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 https://time.com/5820613/dalai-lama-coronavirus-compassion/

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.

Buddha’s Enlightenment Day

Buddha’s Enlightenment Day will be celebrated at the Providence Zen Center on December 14. There are overnight accommodations for those wanting to go down on Friday. There will be a children’s program if people with kids register (indicate that your kiddos will attend). There are likely to be carpool opportunities on Friday and perhaps Saturday if you are interested. Contact Abbot Bill Robitzek if you’re interested in carpooling.

Here is the link to register: https://dwt.suran.com/tool/event_registration_v2/attendees?guid=04bee77c3ed511e68b356ff236c94191

Upcoming retreat on August 31st!

Hey everyone! Just a reminder that our every other monthly day long retreat is coming right up! August 31st is the day, please come and sit with us. End your summer with some strong practice. If you’re worried about sitting on a cushion all day you can use a chair. Here is an article from Lion’s Roar about that very thing. Can I sit in a chair?