Temple Night and Jukai Tonight, Friday, May 27

Our annual celebration of the Buddha’s birth begins tonight with Temple Night and Jukai (Taking the Precepts). There are two Jukai ceremonies held each year, and although this springtime one – the climax of Temple Night – is somewhat informal, it offers us an opportunity to reinforce our practice and express our aspiration to uphold our Buddha Nature as described in the Precepts.

Before the Jukai ceremony begins at 9 p.m., and after it’s over, sitting and devotions are unstructured. You’re free, on this night, to set up your mat and cushions, or chair, anywhere in the Buddha Hall and to make prostrations and offer incense (or not) at any of the altars, as you wish.

If you like, you can sit late into the night after the Jukai ceremony ends. (For security reasons, the door to the Buddha Hall is locked from the outside at 9:30, so if you leave after that, you won’t be able to get back in.) This is a chance to do late-night sitting outside of sesshin in the company of buddhas and bodhisattvas – and, for residents, with no wakeup bell looming at 5:45 the next morning!

Saturday: Buddha’s Birthday Possibly Abbreviated by a Perfect Storm

WEATHER ALERT: Tomorrow’s morning rain is currently forecast to be heaviest between 10 am and noon – the apex of the planned Buddha’s Birthday celebrations. What’s more, despite the efforts all week of bandleader April Stein to recruit musicians, as she does every year, due to COVID issues none could be found. Even the elephant’s voice, trombonist Phil Swanson, had to cancel after he tested COVID-positive. So – if the weather forecast holds – we may well have to carry on without the annual parade or even the elephant (who, we’re told, doesn’t do well indoors). If so, the Buddha Hall will still open at 11:00 for the ritual pouring of sweet tea over the baby Buddha, the story of his birth, and the Sleeping Sage. These usual events would then lead straight into the potluck picnic, probably served under cover outdoors. However, if the weather clears up enough, we’ll carry on with our original schedule . . .

Buddha’s Birthday on Saturday

Festivities continue on Saturday with music, story-telling, a parade, and food. The full schedule is here. For the vegetarian potluck picnic that follows the elephant parade, the Center will provide plant-based burgers and hotdogs, drinks, and dessert (featuring a pyramid of Lou Anne Jaeger’s legendary cupcakes). Please bring either a main dish or salad (fruit salad counts) sized to serve eight. And please, no meat, poultry or seafood. Remember to take your dishes home with you when you leave.

If you’re a parade veteran and would be willing to miss it this year to help with food setup, let Dené Redding know. You may free a staff member who’s never been in the parade before to follow in the footsteps of the elephant!

One more note: It’s fine to park on East Avenue, and we also have permission to park in the Arnold Park end of the lot belonging to our next-door neighbor, the Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word (entrance on Goodman Street). Be sure not to park in the spots reserved for the Harry Bruno Salon (along the side of the lot closest to our Buddha Hall) or in the Goodman Street end of the lot, which the Church needs for its own volunteers on Saturday.

Online Happenings This Weekend

Tonight’s Temple Night (7:00) and Jukai ceremony (~9:00) will be broadcast on Zoom.

On Saturday there won’t be Finding Your Seat at 11:00 a.m. Instead we’ll broadcast the ceremony of Pouring Sweet Tea over the Baby Buddha and the Story of the Buddha’s Birth. Because of the Buddha’s Birthday events and the upcoming June 7-day sesshin, the next Finding Your Seat will be Saturday, June 18.

On Sunday morning we’ll have a Zoom sitting from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. (meanwhile at the Center there will be informal sitting at 8:30 with dokusan for out-of-towners). At 9:30, the Annual Corporate meeting of members will take place in the Buddha Hall and will be broadcast on Zoom.

Although the Center will be closed for Memorial Day and during the day on Tuesday, the usual 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Zoom sittings will take place on both Monday and Tuesday. (The next in-person sitting will be Tuesday Beginners’ Night at 7 p.m.)

Chapin Mill Work Retreat, June 28 to July 2

Our annual work retreat in honor of Ralph Chapin, who donated his country estate to the Center back in 1996, is a longstanding tradition. The goal of the retreat is to work together on upkeep of the buildings and grounds – and at the same time intensify our meditation practice and enjoy the beauty of Chapin Mill.

During the work retreat we sit a bit more than the regular Zen Center training schedule, and dokusan is offered daily. Since the bulk of our work is completed in the morning, most of the afternoon is free for unstructured activity – swimming, walking in the woods, visiting with friends, or more sitting. The schedule is posted here.

You’re welcome to come for all or part of the retreat, and there’s plenty of space for people to stay overnight at Chapin Mill. There’s no fee for the work retreat (although donations for food are welcome), simply complete the Chapin Mill Work Retreat registration form.

Trustees Election: Last Call

A few weeks ago we emailed a link to all full members of the Center to vote in this year’s Trustee election. Your vote will still be counted if you vote before (or during) the May 29 annual meeting.

New Sangha Program: RZC Nonviolent Communication Group

A weekly Zoom group dedicated to learning and practicing “NVC” (Nonviolent Communication) will launch on Friday, June 24, from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. EDT. Also known as compassionate or collaborative communication, NVC offers Zen practitioners a practical approach to Right Speech, strengthening our ability to respond compassionately to others and to ourselves.

The group is open to Sangha members only and will be led by Anna Belle and Alan Leiserson, joined by longtime NVC facilitator Fifi Johnson. The first 12 weeks will be structured around The Ongo Book: Everyday Nonviolence (2017) by Catherine Cadden and Jesse Wiens. People interested in joining will be asked to commit to attending the majority of these weeks. Registration will close on June 24 or when all of the openings have been filled.

To learn more and complete an interest form, please see https://www.rzc.org/news/nvc-group/

Summer 2022 Calendar Is Now Available

A printable quarterly calendar for July, August, and September 2022 is posted on the Center’s website and here. You can also pick up a copy from the table in the Link whenever you stop by the Center.

New Sangha Group: DepreshZen

The idea of forming a support and advocacy group for Sangha members with depression and anxiety disorders emerged from the Sangha Programs interest survey that was conducted last year. Since then, a small group of volunteers and staff has come together to develop DepreshZen, a safe space to talk openly and educate ourselves and others about living with these conditions from the perspective of a Zen practitioner. As the group’s playful name suggests, we hope to work toward reducing the social stigma associated with mental illness.

Our first meeting will be on Saturday, June 18, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. EDT via Zoom. Moving forward, we anticipate meeting once a month on a Saturday afternoon.

If you’re interested in participating or have any questions, please contact Iriz Robles. She will provide you with the Zoom meeting codes.