50th Anniversary

Rochester Zen Center

November 30, 2016

The Buddha’s Great Awakening

Tomorrow evening, Thursday December 1, we will hold our annual Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony, a one-of-a-kind event with sutras read aloud by several senior Sangha members while circumambulating through the zendo. The warm milk-rice served afterward in the dining room may not lead to Supreme Perfect Enlightenment, as it did for Siddhartha, but anything is possible when you’ve got the Buddha Nature. . .

Introductory Workshop Cancelled

Due to low attendance, the December 3 workshop is cancelled. (We may have seen our last December workshop, which is typically our smallest.) The good news is that we’ll have the regular morning sitting this Saturday at 6:15 am.

All-day Sitting

We’ll be having our monthly all-day sitting this Sunday, December 4. You can find the schedule here.

A Pertinent Documentary

On Sunday, December 4, the Seeing through Racism Committee will be showing the Netflix movie “13th.” It deals with the history of post-emancipation enslavement of Black People. Highlighted as many things are by the election of Donald Trump, it takes on added significance. The film will be shown in the library, and of course we’ll have some discussion afterward. If you’re feeling conflicted because there’s also a Zen of Living and Dying meeting and an all-day sitting, the Committee also plans to hold a viewing on a Saturday (date to be determined).

Zendo Support Cushions: Leave No Traces

We’ve noticed quite a few support cushions left behind recently after formal sittings. It’s customary to take everything with you (except the round cushion) and straighten out your mat before you exit the zendo.

Talk and Photo Exhibit by Notch and Margaret Miyake

The exhibit of photographs taken by Margaret on the Miyakes’ pilgrimage to all ten of the World War II Japanese-American internment camps, is continuing at the Hartnett Gallery in the Wilson Commons at the University of Rochester until December 11. The gallery’s hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 am to 7 pm and Saturday and Sunday, 12 noon to 5 pm. Admission is free. For more information, you can call 585-275-4188 or visit blogs.rochester.edu/hartnett

If you missed Notch Miyake’s November 16 talk on the history of the Japanese-American internment camps, he’ll be giving another one here at the Center, date and time to be announced.

November 22, 2016

Website Problems

If you’ve tried to access the Center’s website recently, you’ve run into an ominous message about site security. We have an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate that didn’t get renewed in time, but we hope it will be updated this evening (Tuesday, November 22). At which point, the links below should work (actually, they work already if you’re willing to proceed despite some alarming warnings).

Thanksgiving and Jukai Schedule

A link to the schedule of all the Center’s Thanksgiving and Jukai events this week is posted on the home page of the Center’s website (www.rzc.org). You can also access the schedule by clicking here. Or pick up a genuine paper copy in the Link.

Ceremony of Gratitude is on Thanksgiving Morning this Year

Thurday’s Ceremony of Gratitude will begin with sitting at 8:30 am, followed by the ceremony proper at about 9:30. Everyone, even if you can’t attend, is invited to write out a statement of gratitude, and we’ll be selecting some of those to read in the zendo. There are pads of paper in the Link, or you can e-mail your statement to John Pulleyn (john@rzc.org).

In recent years, we’ve shifted to holding this ceremony on the Sunday proceeding Thanksgiving, but this year, with November sesshin held a week later than usual, we’re reverting to Thanksgiving Day. Our apologies to those who may be pinned down in the kitchen and unable to come, but for those who can, it’s a fitting and wonderful way to begin the big day.

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Zen Center

We’re just beginning to collect sign-ups for Thanksgiving dinner here at the Center. You can sign up on a sheet in the Link, or call the Center, and Cecily will pencil you in. Bring a vegetarian dish, hand-made or store-bought, to share. Dinner begins at 4 pm in the dining room at Arnold Park, but folks are welcome to come by earlier in the afternoon (say from 1:00 on) to socialize.

Jukai Teishos

Roshi will give a teisho on the precepts on the morning of Jukai – this Saturday, November 26. Formal sitting starts at 8:30 am, and teisho will begin around 9:30. This year’s teisho will cover some yet-to-be-determined aspect of the precepts in depth.

If this will be your first Jukai or if you’d like a refresher, here are two recorded teishos that will give you a broader view of the precepts:

November 30, 2013: An overview of the 16 precepts.

November 22, 2009: The Three Treasures.

A Brief Outline of Jukai (Receiving the Precepts)

If this year 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 out to the Buddha Hall, and once there you’ll be directed down the center aisle to make a monetary offering (for the teacher), do a prostration at the altar, and take your seat. When everyone is seated, Roshi will enter, we’ll chant the Prajna Paramita, and then Roshi will lead everyone through the Sixteen Precepts. The ceremony itself takes about half an hour, and afterwards we’ll have refreshments in the Link.

Jukai Donation to Teacher

In keeping with long tradition, the Receiving the Precepts (Jukai) ceremony this Saturday will include a chance for participants to offer a personal donation to Roshi (not the Zen Center) as the officiant. 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 Rochester Zen Center.)

Next Week: Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony

Coming up next week, Thursday evening, December 1, will be our annual Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony, a one-of-a-kind event with sutras read aloud by several senior Sangha members while circumambulating through the zendo. Even if you don’t come to full and complete enlightenment, you will share in the warm milk-rice served after the ceremony in the candle-lit dining room.

November 12, 2016

“Third Time’s a Charm” or “Three Strikes and You’re Out”?

Once again, we intend to live-stream sittings from sesshin, which will start this evening, Saturday, November 12, and run to next Saturday. You can tune in from the Center’s website (https://www.rzc.org/publications/streaming-audio/), and the daily sesshin schedule is posted here.

November 11, 2016

Post-election: What Now?

In response to cries of alarm after the political earthquake this week, Roshi has thrown together some pointers in a letter to the Sangha here.

John Pulleyn’s Hara

Over the past ten days our Head of Zendo has had back-to-back surgeries. His first hospitalization, triggered by a 2-hour tennis match, led to emergency surgery for a hernia. Complications after his discharge landed him back in the hospital two days later for surgery for an abdominal obstruction.

He’s now back at home, recovering well enough to have dropped in at the Center for Audrey’s luncheon the other day. And we still expect him to be leading the 4-day sesshin in December.

The Great Sweep

Are you wondering where your missing hat is, or perhaps a favorite pair of shoes? They may be at the Zen Center. The Housekeeping department did a thorough sweep of the Center’s first floor (5 Arnold Park & 7 Arnold Park): there are three women’s jackets and a lot of shoes, hats, gloves in Lost and Found (located in the Link coatroom, right corner). The deadline to pick up any of your missing items will be Tuesday, November 29; after that, they will all go to donations.


Here’s a quick summary of our Thanksgiving ceremonies, which will be here sooner than we know it!

  • On Thanksgiving Day, November 24, we’ll start with zazen at 8:30 am and the Ceremony of Gratitude at 9:30 am, followed by brunch. Later in the day, we’ll have Thanksgiving dinner at 4 pm in the Center’s dining room; Sangha and friends are welcome to join us!
  • On Friday, November 25, we’ll have Temple Night, starting at 7:00 pm, in the Buddha Hall.
  • On Saturday morning, November 26, there will be 8:30 zazen and Roshi’s teisho on the precepts, followed by brunch. Ordinarily, Roshi gives at least two to three teishos on the precepts leading up to the weekend of the Jukai ceremony. However, this year, that couldn’t happen. You could however, listen to previous teishos on the precepts, namely those from the following dates: November 19, 24, and 30, 2013 (http://rzcpodcasts.blogspot.com/2013_11_01_archive.html); November 29, 2014 (http://rzcpodcasts.blogspot.com/2014_11_01_archive.html); and November 28, 2015 (http://rzcpodcasts.blogspot.com/2015_11_01_archive.html).

Dokusan for out-of-town members will begin at 11:00 a.m. Finally, the Jukai ceremony starts at 5 pm in the Buddha Hall.

Camping and Zazen

Do you like camping? Do you like zazen? Sangha member Elizabeth Jackson Machmer is organizing a winter camping and zazen retreat to take place during the winter school break (the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day). Campers will rent a cabin in either the Allegany State Park or the Adirondacks for a few days and will have time for both ample zazen and winter activities. Exact details can be decided by the group. If you are interested, please contact Elizabeth at (585) 201-6202 or lizmachmer@gmail.com.

November 4, 2016

Fall Back This Weekend

Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 am on Sunday morning, November 6. Set your clock back by an hour before you retire this Saturday, or you may arrive for sitting and teisho an hour early!

Birthday Party for Audrey

Next Wednesday, November 9th, will be the 90th birthday of Audrey Fernandez, the sole surviving founding member of the Zen Center. To honor her fifty years of involvement in the Center, there will be a luncheon party for her at the Center that day, at 12:30. Any member who knows Audrey is welcome to come, but PLEASE let the ZC kitchen know by next Tuesday morning.

Again – you need to RSVP (dagrange@syr.edu), so the kitchen knows how much food to prepare.

November 2, 2016

Refuge Recovery Meeting

The Rochester chapter of “Refuge Recovery,” a group focused on recovery from alcohol and other addictions will have its first meeting this evening, November 2, at the Center. Refuge Recovery draws from Buddhist teachings to meet the challenges and pain of addiction. The meeting room is on the first floor of 5 Arnold Park outside Roshi’s office just off the parlor. Anyone interested is welcome!

More information about Refuge Recovery is available here.

Room Left for Members – Workshop This Saturday, November 5

We’ve got a workshop coming up this weekend, so just a reminder: when there’s space available (as there is this Saturday), Center members are always welcome to attend, at no charge. So if you’d like a “refresher,” let us know! Just contact the Center’s receptionist, Cecily Fuhr, at cecily@rzc.org.

Post-election Sitting Cancelled

Since the election next Tuesday, November 8, promises to be a nail-biter, with some Sangha members (like Roshi, for one) prepared to stay up late for the results, the sitting the next morning, on Wednesday, November 9, is cancelled. (Hey, it’s only every four years.)

If anyone would like company in watching the returns Tuesday night, come to the Zen Center library, where there are likely to be a few staff watching, at least until 10:00 or so. If you’re not at the sitting, wait until it ends at 9:00 to come (rather than ringing the doorbell, please use the back door).

Talk and Photo Exhibit by Notch and Margaret Miyake

An exhibit of photographs taken by Margaret on the Miyakes’ pilgrimage to all ten of the World War II Japanese-American Internment Camps will be at the Hartnett Gallery in the Wilson Commons at the University of Rochester from November 17 to December 11. The photographs are augmented by historic images and anti-Japanese ephemera from the period. Films from the period will also be shown in a continuous loop. The opening reception will be on Thursday, November 17, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.

Notch will talk about the history of the internment and the response of Japanese-Americans to their imprisonment on Wednesday, November 16, at 5:00 pm in the Gowen Room in the Wilson Commons.

The public is welcome to both events. The Congressional commission investigating the internment blamed it on “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.” As the nation faces the issues of terrorism, the refugee crisis, and illegal immigration, the risk of our repeating the injustice done to Japanese-Americans in World War II is great. 

More information and a copy of the exhibit poster are available on the University of Rochester website.

October 25, 2016

Calendar Change

There will be no teisho this Sunday, October 30. Somehow it got put on the Center’s calendar, even though Roshi has known for months that he would need to be out of state at a family wedding this weekend. The online calendar has now been updated.

Auckland Zen Centre’s 2017 Pilgrimage to China

If you’ve ever considered going on a Buddhist pilgrimage to China, now is your chance! Amala-sensei and the New Zealand sangha will be going from March 21 until April 5, 2017. They still need three more people to make the trip feasible. Here is the itinerary, which includes the rate per person. If you’d like to sign up or have any more questions, you can contact Hanya Gallagher at info@aucklandzen.org.nz.

Help for Housekeeping

We have fewer residents than usual right now, which means that some departments get understaffed at times. With Thanksgiving and Jukai on the horizon, Keith Carpenter, our Head Housekeeper, is eager for volunteers, even if it’s just a few hours at a time.

Amazon Smile

A reminder that the Center gets support from Amazon.com’s charitable donation program: whenever you shop on AmazonSmile, the program will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the Rochester Zen Center. Use this link to have your Amazon.com purchases support the Zen Center: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/23-7310003. Full details of the AmazonSmile program are explained at http://smile.amazon.com/about.

Do We Have Something of Yours?

We are planning a major cleaning of the storage spaces at Arnold Park. Just as with most people’s homes, the basement and attic tend to accumulate unwanted and forgotten items. This message applies, of course, to former staff members, but for anyone who has items at the Center that you’re not ready to abandon, please come claim them in the coming weeks. After November sesshin, unclaimed freight will be set free.

October 1, 2016

Bodhidharma Ceremony, October 11

On the Tuesday after sesshin, the Center and the zendo will be set up for the annual ceremony that honors Bodhidharma, the “Bearded Barbarian” who founded Zen in China. We’ll sit for two short rounds, and the ceremony will follow. Beginners are welcome!

Term Intensive, October 13 – November 10

Two days later, on Thursday evening, we kick off our fall Term Intensive. This year’s will run for four weeks, rather than the usual three, since November sesshin has been pushed back to the week after the election. These intensives are an excellent and proven way to harness the support of others to step up your daily sitting and to get a solid start on whatever new disciplines you want to develop. Even if you’re new to the Center and feel your commitments may be too modest, don’t hold back! It’s a great way to strengthen practice, with the support of many others. Further information is available here.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, October 15

This is our last nagging e-mail: get your tickets for Jon Kabat-Zinn’s lecture while there’s room. To date, we have sold 693 of 842 tickets, and we’re hoping to sell them all! Further information is available here.

Sesshin Live!

Starting with the October 7-day sesshin, which begins this evening, October 1, we’ll be streaming audio live from Chapin Mill. Our plan is to stream each of the four blocks of sitting that make up sesshin, including Roshi’s daily teishos. The schedule for sesshin is posted here.