News

Snow Day @ CRZ: 2/5/14

Please note that we are cancelling the sitting tonight, Wednesday, February 5, 2014, because of the winter storm situation.

Take your cushion at home, put it in your regular spot and join the sitting in spirit from anywhere on the planet – not even an Internet connection is needed.

We look forward to seeing you in one of the future session.

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Visiting Family: A Trip to Dai Bosatsu Zendo 2/21 – 2/23

Due to the snow situation in the Catskill Mountains we have postponed out visit to Dai Bosatsu Zendo. The access road to the center is currently only passable by snow cat. We will reschedule the excursion within the upcoming months when the access is easier. Please stay tuned!

Charles River Zen (CRZ) invites you to join us in a weekend of practice with our Rinzai Zen Dharma cousins in the Catskill mountains. Rinzai-ji and the Zen Studies Society (ZSS) trace their lineages back to Gasan Jito (1727–1797), a dharma heir of Hakuin Ekaku Zenji (1685-1756). Gasan had two successors, Inzan Ien (1751-1814) and Takuju Kosen (1760-1833). CRZ’s dharma lineage follows the Inzan branch, while the ZSS lineage is traced back to Takuju Kosen.

Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji is a residential facility dedicated to formal Rinzai Zen training. For the opening ceremony on July 4, 1976, both Joshu Sasaki Roshi and Genro Seiun Osho were present, along with the founder Eido Roshi and many other Buddhist teachers.

The Abbot of DBZ, Kongo-ji is Shinge Roshi, who has offered to give a talk during the weekend. The program will include morning and evening zazen (meditation), chanting, communal meals, and samu (work practice). Accommodations are dormitory style, rooms are shared with same gender participants. There will be a full formal schedule in which all visitors are expected to participate.

February in the mountains calls for appropriate clothing, including long underwear. Practice robes are required and DBZ will lend robes to those who do not have their own set. While there is heat in the buildings, the temperature is lower than commonly expected (55-60). Some outside work may also be assigned and everyone should bring appropriate winter gear.

The group will carpool – the ride is about five hours each way. We plan to leave between 12 pm and 1 pm on Friday, February 21, 2014 and leave DBZ in the early Sunday afternoon. The total cost is $175 and a $100 deposit is required to secure a space in the carpool. Please respond as soon as possible to allow us to arrange for the appropriate transportation.

Should the weather conditions interfere with safe travel or cut off accessibility to Kongo-ji, we will postpone the excursion and refund the deposits. Please contact us through the contact form or call 617.800.9585 with any questions you may have.

 

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October 2013 Update

Friends,

Time flies – just as it is said in the Last Admonition by the National Teacher Kozen Daito: 光陰箭の如し(ko in ya no goto shi) “time flies like an arrow”. We have found our new home on Spring Street to be a nice and welcoming place. The spacious room with the wood floor leaves plenty of space for newcomers to add to the line of cushions that are occupied by the steadfast members of the sangha.

We have the great pleasure to welcome Patrick from Vienna, who moved to the Boston area to take up teaching at one of the local universities. Patrick has trained at Mt. Baldy Zen Center and Rinzai-ji in California and also spent some time in Montreal. Welcome Patrick, we are so glad to have you here!

On October 16 Dokuro participated as a Harvard Chaplain in the twice annual Silent Vigil for Peace. Three hours of seated meditation in front of the Science Center, sitting with fellow chaplains from a variety of traditions and with students who joined – quite an experience. The bustle of a vibrant and busy university campus, streams of students, faculty, staff, and visitors… flowing effortlessly around the vigil.

For November 13 we have planned a public talk “What is Zen” – please mark the date and invite anyone who you think may be interested!

On July 21 the new Business Abbot at Rinzai-ji was installed, Hoju Eshin, Osho. On October 18, 2013, Sasaki Roshi has officially retired from direct teaching of students and disciples. Joshu Roshi’s advanced age has kept him de facto from direct teaching since early 2012 but his retirement makes this step official. Our sangha will continue to practice and is looking at more opportunities to “manifest into the ten directions” while keeping the core of Rinzai Zen practice vibrant and alive. The leadership and the long time practitioners are continuing to attend retreats, give retreats, and set up these opportunities locally as well.

Rinzai-ji is finding its way after the retirement of Sasaki Roshi, and the community is in the process of maturation. The analogy of the stone tumbler comes to mind: all sangha members are thrown into this process, tossed around, tumbled, but with the continued movement and development sharp edges will disappear and some polished outcome emerge. Patience, compassion, and willingness for change and forbearance are needed.

Earlier this year Dokuro participated in a sesshin at Dai Bosatsu International Zendo, in the Catskill mountains, where our “cousins” in the Rinzai tradition practice. There are two major lineages after Hakuin Ekaku 白隠 慧鶴 (1686-1768), who is a common ancestor in all living Japanese Rinzai lineages. At the bifurcation stand the notable masters Inzan Ien 隱山惟琰 (1751–1814) and Takujū Kosen 卓洲胡僊 (1760–1833). Sasaki Roshi’s lineage traces back to Inzan, Eido Roshi’s ancestry is from the Takuju lineage. The opportunities to train and experience Rinzai Zen in America are rare, and both the disciples of Joshu Roshi and Eido Roshi are continuing to pass the practice and heart of Rinzai Zen into the future.

Please come and join Charles River Zen, bring someone who is interested, or make them aware that there is a place to practice. We will receive anyone willing to join the communal practice with open mind, open heart, and open arms.

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Dharma Talk: April 28, 2013

Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to come and share this afternoon with us.

Zen history tells us that this tradition was founded by the Chinese Zen master by the name of Rinzai – that happens to be the Japanese pronunciation of his name – Rinzai Gigen, who lived sometime in the eighth or ninth century in China. Rinzai’s sayings were collected and written down by his disciples and we know them as the Rinzai Roku, the collected sayings of Master Rinzai. In that collection there is one passage in which Rinzai says that living as a human being is like living in a burning house. The image of living in a burning house is quite powerful. The metaphor of the burning house appears also in earlier Buddhist texts. We started out the afternoon chanting Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra, Myoho renge kyo. Chapter 25 is just one of many chapters of this very large sutra. Within the Lotus Sutra there is a passage in which it describes a rich man, who has many children, who are completely pampered and spoiled; children who are deeply engrossed in playing with their toys, enjoying elaborate comforts. While the children are inside the palace, inside the house, the father notices that the house is on fire. A whole passage deals with how the father lures his offsprings out of the burning house – they rather would have stayed inside, in order to continue playing with their toys, in order to continue enjoying the comforts to which they had been grown accustomed. Going outside and doing something new, and therefore escaping certain death by fire, was not on their mind.

This passage contains probably one of the first descriptions of what is called upaya, skillful means; the father used skillful means to get his children to come out of the house and thus escape the fiery death. More precisely, the Lotus Sutra tells us that the father promised the children even more toys, even more comforts – that was the only thing that got them to come out and be rescued.

Generally Buddhism teaches us that living in the human realm is like living in a burning house, where there is always something on fire. We are born, and like a candle, we ourselves, our lifetime is on fire, and it diminishes with every second, with every millisecond, with every nanosecond that elapses in this activity that we call time. There is no escape, intuitively we all know that our time is limited. How much we awake to what that actually means is a different question. It is a question that Zen practice addresses. Please do not be mistaken and do not read any value judgments into this. There is inherently no difference in value or appreciation for a human being who has awoken to that urgency of the human life and another human being who devotes themselves to living their life in a different fashion – no value judgment. So, when there is something on fire there is always smoke, there is always something smoldering, there is always something happening, even if we look firmly the other way. Here, in Zen practice, we learn to look at that fire, because that fire, that activity of Dharma that moves from one to the next, and further and further, without us being able to stop it, without us being truly able to fixate, to hold on. That energy, that experience is something that can truly help us to be awake to the change, to become awake to what is here, to awake to what it means to be a human being. In many cases Zen practice is being portrayed or painted as having solely this wisdom as the central focus. However, we should never forget that wisdom is only one side of practice. The other side of Buddhist practice, and Zen definitely is the practice of the Buddha, the other side, the complementary and necessary side is compassion. When wisdom and compassion come together, then we can awaken to what it means to truly be “one” and what it means to be human.

When we sit zazen, inevitably we will have the experience of oneness; we will get a glimpse of the truth that everything that exists is not different from what or who we are. We learn to understand and to experience that the unconditional affirmation of the separation between object and subject is what causes the trouble, is what creates fixation, is what creates confusion, and ultimately is not just the basis for our own personal challenges but also for the challenges of society and humanity at large.

We have had some violent events in the past couple of weeks that make people ask “What is that? What a horrible thing to happen! What a horrible person would commit such atrocities, would try to hurt other human beings?” These are valid and important questions. As a Zen practitioner, as somebody who acts and understands in the way that the Buddha approached things cannot allow themselves to just fall into the trap of objectification, of creating the distance between what we believe in, and the “other”. Evil, which is a concept that you find in many religions, is not a concept in Buddhism. Good and evil are objects, they are ideas, and to a certain degree I feel religions meant these concepts to be exactly used the same way that the rich man in the Lotus Sutra used the promise to give his children more goodies, more toys, and more comforts, so that they would come out of the burning house. In the same way human history and culture has created religions that present good and evil, but the ideas are only skillful means. Zen teaches that ultimately there is no such thing as an object: neither evil nor good. My first Zen teacher, Genro Osho, always spoke of one of his most fundamental and moving experiences. He awoke to the fact that there are no evil people, there are only evil actions; that is a very important thing to understand. In the same way there are no good people, there are only good actions. All of that, anything that is based upon such understanding is quite different than living in a world where one unconditionally affirms objectified good and objectified evil. What Joshu Roshi would say here is “Well, you have to understand that everything is yourself.” That is where compassion comes into play. You might have the wisdom to understand and have had the experience that there is no separation; however, once we return to the human realm we live in a burning house, here and now, in a world where apparently there are evildoers and there are people who do good. In this human realm, when we see somebody who has done something horrible, we have to look at that person and see ourselves: “this is myself.” Zen practice asks us not to fall into the trap of leaving out, of rejecting, of pushing aside. No, we have to follow that much more difficult way of embracing. Embracing is not necessarily something that comes easily, because, to truly embrace you have to let go of all those ideas, all those moral thoughts, the moral worldviews that we have; if we cannot let these fixated ideas go, in that very moment when we meet what appears to be bad, to be evil, then we ourselves are unable to compassionately manifest ourselves, without holding back. In the same way, if you find yourself looking with pity at someone or you have a thought like “Oh my, I am so glad I am not that person,” the Zen practitioner in yourself has to remind you: “No! This is your self! This this is you, this is not the other! There is no such thing as the other…” Once we start doing that, practice becomes really interesting. That is where we meet our own limits, that is where we run into our own opinions, into our own fixated construct of what the world is or ought to be; that is where the polishing of a more accomplished human being begins. There is no easy way to get to maturity. We are not a pumpkin that lies in the field and just naturally ripens. Human beings have a mind, human beings have a heart, they have thoughts and the ability to reflect on the own self. Learning to use that ability to ultimately transcend its inherent limitations is what Buddhist practice is about. The koan that you can carry with you in every moment of your life, that should spring up every time you try to leave out, to reject, to distance yourself, is: “This is myself! This is myself!”

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April 2013 Update

April has come and finally we were able to get some three hour long retreats scheduled before the summer. The first of the retreats is on April 28 from 2 – 5 pm at Namo Yoga, 21 Belmont Street in Cambridge. Please consider joining us for the sit – there is so little opportunity to practice together and we appreciate each participant.

Shukō has suggested that we “formalize” our “casual” sits, and they will be shown on the calendar as such. For these casual sits sitting will be informal, no need for robes or ceremonial opening and closing. This is an opportunity to just come by and sit in comfortable clothes, without the formality of traditional form. The number of periods of Zazen will remain the same, three sits of 20 minutes.

The Body Mind Integration Center will close its location at 118 Main Street at the end of June 2013. At that date Charles River Zen will change its meeting location to the Watertown Center for Healing Arts (www.watertowncenter.net) at 22 Mt. Auburn Street, Watertown. The WCHA is the sister organization to the Body Mind Integration Center and is just around the corner on Mt. Auburn Street. For those riding the trolley bus #71 it will be one stop closer to Harvard Square. We’re glad that the management of WCHA is giving us the opportunity to continue our sittings and we will keep the same schedule of Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

April 8 is the Buddhas’s birthday, and we also wanted to acknowledge Joshu Roshi’s 106th birthday which we commemorated on April 1st. We all look forward to seeing you at the sittings and hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to practice in a supportive environment.

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Dharma Talk, February 2013

Tonight I would like to tell a little story; it’s an old Zen story that goes back to China, long, long time ago and it is about a famous Zen master. I don’t know this Chinese name but the Japanese pronunciation of the characters of the master’s name is Tanka (丹霞天然, b. 739 , d. 824). Tanka is quite well known for what he did in this story; sometimes Zen uses stories to illustrate, to make some of the principles come to life. With the story of course come many interpretations of the story, some of them more appropriate, some of them less appropriate, however if you get the story, if you get what is behind it, then that will probably answer this question: “How important it is to know about appropriate and inappropriate, right or wrong interpretations of stories, of things that happen?”

It used to be customary for someone who has finished his studies and Zen with one teacher, after being authorized by that teacher, to move on and go on a pilgrimage to find other teaches, to further deepen one’s understanding, to further study, to get even deeper into the matter – the great matter of life and death. It was not the sign of not being done or not having received enough that one went on to study with other teachers, it’s just the accomplishment of “not stopping,” of continuing to study, of continuing one’s practice, because in the end – as we learn to see – there is no time to actually stop the practice, there is no place to arrive. Tanka, after having received inka shomei (the seal of approval) from his master Sekito Kisen (石頭希遷, b. 700, d. 790), he went out to look for other teachers. It was customary to stay over in Zen temples. When one would arrive at a Zen Buddhist temple one could ask at night for admission, so that one would not have to spend the night outside, under the stars. During winter time that’s not such a nice thing to do, and it was winter when Tanka came to a Zen Temple, where there were a couple of monks living, but no real teacher. The monks were very happy to take him in and to offer him food, to offer him a place to stay. Somehow they must have known by his way of manifestation, or by the way he looked or whatever, they picked up on the fact that he was an experienced Zen master. There he was in his room and in the evening the head monk went to check on him, to make sure that everything is okay. The head monk asked for permission to come into the room and Tanka said “Come in?”  The head monk opened the sliding door and – it is warm in the room, how come it is warm? There was no wood anywhere to make a fire, so the head monk entered, he closed the door and was really surprised, positively, that it was so nice and warm. Tanka sat there, next to a fire, warming his hands and the head monk was quite astonished and he said to Tanka “Where did you get the wood?” Tanka turned and he pointed to the altar, and where the Buddha used to sit – there was nothing! The head monk, to put it mildly, he was shocked! He didn’t know what to say; he looked at Tanka. “What did you do? You, you took the holy Lord Buddha, and you hacked him to pieces for your own personal need for heat? I don’t understand how a master like you could commit such a sacrilegious act?”  Of course, Tanka just chuckled. “What are you talking about? All I did was that I took a piece of wood, I hacked it into pieces, I made a fire and now both of us enjoy the warmth. You say it’s the holy Lord Buddha? I’m telling you, it’s nothing but a piece of wood, and I’ve used it to a worthwhile purpose. Come on, come closer, you still look like you are cold…” And so the head monk listened, and he understood: it was just a piece of wood, it was just an image. Of course it is not anything that is holy!

Everybody went to bed, and the next morning, when it was time for Tanka to leave, to move on with his travels, he met with the head monk and asked to be brought to the main hall. The head monk brought him to the main hall, Tanka went in, went in front of the large Buddha statue and started to bow, do prostrations.  Now the head monk really didn’t understand. When Tanka was done the head monk said “Master you just taught me last night that the Buddha statue is just a piece of wood, that it is not anything but a piece of wood – and now, just a few hours later, you, you, you throw yourself on the ground in front of this piece of wood! I really don’t know what to think about this!” Tanka looked at him and said “How can you say that! Don’t you see, it’s not a piece of wood, it’s an image of the Lord Buddha and you ought to throw yourself on the ground and prostrate yourself in front of Buddha! How dare you call it just a piece of wood!”

Tanka said his goodbyes and left. The head monk of course was completely confused. It took him a long time to figure out what the teaching behind this is. Sometimes an object is just an object, sometimes – in this case a Buddha statue made from wood is just a piece of wood. Action and relationship can transform it into something completely different; Non-attachments to the idea what the object stands for, a becoming free from convention, making connection with what is there, what is “suchness.” This is one way to relate to the world; yet at other times an object is not just an object, at other times we can give ourselves fully to the object and become one with it, and give it our reverence, completely disappear into the act of becoming one: eliminating the distinction between subject and object. We fully engage in the process of relationship, where the self disappears. What Zen tries to teach us, and what the story tries to teach us, is that nothing is fixated. Relationship and making relationship with “suchness”, making relationship with things as they are comes in many different ways. None of them is fixated. In the same way that Tanka gave all his attention to hacking that Buddha statue into pieces, so he could turn it into firewood, with the same intensity he put himself into the act of prostrating, into the prostrations, into making relationship- not with an idea, not with an object, but with life, by fully being there. An outside observer may be utterly confused if that observer is attached to ideas, to a fixated self. What really happened with the head monk that evening, when he thought he understood that it was just a piece of wood, is that he merely exchanged his idea of what it ought to be with a different idea. Tanka taught him the next morning that replacing one idea with another idea is not the same as becoming free from having any such preconceived notions and ideas. Developing the capacity and the ability to freshly meet every moment, every object, every person and make appropriate relationship is one of the things that Zen practice and the Zen way teach us: beyond holy, beyond profane, beyond “this” and “that”, just making full relationship. Tanka is not iconoclastic, no, it goes beyond that – and that is the difficult thing to understand, because one cannot understand it in a two-dimensional way, one has to experience and manifest it. Then there remains no question what Tanka was teaching.

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December Update

On December 8 and 9 we held a Rohatsu retreat at The Center at Westwoods. Great weather and dedicated practitioners made this event a memorable experience for all who attended. We were joined by Zen students coming all the way down from New Hampshire. Thank you for attending!

Retreats at Mt. Baldy Zen Center

Since Sasaki Rōshi has stopped teaching Mt. Baldy Zen Center has continued to offer 7 day retreats, Sesshin, and training periods. The senior disciples of Sasaki Rōshi are pitching in an attending the retreats, which follow the intense and traditional schedule. Zen students are offered the opportunity to meet with a Zen teacher during the retreat to discuss their practice.

The January retreat will be led by Seigaku Kigen, Oshō, and Dokurō will be attending the Febrileebruary retreat, from February 8th through the 15th. If you ever wanted to attend an intense Zen retreat, please consider a Sesshin at Mt. Baldy Zen Center. Please inquire with us or contact Mt. Baldy Zen Center (www.mbzc.org) directly.

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November Update

October Retreat

Charles River Zen held a day retreat on October 21 at the Center at Westwoods. The retreat lasted from the morning until late afternoon and included a lot of zazen, outside kinhin, the opportunity for a private meeting with the teacher, and a Dharma talk. We had a good group of seasoned practitioners as well as some for whom this retreat was their first. The grounds at the Center at Westwoods are beautiful and natural and we had a day of sunshine and mild temperatures.

Sangha News

With great sadness we are announcing that Shugetsu Mary Reinhart passed away on October 31, 2012. Shugetsu was one of the pioneers of Zen practice on the East Coast and studied with eminent Zen masters including Soen Nakagawa Roshi, Hakuun Yasutani Roshi, Eido Shimano Roshi, and for the last thirty years Joshu Sasaki Roshi. Shugetsu was an ordained member affiliated with Charles River Zen through Dharma Cloud Hermitage.

Shuko and Dokuro knew Shugetsu well and visited her often. For most of her life Mary lived in Manhattan where she practiced at the First Zen Institute and Shobo-ji. When she retired from her occupation as a psychotherapist she moved to Hightstown near Princeton NJ to be near a Rinzai-ji Zen Center. In search for a more moderate climate Mary moved to Irvine, California, where she married Richard Baynes, who remained her faithful spouse and meditation partner until the end. Shugestu Mary Reinhart was walking her 98th year.

We will hold a memorial service for Shugetsu which will be announced on the site. Please plan to attend.

Brown University: An Introduction to Rinzai Zen

On November 3rd Dokuro was invited to lead an introductory session on Rinzai Zen at Brown University in Providence, RI. Kendo Hal Roth, a long time student and ordained monk of Joshu Roshi, is establishing a program on Contemplative Studies which exposes students to contemplative traditions from not only an academic point of view, but also by directly engaging in the contemplative practices.

The program drew about 30 participants who assembled in the chapel at the Hillel House to receive basic instruction in the posture of zazen, the approach to the attitude for the meditation, some instruction and practice in chanting, walking meditation, and other aspects of the formal Zen training.

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Dharma Talk: October 21, 2012 (retreat)

Center at WestwoodsMajushri

Good afternoon. Please feel free to sit comfortably.

Today I would like to briefly speak about our friend who sitting on top of the butsudan (仏壇) here. He looks rather fierce; he has a sword in his hand: it is the image of the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, Monju Bosatsu (文殊菩薩), that’s what his name is in Japanese. In many Japanese Zen monasteries inside the Zen Hall, the zendō (禅堂), there often is a statue of Monju Bosatsu as the main image. There is a Japanese version of the statue which is a little different than the one we have here: Monju is standing up, he stands versus being seated, and he holds his sort straight up.
Monju BosatsuSo what is that sword business about? What kind of image is that? You may remember that Monju Bosatsu is the bodhisattva who uses the sword to cut off illusion, to cut through delusion. He personifies the awakening from the dream state into the state of being awake – discriminating wisdom. If you ever heard a little bit about the teachings of Tathagata Zen, the Zen that Jōshū Rōshi teaches, you know about aitairitsu no hataraki (相対立の働き), about the two mutually opposing forces, mutually opposing activities. We can name them plus and minus, we can name them male and female. And what comes into existence from the working of these activities is what we experience as time and what creates past, present, and future. Mañjuśrī is deeply involved in all of this because it is his sword that cuts every “now” off and turns it into past, that cuts each moment of the future off and turns it into now. We are dealing with Mañjuśrī, that means we’re dealing with impermanence (anitya, 無常 mujō), the activity that always changes, that does not fixate, and that does not leave traces: it is just happening at this very moment. Impermanence often makes people feel in a way that is associated with the feelings of loss, but through understanding of the activity of impermanence we realize that loss and gain both are fueled and driven by the activity of impermanence, the activity of change, the activity of time, or even as Rōshi sometimes says “the activity of nature”. Without holding on, without will and desire this activity moves on: clear-cut, no traces. The sword of Mañjuśrī is so thin that it is undetectable, it is so sharp that it constantly cuts the new emerging now.

Today is a wonderful day of the manifestation of impermanence. We all sit here, we experience our activity of breathing, inhalation and exhalation, we experience the activity of thinking “Ah, what am I doing here? I should be somewhere else…”  We experience the activity of future, hoping for being somewhere else than where we are; the activity of past by recollecting a better place where we had been in the past. But what Mañjuśrī tells us is that you have to cut through the illusion of past and future and to become able to be in touch with the very cutting edge of his sword. The moment before future turns to present, the moment before present turns into past: that is the true dynamic of anitya, of impermanence. Without impermanence, without the separation into the three realms of past, present, and future, there would be no experience. Some people try to teach what others hope for: a state where we have the experience of completeness. But the Buddhist teachings and the teachings of Zen, and Tathagata Zen in particular assert that such an experience is not the true state of completeness. As long as there is separation, as long as there is discrimination between past, present, and future, between subject and object, it is only an illusion.

Zen practice tries to teach us how to break through that delusion, that is where all the wonderful Zen actions come from. [loudly:]“Hello! Where are you?” Where are you, that is the question. When you hear this sound, the Rōshi always says, and then he makes some kind of sound, “where are you?”  That is the tame version – the really fierce version is Mañjuśrī, swinging his sword; you will find it nowhere else than in your own life, every day. Every day you will encounter the sword [makes cutting sound through the air], cutting through your ideas, slashing your hopes, turning the present into the past. The more you attach to the ideas of the future and the past, the more you will actually miss the sword and not be at the cutting edge. “Cutting” sounds so fierce, it sounds very cold, but truly as a bodhisattva Mañjuśrī is the bodhisattva of wisdom. If we want to be a bodhisattva just like Majushri, it is our calling to gain that understanding. To be able to share it with others, to be able to go out to those who are suffering and to help them, not by telling them that it’s all an illusion, but by helping to facilitate that they are able to cut through the delusion themselves. Introduce them to the sword of Mañjuśrī, introduce them through your being, through your being able to go from moment to moment without leaving any trace. When there is no delusion to cut off, when there are no illusions left, the sword of Mañjuśrī rests and he sleeps. But in the next moment he wakes up again.

This is the activity of our consciousness, the activity of nature, of time, the activity of Dharma, without discrimination. On the han (板), the wooden board, which we don’t have here unfortunately, it says “time does not wait for humans” (時人不待). The sword will move; illusions, delusions will be cut. With each breath, in every moment of our lives as a Zen practitioner we are called to not get stuck, to stay here and now, at the very edge of Mañjuśrī sword.

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Summer Update 2012

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.

Fall Schedule

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.

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