An Announcement from Roshi about the 2020 Summer Sesshins

In scheduling 7-day sesshins for next year, I’ve invited Amala-sensei to lead the two in the summer, and am pleased to say that she has agreed to do so.

In recent years one or another of my teacher-disciples, at my invitation, has stepped in to lead one of our six annual 7-day sesshins (this year Amala-sensei will lead our September-October sesshin, as announced last year). Such guest teachers are a kind of offering to the Sangha – a chance for people to hear the Dharma in a different voice and embodied not quite the same as in me. And now for 2020 Amala-sensei has agreed to lead both the June and the July-August sesshins, with the other four to be led by me.

It feels especially fitting to have Amala-sensei leading sesshin in that she lived at the Center in training with her husband, Richard von Sturmer, for some thirteen years. During that time she also labored through many months of meetings of the Chapin Mill Retreat Center Building Committee. No wonder, then, that she always welcomes the chance to reap the fruits of her Zen training and her design work in Rochester by leading the large Chapin Mill sesshins.

As for 2021 and beyond, it’s hard for a Buddhist to lay plans that far ahead. Yet a Buddhist also has to expect the unexpected, and I’m working with that. My doctor tells me my health is “excellent” (knock on wood), so I don’t foresee any big changes for the next several years. But the fact that eventually the Center will need – and benefit from – a new abbot is not lost on me.

Meanwhile, I am grateful to the Auckland Zen Centre Sangha for their willingness to manage without their teacher (and Richard without his wife) next summer. I trust that they will be able to mine resources of their Sangha that otherwise could go untapped. The great Swami Vivekananda declared, “When people are once trained, it is essential that their leader leave them, for without her absence they cannot develop themselves.”