Online Group Zazen

Following the example of other Zen groups, we’ve starting online morning sittings (7 to 8 a.m. EDT) for our Sangha using the Zoom app. (Thanks to the Puget Sound Zen Center and the Louisville Zen Center for their help.) If you’d like to join us, just follow these instructions:

  • You’ll need the Meeting ID and password – email Trueman (trueman@rzc.org) to get them.
  • Download the Zoom app to your phone, tablet, or laptop.
  • Open Zoom and select “Join a Meeting.”
  • Enter our assigned Meeting ID and password. These will remain the same for every sitting, but keep them confidential to help us avoid being hacked.
  • Be sure to turn Video on and select “Internet Audio.”
  • You’ll be greeted when you come in (assuming you arrive before the sitting begins).
  • To see the others who are sitting, move your cursor or finger to the upper left-hand corner (on an iPad) and press “Gallery View.” (The alternate circle to press is “Reverse View,” which switches you to the camera on the opposite side of your tablet, and you’ll no longer be seen. So don’t do that.)
  • You can check that your audio and video are turned on by checking your screen for the microphone and video icons. On an iPad, you’ll find them at the top of your screen. Tapping them toggles them on and off.
  • Sitting starts at 7:00 a.m., at which point everyone except for Roshi and any online “monitors” will be muted because ambient group noise is more disturbing in Zoomed sittings than regular sittings.
  • You’ll hear three bells to start, a bell at the half-way point, and a final bell to signal the introduction of the Four Vows (at 8:00).
  • We suggest that while sitting, you have your device positioned at your side (roughly the 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock position while facing “noon”). And be aware that you’ll be seen and identified most easily if your device is placed 2-3 feet up from the floor as well as that same distance from your side. (Worst is directly in front of you or from the floor.) Also your picture will display best if you turn your device horizontal.
  • If for some reason you need to leave during the sitting, that’s okay. Just select “Leave Meeting.”
  • Roshi or Trueman will recite the Four Vows three times running, as usual, and you can join in. (You’ll still be muted then, so you’ll hear just one other voice. Experience has shown that lags in Wi-Fi and internet service make group chanting sound painfully discordant.)
  • After the Four Vows, we bow to one another, and your mic will be turned back on for any wrap-up comments or questions.

If you have any questions about these instructions, please email Trueman Taylor at trueman@rzc.org. Please do not call the Center or “reply” to this email.

A special dispensation for Zoomed sitting: you can move a bit. For your own sake, don’t move any more than you need to, as sitting stock-still helps, of course, with concentration. But since everyone is muted, your stirring won’t disturb anyone else, as it would in the zendo. Moreover, since it’s inspiring to see others doing zazen together (as our zendo monitors can confirm), feel free to steal a glance at the screen once or twice during the sitting.

We’ve done a couple of trial runs, and people have been surprised what a boost it is to sit with others this way. We’re going to start out with daily sittings from 7 to 8 a.m. EDT Monday through Saturday (late enough for people in time zones west of Rochester to participate). You can come into the meeting up to 15 minutes ahead of time (6:45), and someone will be waiting to greet you. For those who aren’t able to make this time slot, note that we’ll also try Zooming for an all-day sitting on April 19. 

Hope to see you in the cloud!

Tele-Dokusan 

With Roshi’s day as unstructured as anyone else’s, he’s finding that he has great flexibility in scheduling dokusan. In fact, over these past two weeks he’s had more dokusans outside of the announced windows of time than within them. Accordingly, the restrictions of that schedule no longer apply. 

Starting now, people who are interested in dokusan can simply email Roshi (bodhin@rzc.org) to request it, and together they can work out times that are mutually convenient (bearing in mind that Roshi will not want to have dokusans scattered through too much of any one day).

Finding Your Seat Continues (Saturdays, 11:00 – noon)

Last Saturday, the first online Finding Your Seat (FYS) ran smoothly, with three participants. It’s another small way we can reconnect as Sangha and fortify our practice. If you plan to attend this Saturday’s session on April 11th, start by downloading the Zoom app on your device. Once you’ve downloaded it, send John an email (john.pulleyn@gmail.com), and he’ll send you an invite for Saturday’s FYS session.

All-day Sitting Returns

The next all-day sitting will be Sunday, April 19th. You can see the schedule here. More details regarding how to attend, remotely, will follow in the next Sangha email.

Zen Bow: Summer Issue Submissions

Zen in the time of COVID-19. Given that the editorial deadline for the Summer issue of Zen Bow is May 1st, it seems almost inhuman not to invite everyone to share any kind of comment, anecdote, or insight experienced during this unique time in our history. The pandemic has brought to the forefront the three certainties of life that the Buddha laid out – sickness, old age, and death – and afforded us an opportunity for deeper reflection. How have you dealt with the lockdown? With uncertainty? Articles of any length as well as photos, drawings (including children’s drawings), and humor will all be considered. 

The original plan was for the Summer issue to be devoted to the climate emergency, which, of course, will continue to be a grave threat long after the pandemic is over. Any material you wish to submit on that topic will also be gratefully received.

Donations for ESWA

Eastern Service Workers Association (ESWA) is an organization assisting low-income Rochestarians who are hit hard by COVID-19. ESWA is seeking the following:

  • Non-perishable food collections;
  • Paper products, cleaning supplies, hand soaps and hygiene supplies;
  • Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes and sprays.

If you’d like to donate, you can call ESWA (585-654-9640) and a volunteer will come to your home and pick up your donation. To maintain social distancing, you can leave your donation at your front entrance. You can also drop your items outside the ESWA office (234 Bay Street, Rochester, NY 14605), and a volunteer will come out to accept your donations, taking strict precautions in handling the food and supplies so as to put everyone at minimal risk.