Rochester Zen Center

May 28, 2015


SanghaPalooza is just around the corner, beginning Friday, June 12. Register by June 5th and join in on a weekend of fun and great food. There will be presentations on Non-Violent Communication, the endangered African elephant, a brief history of jazz, and “A History of Great Movie Moments in 90 Minutes.” You can also join in a guided nature hike, zazen, yoga, games, a musical jam session, a pancake breakfast, and just chilling out at Chapin Mill doing whatever. For only $50, stay at Chapin Mill and join in for the entire weekend or, for $30, come out and join in for only Saturday’s events. The full schedule of events is on our website (here), along with registration forms, which are also available in the link.

Work Retreat

Every year since 2001, when the completed Retreat Center was just a gleam in our eye, we’ve held a Work Retreat at Chapin Mill. This year’s will begin Tuesday evening, June 23, and run through lunch on Saturday, June 27. We’ve got rooms, cushions, work, food and fun for everyone who’d like to join in. Get to know some of those people sitting alongside you in the zendo! Information and pictures from previous years are posted on the website (click here). Give us a call or e-mail John Pulleyn (

Shakuhachi Performance by Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin: Sunday July 5, 2015

The Special Events Committee will host a shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) concert by Grand Master Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin on Saturday, July 5, at 4 pm in the Buddha Hall. This free concert is open to the public. For those interested in giving the flute a try, Ronnie will offer a free introductory lesson immediately following his performance (instruments provided). If you think you’d like to take advantage of the free lesson, please RSVP in advance by e-mailing Ronnie at

Ronnie has performed at Carnegie Hall, The Asia Society, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has received numerous awards, as well as Oscar and Grammy nominations. CDs and DVDs will be available for purchase at the performance. To learn more, go to

May 22, 2015

Parking Tomorrow, Saturday, May 23

Our Buddha’s Birthday celebration tomorrow probably draws more people – and cars – than any other event of the year. So feel free to park in the lot of the next-door Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word (entrance on Goodman Street). During the winter they graciously granted us permission to park there, if necessary, almost anytime except Sunday mornings and certain other days when they have big events. (Here’s a link to the full Buddha’s Birthday weekend schedule: Buddha’s Birthday Schedule.)

Zen Bow Call for Submissions:Adapting to Change”

While Zen practice and day-to-day conditions are not two, they can sometimes feel like they are, especially when we find ourselves struggling to adapt to new circumstances or balance demanding responsibilities. Your mother becomes ill, you’re promoted to a managerial position, you commit to a couple of years of therapy, you decide to train for a marathon, you fall in love, you have children, you lose your job – these are a few examples of life events or circumstances that have the potential to throw us off-kilter. This issue will explore how Zen practitioners balance practice with life events. Submit articles and images to the editors, Donna Kowal and Brenda Reeb, at Submission deadline:  June 1, 2015.

May 19, 2015

Buddha’s Birthday

Coming up in just a few days, we have our annual Big Weekend. Starting out on Friday evening, it’s…

Temple Night

This year’s celebrations begin with Temple Night and Jukai on Friday, May 22. This is a time when the Sangha can come together – in a fluid, unstructured way – into a beautiful Buddha realm for personal devotions and sitting. You are free, on this night, to sit anywhere in the Buddha Hall, to join in the chanting or to remain silent, 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’re going to try something new this year. Rather than setting cushions out, we’ll stack them in a few locations, and those who come to sit may feel a little freer to sit wherever and however they want.

Saturday and Sunday

Buddha’s Birthday festivities continue on Saturday followed by games and fun at the Buddha Bazaar on Sunday. 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 on Saturday that follows the elephant parade, the Center will provide veggie burgers, drinks and dessert (and once again! – Lou Anne Jaeger’s well-received Cupcakes of Awesomeness, as well as homemade 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.

Items for Sale

One of our Trial Members, Emily Hillenbrand, is moving to Seattle this weekend and is hoping to sell her furniture to help pay for the move. Items include a Thule bike rack, a big couch, a king-size bed, a cello, a road bike, a kitchen table, a desk, a work table, some padded chairs, four bookcases, and plenty more. If you’re interested in having a look, you can e-mail Emily at at

May 5, 2015

Takuhatsu on I-490

We are continuing to care for the section of Interstate 490 to the west of Rochester between exits 5 and 6. Join us on Thursday, May 7, if you can, as we tackle the trash that spring has revealed. We’ll meet at the Center at 10:15 and return by 12:30 for lunch.

Third Lecture, Sunday, May 10

Dr. An-yi Pan’s third and final lecture will be held in the dining room this Sunday after teisho and brunch. His topic is “Tea and Zen,” and he is inviting those who attend to bring, if they can, a teapot and tea cup or a matcha bowl and whisk. Otherwise, you can use a Center tea cup.

Return of SanghaPalooza

We’re gearing up for our third SanghaPalooza at Chapin Mill over the weekend of June 12 – 14. Our first two were a lot of fun and very well subscribed (in fact, we had to turn away some late applicants for the most recent edition). Check out the webpage here to learn more, and you can download and print out a registration form here.

A Program from the Gandhi Institute, Beginning Wednesday, May 6

Shannon Richmond, who will be one of our presenters at SanghaPalooza, is offering a 4-session course entitled “How to Work for Social Change without Burning Out.” A poster with dates and details is here.

Looking for a Place to Live

Here’s a message passed on by Center member Andy Stern:

I am writing about my friend, Sampa, who is a Tibetan woodcarver and is living here in Rochester, awaiting his hearing for asylum. He has been living with François Raoult, the yoga teacher, but François needs his house for family gatherings this summer, and Sampa has to find a new place to live from June until his hearing in October. He does have some income and could pay up to about $400 per month.

Here’s a link to an article about him: Sampa.

April 29, 2015

Disaster Relief Ceremony for Nepal on Thursday

This Thursday evening, April 30, we’ll hold a chanting ceremony for the victims of the earthquakes in Nepal, including more than 5,000 dead and more than half a million homeless, many without food, water, and medicine. The ceremony includes the opportunity to make a monetary offering which will be passed on to Mercy Corps, an NGO that already has a presence in Nepal. If you’re not able to come but would like to make your own contribution, here’s a link to a Huffington Post article that lists a number of good organizations already operating in Nepal that can use your money to help.

We’ll begin at 7 pm with sitting, and the ceremony will start around 8 pm.

Jackie Hager in Concert

Jackie is the daughter of Center member Jonathan Hager, and would have performed at Sangha Entertainment Night last Saturday had she not made it to the finals of a music competition that took place at the same time. Happily, she will be performing a solo cello recital at the Hochstein School of Music & Dance, 50 Plymouth Avenue North, in Rochester on Saturday, May 2, from 3 pm to 4:30, and you are welcome to attend. Here’s a link to an “electronic” invitation:

No Potluck this Saturday

The potluck supper listed on the Sangha Engagement page of the website has been postponed. We’ll announce when the next one is scheduled.

April 17, 2015

Dokusan on Saturday, April 18

Since Roshi and most of the staff will be out at Chapin Mill for the workday tomorrow, the dokusan scheduled for Arnold Park will move to Chapin Mill (still at 10 am). Anyone who has not been to dokusan during the week can come to this dokusan, whether you’re attending the workday or not. Just take a seat in the Chapin Mill zendo beforehand and wait for an announcement and the dokusan bell.

Fast Forward Film Festival & Gala – FREE tickets!

The Fast Forward Film Festival, organized by Sangha member Andy Stern, is a competition for Rochester-area filmmakers who have submitted short films (under 5 minutes) on environmental themes. The Festival jurors have selected 12 finalists from a field of over 100 entries. The Gala Finale will take place at the Dryden Theatre of the George Eastman House on Saturday night, April 18, and Andy is inviting Zen Center members and their friends to attend for free! The evening will begin with a celebration party in the atrium of the Eastman House with music, food and drinks from 5:30 to 7:30. After the party, the twelve finalists will be screened at the Dryden beginning at 8:00 pm, with an awards ceremony following.

If you’re interested in attending, here’s what to do: call the Zen Center before 3:30 pm on Saturday and leave a message with your name, the number of people attending, and whether you’ll be attending the celebration party as well as the film screening. Then, when you get to the reception table at the event, let the folks there know that you’re a guest of Andrew Stern.

Birthday Boy Turns 67!

Roshi celebrated his 67th birthday on Thursday, so this Sunday, April 19, we’ll have chocolate cake in his honor after the usual sitting and teisho.

April 15, 2015

“Kannon in Zen Practice” Lecture Available on YouTube

If you weren’t able to join us on April 5th for the lecture “Kannon in Zen Practice” by Cornell University professor Dr. An-yi Pan, fear not! An online audio and video recording of the talk is now available on YouTube at

Chapin Mill Gardening This Saturday, April 18 (and Youth Sunday, April 19)

All (except children under 12) are welcome at Chapin Mill this Saturday, April 18, for a gardening party. Festivities (fence repair, digging, raking, spreading, weeding, planting, etc.) will begin at 9:00 and will go until 12:30. Lunch will be provided by the Zen Center. Feel free to stay and enjoy the grounds (or the zendo) in the afternoon. If you would like to bring any of your own tools, feel free. Otherwise, tools and supplies will be provided by Chapin Mill. If the weather looks like it may be an issue, an e-mail will be sent out with an alternate rain date. We look forward to having you as part of this year’s garden!

Because of the nature of the work and the tools we’ll be using, we ask that children under 12 who want to come to Chapin Mill instead attend the Chapin Mill youth Sunday the next day. For details about the youth Sunday, contact Eryl Kubicka,

All-day Sitting This Sunday, April 19

Our next all-day is scheduled for this Sunday, April 19. Details and information are available on the Center’s website 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.

Sangha Entertainment Night, Saturday, April 25

Our (much rescheduled) annual Sangha Entertainment Night is finally less than 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, April 25, in the Buddha Hall.

Reminder: The Kannon Committee Is Looking for Help

Staff member Keith Carpenter has been working on reviving the Kannon Committee, a group of Sangha members who volunteer to pitch in with occasional meals, errands, or transportation for members who are ill or temporarily disabled. If you’d like to offer help (or if you need help), please let Keith know by contacting him at the Center or by e-mail:

And Speaking of Volunteering…

Local Sangha member Lee London is looking for volunteers to help him get to and from upcoming medical procedures on Monday, May 4, at 10:30 am and Monday, July 27, at 8:00 am. Each procedure will be performed at the Westfall Surgery Center on Senator Keating Boulevard, and will involve about four hours on the part of the escort. If you can help, please contact Lee at (585)-647-2175.

Lecture: “The Mansions of East Avenue”

The Park-Meigs Neighborhood Association (PMNA), of which the Center is a member, is presenting a free public lecture on Monday evening, April 20, titled “The Mansions of East Avenue.” The lecture will be at the Century Club of Rochester, 566 East Avenue. The schedule is as follows: 6:30 – cash bar; 7:30-8:30 – program; 8:30-9:30 – refreshments and socializing. For more information, contact Tom LaDuca, PMNA President, at (585)-750-0826.

April 9, 2015

Sitting This Sunday, April 12

As usual, this Sunday’s sitting will begin at 8:30 AM. We’ll sit for three 25-minute rounds and end with a chanting service, as on Tuesday evenings. The usual Sunday-morning brunch will follow.

Buddhist Peace Fellowship March

The Buddhist Peace Fellowship is joining the Global Day of Action against Poverty Wages, which takes place here and across the nation on Wednesday, April 15th. The particular focus is the “Fight for Fifteen.” Sangha members are invited to join the BPF in working toward a true living wage to help all workers move out of poverty.

The march starts at 5 PM on the Eastman Quadrangle of the University of Rochester campus. Look for the Kannon banners to join the BPF contingent.

For more information contact Terry O’Brien at

April 2, 2015

Lecture on Sunday

Professor An-yi Pan’s talk, entitled “Kannon and Zen” will begin around 11:15 am, in the Buddha Hall, after brunch (following Roshi’s teisho), this coming Sunday, April 5. Dr. Pan is on the faculty of Cornell University’s Department of History of Art and Visual Studies.

Help with Security

The Center’s Facilities and Sustainable Operations Committee wants to improve the security of our buildings and is looking for a professional to advise us and provide security systems. We’d appreciate any experience you have in that area, either as a customer or a provider. Please contact Committee members Bill Lindenfelser ( or Devin Wiesner ( Thanks!

Parking in the Lutheran Church Lot

Our neighbors at the Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word have very kindly given us permission to park in their lot during times when they have less need of it. However, because the church is having major events for Easter weekend, please avoid parking in the Lutheran Church’s lot until next week.

A Request for Interview Subjects

Matthew Eldred, who sits with us, writes:

My wife, Nita, and I are somewhat members “at large” of the RZC. We came to an introductory session last summer, and we came weekly to beginner sittings until this fall, when I had to return to law school for my final year of classes. Although we have not attended a sitting for a while, we are looking forward to returning to the practice this spring.

In the meantime, I am currently taking a seminar in which we study the American tort law system. The core of the seminar is a research project composed of interviews with people about a narrow aspect of the tort law system. I have chosen to study why, in spite of the lessons we learn as children to accept responsibility for our actions and to reconcile with others, adults often refuse to accept responsibility for injuries they cause to others. Preliminary research suggests that most people fear legal liability if they even hint at accepting responsibility, but I am unsure if this is true or for whom it is true.

I was wondering if Sangha members would be interested in helping me answer these questions. I am looking for 6-10 people willing to be interviewed for 30 minutes or so about their backgrounds and reactions to a set of hypotheticals. All answers and information would remain anonymous, and the study would not be circulated outside of my class.

I am hoping to interview Zen Center members in order to explore how common is the resistance to legal liability and why different people may be more or less inclined to seek reconciliation with those they injure in spite of the potential for legal liability. I would like to investigate if a strong sense of empathy and, perhaps, belief in the doctrine of karma may make Buddhists the least likely to avoid reconciliation with people they injure.

Any help you might be willing to provide would be very much appreciated. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact me on my cell phone at (607) 377-2196. For reference, I live in the Rochester area.


Matthew A. Eldred

Executive Editor, Buffalo Law Review

SUNY Buffalo Law School

J.D. Candidate, Class of 2015

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: