Author Archive for A. Jesse Jiryu Davis

Zen at Sing Sing

Feb. 1, 2015 - Posted in: Blog - Comments Off

 

February 7, 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the Village Zendo’s program at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. On the 7th, the Sing Sing group will hold an all-day meditation retreat, and practitioners at the Village Zendo will be sitting in the Zendo in New York. Ryotan Sensei leads the program. He wrote the following reminiscence to mark the event:


In the Fall of 2004, the Village Zendo received a request from inmates at Sing Sing Correctional Facility for a teacher to come in and lead their Zen group. The group had disbanded in 2000 when they had lost their previous teacher, a priest sent out by Dai Bosatsu monastery in Livingston Manor, New York.

When we arrived at the facility, we discovered a zendo that had been frozen in time. Cushions, mats, musical instruments, and sutra books had been locked away in cabinets and had not been touched or moved for the past five years. When we walked in that day in February 2005, all we had to do was to lay down the mats, set up the altar, dust off the kesu, and strike the gong to begin the first period.

We sat in a room with a view of the Hudson River. Each week the floor was swept and mopped. The altar was a school desk with a couple of books piled up on it. We lay an altar cloth over the books and set a statue of Shakyamuni on top of them. The Catholics lent us a candle with a cross inscribed in its plastic covering. The flowers were artificial flowers that had been crafted by an inmate while waiting on death row.

A few months later Roshi arrived and we had an “Eye-Opening” ceremony at the new temple. We called it “Dharma Lotus Temple”, combining the names of the two prison temples where our members had previously practiced: “Dharma Song”, which was the old Sing Sing sangha of the ’90s, and “Fire Lotus”, the temple at Greenhaven Correctional Facility sponsored by Zen Mountain Monastery.

It is now 10 years since we walked into Sing Sing and unlocked the cabinets. Only one of the original sangha members remains but new aspirants have come and joined their spirit to the flowing stream of practice. Our Village Zendo volunteers have also changed over the years, each leaving their trace in that empty room looking out on the Hudson River.

When I think of their sincere practice and the aspiring men of Dharma Lotus Temple I get a catch in my throat. I pray that our practice may continue to flow with the Hudson that lies beyond these walls.


Ryotan Sensei

Ryotan Sensei

Zendo Closed

Jan. 20, 2015 - Posted in: Blog - Comments Off

The zendo is closed all day

Summer Ango 2015

Jan. 19, 2015 - Posted in: Blog - Comments Off

Summer Ango 2015
at The Grail, Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York
July 24th – August 24rd

Schedule for Registration
Registration is open as follows:

April 6: for anyone attending the full retreat, July 24 – August 23

April 15: for Formal Students of the Village Zendo

April 27: for Members of the Village Zendo

May 6: for everyone

While you may of course register at any time, we encourage you to register early as space is limited.

___ Set-Up, July 22-24

___ ALL, July 24 – August 23 (Members $1,550; Non-Members $1,875)

___ Dai Sesshin, July 24 – Aug 2 (Members $850; Non-Members $925)

___ Precepts Study, Aug 4 – 9 (Members $600; Non-Members $650)

___ Precepts Study and Jukai Ceremony, for those taking the Precepts ($900)

___ Zen Arts: The Way of Clay, Aug 12 – 14 (Members $375; Non-Members $445)

___ Zen Poetry, Aug 14 – 16 (Members $350; Non-Members $400)

___ Zen Arts: Both Clay and Writing, Aug 12 – 16 (Members $675; Non-Members $745)

___ Shuso Sesshin, Aug 18 – 23 (Members $675; Non-Members $745)

Registration: 2015 Summer Ango Form.

Questions: signup@villagezendo.org.

Photos from Jukai and Shuso Hossen in Bolivia

Aug. 19, 2013 - Posted in: Blog - Comments Off

Our affiliate sangha in La Paz, Bolivia, held a Jukai ceremony on July 21st 2013, and a Shuso Hossen on July 28. Patricia Hannya Jin Lada was shuso. Mike Borisenko photographed the Jukai, Pablo Kōmon Alanes photographed Shuso Hossen and assembled these booklets of photos from the two events.

PDF download  Jukai at the Centro Zan Phajjsi Qollut Jalsu

PDF download  Shuso Hossen at the Centro Zan Phajjsi Qollut Jalsu

 

Village Zendo Ethics Statement

Jul. 4, 2013 - Posted in: Blog - Comments Off

Inclusivity

We welcome people of different cultures, colors, abilities, ages, identifications, and beliefs who can practice within the guidelines for meditation and harmonious practice that we have laid out for the Village Zendo.  We appreciate and explore our differences in order to build understanding, harmony, and openness for the whole community.

Student-Teacher Relationship

In Zen, the uniquely intimate nature of student-teacher face-to-face meetings can give rise to questions about confidentiality.  We treat these meetings with a reasonable assumption of privacy, not a strict code of secrecy. A core aspect of our practice is spiritual direction. While there is a right to a reasonable sense of confidentiality regarding what is said in these meetings, Dharma teachers consult with one another and hold confidentialities among themselves rather than alone.

Students are also expected to hold private interview interactions in confidence unless they wish to lodge a complaint. It goes without saying that any perceived slight should be discussed with the teacher in question first. Idle talk about interview is inappropriate and harmful to everyone’s practice.

Whenever a teacher and a student are relating to each other in different capacities or contexts, a dual relationship is created. For example, a teacher who is a psychotherapist may be asked by a student to become a client/patient. Or a student who is an attorney may be asked by a teacher to provide legal services. These and other such situations give rise to a dual relationship. 
We recognize that not all dual relationships are inherently unethical. We are, however, mindful of the complexities and risks in these circumstances, and we recommend caution in such relationships. Should they occur, they should be monitored with extreme professionalism.

Village Zendo teachers acknowledge their shared and individual responsibility to hold the clarity and integrity of the teacher-student relationship. We will seek the counsel of the other teachers as needed.

Power Relations

The Village Zendo is committed to providing an environment of equality and respect for all those who come to practice.  We seek to maintain a container where all can feel safe to participate fully and authentically in a variety of ways.

Recognizing and valuing the importance of diversity, no individuals or forms of practice are privileged or given special status. This is especially true in regard to those who are ordained, for whom the dangers and pitfalls of power projection can run high. Any seniority is based solely on the maturity of spiritual practice. In fact, the majority of senior practitioners at the Village Zendo are not ordained.

All members of the Village Zendo – especially teachers and senior students – are encouraged to observe a high standard of ethical conduct. We expect them to pay close attention to personal boundaries especially in the areas of sex and money, and to avoid other forms of control over others. We also seek to maintain as much transparency as possible in regard to the structure, operations, finances, and decision-making of the organization.

If anyone experiences or perceives a violation or abuse of power, we strongly encourage him or her to speak up. This is vitally important not only to the individual involved but to the whole community. The procedures for addressing such abuse are those in place for conflict resolution.

Conflict resolution

Conflict is prone to occur in all communities, including spiritual ones. When conflict arises, we attempt to address it skillfully, rather than to avoid or deny it.  We seek to respond to conflict in a way that promotes greater individual and collective self-awareness.

Our procedures for resolving conflict involve the following steps:  1) examination of one’s own role in the situation; 2) when appropriate, direct efforts at communication and reconciliation between the parties involved; 3) when Step #2 is inappropriate or inadequate, recourse to a Village Zendo teacher to seek advice; 4) when Step #3 is inadequate, recourse to the Village Zendo Omsbudsperson who may intervene or facilitate resolution; 5) when Step #4 is inadequate, recourse to the Village Zendo Executive Committee and the Omsbudsperson (with any Executive Committee member recusing herself or himself if involved in the conflict); 6) when Step #5 is inadequate or the case involves formal legal matters, recourse to the Village Zendo Board.

Summer Ango 2013 General Information

Feb. 18, 2013 - Posted in: Blog - Comments Off

Summer Ango 2013

at The Grail, Cornwall-on-Hudson
JULY 24th to AUGUST 25th

Please PDF download download the registration form and submit with payment.

Entire Ango
July 26 – August 25
$1,500 (members)/ $1,875 (non-members)

Dai Sesshin
July 26 – August 4
$735 (members)/ $820 (non-members)

Precepts Week
August 6 – August 11
$545 (members)/ $610 (non-members)

Precepts Study and Jukai Ceremony
$900

Zen Study Zen Arts
August 13 – August 16
$375 (members)/ $445 (non-members)
Zen and the Art of Clay with Myoko Terestman Sensei

Beginner’s Mind Sesshin
August 16 – August 18
$325
For those new to practice, this weekend introduces the joys of silence, insight and community in a more easeful schedule.  It is an ideal way to learn about Zen.

Shusho Sesshin
August 20 – August 25
$675 (members)/ $745 (non-members)

 

Please download Roshi’s Ango letter, the letter from the Shuso, and the commitment form:
Roshi’s Summer Ango Letter
Letter from Shuso
2013 Summer Ango Commitment Form
PDF downloadDotoku(Expressions) – translation by Kazuaki Tanahashi

Winter Ango 2013

Jan. 1, 2013 - Posted in: Blog - Comments Off

December 26, 2012 – March 24, 2013

Ango means “peaceful dwelling.” It is a time when the sangha comes together for a period of intensified practice and commitment.

The Village Zendo’s winter ango began on December 26th and will continue through March 24th. Please join us in zazen, study and joyful attention to our day-to-day life.

Here is what you’ll need to enter our winter ango:

Should you have any questions, please contact Oshin at oshinjennings@gmail.com. Thank you for your practice.

Village Zendo Matching Grant

Dec. 11, 2012 - Posted in: Blog - Comments Off

Please remember the Village Zendo in your charitable contributions. Each and every donation makes a difference.  And from now through January 31st, 2014 your contribution goes even further thanks to a generous $20,000 matching grant from one of our donors.

Please consider taking advantage of this opportunity and giving as generously as you can.  Your donation helps ensure the financial strength and stability of the Village Zendo now and in the years to come.

Judy Clark Event in Katonah, November 1st

Oct. 16, 2012 - Posted in: Calendar - No Comments

Thursday, November 1

Clemency for Judy Clark — Event in Katonah

Katonah Memorial House, 71 Bedford Road, Katonah

7:30 pm

A special event to raise awareness about Judy Clark will be held at the Katonah Memorial House. Speakers include Tom Robbins (author of the New York Times magazine article on Judy), Rabbi Arik Wolf (Chabad of Bedford), Sara Bennett (Judy’s long-time lawyer) and others from the Katonah-Bedford Hills area who know Judy. 

Sara invites members of the VZ to attend or to help by spreading the word—especially to people in Westchester and local clergy. Ask your friends, colleagues, and acquaintances to come. 

If you would like to volunteer to help with the event, please contact coordinator Doreen Semel at roketeer1@aol.com.

Read more about the case for clemency for Judith Clark. (Word document.)

Summer 2012 Ango: video by Yuuka

Sep. 6, 2012 - Posted in: Blog - Comments Off

Elena Yuuka TaJo has made this lovely video collage of this summer’s retreat: