Hello to Northern Light Zen Center’s Community Sangha!
We have been planning a ‘Sangha Back Yard Pot Luck Picnic’ at the Center and you and your family/ friends/ significant others are invited to join in.
Date: Saturday, August 20 (rain date August 21)
Time: 11:30 am – 4:00 pm
Place: Northern Light Zen Center
202 Meadow Rd, Topsham, ME 04086
–Pot Luck!!! (Summertime specials)
–Drinks (We will have iced chai tea on hand)
–We will have chairs but feel free to bring a lawn chair if you prefer
–Grillables We will have grills available. If you wish to grill, bring whatever you like.
–Lawn games – Such as bocci, badminton, checkers, or a game your children would like to play. Corn toss (got it covered) and chess (check)!
We look forward to being with our Sangha friends for a relaxing summer afternoon!
Hey, check it out! We won a ‘best of’ award. Not bad, eh? According to the Town of Topsham, “We are happy to announce that Northern Light Zen Center has been selected as the winner for 2022 Best of Topsham Awards in the category of Religious Organization.”
Come visit us and practice with us! We can share what it is that makes us special.
Our first class on “The Platform Sutra: Hui Neng, the Sixth Ancestor” with Zen Master Dae Kwan will go live tomorrow on Monday, March 7 at 7 PM Eastern. Please note that this is seven hours later than usual. See this event in your time zone
Session One: The Platform Sutra begins with an autobiography of the Sixth Patriarch, who attained enlightenment after hearing just one line from the Diamond Sutra. In this first session, we’ll cover the Sixth Patriarch’s life and connect his teaching of “no-thinking,” “no form,” and “non-attachment” (4.5-4.8) in the Platform Sutra to Zen Master Seung Sahn’s teaching. We’ll then discuss the Sixth Patriarch’s conversation with a novice monk who mistook “non-attachment” as his “original-thing” (8.13-8.15).Preparation: Please read these sections on “no-thinking” as our teaching, “non-form” as our substance, and “non-attachment” as our fundamental principle: 4.5-4.8 (pp. 191-193) and 8.13-8.15. (pp. 246- 247)
1. The Platform Sutra, translated by Zen Master Dae Kwang and Zen Master Dae Kwan (Download PDF here)
About the teacher:
Zen Master Dae Kwan, a Zen nun, was born in Hong Kong. She was previously called Hyang Um Sunim, and her Pali name is Suddhamma. In the 1970s she studied sutras for three years at the Kwok Kwong Buddhist College. In 1981, she ordained at Ajahn Chaa’s International Forest Monastery in Thailand, and she practiced in Chiangmai for ten years including two years of intensive solo retreat in Tu Boo Cave. In 1995, she received inka from Zen Master Seung Sahn. In April 2001 she received tranmission at Mu Sang Sah in Korea. She is now the abbot and guiding teacher of Su Bong Zen Monastery in Hong Kong. She has translated the following books into Chinese: “Dropping Ashes on Buddha,” “Only Don’t Know,” and “The Whole World is a Single Flower.”
If you are interested in attending please email firstname.lastname@example.org for the zoom info, meeting id/passcode
If you have any questions for the session, please email them ahead of time to email@example.com so we can make sure to address your question.In the dharma,
A reminder that there will be no Extended Practice this Saturday. We had our December retreat earlier this month, but also, with the impending storm, it is likely that the Center won’t be shoveled out in time for practice Saturday anyway. Please do note on your calendar the next one-day retreat is to take place on the last Saturday of February.
Enjoy your weekend!
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
Looks good huh? Many thanks to Ernie Anderson for the design and manufacture! That’s our Abbott Bill Robitzek on the left and Ron Turcotte on the right.
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
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 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/