During summer we continued our once a week sittings alternating between Tuesdays (in July) and Thursdays (in August) which gave everyone a chance to participate.
Some of the sangha were able to attend Sesshin at Mt.Baldy Zen Center in California. The President of the Board Peter, Shūkō, and Dokurō represented Charles River Zen at Kyōzan Jōshū Sasaki Rōshi’s 50st Anniversary Celebration at Rinzai-ji in Los Angeles. We contributed a display of photos and timeline depicting our group’s activities.
The celebration on July 21 began in the morning with a ceremony at Rinzai-ji. The Heart Sutra and the Dahrani of the Great Compassionate one was followed by a special anniversary Ekō to dedicate the occasion to Sasaki Rōshi’s 50 years of teaching Zen in America; Dokurō had the honor to serve as the Ino (chant leader) for the ceremony. Sasaki Rōshi gave a talk reminding everyone of the importance of recognizing our sameness, our true equality with one another. A delegation from Japan was present and their leader, Shunan Noritake Rōshi from Reiun-ji (a subtemple of Myoshin-ji) honored Sasaki Rōshi with a poem, a brief talk, and several gifts. The ceremony concluded with a round of “banzai” shouts (万歳, Ten Thousand Years) to wish Rōshi a long life, followed by the recitation of the Four Great Vows.
The ceremony was followed by a luncheon and an afternoon of musical entertainment at the Clark Library (UCLA), which is located across from the Zen Center. Many Zen Centers from around the world set up displays for viewing by the guests. A timeline of Rōshi’s teaching and lineage in America was created by a number of volunteers, and a number of Rōshi’s calligraphies were on display. Members of the Charles River Zen sangha contributed three wonderful works to this exhibit.
The musical program in the afternoon included Japanese Gagaku performed by a local Japanese ensemble from a Pure Land temple nearby, a chamber music work by Rōshi’s student Paul Humphreys with poetry by Steve Sanfield, who is one of Rōshi’s oldest students. The final performance was a number of songs written by Leonard Cohen and performed by Perla Batalla, a friend and protege of Jikan’s. Dokurō served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event. He gave us a historical overview of traditional Japanese music, and entertained the audience between the performances.
There were more than 200 guests in attendance who enjoyed the fine food, music, company of long time fellow practitioners, and surroundings. There was a wide array of students of Zen, some with Sasaki Rōshi for almost 50 years, others from nearby temples of other Buddhist traditions. It was a festive occasion and a manifestation of the vitality of the Rinzai-ji sangha which would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work of Soko Paul Humphries, Susan Crozier, the Rinzai-ji Board of Directors, Jikan, Myoren, Roshi’s Oshos, and the staff of Rinzai-ji and Mt. Baldy Zen Center. Everybody contributed to make this an unforgettable event.
The full fall schedule began this week, resuming Tuesday and Thursday evening sittings. This fall Dokuro plans to resume to offer individual meetings with students as soon as we secure an appropriate space at our current location. We are planning to offer these meetings once a month.
We currently have plans for three retreats with the possibility of adding a fourth. The first retreat is on September 16, a three hour sitting in Cambridge at the Namo Yoga Studio, 21 Belmont Street.
For October and December we offer longer opportunities for practice, a day-long retreat in October and a day and a half retreat to celebrate Rōhatsu, Buddha’s enlightenment. Both of these retreats will be held at the Center at Westwoods. Please see the retreats calendar page for a most up-to-date schedule and information.
Please sign up for the retreats as early as possible so we can plan accordingly. Please take advantage of these unique opportunities to deepen our understanding.