50th Anniversary

Rochester Zen Center

January 17, 2018

Winter Term Intensive

You may have noticed that winter is here – a great time to hunker down and step up our sitting and practice with the winter Term Intensive. It’ll begin this Thursday evening, January 18, with an hour of sitting followed by the opening ceremony, and ends just before the 2-day sesshin at the end of February. These “TI’s” (we have two each year) are great opportunities to step up our sitting and to work with habit patterns we’d like to change. It’s also an excellent way to get to know others in the Sangha!

We meet in the Center library on Thursday evenings after an hour or so of sitting to share with each other how it’s going. Whether you’ve been practicing for years or are just beginning, there’s a lot you can get out this group effort and a lot you can contribute.

If you’re not able to make it to the meetings, you can still join in and report by email. We’ve had a lot of enthusiastic feedback from out-of-town members who do just that.

There’s information on the website (https://www.rzc.org/program-events/term-intensives/), and if you have questions, catch or call or email John (john@rzc.org) or Trueman (trueman@rzc.org), and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction.

January 2, 2018

Temple Cleaning at Chapin Mill Postponed

During the winter, when the Retreat Center is not in use, we keep the thermostats in the building set quite low. When we need to use the entire building, we dial up the heat, but it takes a number of hours to bring temperatures up, and with our present freezing weather, it makes more sense to wait for a time (which must surely come) when the polar onslaught has retreated a bit.

We’ll check the forecast after the January sesshin, and set a new date.

Winter Term Intensive

Starting after the upcoming sesshin and ending just before the 2-day sesshin at the end of February, we’ll have a 5-week Term Intensive. These “TI’s” (we have two each year) are great opportunities to step up our sitting and to work with habit patterns we’d like to change. It’s also an excellent way to get to know others in the Sangha!

We meet in the Center library on Thursday evenings after an hour or so of sitting to share with each other how it’s going. Whether you’ve been practicing for years or are just beginning, there’s a lot you can get out this group effort and a lot you can contribute.

If you’re not able to make it to the meetings, you can still join in and report by email. We’ve had a lot of enthusiastic feedback from out-of-town members who do just that.

There’s information on the website (https://www.rzc.org/program-events/term-intensives/), and if you have questions, catch or call or email John (john@rzc.org) or Trueman (trueman@rzc.org), and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction.

December 30, 2017

Sitting Sunday Morning

Due to the scheduling of preparations for tomorrow night’s New Year’s Eve ceremonies (a rare Sunday event at the Center), we had thought it best not to have a sitting tomorrow morning. But now we find ourselves in good shape with preparations, so there will be a sitting (though no teisho) tomorrow morning, from 8:30 to about 10:15. 

There won’t be the usual Sunday brunch, though.

And in the Evening, Ringing in the New Year

If you’d like to start the new year fueled by zazen rather than by intoxicants or TV, come join with others in the Sangha for our annual celebration. For the many members who join in, it’s an inspiring way to start the year out right. The evening’s schedule is posted on the Center’s website here.

And about the “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. Ear plugs are available for extra sensitive ears.

December 28, 2017

New Year’s Eve

We’ll welcome in the New Year on Sunday evening with sitting and ceremonies, starting at 8 pm and winding up a little past midnight. 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 (and coffee) break that happens at 10 pm.

There are many ways to celebrate the New Year. This one still feels good on New Year’s Day!

Here’s a link to the schedule with a little more detail about the evening’s activities.

Donations and the New Tax Law

For some members, it may make sense to change the timing of donations you would otherwise have made in 2018 in order to take them as deductions in 2017. There are only a few days left before the end of the year, but so long as the envelope containing your check is postmarked by December 31 (or you physically deliver your check to the Center by then), it will qualify as a 2017 donation for tax purposes.

December 15, 2017

Looking for Your Ideas for Zen Bow

At the Sangha Meeting this coming Sunday, December 17, we want to begin soliciting your thoughts about our quarterly publication, Zen Bow. Chris Pulleyn will be taking up the baton as editor from Donna Kowal, who’s kept the presses rolling for 14 years, and Chris is looking for all the help she can get! As a “sweetener,” she’s promised to bring “festive carbohydrates.”

Center Closed for a Week

The Center closes for a week beginning Wednesday morning, December 20. And we will start back up Wednesday, December 27, with morning sitting and dokusan. The following day, Thursday, we’ll have our annual “Cleaning of the Temple,” and the following Sunday, we’ll ring in the New Year. The schedule for the week is here.

Amazon Smile

Not everyone shops with Amazon, but many do, and if you select the Rochester Zen Center as your designated charitable organization, one-half of one percent of anything you spend with Amazon will be donated to the Center. That may seem like a small percentage, but we’ve been gratefully receiving about $100 a quarter.

To sign up, go to https://smile.amazon.com.

An Introduction to Feldenkrais: Pain Relief through Mind/Body Awareness

Sangha member Jennifer Byrne has asked us to let the Sangha know about a free introduction to Feldenkrais practice offered by the Monroe County Library. The class will be held on Saturday, January 6, in the Kate Gleason Auditorium at 115 South Avenue from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. Parking is free for the first two hours if you have a Monroe County Library card and $1 per hour after that. 

There’s more information on the web at http://calendar.libraryweb.org/event/3783897 or call (585) 428-8110. December 12, 2017

Dokusan Cancelled Tomorrow, Wednesday, December 13

Because of the forecasted snow storm (as well as a recent sports injury), Roshi won’t be giving Wednesday morning dokusan.

Corrections to the Quarterly Letter

We’ve discovered a conflict between the originally published dates of the 2018 summer sesshin and a rental at Chapin Mill, and since no one has applied yet to that sesshin, we’ve moved it forward a week. The corrected dates are July 28 to August 4. We’ve moved the summer picnic from August 4 to Saturday, August 18.

The link to the quarterly letter that was sent out last week (here) will now take you to a corrected version.

December 5, 2017

Dokusan This Week

For local members who aren’t attending sesshin this week, Roshi will offer dokusan tonight (Tuesday, December 5) and Thursday evening. There won’t be dokusan Wednesday morning.

Calendar and Quarterly Letter

To access the fourth quarter 2017 mailing, click on (1) this fourth quarter 2017 letter link for the quarterly letter, and (2) this 2018 winter calendar link for the winter 2018 RZC calendar. (Both are also available on the Center’s website (www.rzc.org) at Communications > Quarterly Mailings.)

November 28, 2017

Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony

This Thursday evening, November 30, we’ll have the annual celebration of the Buddha’s great Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree, complete with sutra reading, chanting, and warm milk-rice in the candle-lit dining room. Sitting begins at 7 pm, and the ceremony will follow at 8:00.

13th on December 3

The Seeing-through-Racism group will meet this Sunday morning, December 3, at 11:00 in the library. We’ll be watching the documentary “13th.” (The title refers to the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”) The film explores the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. Everyone is welcome!

November 24, 2017

Tonight Is Temple Night

Beginning around 7:00 this evening (Friday, November 24), you’re invited to join in our twice-a-year informal sitting in the Buddha Hall (right behind 5 Arnold Park). You are free to sit anywhere, to join in chanting or to remain silent, and to make prostrations and offer incense at any of the altars, as you wish.

You can sit late into the night if you like after the formal end of Temple Night. Many people have found these late hours of Temple Night to be an especially fine time for zazen.

And Tomorrow Is Great Jukai

Tomorrow’s activities begin with zazen at 8:30 am followed by Roshi’s teisho on the precepts. In the afternoon we’ll have Jukai (the ceremony taking of the precepts) as we do each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year is Great Jukai, our amped-up version last done in 2013.

If this 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 through the six-realms tunnel set up in 7 Arnold Park and then out to the Buddha Hall. Once there, you’ll be directed down the center aisle to make a monetary offering (for the teacher), to do a prostration at the altar, and then to take your seat. When everyone is seated, Roshi will enter, we’ll chant the Prajña Paramita, and then Roshi will lead everyone through the Sixteen Precepts. The ceremony itself takes a little more than half an hour, and afterwards we’ll have refreshments in the Link.

Jukai Donation to Teacher

In keeping with long tradition, the Jukai ceremony includes a chance for participants to offer a personal donation to Roshi as the officiant (not to the Zen Center). 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. (If you do write a check, please make it payable to Bodhin Kjolhede, rather than to the Center.)

November 21, 2017

Ramping Up for Great Jukai

We’re hard at work with preparations for Temple Night on Friday and Taking of the Precepts on Saturday. Come in or give us a call if you have time to help out. Great Jukai comes around only every three or four years, and there’s a lot to do. Here’s a quick look at the week:

  • The Center is closed on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, but members and friends are invited to a vegetarian potluck dinner here that starts around 4 pm in the dining room. If you plan to come, contact Jack O’Shaughnessy, who’ll be coordinating dishes (bookkeeper@rzc.org).
  • The next day (Friday), we’ll be setting up for Temple Night, which begins in the Buddha Hall around 7 pm.
  • Saturday morning, there’s a sitting from 8:30 to 10:30 that includes a teisho on the precepts, and in the evening at 5 pm we have our Great Jukai ceremony (the formal taking of the precepts, before which people are invited to traverse the “six realms of unenlightened existence,” on display this year in 7 Arnold Park).
  • Sunday, the Center is closed. We start back up with the evening sitting on Monday, November 27.

For more details, check out the schedule here.

Live Streaming of Great Jukai

If you have to miss Roshi’s teisho Saturday morning or the Jukai ceremony itself, you do have the option of listening in. Audio for both will be streamed on the Center’s website here.

The Big White Caterpillar

When you come to the Center, you’ll notice that we’ve got a new look out front. And no, it’s not a new work (“Wrapped Hedge”?) by disciples of the world-renowned environmental artist Christo. In Rochester’s climate, it can be protective to wrap certain evergreen plants in fabric for the winter. So – what looks like a giant white caterpillar in front of the Center is actually our boxwood hedge winterized with a high-tech fabric covering that will let through light and moisture without damaging the plants. Unfortunately, the only fabric color available was an eye-catching white, but at least it will blend in during the snowy Rochester winter.

Arnold Park Becomes “J Street”

Fun fact: of the thirteen current members of the Arnold Park staff, seven have names that begin with “J” – John, Jack, Joey, Jamie, Jared, Joseph, and Jake. 

Roshi insists that he’s not been accepting these people on staff to compensate for the silent “j” in “Kjolhede.”

November 17, 2017

A Special Appeal from Madison

The Madison Zen Center, which is currently the Rochester Zen Center’s sole formal Affiliate Group, has always had an outsized impact on practice in Rochester. The MZC has contributed the three long-term staff members (Eryl Kubicka, Wayman Kubicka, and Ed Kademan) who have led the Chapin Mill construction, maintenance, and rental programs, as well as a steady stream of trainees and sesshin attendees. (Over the past 2 years, in fact, 12% of sesshin-goers are originally or currently from Madison.) All this from a membership that numbers just 26!

Now the Madison group is addressing some long-overdue maintenance issues in its Victorian-era house. To date, they have raised $8,525 from their own membership and friends in the community, but they are still well shy of their $50,000 goal. If you’d like to help, you’ll find more details about the renovations – along with a donations button – when you click here.