This Sunday: First In-person Extended Sitting
On Sunday, June 20, we’ll hold our first in-person Extended Sitting (with teisho by Roshi) since February 2020. Participants may attend any or all of the blocks of sitting, but are encouraged to join or leave only between blocks. Private Instruction will be offered during the late-morning block of zazen (11:00 – 12:50). The schedule and more information can be found here. You can also tune in via Zoom if you can’t make it in person.

The following Sunday, June 27, Sensei John Pulleyn will give his first teisho.

July 7-day Sesshin: Charging Ahead as in the Past 
People who are fully vaccinated and want to make a deep dive into their Zen practice, as in the Before Times, will soon have the chance to do so – at the July 23 – 30 sesshin, conducted by Roshi at the Chapin Mill Retreat Center. Here are some specifics about this return to our traditional 7-day sesshin:

  • You need to be fully vaccinated to participate in person.
  • Those not at Chapin Mill may participate via Zoom.
  • The deadline for applications is Thursday, July 15, but as always, people applying late are likely to be accepted.
  • Sesshin will follow the standard, pre-pandemic schedule: Four blocks of formal group zazen stretching from 4:45 am until 9:30 pm, with formal meals, chanting services, and an exercise period. Yaza (informal late-night sitting) is available as a bonus.
  • Zoom participants will follow the in-person schedule. If the first block of sitting (4:45–7:00 am) starts too early for you, it’s best not to commit to it. You can always join during kinhin, just as non-participants do (no dokusan however).
  • Dokusan: In-person participants should be able to go two or three times a day. Zoom participants will be limited to once a day, either in the afternoon or evening.

Chapin Mill Work Retreat
For many years now, a highlight of the Center’s annual calendar has been a work retreat in honor of Ralph Chapin, who donated his magnificent country estate to the Center in 1996. With the pandemic raging last year, we had to make do with just a few individual work days over the summer, so the property is begging for attention this year.

Your mission, should you decide to accept: work together with Sangha friends to spruce up the buildings and grounds – and at the same time step up your sitting and enjoy the idyllic setting of Chapin Mill. The amount of sitting is a bit more than in the daily Zen Center training schedule, and either dokusan or Private Instruction are offered daily. You’re welcome to come for all or part of the retreat, and there are plenty of rooms for overnight lodging. Just tell us if and when you’d like to attend, and let us know of any work skills you may have or medical/physical limitations you think may matter.

The schedule (posted on the website) will follow that of previous years, with the bulk of work completed in the morning and most of the afternoon free for unstructured activity – swimming, walking in the woods, socializing, or more sitting in the zendo. The retreat will begin with evening sitting on Tuesday, June 29, and continue through Saturday lunch, July 3.

Call the Center or email if you can come, and you’ll be put to work (within your capacity) while embedded in Sangha. Come see why this has always been one of the most popular events of the year!

Upcoming Book Discussion: Black and Buddhist
Uprooting Racism is forging onward with its free events on race and racism. Next up will be the group’s inaugural Zoom book discussion at which everyone (members, non-members, etc.) are welcome. We’ll be reading and unpacking Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us about Race, Resilience, Transformation, and Freedomedited by Pamela Ayo Yetunde and Cheryl A. Giles (2020) on three specific Wednesday evenings in July and August (Note that the first date has moved to July 7):

  • Wednesday, July 7, 7:00-8:30 pm EDT
  • Wednesday, July 21, 7:00-8:30 pm EDT
  • Wednesday, August 25, 7:00-8:30 pm EDT

Much more information about the book, the facilitators, the chapters to be discussed at each session, and how to sign up is available on the Eventbrite page, where you can also register for all three sessions. If you have any questions or need help with registration, please contact Luka at so they can assist.

A Death in the Family
Jake Bistrong, a Sangha member who trained here at the Center in 2017, passed away on June 8 at the age of 26. Scott Jennings, our Business Manager, was a close friend and just visited with Jake’s family. He writes:

“I’m very grateful that last Friday evening I was able to attend a gathering of Jake Bistrong’s family and friends in his memory. His mother and father were there, along with quite a number of other family members and friends. I was able to spend a couple of hours talking with Jake’s mother, sister, and aunt, as well as with his good friend Cecil Jennings (the world is indeed filled with strange coincidences). All of them told me how important Zen Buddhism had been to Jake and how much Zen practice had helped him. They also told me of their gratitude to the Rochester Zen Center for its very positive influence on Jake’s life. I was also able to pass along to them a dozen or so photos of Jake that I’d taken over the years. He was one of my closest friends, and it’s hard to believe that I’m never going to see him again. Life is so fragile. Requiescat in pace.”