Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede
(Rochester Zen Center) sent a report to Sensei and Richard about the People's Climate March in New York:
was probably the most powerful public event I've ever been part of. No
one really knew how many would turn out, but somewhere I'd heard a
hopeful estimate of 150,000. Afterward, the NYT reported 311,000, based
on the work of 35 crowd-spotters and an analysis by a Carnegie-Mellon
We got to NY by a bus hired by our local Zen
Centre philanthropist, who basically subsidized all expenses so that
anyone could afford to go. $10 got you a round-trip ticket, and for
another $10 you could sleep at one of 3 unoccupied, unfurnished--but
clean--condominiums he owns in Brooklyn. So it was that a bunch of
University of Rochester students and other locals (including some
Quakers) joined us 30 ZC people on the bus.
The day before the
march we staked out our Earth Vigil spot, on the edge of Central Park
near Columbus Circle (59th St. between 7th and 8th Avenues). It was on a
gentle knoll overlooking the street, where we could be seen as
supporting the marchers, the movement. We sat that day for 4 hours, just
to get revved up for the Big Day. In those 5 hours, hundreds of
passersby stopped in their tracks to photograph us, on cell phones and
bigger cameras. This was fun!
The next day was like what I've
always heard about Woodstock. Nothing had prepared any of us for the
scale of the march. I'd figured, half-consciously, that it would last an
hour, hour-and-a-half. Most of us started sitting 3 hours before the
march, and then it went on for over 4 hours--a slow-moving river of
people flowing by us for 4 hours. The funny thing is, I saw little of it
because I was doing zazen as intensely as I could, eyes down. That was
the essential point of our sitting--to present, through our concentrated
presence, the ground of sanity that is beyond all divisions, the fierce
attention that climate change needs. And because over those 4 hours
there were always multiple photographers standing on the sidewalk, just
30 feet away, with their cameras trained on us, I felt responsible to
hang tough, shifting position as little as possible, getting up only
twice, to use the nearby bathroom.
The multitudes kept coming and
coming and coming. And as our sitting progressed over the hours, we
experienced a mounting sense of solidarity with the marchers. After all,
we were all doing the same thing, just in different ways! And that
connectedness was clearly mutual. I had hoped that they didn't see us as
setting ourselves apart from them, but it was the very opposite. This
was the most inspiring surprise to us--the marchers' appreciation for
our meditation. For 4 hours we heard cries of "THANK YOU, EARTH VIGIL,"
and just "THANK YOUs" clearly directed our way.
I did steal a
glance at the marchers now and then, and saw so many of them waving to
us, placing their hands on their hearts, some even stopping to bow.
Other Earth Vigilantes told me that when the marchers spotted us, most
of them turned and gazed in silence for a few seconds. That was
wonderful--they seemed to get the spirit behind our Earth Vigil slogan:
"Silence can speak louder than words / Stillness has the power to move."
at least they weren't scowling at us. And some hundred of them came
back and joined us when they'd finished their section of the march.)
told me that someone on Democracy Now said that seeing Earth Vigil was
the most meaningful part of the march. Ah, shucks."
Our second working bee will be on Sunday 18 May, after our usual 8:30am sitting at 15 Church St. Morning tea will be provided at Church St at 10:30, then we will head to 52 Princes St.
On Friday 28th of February, after receiving council resource consent, the Auckland Zen Centre took possession of 52 Princes Street, Onehunga. It's close to our present zendo and a minute from both the train station and bus depot. The interior will require considerable remodelling before we move in.
Concert and Book Launch
This Saturday (22 Feb), we're holding a concert at the Centre. Richard von Sturmer will introduce a lineup of talented poets, musicians and other performers, there'll be light refreshments at half-time.
We'll also be launching a 48-page publication to commemorate the anniversary, which includes writing by people involved with the Zen Centre and a history of Zen in Auckland. The book will be on sale at $20 a copy.
The evening's events start at 7pm. RSVP for Saturday night here.
Sitting, Ceremony of Gratitude, and Picnic
On Sunday (23 Feb), we'll have an informal sitting at the Centre, starting at 8:30 a.m. and then a Ceremony of Gratitude* at 9:30 a.m. (please wear a robe if you have one -- children and spouses welcome).
After that, you're welcome to join us for a picnic brunch, meeting at about 11:00 a.m. at Cornwall Park (see below for meeting spot). Please bring a plate of vegetarian food to share and something to sit on.
If you have any trouble finding the group, call or text Peter McQuarrie 027 458 6187, or Helen Gallagher 027 293 7263, for the location.
We hope to park in the carpark off the roundabout at the end of Pohutukawa Drive and set up somewhere under a tree in the big field below the memorial steps (look for a white gazebo tent), but if not, Peter or Helen will be able to direct you.
Maps will be available at the Centre. If rainy we'll stay at 15 Church St for the meal.
RSVP for Sunday morning here.
*A Ceremony of Gratitude is a chance to express thanks for anything that you feel particularly grateful for; there is an opportunity to speak if you wish, and written statements are also read out (people not attending may email Sensei a few lines to include).
For more information or to get involved in helping out, please contact the coordinator, Helen 027 293 7263, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food: Sally 021 0237 7475, email@example.com.
Auckland Zen Centre, 15 Church St, Onehunga (concert, sitting, ceremony). Map here. If coming by car, please do not park in front of Coster Motors. There is a parking lot just to the right of Coster Motors which we can use.
Cornwall Park (brunch)
We'll meet in the carpark directly off the roundabout at the end of Pohutukawa Drive, near the toilets, and set up under one of the large trees on the edge of the big field. If you have any trouble finding the group, text one of the numbers above. Map here.
On Sunday 10 November at 9:30 am (after 2 rounds of zazen starting as usual at 8:30), we will have a guest speaker, Dr. Ananda Guruge, who will speak on Buddhist bioethics. Ananda W.P. Guruge, who Sensei met at the International Buddhist Confederation meeting she attended in Delhi, is a retired Sri Lankan diplomat and a scholar in the field of Indology and Buddhist Studies. He is the author of over thirty books, among the most recent a complete translation of the Sinhalese chronicle, The Mahavamsa, and a biography of King Ashoka.
Jukai is the Mahayana Taking-the-Precepts Ceremony, in which we receive the Sixteen Precepts, and commit to putting them into practice to the best of our ability. Great Jukai, a more elaborate version of the ceremony, is celebrated periodically and will be observed at our Centre for the first time this year.
Jukai can be considered as the ceremonial highlight of the Buddhist year, and all are encouraged to attend.
Following the ceremony we will gather for a meal at a Chinese vegetarian restaurant in Panmure. The cost will be about $25 per person and if you plan to attend the meal, please RSVP by clicking the link and following the instructions. This will help us get an accurate count for the booking. http://www.doodle.com/ya8hcvgb6hwaw38d
Schedule for the Evening:
The zendo will be open for informal sitting beginning at 4:00, with the ceremony beginning at 5:00 sharp. Please plan to be robed and in the zendo before 5:o0.
The ceremony starts with a journey through the Six Realms of Unenlightened Existence, featuring visual displays prepared collaboratively by Centre members. Next there will be a chance to offer dana to Sensei. Envelopes are provided and offerings are kept anonymous. Unlike the usual dana given at a sitting, which goes towards the upkeep of the AZC, this offering is to Sensei personally, a token of gratitude for receiving teachings. Following this the Heart Sutra is chanted; then we recite a repentance gatha (verse) as a means of purification prior to receiving the sixteen precepts. The Three Refuges, the Three General Resolutions and the Ten Cardinal Precepts are each repeated three times.
After the ceremony, we will head off to Panmure for dinner (please RSVP above).
If you have sewn a rakusu in preparation for Jukai, you will receive it from Sensei in a ceremony starting at 3:30. As Sensei will need to inscribe your rakusu with your Dharma name, please make sure that the rakusu is complete and delivered to Sensei at least one week in advance of the ceremony.
Tuesday evening, 12 March, will see the opening of the first Working Sesshin we have offered in some years. During a Working Sesshin participants maintain their normal work schedule during the day but commit to attending sittings at the Centre each morning and evening. Past participants have found that this type of sesshin provides an excellent way to practice integrating the fruits of sitting into one’s daily routine.
Formal sittings will begin with the regular Tuesday 7:00 pm sitting. Thereafter we will have formal sittings Wednesday through Friday from 6:00 to 7:15 am each morning and from 7:00 to 9:00 pm each evening. We end on Saturday with an all-day sitting for which people may sign up separately if they wish. This will leave Sunday free as a rest day. A silent breakfast will follow each morning sitting, and a light supper will be available to which participants may help themselves (in silence) before each evening sitting. You should plan to provide your own lunch (main meal) at work.
Applications for the Working Sesshin are due on Tuesday, 5 March (one week in advance of the start date). The sesshin will be charged at the special rate of $80 for the four days. Sleeping at the Centre is an option for a limited number of people.
The Centre will be closed during the January 7-day sesshin, 5-12 January. Regular sittings resume on Tuesday 15 January starting with the Tuesday morning 6am sitting.