Auckland Zen Centre Newsletter

Coming Up Soon

Earth Day this Sunday, 28 April

Each year we celebrate Earth Day as a way of reminding ourselves of our interconnections with all sentient beings and inanimate things, expressing our gratitude, and turning our minds towards healing action. We start with zazen at 8:30 a.m., the ceremony is at 9:30, followed by tea, and gardening at 11:15. We conclude with a shared lunch at 12:30.

Founder's Day next Tuesday 30 April

We honour Roshi Philip Kapleau with a chanting service (and a story or two) at the end of the usual sitting.


Yoga classes for term 2 will start on Monday 29 April at 7 p.m. A Saturday morning yoga class focusing on restorative yoga and yoga nidra will be offered if there is enough interest; you can sign up via the website. The Saturday morning class will be aimed at helping people who suffer from chronic pain and stress using breath practice and body/mind awareness. Yoga nidra promotes deep rest and relaxation. The stages of body scan and breath awareness alone can be practiced to calm the nervous system, leading to less stress and better health.

On the Horizon

  • Vesak Sunday 26 May

  • 7-Day Sesshin at Bella Rakha 28 June to 5 July (N.B. starts on a Friday)

  • Matariki Jukai Sunday 7 July 9:30 a.m (timed to allow people coming from out of town for sesshin to participate if they wish)

From Sensei

Responding to the Christchurch Massacre

Exactly a week after the 15 March attacks, following the two minutes of silence observed nationally, we rang our big bell 50 times and experienced viscerally the enormity of 5o lives extinguished within the space of a few minutes. When 157 people were massacred in Mali, my taste of terrorism here in New Zealand made that atrocity more vivid, as well as giving me a greater appreciation for the extent of the suffering experienced by people in places riven by terrorism and war over many years: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria... And now as I write this Sri Lanka has been struck in multiple locations, with a huge death toll. I send much metta to Sri Lankan friends, to the victims, and to the deluded perpetrators as well.

Massacres like the one in Christchurch now have a name. In the USA they are called "Intentional Mass Casualty Events", and they occur so frequently and so widely, in places of worship, schools, businesses, sporting events, concerts and shopping malls, that they are considered a growing public health problem. In some places the general public, and even school children, are being taught how to stop bleeding from knife and gunshot wounds. We may live in a country where "intentional mass casualty events" are still very rare, but it is clear now that we are not immune to them. May we all remain sensitized and willing to look deeply into the causes of terrorism and xenophobia, in individuals and groups, within our hearts and in our institutions. This is important work.

See here for an insightful article on the connections between the mosque killings, the school strike for climate protests that occurred on the same day, and the "ides of March." 

Trip to Featherston

At the end of February Richard and I traveled to Featherston to participate in the remembrance ceremony to mark the anniversary of another New Zealand massacre, known euphemistically as the "Featherston Incident", where on 25 February in 1943, 49 people, 48 Japanese prisoners of war and one New Zealand soldier, were killed when a group of prisoners staged a sit-down strike. Together with Japanese artist, Mayu Kinamori and her partner, Martin Edmond, we were given permission by a local farmer to enter the actual site of the prisoner of war camp, over the road from the memorial garden shown in the first photo below, in order to do a chanting service for the men who died. The site is now the home to grasses, cows and bees. Mayu, who has documented other Japanese prisoner of war camps in Australia, read out the names of the men who were killed, and  is in the process of making a short film about the Featherston camp and our visit there.

Climate Crisis, AZC Green Network

Since the IPCC report last October, which gave the human species just 12 years to clean up our act or suffer catastrophic global overheating, the world is finally becoming more mobilised for change, but there is still a long way to go, and the question arises, will we collectively wake up in time? When Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old founder of the Strike 4 Climate movement, spoke at Davos in January she said, "Our house is on fire," echoing the parable in the Lotus Sutra in which the Buddha, as a wise and loving father, has to find a means to swiftly extract his children, who are engrossed in their toys, from a burning house. Following the series of presentations on the climate crisis that were given by Sangha members in February, a Green Network has been set up to help inform its members about climate issues, research and actions, and look into ways the Centre might reduce its own carbon footprint and encourage others to do so. In other words, to help us wake up to the burning house that we find ourselves living in, and play our part in putting out the fire.

At the moment Green Network members receive a monthly email with information about what local climate actions members are taking part in, and there is also a Facebook group called "Dharma Rain Aotearoa" where people can share more substantial stuff such as articles, podcasts, videos and so forth. George Monbiot has said that we have two tasks; throwing ourselves into the effort to avert ecological and societal collapse, and preparing ourselves for the likely failure of these efforts. He says, “Both tasks require a complete revision of our relationship with the living planet.” Given that we cannot predict the outcome of our efforts, how we go about the task becomes crucial. We may not reach our goal, so what we do right now, our means, really counts. Vaclav Havel offered a very different interpretation of hope that applies here to our response to the climate emergency, and equally to our Zen practice:

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something is worth doing no matter how it turns out.

If you'd like to join the Green Network, email Robin.


News from the Trustees

2018-2019 Provisional Financial Report from the Treasurer

The Trustees are pleased to present a brief summary of the Centre’s finances for the 12 months from 1 April to 31 March 2019. As previously noted in our communications, the Centre has been required to operate under the salary/PAYE model, rather than that of a stipend (providing our clergy directly with the necessities of life). Whilst Inland Revenue chose not to levy any penalties, there was a PAYE liability for unpaid tax as assessed and agreed. Not only has this resulted in a number of one-off expenses, including legal and tax obligations, but as a consequence our bottom-line costs have increased on an ongoing basis. Through the judicious management of expenditure and deferral of maintenance the Centre shows a unadjusted surplus of $25,000 for the year.

In the Centre’s financial planning for the 2019 – 2020 financial year the Trustees are forecasting a small loss due to higher expenses. The Trustees are working on solutions for this matter, and once again your ongoing donations are central to the financial security of the Centre and its priests.

Points of interest to note over the 12 month period are:

Revenue has shown a small increase over the same period last year –$127,000 versus $125,000.


Same period costs have shown a 17% increase, reflecting the one-off tax liabilities and increased salaries resulting from the shift from stipend to salaries for our priests.

Surplus (before depreciation and adjustments)
The Centre’s financials show a reduced surplus of $25,000, a reduction over the same period last year of $ 12,000 or 32%.

In Summary
The first six months showed promise, however the second half of the year proved to be challenging. With increasing costs across the board, the Trustees are working on a number of initiatives to help balance the books, including going from three 7-day sesshins a year to two, and offering more retreat days at the Centre. We welcome any input from members and reiterate our appreciation for supporting members' regular dana.

--Peter Christensen, Treasurer


Dana Tax letters have all been sent, by post or by email. We have just noted a mistake in the date on a group of the tax receipts and will send an email correction. If there are any problems or queries contact Hanya.

Estate Planning

Every now and then we invite members to consider making a bequest to the Zen Centre. If this is something that appeals to you, there is information here about how to do it.

Sangha News

Maheesha Kottegoda invited the Sangha to her new house in Waitakere to participate in a House Blessing ceremony in March.

Richard von Sturmer recently returned from a quick tour of the North Island, promoting his new book, Postcard Stories, which is now on sale at the Centre.

Congratulations to Celestyna Galicki, who will be capped this coming Monday on completion of her PhD in politics and international relations.