Last Chance for Opinions

The Sangha Programs Survey will close at the end of the day this Sunday, May 30. It’s your chance to let the new Sangha Programs Office team (Donna, Dené, and Mitchell) know what kinds of activities you would like to enjoy with fellow members. 

If you haven’t taken the survey yet, here’s the link.

The Buddha on Her Big Day

Here’s the schedule for this Saturday’s Buddha’s Birthday. It includes the in-person and Zoom sittings for the weekend. Due to limitations lingering from the pandemic (for example, the Buddha Hall is unavailable), it will be a somewhat light version of the usual festival – but it won’t be half-hearted! Kindly RSVP here so we can get an accurate head count in order to have enough food – including desserts – for everyone. Fifty-five people have already signed up!

In Going and Returning We Never Leave Home…

The Center’s COVID-19 Task Force (Jonathan Hager, M.D., Dené Redding, Eryl Kubicka, and Sensei John Pulleyn) met again recently to discuss the new CDC and New York State guidelines that allow for a complete removal of masks by fully-vaccinated individuals in most settings. Based on the Task Force’s recommendation, the Center has decided that for fully-vaccinated individuals masks will no longer be required on Zen Center premises. However, anyone coming to the sittings must still be fully vaccinated. Non-Sangha visitors (including contractors) will still need to wear a mask. Vaccinated individuals who are accompanying a worker or a visitor should continue to wear masks in those settings. And as always – and forevermore – people who feel at risk for COVID-19 are welcome to continue to wear masks at their own discretion.

This change will also be reflected in the dokusan room, where the student mat will now be returned nearer to the teacher’s mat. Zendo seating, however, will remain widely spaced until we approach capacity.

We’ve also decided that it is safe to resume chanting – so dust off those vocal chords and lend us your voice! (Chanting will resume next Tuesday morning, June 1.)

The rationale for these recommendations is manifold. First, the risk of acquiring COVID-19 for a vaccinated individual is low, and the risk of becoming seriously ill after you’ve been vaccinated is exceptionally low (though not zero). Older and immunocompromised people may not have had a good vaccine response, and they represent the bulk of vaccinated individuals who still go on to get COVID-19 infection.

The key piece of information for our Task Force was that there have been no documented cases of transmission to others from an asymptomatic, vaccinated individual who has COVID-19. So even if a vaccinated individual who is infected shows up in the zendo, that person will not be a risk to others. However, it bears repeating that anyone who has symptoms of any kind should not be coming to the Center at all.

For the Buddha’s Birthday celebration this weekend, unvaccinated individuals and children should continue to wear masks outdoors (there’s nothing scheduled indoors) when mingling with other people.

Teisho This Sunday

Unlike previous Buddha’s Birthday weekends, there will be teisho, at the usual time, this Sunday. Roshi will talk about Zen teaching and teachers.

New Trustee

During last weekend’s board meeting, the trustees elected a new trustee to fill the seat of Kathy Collina, who just completed her term limit of nine years (three consecutive three-year terms) on the board. The trustees are pleased to announce that Rebecca Gilbert, a local member who is also the Principal Flutist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, was elected to this position and has gratefully accepted.

The Center’s members are also electing a trustee this spring. All full members as of May 6 are eligible to vote, and a reminder (including a link to the online ballot site and the Zoom codes for joining Friday evening’s annual meeting) will be emailed to members later today.

New Dokusan and Private Instruction Schedule

Sensei John Pulleyn is now offering in-person dokusan every Tuesday night. In-person private instruction will resume on Friday night, June 11, alternating between Trueman Taylor and Donna Kowal. (Donna is also offering Private Instruction on Thursday evenings at the 7:00-8:00 pm Zoom sitting.)

June Sesshin Deadline

The deadline for the upcoming June sesshin, conducted by Sensei Amala Wrightson, is Monday, May 31. She will be leading the sesshin from New Zealand, and due to the time zone difference, will be having Sensei John Pulleyn offer dokusan during the 6:00 – 8:00 am block.