Anniversary Season and Renewal

Dear friends of Charles River Zen and Rinzai Zen practice,

Daito Kokushi said in his final admonition 光陰矢の如し (Kōin ya no gotoshi), “Time flies like an arrow,” and it is exactly the experience that many of us had over the last 15 years. How fast time slips away, tomorrows become yesterdays, and yesterdays become yesteryears. On July 2001 the Articles of Incorporation for Houn-an Dharma Cloud Hermitage Inc. were submitted to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The stamp on the submitted papers show that they were accepted on July 5th, 2001, and the temple began its official existence. 15 years have since elapsed, flown by, full of events and change.

Between 2001 and 2004 Dharma Cloud Hermitage organized Zazen at Boston University, where Dokuro served as the Buddhist Chaplain. A few students came, but also practitioners from outside the university. With a turnover of residents at the Cambridge Buddhist Association in May of 2004 Houn-an was invited to take on the Zazen-kai at the CBA, which was founded in 1957 by D.T. Suzuki, Elsie Mitchell, Shinichi Hisamatsu, and a number of other remarkable individuals. 2004 was also the year when Dokuro underwent Suiji-shiki (Temple Dharma Transmission) and became one of Joshu Roshi’s Oshos (Zen Teachers). We had the privilege to organize the Zen activities at the CBA until the summer of 2011, when the property in Cambridge was sold and Dharma Cloud Hermitage needed to move on.

Since the fall of 2011 we have had the great luck of being able to offer our sitting under the umbrella of the Watertown Center for Healing Arts, first on Main Street, and for a few years now at 17 Spring Street in Watertown. The setup is quite different from a permanent location with a zendo that is ready when we arrive. We create the zendo space, setting butsudan and cushions, sitting, and in the end disassembling and erasing all the clues that we were there – a great lesson in non-attachment, but admittedly also a sign that Rinzai Zen practice yet has to find firm grounding in this area.

Where are we going? What is the vision of this group? What are our aspirations in offering this path in this particular area? These are all important questions that I would like you to contemplate. There is one fact that I have learned over the years and that is that centers do not flourish just by the energy and acts of a few – in order for them to fully reach their potential and develop a committed sangha has to form end evolve. Any meditation center that is fully dependent on the work of just a few people will not thrive, those who long for this practice are the most important contributors of energy, material and financial support. Dharma is everywhere, it is priceless – but for us humans to create a community requires effort. Having the opportunity to create a place where human maturation, spiritual inquiry, and opening of hearts and minds takes place is an awesome responsibility. Please come forward if you have this longing for practice and are willing to do a part in making a Rinzai Zen meditation center in the Boston area become a reality.

Schedule Change

We have closely watched attendance at out meetings over the last few months and in too many cases our Monday sittings have not yielded the attendance necessary to justify the space rental expense. For that reason we will begin our summer schedule (Wednesday evening sittings only), effective in the second week of May. This consolidation of attendance may help strengthen the group and create momentum to examine our future. In addition it will help in conserving the small financial reserves our organization has by avoiding unnecessary rental charges.

Anniversaries all around

This year the sangha of Sasaki Roshi commemorates the passing of the master with a Hō-on Sesshin that begins with Hashinkyuji on Monday, July 25th, 2016, Banka at 4:00 p.m.
The sesshin goes from July 26th (Tue) through 30th (Sat) and is held at Mount Baldy Zen Center, Mt. Baldy, California. You can sign up online.
There will also be a Memorial Service (Sankai-ki) on Sunday, July 31st, 2016 at 11:00 a.m., followed by a catered lunch reception at Rinzai-ji Zen Center. Noritake Roshi, the Abbot of Reiun-in at Myoshin-ji, Kyoto, will be leading the ceremony.

Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and the Zen Studies Society turns 60. To commemorate these occasions a week-long 40th Anniversary Sesshin is held, lasting from June 25 through July 2, 2016. Noritake Roshi will also participate in these events, giving a teisho on July 2nd and addressing the guests during the July 3rd celebration. The celebration will include a ceremony, talks by eminent D.T. Suzuki scholar Richard Jaffe and as a keynote speaker Buddhist author David Loy (A New Buddhist Path: Enlightenment, Evolution, and Ethics in the Modern World). The day will conclude with a meal cooked by Seppo Ed Farrey, the author of 3 Bowls: Vegetarian Recipes from an American Zen Monastery.

Dokuro’s Schedule

After returning from Holy Days Sesshin at Dai Bosatsu Zendo I made a quick trip to Syracuse to visit Hoen-ji, Shinge Roshi’s home temple, and to give a brief talk at Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel entitled ZEN: There is no app for that. Spiritual Practice in the Age of the Smartphone. It was nice to sit the last period of Zazen of the Spring Sesshin at Hoen-ji, meet the Syracuse sangha, and speak at the chapel, where Jikyo-san works as the Buddhist Chaplain.

For Memorial Day I will be traveling to Hakuun-ji in Arizona, where I was invited to lead the three and a half day Zazen-kai. I look forward to this opportunity and to visit my dear and late friend Sokai’s place, commemorating his dedication to Zen practice and Joshu Roshi.

Thank you Myoki!

Myoki’s life circumstances have made it necessary for her to move from the Boston area. This happened quite quickly, and in mid-February the move occurred. On behalf of the CRZ sangha, Shuko and myself, I wanted to thank Myoki for her presence, participation, and everything that she has done to enrich the life of the Charles River Zen sangha. We know that she has great opportunities where she moved, and that there is a way forward for her in her Zen practice right there. We also look forward to seeing her at sesshin, wherever that may be.