The Auckland Zen Centre is a Zen Buddhist community formed in 2003 by two disciples of Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede, Dharma heir of the late Roshi Philip Kapleau. Auckland-born Sensei Amala (formerly Charlotte) Wrightson, a Zen teacher and priest of the Three Jewels Order, and her husband Richard von Sturmer, a lay member of the Order, have both undergone extensive Zen training under Roshi Kjolhede and resettled in New Zealand in 2003 after over a decade living and working at the Rochester Zen Center in upstate New York. Both completed the formal koan curriculum under Roshi Kjolhede. Amala-sensei was formally sanctioned as a Zen teacher in an August 2004 ceremony, while Richard has permission to offer daisan. In 2012 Roshi Kjolhede visited Auckland to conduct a Dharma Transmission ceremony for Amala-sensei, thus making her a full Dharma heir in the Rochester lineage.
The purpose of the Auckland Zen Centre is to foster authentic Zen Buddhist practice, and a vibrant Sangha of committed practitioners, by means of regular formal sittings, live Dharma talks and teishos, dokusan, a full range of ceremonies to mark important days on the Buddhist calendar, community service, social events, activities for families, sesshin and residential training.
Zen takes commitment, discipline, and, most important of all, the will to integrate the fruits of sitting practice into one’s everyday life. Zazen, practiced with devotion, begins to uncover our mind of clear awareness. We must then endeavor to engage this mind in every aspect of our lives. Sooner or later, when the mind is brought to a state of complete absorption and self-forgetfulness, one sees into one’s True Nature. One experiences the indivisibility of all things, and the interpenetration of form and emptiness. This is kensho, or an initial awakening. Kensho marks a new beginning in one’s practice, rather than an end-point. Enlightenment is the heart of Zen practice and yet it is negated if it is turned into something fixed; it has no meaning outside of its realization in this moment, and in the next, and the next. And so our task as Zen practitioners is endless, as Zen Master Dogen said:
There is no beginning to practice nor end to enlightenment. There is no beginning to enlightenment nor end to practice.
It is in this spirit that practice is undertaken at the Auckland Zen Centre: Zen practice as a way of realizing our innate wisdom, compassion and virtue, moment by moment, for the sake of all sentient and insentient beings. There are no enlightened people, only enlightened actions.