of Buddha’s Birthday (May 27). If you and your instrument would like to perform, e-mail John Pulleyn (john@rzc.org), and he’ll sign you up. We’ll be meeting in the Center’s library for a rehearsal on Saturday, May 27, at 9:00 am. Talent requirements are modest; the more musicians we have, the louder and more festive the parade will be.

Book Club Meeting

The Sangha Book Club’s next book will be The Wonder of Presence by Toni Packer. Join the discussion on Sunday, June 25 at 6:30 pm in Roshi’s library. We’ll move outside, weather permitting. Snacks will be provided and enlightening conversations are guaranteed. We hope to see you there!

Landmark Society: The House and Garden Tour

The Landmark Society of Western New York’s 47th annual House & Garden Tour is happening on the weekend of June 3-4, and this year our Center will a part of the eleven-stop tour. Tickets are $20.00 for Landmark Society members ($28.00 for non-members), and you can find more details about the tour on the Society’s website at http://landmarksociety.org/houseandgardentour/

Despite the heavy foot traffic that will occur during the tour, the Center will still be open for Sangha members to attend the Saturday and Sunday morning sittings (teisho on Sunday).

May 3, 2017

Finding Your Seat: Encore (Saturday, May 6)

Last month, on April 1, we held our first “Finding-Your-Seat” meeting, and we had a great turnout: we started in the 7 Arnold Park library, but because so many people came (at least 30), we moved to the Community Space to have enough room.

So, this Saturday, at 11:00 am, we’ll have our second session. “Finding-Your-Seat” meetings focus on getting started at the Center and establishing a steady Zen practice, so bring your questions! John Pulleyn, our Head of Zendo, will lead the discussion. Go directly to the Community Space (previously called the right-hand dormitory) in the back, either through the parking lot or the main entrance. We’ll unlock the front door at 10:30, so folks who use the main entrance can go through the Link and out to the Community Space. After about an hour, everyone is welcome to join us in the zendo for the noontime (informal) sitting and also to stay for lunch at 12:30. However, it is imperative that you RSVP if you plan to stay for lunch: we nearly ran out of food last time! Call the Center (585-473-9180) or send an e-mail to receptionist@rzc.org.

Sangha Book Club: Also Up and Running

After a successful first meeting, the Sangha Book Club is discussing another text. Read Robert Aitken’s A Zen Wave: Basho’s Haiku and Zen and join fellow Sangha members on Sunday, May 7, at 6:30 pm in Roshi’s library.

Snacks will be provided, and enlightening conversations are guaranteed. We hope to see you there!

Sangha Volunteers

The Center’s staff is unusually low in numbers these days. If you’ve ever thought about volunteering, there’s no time like the present! You can contact our receptionist, Cecily Fuhr, at 585-473-9180 or receptionist@rzc.org. We have a lot of work that needs to be done in various departments: housekeeping, gardening, kitchen, and repair and maintenance.

Our Annual Meeting: New Day and Time (Sunday, May 28, 9:30 am)

We’ll be experimenting this year with a different schedule for the Buddha’s Birthday weekend. Rather than stretching our kid-oriented events over two days, we’re going to combine them and follow the picnic lunch on Saturday, May 27, with a condensed version of the Buddha Bazaar. That will leave Sunday morning at 9:30 for the Annual Meeting that was formerly held in the late and sleepy Saturday afternoon. If you’d like to come to the Annual Meeting with your mind refreshed, the zendo is open for informal sitting beforehand (come and go as you wish). Ballots for the Trustee election held at the Annual Meeting will be mailed to all full Center members by the end of this week. (The Annual Meeting is open to all members, friends of the Center, and trial members, but only members are eligible to vote.)

Asian Art

An Asian art show featuring demonstrations and work by Dr. Alice Chen and her students will open on Friday evening, May 5, at 6:30 in the Pieters Family Life Center Garden Café Gallery, 1025 Commons Way, Henrietta, NY. The show will run through June 22nd. Sangha members with an interest in Asian art and calligraphy can stop by and check it out. Former resident Dan Esler, who spent four years in China, will have some of his Chinese calligraphy on display. Here’s a link to a poster for the event.

April 29, 2017

Street Closings in Zen Center Neighborhood Tomorrow Morning

Because of the Flower City half marathon, which starts tomorrow, Sunday, April 30, at 7:30 am, portions of East Avenue, Goodman Street, and Park Avenue will be closed for a time. If you’re coming to the sitting and teisho, your best bet will likely be to leave extra early, park north of East Avenue, and then walk to the Center. Details of the marathon route are posted at http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/fullscreen/332612207/.

April 27, 2017

Dokusan Change

The usual Thursday evening dokusan is cancelled for tonight, April 27. In its place there will be dokusan at tomorrow morning’s sitting.

April 22, 2017

Guest Teisho Tomorrow

Roshi has invited his sister Roshi Sunya Kjolhede (his kid sister, he points out) to give the teisho tomorrow morning as a guest teacher, and she has agreed to do so. She is visiting from Asheville, NC, where she directs the Windhorse Zen Center with her husband, Roshi Lawson Sachter.

University of Wisconsin Well-being Study

The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center in Madison, Wisconsin is looking for participants for a research study on the impact of long term meditation on the brain and body. Lab visits include EEG, MRI, and sleep studies. Participants may receive up to $1635 upon completion of the study. 10 month time commitment required. Must be 25-65 and have 5+ years of daily meditation practice that includes mindfulness and compassion or loving-kindness meditation. If you are interested in participating, please visit go.wisc.edu/meditate to see if you qualify. If you have any questions about the study, please email study staff at wellbeingstudy@bi.wisc.edu or call 608-263-0803.

April 8, 2017

Finding Your Seat: Up and Running

On Saturday, April 1, we held our first of what we hope will be a regular schedule of group sessions to discuss questions that come up about getting started at the Center and establishing a steady Zen practice. Turnout on Saturday was impressive; we started in the 5 Arnold Park Library, but moved to the Community Space in the back in order to have enough room. Roshi led our inaugural meeting; for future dates, we will sometimes mix it up and have one or two senior students facilitate. That will be the case for our next meeting on Saturday, May 6, a week after the next scheduled workshop. Details to come.

Sangha Book Club: Also Up and Running

After a successful first meeting, the Sangha Book Club is discussing another text. Read Robert Aitken’s A Zen Wave: Basho’s Haiku and Zen and join fellow Sangha members on Sunday, May 7, at 6:30 pm in Roshi’s library.

Snacks will be provided, and enlightening conversations are guaranteed.

We hope to see you there!

Looking for an Apartment

Sangha member Joel Lesses is looking for a place near the Center to rent. If you have a lead, you can e-mail him at joel.lesses@gmail.com.

March 30, 2017

Roshi at Nazareth College

This Friday evening, March 31st, Roshi will be participating in a panel discussion on “Activism without Angst” in the Linehan Chapel at Nazareth College, 4245 East Avenue, from 7 pm to 9 pm. The suggested donation is $20, but attendees can give whatever is affordable for them. The organizers say:

In this time of uncertainty, anxiety, overwhelm, and grief amid concerns for unity, social justice, and environmental protection, Dharma Refuge and Nazareth College are bringing together two Buddhist teachers – one from the Zen tradition and the other from the Tibetan tradition – to share Buddha’s wisdom and offer insights for navigating these challenging times. Following the panel discussion, the panel will take questions from the audience.

The organizers are hoping this event will provide our community an opportunity for a constructive discussion on what heart advice the Buddha would have for us if he were alive right now, and how we can offer our support and service to the world without getting overwhelmed.

“From citizens, to elected officials, from Democrats to Republicans, many of us are trying to respond to what is happening around us today and transform the untenable systems we’ve built – political, economic, and environmental,” said Sue Kochan, Dharma refuge teacher and event moderator. “As the Rochester community steps into action during a time of significant disruption, this program will look at how we might invite the Buddha’s wisdom to disrupt our collective confusion. Is it possible to remember the values we share and find our way back to being in good relationship with each other, the earth, and all living beings?”

Additional information is available on the Nazareth College website here.

Finding Your Seat

On Saturday, April 1, at 11:00, you and everyone receiving this e-mail message are invited to come to the Center for a sort of Workshop refresher session with Roshi and others that will address the whole process of establishing a sitting practice and finding your way at the Rochester Zen Center. We’ll meet in the zendo from 11 to noon, and then, if you’d like to stay, you can join us for an informal sitting (okay to move if you need to) and for lunch at 12:30. (Please RSVP to john@rzc.org if you’re planning to stay for lunch, so that the kitchen will know how many to expect.)

Sangha Book Club Starting Up on Sunday

The first meeting of the new Sangha Book Club is this Sunday, April 2, in Roshi’s Library. The book we’re reading is Stephen Batchelor’s, The Faith to Doubt – only 105 pages, so you might even have time to read it all. We hope to see you there.

Video from Sangha Entertainment Night

We have some footage from Sangha Entertainment Night, but just the first half or so of Roshi in Donald Trump Goes to Dokusan – right up to Kellyanne Conway’s dramatic entry. Unfortunately, our “videographer” ran out of cell phone space. If anyone was able to record more, let us know. We’d love to share it.

Chapin Mill Garden

With the arrival of spring, the vegetable and flower garden at Chapin Mill will need some volunteers to help prepare and maintain its abundance. Gardening is a perfect way of extending our time on the mat into active Zen. Our first volunteer day will be Saturday, April 8th. We will be cleaning up garden beds and walkways, prepping flower beds, sheet mulching around fruit trees, pruning, and possibly even seeding a few beds with the earliest spring crops. We will begin work at Chapin Mill at 9 am. If you would like to carpool, contact Dan Esler at mr.esler@gmail.com or 585-520-9797. Also, if you would like to add your name to a list of garden volunteers for future activities, please send Dan your contact information.


Do you have a gas grill collecting dust in your garage? The Zen Center kitchen is looking for a large grill for cooking outdoors, especially for the fast-approaching weekend of the Buddha’s Birthday celebration, when we will need to cook large numbers of veggie burgers and Not Dogs. If you have something that might be useful, please contact Tom Kowal, tmkowal75@gmail.com or 585-766-4739.