50th Anniversary

Rochester Zen Center

May 25, 2016

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

This year’s celebrations begin with Temple Night and Jukai on Friday, May 27. This is a time when the Sangha can come together – in a fluid, unstructured way – into a beautiful Buddha realm for sitting and personal devotions. You are free, on this night, to sit anywhere in the Buddha Hall and to make prostrations and offer incense at either 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 formal end of Temple Night. (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.) Many people have found these late hours of Temple Night to be an especially fine time for zazen.

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, and food. 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 Lou Anne Jaeger’s amazing cupcakes as well as ice cream). Please bring either a main dish or a salad (fruit salad counts). 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 Trueman Taylor know (cpt0628@gmail.com).  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.

Sitting on Sunday

This year, a lot of the games we roll out at the Sunday Buddha Bazaar will move to the picnic at Chapin Mill on Sunday, July 3, where we expect to host nearly 400 present and former Center members.  This clears the morning for our usually scheduled programming – zazen and chanting, followed by brunch.

50th Anniversary Merchandise

While you’re here on Saturday, check out the table with the T-shirts and tea cups produced to mark the 50th Anniversary (a little more than a month away).  One of our staff members (Rick Smith) brought a consignment with him to our Madison group and sold out on the spot.

May 17, 2016

Roshi Away

Roshi left this morning, Tuesday, May 17, for five days in Santa Fe, to attend a niece’s wedding. Since he won’t return until next Sunday night, the next dokusan will be on Monday, May 23.

Join the Garden Party, Saturday, May 21

The gardening season has begun, and opportunities for getting dirty are plentiful. Staff and volunteers have been out to Chapin Mill a few times to prepare beds, prune trees, and plant cold-hardy crops. This coming Saturday, the 21st, we’ll be transplanting the warm-weather vegetables and weeding! Anyone interested can meet at 5 Arnold Park at 8:15 a.m. (7:30 if you would like breakfast) or any time after 9:15 am at Chapin Mill. Lunch will be provided and the work day will end at 2:30 pm. E-mail Dan Esler (mr.esler@gmail.com) if you plan to join Saturday’s crew.

All-day Sitting Sunday, May 22

All Center members and trial members are welcome to join. While it’s all right to come just to part of the day, we do ask that sitters commit to stay for all of the two or three rounds of sitting in any block. Here’s the full schedule for the day: https://www.rzc.org/program-events/all-day-sitting/

Upcoming Mindful Practice Workshop for Medical Practitioners

Center member Dr. Mick Krasner and Dr. Ron Epstein will be leading a workshop retreat for medical practitioners at Chapin Mill from October 26 to 29. The retreat is hosted by Mindful Practice Programs, Department of Family Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center. Drs. Epstein and Krasner are both faculty members at the University of Rochester. If you’d like to learn more, click here.

May 11, 2016

Volunteers for the Big Weekends

As the days fly by, and the weekends of Buddha’s Birthday and of the 50th Anniversary reunion draw closer, we realize how much there is to do (with a smaller staff than we’ve had in recent years). If there was ever a good time to help out, these next two months are it!

Weeding and yard work, housekeeping, repair and maintenance – they all cry out for help! And if you’d like to take ownership of a job, such as mowing the lawn for the next seven weeks, mulching the flower beds in front, repainting the Buddha Hall fire escape, or many others, that would be a big help. E-mail John Pulleyn (john@rzc.org) if you have some time.

Call for Musicians!

Here’s another way you can help out: we’re looking to put together our band for the Saturday of Buddha’s Birthday (May 28). If you and your instrument would like to perform, e-mail John (john@rzc.org), and he’ll sign you up. Talent requirements are modest.

Looking for a Display Case

The 50th Anniversary Photo Committee writes:

We are seeking a tabletop display case to use for the Center’s 50th Anniversary, something to exhibit items. Please let us know if you have one, or know someone who works where there are display cases (retail store, museum, gallery, school, university). So far, we have contacted the Memorial Art Gallery and Nazareth College.

Thank you,

—50th Anniversary photo committee

Call for Knitters and Crocheters

The Sangha Engagement Committee is starting a fun and creative dana (charity or generosity) project: knitting and crocheting for the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital. There’s a need for preemie caps, booties, and blankets for these tiny babies. These items, which keep preemies warm, are a vital part of their growth and survival.

If you would like to participate, contact Deborah Zaretsky (deborah.zaretsky@gmail.com or 585-749-9610). If you don’t know how to knit, she can show you.

Sangha Member Seeking Apartment

Tom Weiler, an out-of-town member from Ithaca, writes:

I’ve started to look for a small apartment within walking distance of the Zen Center, Eastman School performance auditoriums, restaurants on Park and Monroe Avenues, etc. I really like you folks and Rochester! A dog-friendly landlord is essential – my two aging miniature schnauzers will accompany me for overnights, and can be vocal for a while as I leave them (in crates).

If you have a lead, you can e-mail Tom at tomweiler5660@gmail.com.

April 15, 2016

Garden Party on Saturday, April 16

OK, more of a work day than a party, but still…

Most everyone on staff will head out to Chapin Mill tomorrow morning, around 8:15, to get the garden ready for the growing season that’s bursting forth all around us. If you like to dig in the dirt and help things grow, we’d love more help! Let us know if you need a ride, or come out on your own. We’ll provide lunch, of course, and head back to Rochester around 3:00.

Zendo Experiment No. 2

After an enthusiastic response from out-of-town members to our live streaming of Arnold Park sittings (and teisho), now we’d like to try something new for local members: a place – right next to the zendo – where people can sit at evening sittings while allowed to move during the 35-minute round. Namely, the dining room.

For decades at the Center we’ve seen markedly more people signing up for membership than attending sittings. So what keeps new members away from sittings? It could be any number of things, but one might be the rule of no moving during a full, 35-minute round of sitting. Because this constraint enables one to reach stronger concentration (even while sitting alone), we’ll maintain the rule in the main zendo. But now, people who want to ramp up to sitting for 35 minutes straight at an evening sitting will be permitted, in the dining room, to change posture before the round ends. As for kinhin, they would join it with everyone else. (Note: the rounds on Tuesday evening, “Beginners’ Night,” will continue to be just 25 minutes long, so even brand-new people will probably choose to sit in the main zendo then.)

Although we’ll continue to ask people sitting in the main zendo not to leave the sitting early, those in the dining room may miss either the first OR last round – but please stay for two of the three.

Some practical points: When you arrive for an evening sitting, just plop yourself down in the dining room, where there will be round cushions set up. If you need additional cushions or a bench, bring them with you from the basement. If you have any questions, a monitor will be sitting there to guide you.

We hope that new (or old) members will give this experimental “sub-zendo” format a try, whether or not they think they’ll someday feel comfortable moving into the main zendo. Our sittings will be fortified by every person who joins in, whether she or he sits in the main zendo or right next to it.

April 14, 2016

Memorial Service on Sunday, April 17

Dane (formerly Zenson) Gifford died unexpectedly yesterday at his home in the Rochester suburb of Brighton. The cause has not yet been determined, but very likely it was a heart attack. He had served as Head of Zendo, a long-time sesshin monitor, and a Dharma heir of Roshi Kapleau. We will hold a memorial service on Sunday at 11 am, and everyone, member or not, is invited.

There will also be a service today, Thursday, April 14, at 3 pm, and all are welcome to that as well.

Earth Vigil

Earth Day is approaching fast, Friday, April 22, 2016. Earth Day aims to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the earth’s environment. On this day for many years, communities worldwide have engaged with the challenge of our changing climate by holding events of various kinds – workshops, lectures, demonstrations, marches, film screenings, etc. This year in Rochester many such events are scheduled for the entire week leading up to Earth Day.

Earth Vigil is one way that some members of the RZC have chosen to engage. This is the mission:

By holding silent public demonstrations, Earth Vigil is a quiet intervention into the busyness that denies the urgency of our environmental crisis. It is our belief that silence can speak louder than words and that stillness has the power to move. 

Vigil: A purposeful watch.

We are holding an Earth Vigil event at noon on Earth Day, April 22, at Christ Church, 141 East Avenue here in Rochester. Please consider joining us.

April 7, 2016

Memorial Service for Diane LaPietra

A memorial Service for Sangha member Diane LaPietra will be held this Saturday, April 9, at 3:00 (the front door will be unlocked at 2:30). Friends of Diane are invited to attend.

Saturday Dokusans

For members unable to attend dokusan during the week, there are three opportunities in April: the 9th, 16th, and 23rd. Show up in the zendo any time before 10:00 a.m.; dokusan begins shortly after.

11 South Goodman Street for Sale

The Amitabha Foundation, which has been located behind the Zen Center on Goodman Street, is relocating and has put its house up for sale. The 4,500-square-foot building may be used either as a residence or as office space, and the asking price has been reduced to $300,000. You can find details on the realtor’s website at http://www.pyramidbrokerage.com/properties/listings/details/R5510/11-south-goodman-street-rochester-ny

April 2, 2016

Zendo without Walls

The streaming of daily sittings (and teisho) at the Center has been live now, outside of sesshin, for almost 3 weeks. Sangha feedback has been encouraging and even enthusiastic. Who would think that listening to people silently meditating, far away, could be so supportive of one’s own practice? But then, when both parties are doing zazen, a conjoining can take place in which distance disappears. The walls of the zendo in Rochester dematerialize, and those sitting at home are no longer doing so alone. Already some home sitters have reported that by synchronizing their sitting with sittings at the Center, they’ve been able to establish a regularity in their practice that had eluded them before.

So go ahead and invite Arnold Park sitters into your home. We’re a quiet group, though you may hear an occasional cough or sneeze (without the danger of contagion). We’ll bring the bells and other zendo instruments, and also the stick. And those of us sitting at the Center can always use your support as well!

Sangha Dinner

Please join the Rochester Zen Center community today, Saturday, April 2nd, for a vegetarian dinner.

We will start cooking at 5 pm and will 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 will clean the kitchen.

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

If you plan on attending, please e-mail Devin Wiesner at tracdev.dudley@gmail.com. The dinner is free.

Climate Change Conference

Nazareth College is holding a 3-day international conference on nature and environment on May 23-25, 2016, at the College campus. Some 62 professors of religion and sciences are presenting papers. For more details, you can visit https://www2.naz.edu/interfaith/programs/academic-conferences/sacred-texts-human-contexts/schedule/.

Zen and Art in HuffPo

Just in case you were looking for an excuse to read The Huffington Post, here it is: longtime Sangha member Ken Kraft is currently publishing an illuminating blog on the HuffPo website that looks at Zen Buddhism’s artistic heritage. Head here for an index of blog posts.