Notes for Nov/Dev of 2021.

From our Abbott Bill Robitzek.

All, I hope you are well and had a peaceful Thanksgiving.
This is the season for various holidays and so I thought it best to summarize the month for the convenience of planning.

WEEKLY PRACTICE: We will continue all month with our Midday Zoom Meditation on Tuesdays at 12:30 as well as the longer practices on Wednesday evenings at 6:45.

TWO NOTES: First, the zoom link for both of the above will now appear in the text at the bottom of the email. Second, with the advent of the omicron variant of COVID, we will continue to evaluate throughout this and the following months whether to continue the live component of our Wednesday night hybrid practice. Currently, all who come live need to be vaccinated and masked for the protection of all and their families.

DECEMBER RETREAT: Because the last Saturday of the month is Christmas day, we are transforming this end-of-year retreat into a beginning of the year retreat to take place the second Saturday of the new year: January 8, 2022. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us. Again it will be hybrid unless the virus changes the live component by then. 

In the meantime, please be well and practice moment to moment.

In the Dharma, Bill

Great Faith…

Faith

Faith is a tricky word. For me, I have to bring Great Question to the word faith, because it’s not, traditionally in Western religion when we think of faith, like faith in God, faith in some supernatural thing, or experience outside of ourselves.

Faith in Buddhism has nothing to do with anything outside of ourselves. It does not necessarily have to do with something supernatural or esoteric. In a sense, it’s faith in our own true nature. It’s faith in a sense that if I can be willing to let go of that certainty. And if I am willing to have the courage to meet the moment, something authentic, real and natural can emerge. Something that I may not understand. Something that may look nothing like I may expect. But there’s a faith that if I just continue on, true nature will reveal itself. It’s already present in all things. In the sense, you can say it’s faith that using great question and great courage is enough. Not needing the certainty of an answer, but trusting the question.

By Zen Master Bon Soeng

This was orginally posted at Empty Gate Zen.

See Your Nature – Notes From Northern Light

Forwarded to us from the Plymouth Zen Group/

Trying to find a Buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space. Space has a name but no form. It’s not something you can pick up or put down. And you certainly can’t grab it. Beyond this mind, you’ll never see a Buddha. The Buddha is a product of your mind. Why look for a Buddha beyond this mind?

To find a Buddha, you have to see your nature. Whoever sees his nature is a Buddha. If you don’t see your nature, invoking Buddhas, reciting sutras, making offerings, and keeping precepts are all useless. Invoking Buddhas results in good karma. Reciting sutras results in a good memory. Keeping precepts results in a good rebirth. And making offerings results in future blessings. But no Buddha.

– Bodhidharma’s Bloodstream Sermon, translated by Red Pine

The Essence of the Heart Sutra

The Heart Sutra has been chanted in Buddhist temples and monasteries worldwide for centuries and continues to this day. The clarity and simplicity of this teaching is that moment by moment, everything is changing, everything is impermanent.

This truth is self-evident throughout the entire universe, from large galaxies and solar systems to the smallest life forms that are barely visible under a microscope.

I have taken the liberty to further abbreviate this short, powerful treatise. The following is a concise, non-scriptural personal representation of this time-honored text. Ultra simplicity was my singular motivation.

“By quieting the mind, letting go of all obstructions and distractions, we realize that the five senses: hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, and smelling are empty of any permanent substance or value.

The same can be said of feelings, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness. All life situations, conditions, and experiences are characterized by this same emptiness. They do not appear or disappear, increase or decrease, are not tainted or pure.

Everyday life, as it manifests through our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind are no more than passing phenomena including old age and death, ignorance, suffering, origination, and cognition.

When not attached to the past, present, and future, we are free of stagnation, everything then flows effortlessly.

Without subjective views and judgments, all mental hindrances eventually subside. Living in peace, tranquility, and equanimity is then possible.”

Ji Haeng – The Desert Dragon

Postscript: The sixth ancestor Hui Neng commented “not adding any thoughts of good or bad to what we perceive externally, and not being moved around by thoughts and emotions appearing within.”

My teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn, often said “No meaning is great meaning.” Allowing thoughts to come and go effortlessly you become internally quiet and in that quietness this place of clarity reveals itself.

I “borrowed” this from the Zen Center of Las Vegas. It is a teaching of Zen Master Ji Haeng and I liked it for its simplicity. You can find the original and many others if you follow this link. https://zenlasvegas.com/12-the-essence-of-the-heart-sutra/

We Had a Retreat on the 26th of June!

This was the first live in person retreat at Northern Light Zen Center since February of 2020! What a difference to meet everyone in 3 dimensions! The zoom was available but none chose to use it. Perhaps next time we will have Zoomers and Live in the Dharma room!

It was a beautiful day, strong practice, the birds were noisy and I still didn’t get my Kong-an. But the retreat was a wonderful success! Thanks to all who attended! We had eleven total!

Left to right, Bill Robitzek, Jake Worth, Edith Clement, Terry Cronin JDPSN, Jay Seiler, Mark Stickney, Ron Turcotte. Not pictured – Sean Finn, Carol Hedgepeth, Robin ?, Dale ?

Northern Light Zen Center is upgrading our Parking!

Those of you who have come to the zen center have learned that entering the parking lot can be a test of your driving skill! Avoiding the bumps and heaves so as to not tear out your muffler. Navigating around multiple cars because they are all packed in tight. Well now that has been alleviated! NLZC has contracted to have our parking lot resurfaced and expanded! Check out the pics below! This is the initial surfacing with reclaim asphalt. In a few weeks they will come by for the final layer. What a difference!

Tearing things up!
Pushing dirt and smoothing out!
Adding the reclaim asphalt!

Today was a Chipping Day!

A Long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…. or at least it feels that way. It was before the pandemic shut everything down. We have some of the trees surrounding the Zen Center trimmed and the resulting brush was piled along the boundary of the yard. The intention was to chip it all up but then last year happened. Anyway, it was a beautiful day today and we rented a big ole chipper and chipped up all that brush and made darn short work of it too! The results were great! Together action! What’s next on the list?

L – R Bill Robitzek, Ron Turcotte, John Schooley, Chris Bedard, Jay Seiler
In Action!
Chip Chip chipping away…

May We Gather – 49 Day Ceremony

Dear Sangha–
 
We write to inform you of an upcoming event on May 4th, a 49 day ceremony to commemorate Asian Americans murdered in the Atlanta mass shooting. A link to the event follows:

https://www.maywegather.org/

Kwan Um School of Zen Americas and Kwan Um Online Sangha are now listed on the May We Gather website as Ally Organizations.

If you have not already done so, I hope you will consider joining this commemoration and signing the support statement provided on-site. 
 
The escalating ethnic and racial violence in our nation is disconcerting. Recent events and our Sangha’s Asian heritage have demanded that we take a strong stance against violence to the Asian American and Pacific Island community. 

And unfortunately, as our Sangha members from other ethnic communities know, ethnic violence of all types has been casting a wide net. So we encourage all to gather for the May 4 event, and to remember Zen Master Seung Sahn’s teaching: if we make a strong effort to keep clear mind, moment to moment, then the tendency to sink into ignorance, fear, and violence towards others is greatly reduced               

In the dharma,
ZM Wu Kwang (Richard Shrobe)
KUSZa Zen Master

KUSZ Americas Director Position Opening

KUSZ Americas Director Position Opening
The Kwan Um School of Zen Americas seeks to fill the position of KUSZ Americas Director.  The current Director will be leaving at the beginning of June, and our plan is to have the new Director start in April or May to train alongside him for one or two months.   This is a challenging position that requires a wide range of administrative, organizational, and communications skills, and the ability to think on one’s feet and act independently. If you are a member of the Kwan Um School of Zen and think you have the qualifications and expereince, please review the job description below and consider applying. Although non-profit experience would be ideal, someone who has owned a small business or managed in a small organization would have the “jack of all trades” range of skills we are looking for.  The KUSZa offices are located at the Providence Zen Center in Cumberland RI.  Preference will be given to candidates who can come to the office in person a majority of the time, but arrangements that include working remotely some of the time will be considered.   
Resumes and questions should be sent to Paul Majchrzyk (psmajchr@gmail.com) and Ames Colt (director@kwanumzen.org)
Thank You,

Paul Majchrzyk, JDPSN
for the KUSZ Americas Executive Committee ******************************************

KUSZ Americas Director Job Description
February 1, 2021

POSITION SUMMARY: Serves as the executive director for the Americas region of the Kwan Um School of Zen (KUSZa) and, as such, is responsible for all administration including finances, event planning and management, precepts and other ceremonies, membership, development, and staff management. 

The KUSZa Director reports to the Executive Committee of the KUSZa Board of Trustees and supervises the KUSZa Membership and Bookkeeping staff. The Director works closely with Guiding Teachers, and with the leaders of KUSZa’s 38 Zen centers and groups, the management team of PZC, and the KUSZ International Initiative. 

SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE: The ideal candidate would offer demonstrable or comparable skills and experience in: 

  • Managing a nonprofit, religious organization
  • Event management (3-4 sangha gatherings annually at PZC)
  • Membership services and database management
  • Financial literacy: Knowledge of payment processing systems, budget management and reconciliation, and commonly-used financial reports (balance sheet, P&L, etc.) Familiarity with basic non-profit accounting
  • Staff, payroll, and vendor management 
  • Ideally, a strong grasp of the history, teachings, and practice and ceremonial forms of the Kwan Um School of Zen.
  • Written and oral communications skills
  • Technology: Apple computers and MS Office for Mac; Member Databases (knowledge of Donorworks [CDM+] a plus); PayPal; Quickbooks; Squarespace; MailChimp; Zoom