Rochester Zen Center

March 5, 2015

Potluck Dinner on Saturday

We have a vegetarian Indian potluck dinner coming up this Saturday, March 7, at Arnold Park. You’re welcome to come early to sit if you’d like. The dinner bell rings at 6 pm. There will be an opportunity after cleanup for anyone who’s interested to play board games. Bring a favorite or take a chance on learning something new provided by the Board Game Appreciation Group. Contact Devin Wiesner ( to RSVP, ask questions, or to coordinate a dish.

Daylight Saving Time Starts 2:00 AM, Sunday, March 8

Set your clock ahead an hour this Saturday night as we spring ahead.

Sitting on Sunday

Assuming you’ve adjusted your clock and woken up on time, we’ll have four blocks of zazen on Sunday as part of an all-day sitting. The usual Sunday block that begins at 8:30 am will consist of three 25-minute rounds and chanting. The full schedule for the day is posted here.

Roshi Back Next Week

Roshi will return from Madison, Wisconsin, where he’s leading sesshin and will give dokusan Monday evening, March 9.

Calligraphy by Roshi Mitra Bishop

Roshi Mitra Bishop, a Dharma-heir of Roshi Philip Kapleau, has written us about the calligraphies she’s creating to raise funds for an addition to the main building at her New Mexico temple, Mountain Gate-Sanmonji: “Most of the calligraphies are on ‘shikishi’ – the traditional gold-edged calligraphy boards used in Japan; they can be stand-alone, or people can have them framed. We are selling them for $100 each. They are 9½ inches x 10½ inches and usually a single character or a combination of just a few characters. I’m also doing a few larger and more complex calligraphies, on archival watercolor paper, and they are more expensive. And if someone wants to splurge, there are a very few mounted scrolls that I’ve done, which carry a much higher price tag, a generous portion of which can be written off as a donation.” Here’s a link to the calligraphy pages on the Mountain Gate website, where people can see and purchase the calligraphies: And here’s a link to two paintings done by Alvaro Cardona-Hine, a friend of Mountain Gate, long-time Zen student and teacher, and world-renowned artist:

February 27, 2015

All-day Sitting

Our next all-day is scheduled for March 8, a week from this Sunday, and there’s a website page with information here. If you’re looking for a way to work up to attending sesshin, or if you wish you could get to sesshin and can’t, these sittings are a great opportunity.

Three’s a Charm

The Three Refuges, the Three Worlds, the Three Poisons – Buddhism seems to love categories of three. In cleaving to this tradition, we’re now re-scheduling our Sangha Entertainment Night a third time!

We’d already changed the date of this annual winter event twice, having pushed it into the spring, but now it will be yet a week later: Saturday evening, April 25, at 6:00 PM. It turns out that the previous date, April 18, would have forced members to choose between our popular revue of random Sangha talent and the Fast Forward Film Festival (, an environmental film festival at the George Eastman House’s Dryden Theatre sponsored by Sangha member Andy Stern. And consider this: those who do come to Sangha Entertainment Night will almost surely now be able to leave their winter coats and boots at home!

Tools for Sale

The Center is selling a table saw and a jointer from the shop at Arnold Park. They’re listed on Craigslist, and if you’re interested, here are the links:

Powermatic Model 60 jointer

Powermatic Model 66 table saw

The Way to …

Former Zen Center staff member Stevan Veljkovic, who’s currently a graduate student at Cambridge University, has sent us a photo of his recent meeting with Charles, Prince of Wales. Here’s a link: SMV & HRH. (The occasion was the dedication of a new building at the University’s Peterhouse College, with which Stevan is affiliated.) So in Stevan’s case, laying paving stones at Chapin Mill turned out to be the start of a path leading to a meeting with HRH.

Florida Sangha Member Plays the Montage Music Hall

Long-time Sangha member (and Florida resident) Peter Lavezzoli will be performing in Rochester at the Montage Music Hall on Wednesday, March 4, with Melvin Seals and the JGB Band (formerly the Jerry Garcia Band), playing the music of Jerry Garcia. There’s more information on Peter’s website, This will be Peter’s first time performing in Rochester, and he writes that it would be wonderful to see any Sangha members who can attend!

February 19, 2015

Don’t Get Towed!

We just learned this morning that the City of Rochester has declared a parking emergency for Arnold Park so that they can remove the large piles of snow that have built up and made our street an icy obstacle course. The emergency parking ban goes into effect at noon today (Thursday, February 19) and ends tomorrow, also at noon. Additional information is available on the City’s website at For more on the whole issue of parking, see Roshi’s write-up below.

The Great Parking Challenge

If you’ve driven to the Zen Center recently and been able to park without difficulty, you should consider entering the lottery before your luck runs out.

Even in the summer it can be challenging to drive down Arnold Park alongside parked cars. And as the snow has mounted this winter, even those who manage to squeeze past the parked cars face the problem of opening their car doors against the bank of snow. No wonder sittings have been sparsely attended this month. But the situation is now looking up.

First, we’ve had a chain gang of staff members out chopping, shoveling, and hauling away snow and ice on Arnold Park all the way from East Avenue to the end of the Center’s property. The street is now wider, and there are many “cutouts” in the snow banks for opening your door. We will make every effort to maintain these improvements.

In addition, our gracious next-door neighbors, the Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word, have given us permission to park in their lot (entered from Goodman Street) for our morning and evening sittings and, if necessary, on weekdays from 9 am to noon, when Arnold Park-ing is prohibited. However, please note the following caveats:

  • Never park in their lot on Sundays, when they need every space themselves.
  • Never park there overnight.
  • Since the Church does occasionally have special evening events (such as a large service yesterday evening to mark the beginning of Lent), if you see their lot filling up, don’t park there.

Of course, during the day we also shouldn’t park in any of the spaces (each with a sign) reserved for the Harry Bruno Salon. These are along the side of the lot closest to our Buddha Hall.

This arrangement will be an experiment, to be evaluated after a while to see if any problems arise. Meanwhile, may more of you now feel emboldened to attend sittings and other events!

The Kannon Committee Is Back

Many years ago, we established the Kannon Committee, a group of Sangha members who can pitch in with meals, errands, or transportation for members who are ill or temporarily disabled. It’s been dormant over the last few years, and the list of volunteers is out of date. Staff member Keith Carpenter has volunteered to take a turn as coordinator and is starting from scratch, putting together a new committee list. So if you’d like to offer help (or if you need help), please let the Keith know by contacting him at the Center or by e-mail:

Other Items from Last Sunday’s Sangha Meeting

Besides parking and the Kannon Committee…

Staff member Ben Taylor has been talking to people about forming a sewing club and is trying to figure out the most practical time of week to have meetings. Sudama has volunteered to help people with sewing problems. If you’re interested, talk to Ben.

Andy McClain reported on behalf of the Sangha Engagement Committee:

  • The Committee is putting together a lecture series by a Cornell University professor on Buddhist art and iconography. The series will start in April (and may be held out in the Buddha Hall).
  • Also, there will be an Indian food potluck dinner at the Center at 6:00 on Saturday, March 7th, with board games afterwards.
  • The Sangha group that helps serve meals to the hungry at Asbury First United Methodist Church will be going there this Sunday, February 22, after teisho.
  • There will also be announcements forthcoming about getting together to go to free concerts at the Eastman School of Music.
  • If you have ideas for hikes or other activities, let Andy know.

Roshi requested that folks bring any extra blankets, coats, or other winter clothing to the Center so that we can get them to social service providers who are helping the homeless.

February 14, 2015

Sangha Entertainment – Lemons into Lemonade Issue

Although it will be disappointing to those keenly awaiting the next edition of Sangha Entertainment Night, it’s great news for those sweating under the gun of a looming comedy deadline. Our announced date for Sangha Entertainment was never cleared with Open Sky Yoga, who rent the Buddha Hall, and who have yoga teacher training scheduled there at the same time. The next best Saturday that will work for most everyone is April 18, and we will make the magic happen then.

Plenty of time, now, for inspiration, practice, and script revision. As always, e-mail Cecily Fuhr ( with the details of your skit or musical number.

2-Day Sesshin Coming Up

Every year we schedule two 2-day sesshin. The next one begins Friday evening, February 27, and ends a little after noon on Sunday, March 1. Although the official deadline for applications was last Thursday, applications are always considered, even if they’re late. And to make it a little easier, here’s a link to the online application form.

February 10, 2015

Staying for the Whole Sitting

A few years back, Roshi addressed the issue of people leaving evening sittings after the first or second rounds and asked that those who come to a sitting commit to staying to the end. Since we have a number of new members who’ve never seen Roshi’s message, we thought it was worth sending it again:

Sittings and Dokusan – In recent months a growing number of people at evening sittings have been leaving the sitting before the end. Naturally, such leave-takings are felt by those who continue sitting until 9:00, which is why previously we frowned on it (and why it is still not allowed at our sister centers). Now I’d like to return to our former policy and strongly urge people who do attend sittings to stick it out to the end.

Admittedly, there is a case to be made for permitting people (especially those with families) to leave sittings early, and that is why I continue to feel conflicted about it. I also recognize that with people now having to choose between coming for all three rounds and not coming at all, some will feel obliged to pass up the sitting. I regret anyone having to make that choice, and only ask you to bear in mind that sitting at the Center supports others even as it benefits you individually (it is in the third round that many people find they reach their deepest concentration). If occasionally you need to miss the first round, then come for the last two rounds. But avoid leaving early.

As for sittings in which dokusan is offered, anyone who comes for dokusan is required to attend the whole sitting. Do remember, though, that for people who have difficulty coming during the week I will continue to offer dokusan on the occasional Saturday morning at 10:00, which involves no formal sitting.

The policy changes above are not absolutely non-negotiable, and if you feel that they would place you in an unworkable situation because of your special circumstances, we can talk.

Save This Date!

Our annual Sangha Entertainment Night is but two weeks away. Isn’t there something you could do to amaze or convulse your fellow practitioners? If you’d like to perform, e-mail Cecily Fuhr ( for advice, if you need any, and a spot on the roster. And if you prefer to watch, just show up! 6 pm, Saturday evening, February 21, in the Buddha Hall.

January 31, 2015

Coming-to-the-Path Talk

Tomorrow (Sunday, February 1) we’ll have an all-day sitting (the schedule is here), and during the usual 8:30-to-10:30 block, Sangha member Bryan Basham will give a coming-to-the-path talk.

Do We Have Your Coat or Shoes?

There was a recent sweep of unclaimed shoes and jackets from the Link coat room. If you fear that you might have had an item scooped up, you can retrieve it in the basement of 7 Arnold Park, by the cushion storage area. Anything left down there after Saturday, February 14th, will be donated to charity.

And what’s on Your Shoes?

Just a reminder: with winter in full swing, make sure you take off your wet or snowy shoes and boots right inside the front door. Others walking through the Link in socks will thank you. And make doubly sure you don’t walk through the Link wearing Yaktrax or any other traction device. We’ve recently discovered gouges in the slate floor tile.

Perfume in the Zendo

When you come to sit, avoid perfumes or strong-smelling shampoos or soaps that may bother others. Some people have an unpleasant physical reaction to those products.

January 28, 2015

Upcoming Dokusan and All-day Sitting

Roshi will be out of town next week, returning late the following weekend. He’ll give dokusan this Thursday evening, January 29, during the hour of sitting that precedes the Term Intensive meeting, and the next dokusan scheduled will be on Monday evening, February 9. We have an all-day sitting scheduled this Sunday, February 1, with a Coming-to-the-Path Talk by Bryan Basham during the usual block of sitting from 8:30 to 10:30. Here’s a full outline of the day:

6:15 am        Zazen

7:30             Breakfast (Center will provide)

8:30             Zazen and Talk

10:30           Brunch in the dining room

11:00           Zazen

12:50 pm      Lunch break (bring your own)

1:30-3:00     Zazen

Sangha Entertainment Night

Will be upon us before we know it! On Saturday, February 21, at 6 pm in the Buddha Hall we’ll kick off what should be about two hours of music, comedy and more. Save the date. And if you’d like to bring joy and happiness to others, seize this chance to perform before the easiest audience in the Triple World.

If you’re looking for musical accompaniment for your act, Phil Swanson will be driving here from Gloucester, Massachusetts, and can back you up on his keyboard. Contact Cecily ( if you’d like to take the stage.

Parking Lot Guidelines

The Center’s parking lot is often full, not only with member’s cars but with cars of people coming to the Buddha Hall for yoga. When you park here, be careful to maximize space for others by parking close to nearby cars. Even if there’s no other space available, do not park along the hedge, in front of the gate that leads to the Buddha Hall. Doing so makes it difficult for anyone walking through. Instead, park on the street or, between 9 am and noon, you can park in the lot of Third Presbyterian Church on the other side of Arnold Park.

Message from BGAG

The Board Game Appreciation Group invites gaming fanatics and casual players to keep out of the cold with us this winter, on February 8th and March 15th, following Sunday brunch in the Zen Center library. Players are welcome to share their own favorite board game or play any one of the games provided.

January 20, 2015

TI in 2 Days (and Counting)

Our 5-week winter Term Intensive will begin with an opening ceremony in the zendo this Thursday evening, January 22. If you’d like to join in, drop off or e-mail ( an application, or bring yours with you on Thursday.

Information, explanation, and sign-up forms are available in the Arnold Park Link and on the website (Term Intensives). You can call John Pulleyn at the Center (or e-mail him at if you’d like to run your commitments by him or just want to know more.

Besides being a shot in the arm for your practice, this is one good way to connect more intimately with other Sangha members.

Esther Gokhale Posture and Movement Workshop

Although enrollment in the workshop won’t be opened to the general public until February 1, 13 of the 20 available spots are already filled. If you’re on the fence, you may want to hop off soon! Below are all the information and the links to the workshop sign-up sites that we sent out in our last e-mail, January 9.

The Center will be hosting a weekend workshop led by Esther Gokhale, author of 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back (see The workshop will take place in the Buddha Hall Friday-Sunday, September 25-27, 2015, and is limited to just 20 participants, divided into two classes of ten (refer to the links below for a summary of the time blocks). Early registration for the workshop is being offered to Zen Center members before it is advertised publicly. The registration fee is $450, and interested Sangha members are strongly encouraged to sign up as soon as possible (and no later than January 31) by using one of the following links:

If you encounter any problems with signing up, please call the Gokhale Institute at (650) 324-3244. For those who are interested in the Gokhale Method but are unable to attend, there are tentative plans for a free class on meditation posture led by Esther on the afternoon of Friday, September 25. Details to follow.

Stock the Shelves

The House of Mercy here in Rochester, which provides services to the impoverished and homeless, needs help to purchase supplies for a temporary shelter. The shelter will serve a homeless population in downtown Rochester that had been living in tents under the Douglass-Anthony Memorial Bridge. (The encampment under the bridge was shut down by the City’s Department of Environmental Services in late December.)

Here’s a link to information about the supply campaign: Temporary Shelter.

And here’s a link to the Sanctuary Village Facebook site: Sanctuary Village.

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 14 to 17. The retreat is hosted by the Center for Experiential Learning, 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.

January 9, 2015

Term Intensive Coming Up!

Our winter TI begins on the Thursday after sesshin (January 22) and will run for five weeks, ending Thursday evening, February 26, just before the 2-day sesshin that starts on the 27th.

This is a great time of year to step up our sitting and practice with the support of others who are doing the same. Even if you live far from Rochester, you can take part. You can find information and sign-up forms on the Center’s website ( Feel free to contact John Pulleyn at the Center ( if you’d like to know more.

Esther Gokhale Posture and Movement Workshop

The Center will be hosting a weekend workshop led by Esther Gokhale, author of 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back (see The workshop will take place in the Buddha Hall Friday-Sunday, September 25-27, and is limited to just 20 participants, divided into two classes of ten (refer to the links below for a summary of the time blocks). Early registration for the workshop is being offered to Zen Center members before it is advertised publicly. The registration fee is $450, and interested Sangha members are strongly encouraged to sign up as soon as possible (and no later than January 31) by using one of the following links:

If you encounter any problems with signing up, please call the Gokhale Institute at (650) 324-3244. For those who are interested in the Gokhale Method but are unable to attend, there are tentative plans for a free class on meditation posture led by Esther on the afternoon on Friday, September 25. Details to follow.

December 27, 2014

Last Week of the Year

We’re back from break and gearing up for the New Year. Tomorrow, Sunday, December 28, we’ll hold an all-day sitting (see schedule below), and on Monday we’ll roll up our sleeves for the annual Cleaning of the Temple at Arnold Park. We’ll begin at 9:45 am with a short chanting service in the zendo and then dig into every corner of the Center, working until 12:30, when we’ll finish with a pizza lunch. If you’re planning on helping out, please call or e-mail the Center’s receptionist (473-9180; so that the kitchen will know how much pizza to order.

Wednesday evening is New Year’s Eve, and we’ll begin here with zazen at 8 pm. You can see the full schedule here.

Next Saturday, January 3, we’ll turn our attentions to Temple Cleaning at Chapin Mill, starting at 9 am and cleaning until 12:30 and lunch. (As with the Arnold Park temple cleaning, please let the Center’s receptionist know if you’re planning on helping out at Chapin Mill next Saturday.)

All-Day Sitting, Sunday, December 28

Besides the usual sitting that will run from 8:30 to around 10:15, there are three other blocks of formal sitting. It’s all right to come just to part of the day, but 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:

6:15 am        Zazen

7:30             Breakfast (Center will provide)

8:30             Zazen and Chanting

10:15           Brunch in the dining room

11:00           Zazen

12:50 pm      Lunch break (bring your own)

1:30-3:00     Zazen

Notice from BGAG

The Board Game Appreciation Group welcomes avid players and novices to its next meeting: tomorrow, December 28th, following the all-day sitting. Muster your joriki and holiday spirit, playing one of several games provided or your own favorite board game.

December 18, 2014

Winter Calendar Revision

We discovered yesterday that we’ve double-booked Chapin Mill.  There’s a rental scheduled for the same weekend we had announced for the 2-day February sesshin, and since, to date, no members have applied and since our renter has been booked for quite some time, we’re moving that sesshin date.  The sesshin will begin on Friday, February 27, and end on Sunday, March 1.  New and corrected quarterly calendars are available in the Link at Arnold Park, and the online version is available here.

December 16, 2014

No Teisho Sunday, December 28

Roshi won’t get back to Rochester in time to give teisho on that last Sunday of the year. There will be an all-day sitting as scheduled.

Calendar for the First Quarter of 2015

Click here to download an Adobe Acrobat pdf of the 3-month calendar for January through March. If you’d like to pick up a copy instead, they’re available in the 7 Arnold Park Link.

Annual Cleaning of the Temple (Parts I and II)

On Monday, December 29, shortly after staff gets back from the one-week holiday break, we’ll begin our preparations for the New Year with our annual Cleaning of the Temple at Arnold Park. We’ll begin with a short chanting service at 9:45 a.m. and finish with pizza at 12:30 p.m. There will be a similar Cleaning of the Temple out at Chapin Mill, on the Saturday just after the New Year, January 3. That cleaning begins at 9 am and ends with lunch at 12:30.

New Year’s Celebrations

Our New Year’s Eve ceremonies, with zazen, repentance, noise-making circumambulation, candle lighting, bell ringing, resolution-reading and refreshments, will go from 8 p.m. on December 31 to a little after midnight. If you plan to come from out of town for the celebrations, please let the receptionist know by December 27. A schedule for the evening is posted here.

Sangha Entertainment Night

This year, the Sangha Entertainment Night will be on Saturday, February 21. An easily entertained audience awaits your act! To sign up, contact Cecily Fuhr (

Workshop on Conflict Resolution

A message from Sangha member Dwain Wilder:

Gather with us on Saturday, December 27, for a workshop to look deeply into our capacities as agents of change.

What if it turned out that the anger, rage, conflict and oppositional forces driving our crises contained within them the energy, creativity and will to solve all the problems? What if it turned out that our own fears of these resources were the only thing holding us back from working together – linking arms with seeming opponents, enemies and oppressors?

During this time, Kit Miller will share some of the work she does using the work of Arnold Mindell and others in harnessing conflict. We will conduct this exploration through experiential exercises, discussion and other activities. This is not a lecture!

Join us to explore the capacities described above, and how to unleash them to fulfill the Four Bodhisattvic Vows.

Please RSVP as soon as possible, as we can accommodate about 24 people, on a first-come first-served basis.

If the time/date is not good for you but you’d like to attend, please contact Dwain Wilder (see below). If we hear from many people that this is not a good date, we are open to anything between Christmas and New Year’s Day. In that case, we will set up a scheduling doodle to work out the best time for those who respond or wish they could respond.

Date: Dec 27, 2014    Time: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Place: M. K. Gandhi Institute
929 Plymouth Ave South
Rochester, NY 14608