How the Buddha Got His Face

This is a New York Times article that was passed around via email among our Sangha. I thought it was a pretty good read. So I wanted to share it. Check it out.

How the Buddha Got His Face

Northern Light sits via zoom (currently during the pandemic) on Tuesday afternoons at 12:30 for a short meditation session. Also on Wednesday evenings at 6:45 for chanting, two sessions of meditation with a walking meditation in between. If you would like to join us please send an email to or for the zoom meeting information. Be safe and be healthy.

A few thoughts from the Zen Center Inbox.

Joshu, a great Chinese Zen master, said, “A clay Buddha cannot cross water; a bronze Buddha cannot get through a furnace; a wooden Buddha cannot get through fire.” Whatever it is, if your practice is directed toward some particular object, such as a clay, a bronze, or a wooden Buddha, it will not always work. So as long as you have some particular goal in your practice, that practice will not help you completely. It may help as long as you are directed towards that goal, but when you resume your everyday life, it will not work.

– Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

Do you want to improve the world?
I don’t think it can be done.

The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.

There is a time for being ahead,
a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion,
a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe,
a time for being in danger.

The Master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle.

– Verse 29 of the Tao Te Ching, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

From the Buddhist perspective, every sentient being is acquainted with suffering and the truths of sickness, old age and death. But as human beings, we have the capacity to use our minds to conquer anger and panic and greed. In recent years I have been stressing “emotional disarmament”: to try to see things realistically and clearly, without the confusion of fear or rage. If a problem has a solution, we must work to find it; if it does not, we need not waste time thinking about it.

We Buddhists believe that the entire world is interdependent. That is why I often speak about universal responsibility. The outbreak of this terrible coronavirus has shown that what happens to one person can soon affect every other being. But it also reminds us that a compassionate or constructive act – whether working in hospitals or just observing social distancing – has the potential to help many.

– The Dalai Lama, from

Clear Mind Is Like The Full Moon

Clear mind is like the full moon in the sky. Sometimes clouds come and cover it, but the moon is always behind them. Clouds go away, then the moon shines brightly. So don’t worry about clear mind: it is always there. When thinking comes, behind it is clear mind. When thinking goes, there is only clear mind. Thinking comes and goes, comes and goes. You must not be attached to the coming or the going.

From Dropping Ashes on the Buddha

Northern Light had a retreat on the 25th of April.

Even given the pandemic and stay at home order, modern technology provided us a why to hold a retreat on the 25th.

We began at 8am and completed at 11am, It was well attended and kept to a similar format as our regular retreats. We all had interviews even! It was good practice.

Our next retreat is scheduled for the 27th of June. Perhaps we will all be sitting in our Dharma room by then. Either way I am sure we will find a way to practice together.

Stay safe everyone, stay healthy. Yours in the Dharma.

NLZC and COVID-19 suspension

(originally posted March 16th 2020)

Dear Friends,

How are you? In response to the risks of COVID-19 transmission, Northern Light Zen Center will be suspending all programs, effective immediately. We expect this suspension to last four-six weeks, possibly longer.

In making this decision, our Zen center joins many other centers around the country to take steps important to the safety of the sangha. Beginning today, the suspension affects the following programs: – Wednesday evening practices – last Saturday extended practice – if further extended, the one day retreat in April.

During this suspension, we encourage you to practice meditation regularly. Terry PSN will continue to offer interviews by appointment, through Zoom or by phone, in which you can discuss practice, daily life and also do kong-ans. Please contact him at if you would like to schedule time.

We will also attempt to keep in regular contact with readings, quotes and information. If anyone has any suggestions in this regard, please contact us. Please also let the sangha know if you are ill so we can give whatever support is possible. We have always sought to make the Zen center a safe place for practice and self-investigation, and it never occurred to us that public health concerns would enter into this. But here we are and we must follow the best available recommendations. Thank you for your support.

In the Dharma, Bill

Our End of Year December One Day Retreat.

On the 28th of December 2019 12 of us came together and sat a Northern Light Zen Center one day retreat. We hold these one day retreats on every even numbered month of the year. This month we had a nice large group. Strong practice and good teaching. Thank you to everyone and happy new year!

back row l-r Darren Brown, Patrick Clancy, Carol Hedgepeth, Terry Cronin JPDSN, Jennifer Mancini, John Schooley, Judith Simpson, Steve Bulloch, Robin Capwell
front row l-r Mary-Ellen Cimino, Marilynn Petit, Stephanie Harp, Jay Seiler