Auckland Zen Centre Newsletter
16 October 2015
At our Sangha brainstorming back in May, a committee (Celstyna Galicki, Anthony Pashkov and Fern McRae) was tasked with gather ing information on the challenges people face in trying to practice Zen in Auckland. We hope to turn that data into strategies which develop our community and strengthen the Sangha. If you haven't already completed the survey (sent Tuesday), please take a few minutes to do it -- your feedback could help us to help! You can access the survey here. And, many thanks to the sixty-plus people who have already participated.
Recently we have had several people join us for residential training. Kathryn Argetsinger was here briefly in August, staying in the former dokusan line area behind some folding screens. Chetan Kumar was here for several weeks, and now Jared Elliot is staying, back from trying out life in a Forest Monastery in Australia for a few months. He has been joined by Dylan Morgan from Hamilton. The spike in demand for residential training has informed our recent explorations into the possibilities for developing the Centre's facilities further. One of the other things that came out of our brainstorming back in May was that we needed to make any building plans (we had talked about doing caretaker's quarters first) in the context of the big picture, that is, our long-term vision for the Centre. Decent living quarters for residents is a part of that vision, and so is strengthening community. Our Building Task Force (Grant George, Helen Gallagher, Peter Christensen and me) is presently exploring permutations for utilising the space we have at 52 Princes Street, as well as ways to stage and fund a project. A lot will depend on what our planner advises us is possible under the new Unitary Plan, and we will keep everyone posted once we have completed the research phase of the process.
Over the years our small community has been able to provide some financial support for people wishing to do full-time training. The Centre assisted Kathryn Argetsinger on some of her later trips, mostly with travel costs, and now provides Helen Gallagher with a small stipend towards living expenses. So far the Centre has managed only a modest payment, and unless a person has some savings, he or she may not be able to cover unexpected large expenditures such a dental work, a visit to a specialist medical practitioner or travel for a family emergency. And of course the longer a person is in training the more likely it is that her savings will have dwindled. As it grows the Centre may be able to increase the level of the stipend, but in order to immediately address this need the Trustees have established a fund, the PTSF (Priest and Trainee Support Fund), administered by me, into which the Centre will contribute an amount annually from next year, with the aim of creating some reserves over time and possibly even an endowment at some stage. Donations and bequests for the fund will also be gratefully received. As well as being a recourse for cash-trapped trainees, the fund will offer people another opportunity for practicing the Paramita of generosity in a very concrete way. Since ancient times dana has been a pillar of Buddhism, with some people in a position to put their time into practice and others more able to offer material assistance. Both are necessary and both help to create good practice conditions for everyone involved. If you would like to contribute to the fund, just let us know your donation is for the PTSF. Details about donating can be found here.
North Shore sittings at Kate and Robin's house are suspended until further notice, as they are having to convert their zendo back into a bedroom for a while. The sittings may resume in the New Year.
For the last few years, we have been running a discussion group on Facebook for sharing ideas, articles and other information relevant to Zen practice. More recently, we've set up an official AZC Facebook page, for posting announcements from the Centre.
To join either of these, first log in to your Facebook account then follow the steps below:
If you have questions or ideas about other ways to help people from around the world who have a connection to Auckland Zen Centre stay informed about us, please email Sally (firstname.lastname@example.org).
There have been a number of acquisitions and donations to the library lately. We now have several good books on mindfulness for children, as well as a greater selection of children's picture books. The Centre was also donated a beautiful collection of large format vegetarian cookbooks and some volumes of Ajahn Sumedho's (Thai Forest Tradition) teachings.
Sensei will give teisho this Tuesday evening, and also next Sunday as part of the 2-day sesshin (see below).
Our spring sesshin is next weekend, and the deadline for applications is today. There will be a teisho on the Sunday (the 25th) after one round of sitting starting at 9:30. You can come to teisho even if you are not in sesshin, but note the later start time. Link to application form.
Please note that there will be no Sitting or Pilates on Labour Day (Monday 26 October).
After the 2-day sesshin Sensei will be heading off for a short visit to Rochester to do a 7-day sesshin and catch up with Roshi. She'll be away 29 October to 26 November. Richard will give daisan on Thursday evenings, and Helen will offer group discussion in the middle round on Tuesday evenings.
People will be standing up all over the world on the 28th and 29th of November to send a strong message to our leaders that they must make a genuine response to the climate crisis at the Paris talks. The Auckland march will be starting in Albert Park at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday the 28th. For more information click here. If you are interested in being part of a Zen Centre contingent and possibly sitting in Albert Park before the march, please contact Jared (email@example.com).
The Trustees' report to members will be held on Tuesday 1 December after a shortened sitting. The Treasurer will present the Centre's Annual Financial Statements and Sensei will report on the past year.
Summer Sesshin will be at Aio Wira 2-9 January, and the deadline is Friday, 18 December. Please note that we will no longer be packing up people's personal robes and rakusus -- as our numbers grow it is just getting too complicated to attempt such grandmotherly kindness. So be sure to take your robe (and rakusu if you have one) home with you the last time you come to the Centre before sesshin.
At 11:00 a.m. on the Sunday of Waitangi Weekend there will be an ordination ceremony for Helen Gallagher, followed by a Sangha picnic. Details to follow. Anyone wishing to contribute towards the cost of Helen's robes may do so through the Centre.
We keep a running list of items that the Centre needs on a white board in the kitchen. Among the items listed right now is an extra food processor so we don't have to share the one we have between the Centre and the Sangha House. We are also keen to put a water filter in the kitchen. For sesshin leftovers we are looking for large plastic containers with lids, such as jumbo (4-litre) icecream containers.