25 August 2016
I have asked Hanya to take over as acting Head of Zendo. Though Richard's SI joint injury is getting better very slowly, he probably won't be able to do a full 2-hours of sitting for quite a while.
Back in July I got together with the five members of the EAR (Ethics and Grievance) Committee to review our grievance procedure and clarify how the committee would function if it were called upon to deal with a formal or informal complaint. It was a great meeting with all participants bringing a wealth of experience to the process. The EAR Committee members are Grant George, Sally McAra, Hamish Bartle, Pilar Romero, John Hennebry. The Centre's Ethical Guidelines are available on the governance page of the website.
Sangha News is a new feature in our newsletter, to allow other voices in the Sangha to be heard besides mine. If you would like to report on your experience of a Centre activity (1-2 paragraphs), please send text (and/or photos) to me for consideration. We send out e-newsletters 3-4 times a year.
at the Rochester Zen Center's 50th Anniversary. Above right: He is joined by teachers in the Kapleau lineage (l to r) Karl Kaliski, Rafe Martin, Robert Goldman, Karin Kempe, Taigen Henderson, Amala Wrightson, Gerardo Gally, Kanja Odland, Sante Poromaa, Mitra Bishop, Lawson Sachter, Sunya Kjolhede and Sunyana Graef.
Roshi Kapleau’s grave at Chapin Mill is covered with thymus albus, white thyme. Bees and bumblebees are busy taking nectar from the small white flowers. If you listen closely, you can hear the grave mound humming, just as the Chapin Mill Retreat Center itself is humming in preparation for the Sunday picnic that forms part of the Rochester Zen Center’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. Over 400 guests will be attending the picnic. There is a mat on the stone rim of the grave, facing the plaque, and Amala-sensei and I put a table with a large incense pot ahead of the mat so that people can make an offering of incense before doing a prostration.
It was wonderful for us to reconnect with Sangha friends who were part of our lives during our years of training at the Rochester Zen Center, and a little overwhelming as well when familiar faces were seen across a throng of people, all talking intensely. A sort of human kaleidoscope was formed with individual pieces continually forming new patterns. However, Chapin Mill easily absorbed all the guests, and there was always the still presence of the mill pond. The following day, after the great marquee had been taken down, the hundreds of chairs folded up, and all the cars had driven away, we immersed ourselves in the pond. A non-venomous king snake swam nearby, making its own serpentine patterns as it moved through the water.
-- Richard von Sturmer
Wasteland Restoration Project
Notes from the garden: I was out in the back garden today in blustery weather and the newly planted windgrasses were living up to their name, swirling with each gust of wind. Sensei, Zoe (who designed the garden for us) and I planted the windgrasses and the plum tree a few Sundays ago, which finished off the first phase of planting. Some of the manuka we planted on our earlier work days haven't survived, but others are thriving, putting out flowers already. There was one cheerful calendula flowering too. In the phase two planting we will be putting in more flowering plants around the plum and I'm looking forward to that. I was so skeptical initially about this project -- the area seemed like an irredeemable wasteland -- but Zoe's vision and the work of many hands on our planting days has really begun to change the area into something lovely.
-- Robin Gardner-Gee
When did I really start sewing my rakusu? Officially, several months before the mid-year Jukai, 2016. Spare time was a gratefully accepted ally when creating this delicate cloth square by hand. I needed to grant myself time to double-read instructions, double-measure fabric, and triple-stitch each piece as I lacked any sewing experience. Rich with contemplation, every stitch is now embedded with this experience. Each prick of the needle was followed by "I take refuge in...." and then each of the Three Treasures. What are the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha? What am I doing? Always bowing, chanting, and paying homage. What does this actually mean to me?
As time rolled by my rakusu took shape... fond memories and wonderful peaceful nights with a cup of green tea by my side. Cup after cup, stitch after stitch, often I would be sewing late into the evening. Deeper and deeper my contemplations developed. The Three Treasures were everywhere. My entire experience began to be embodying the questions, embodying the onions I chopped, the steps I took, the food I ate. Today I gratefully chant with the rakusu on my head and with powerful sensations of joy and wonderment. The last night I was sewing my rakusu, I just kept sewing. Right into the early hours of the morning. No intentions of finishing yet I didn't stop, just more tea. Finally, with the last stitch of my bag completed, I wept. No longer did I worry, "Should I go here or there, should I train this way, or that way?" I felt OK to practice where I am, wherever this may be. Robes or not. Working at the AZC or in an ordinary workplace. Before then my wandering mind hadn't quite committed to a single method, school, or maybe even teacher -- hard to say. Then it just settled a great deal, as though the rakusu signified a commitment I felt comfortable and willing to make. An incredible sense of relief overwhelmed me. Just here.
Jared Elliott (Bodhicloud)
Anyone who is Sensei's formal student may sew a rakusu to be received from the teacher, along with a Dharma name, at Jukai in June or January. Kits with the pattern, ring, fabrics, etc. are available at the Centre for $40. If there is sufficient interest group rakusu-sewing may be organised during the Term Intensive in October.
If you live too far from the Centre to attend sittings regularly, you can request to join the group by going to https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/auckland-zen-centre-home-practice-support-group/join
or contact the coordinator, Kathryn Argetsinger, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can join us directly from the podcast page of our website: http://www.aucklandzen.org.nz/Home/podcasts
Or, if you prefer, you can listen through Mixlr at http://mixlr.com/auckland-zen-centre/ If you sign up for a free account at Mixlr, you will be able to access additional features, such as becoming a follower and chatting.
The Rochester Zen Center began streaming daily sittings earlier this year, and long-distance students have found it very inspiring to sit at home with the sounds of the zendo all about them. RZC sittings are also available through Mixlr for anyone interested.
Questions or feedback about the AZC livestream? Contact email@example.com
While Sensei is away sittings will continue as usual, and we will continue to offer, roughly every two weeks on a Tuesday night, either a live Dharma talk by a Sangha member or a recorded teisho. Hanya will offer group discussion on Tuesday nights when there is no talk, and private instruction (daisan) on Sundays.
Every Wednesday there is a lunch hour siting at AUT City Campus, Room WB112, noon to 1. There is also a Thursday group starting on the South Auckland Campus. Contact Hanya for details.
On Saturday 5 November, 10 a.m. to noon, Orlando Morales will offer a 2-hour workshop at the Centre -- a kind of pilot to see if there is interest for a class in 2017. The workshop will be an introduction to the principles of Qigong 氣功 practice. It will include the definition and classification of Qigong methods and the study and practice of the first routine of the Tian Quan Gong 天泉功. This routine is beneficial for the regulation and balance of the three main bio-electromagnetic fields in the body. There is a sign-up sheet at the Centre. Please book your place early as space is limited.
January sesshin is a bit later than usual next year, 7-14 January, so we are going to try something new. If there is sufficient interest, the 4 days leading up to the sesshin (Tuesday 3 to Friday 6 Jan), will be offered as training days. There would be an early morning sitting, and a work day that included lunch, sitting and chanting, finishing at 4:00. Let Hanya know if you would be interested in coming to all or part of it.
There are a few people at the Centre keen on traveling to China in 2017. The trip would be a pilgrimage to visit some of our ancestors' temples. There are a few tours available in autumn and spring, plus the option of creating our own trip. If you are interested please contact Hanya at firstname.lastname@example.org