Sign for the Village Zendo in Tribeca
designed by Myoko Sensei
“And suddenly, you know… It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”
So much going on, as we leave our old space and prepare our new—trusting the magic of beginnings, as Meister Eckhart put it.
By mid-month we should be fairly well settled in our new home, thanks to the dedicated work of preparation by so many. Joshin Roshi, Myoko Sensei, and Tokuyu Hoshi have organized the re-settling, and right now Kojin, Ryoshin, Mukan, Musho and Shugo are working on the tech/security aspects that will enable the Zendo activities to be shared virtually.
Right now, the online Zendo has resumed, continuing with our regular schedule of zazen, Dharma Talks, zazenkai, and special events, which this month include the VZ Book Group on Sunday, January 16, and the Prison Letter Writing Group the following Saturday, January 22.
I’d like to take a moment to recall the beautiful year-end retreat, and to thank JiFu for bringing it back to us, bit by bit. And finally, I want to share an expression of gratitude from a participant in storm-tossed Colorado, Lumi—Lisamarie Windwalker. She wrote:
I want to offer 108 cyber bows of gratitude to the VZ Sangha and Teachers for such a supportive and comforting sesshin container. The Village Zendo Sangha is the most creative, authentic, skilled, organized, fun, evolving, adaptive and communicative Sangha that I have ever practiced with! No words can fully express my joy and gratitude at having the continued opportunity to practice with you all from across the miles.
Enough said. And so, as we enter this year 2022, perhaps we can, as Rilke once put it, “…welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been.”
Happy New Year to all!
Nina Shuka Klippel
JANUARY 2022 CALENDAR
Sunday, January 9: Practice & Inquiry Circle with Joshin Roshi
Thursday, January 13: Dharma Talk by Fugan Hoshi
Saturday, January 15: Zazenkai, with Dharma Talk by Bokushu Hoshi
Monday, January 17: Zendo Closed for Martin Luther King Day
Sunday, January 16: Dharma Talk by Roshi Enkyo
Book Group, 5 pm
Thursday, January 20: Dharma Talk by Soshin Hoshi
Saturday, January 22: Prison Letter Writing Group, 1:30 pm
Sunday, January 23: Dharma Talk by Jo An Hoshi
Thursday, January 27: Fusatsu with Roshi Shinryu
followed by Newcomers’ meeting
Sunday, January 30: Dharma Talk by Gessho
The Bolivian Sitting Group meets Saturday mornings, 7 am
Bolivia Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 297 525 8394; Password: 1234
The People of Color Sitting Group meets Saturday mornings, 10:30 am
How to Meditate meets every Monday evening (except holidays) at 6:30 pm
Happy Birthday, Roshi!
This Tuesday, January 11, 2022, Roshi Enkyo O’Hara, our beloved founder, teacher, and Abbot, will celebrate her 80th birthday. For over 35 years, Roshi Enkyo, along with her partner and co-founder, Roshi Barbara Joshin O’Hara, has inspired and guided the Village Zendo community.
Roshi Enkyo is known for her compassionate, down-to-earth, practical teaching, her deep insight, her ready wit, and her appreciation of everyday life. As a Soto Zen priest and contemporary American Zen teacher, she integrates traditional meditation and koan practice with social engagement and peacemaking. A Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order, she taught for many years at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, centering on new media technologies and social justice. Roshi O’Hara’s writing has appeared in Tricycle, Turning Wheel, Shambhala Sun, Buddhadharma
and other Buddhist journals. She is the author of Most Intimate, A Zen Approach to Life’s Challenges, A Winter Sesshin: Ten Talks on the Heart Sutra, and A Little Bit of Zen.
Roshi’s 80th birthday coincides with the Village Zendo’s move to a new home in the Tribeca section of New York City. The Village Zendo community looks forward to many more years of her fellowship and spiritual direction.
Roshi Enkyo and Roshi Joshin live in a very small Village apartment in New York City, and request no physical gifts. If you wish to give a donation to the Village Zendo in honor of Roshi’s birthday you can do so HERE
PREPARING OUR NEW SPACE
By Joshin Roshi
Photo by Jeff Shugo Berman
Before an orchestra begins, there is a warming-up process: the various sections—the brass, the strings, the woodwinds—tune their instruments, get to know the feel of the space and adjust accordingly.
You might say the same process is at work in our new zendo at 260 Broadway. The lock and security team have been at work under Mukan, the installation of WiFi under Kojin, the hybrid team under Ryoshin and Shugo, the design team under Myoko and ToKuyu—all have been meeting and conferring and deliberating. The overall conductor is Jane Kyoshin Smith, President of the architectural firm SmithSpace, a bodhisattva who likewise led our previous moves and renovations. We also have an active and knowledgeable super on the premises, Constantin, who has supervised deliveries and expedited a lot of the handiwork.
One thing is clear from this final move to our new home—the VZ has sprouted many helping hands who are skillful players. When it’s time, and when it’s safe enough, we’ll all be invited—virtually or physically—to enjoy its Premier: The Eye-Opening Ceremony.
DESIGNING THE HYBRID
By Jeff Shugo Berman
Ryoshin and I have been working on designing an A/V system that will allow us to make all activities at the Village Zendo hybrid. This means that we will stream all of our zazen and other events on Zoom, and will have the capacity to bring virtual participants into the space, including virtual dharma speakers and guests.
To do this, we are outfitting the new zendo with the necessary equipment—a monitor on which participants can be viewed, as well as cameras in the space so virtual participants can feel as if they are in the zendo with us. We are using a variety of video and audio strategies so that we can make the variety of activities that we do at the zendo accessible to anyone, anywhere, and so that they can participate in our zendo from wherever they are. The Sangha can look forward to a rich hybrid experience in the new zendo.
VZ BOOK GROUP
Sunday, January 16, 5 pm
Lincoln in the Bardo
by George Sanders
Moderator: Robert Black
Robert gives us this overview:
Lincoln in the Bardo
, by George Sanders, tells the tale of Abraham Lincoln's profound grief over the death of his 11-year-old son Willie from typhoid fever in the early, intensifying arc of the Civil War. Much of the story takes place in the "bardo," a transitional space inhabited by ghosts or spirits, some quite stuck there, others able to move on in their post-death journeys, and all weighing in with voices of wisdom, cynicism, hope, and/or disbelief that a living man could enter the world of the dead and tenderly hold, hug, and sob over his lifeless son, even as that man's current task as President is to send so many others' sons to fight and die.
Touching on themes of loss, grief, mourning, acceptance and love—and the mystery of transitional states—Lincoln in the Bardo
avails numerous entryways to discussion, not least an appreciation of the bardo a la The Tibetan Book of the Dead
. Then there is the question posed on the book's back cover: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?—perhaps an invitation to reflect on one's own interactions with The Five Remembrances.
What is your entryway?
PRISON LETTER WRITING GROUP:
Saturday, January 22, 1:30 – 3:30 pm
Leader: Marjorie ChoGaku McCoy
Lifelines to Solitary
From time to time, the VZ prison letter writing group comes together to share our experiences of corresponding with prisoners in solitary all over the country. We read letters, discuss issues, surprises, problems—whatever has been arising in our correspondence. Non-members are welcome to sit in and, if so moved, join the group. More information HERE
December Embodiment Workshop with JoAn
Reported by Iris Hoger
For the last part of the Dharma Embodiment workshop, JoAn invited us to experiment with the art of Vogueing and with embodying the different qualities (and postures) of Bodhisattvas and presenting them to each other.
It was very touching to see all these fierce, gentle, hurting and playful vogisattvas, completely different from each other, ever-changing, imperfect, vulnerable and thereby fully and freshly realizing the dharma. Thank you JoAn and everybody!
Here's a little poem that came to my mind during the workshop:
on a bench in a crowded street
for 45 years have i been afraid of the living
now that i'm finally entering the flow
all i see is buddhas
This season, our study text is Shodoku, the beautiful 8th century poem of awakening. It opens with:
There is the leisurely one,
Walking the Tao, beyond philosophy,
Not avoiding fantasy, not seeking truth ….
I thought it might be fun to invite people to take lines from Shodoku and create their own poems. Here are the responses:
“This jewel of no price can never be used up
Though they spend it freely to help people they meet.”
The credit card with no spending limit and no interest charged
will never incur a debt,
and can be used with every exchange,
but sometimes international charges do apply, so be careful and always read the fine print.
“Your mind is the source of action;
Your body is the agent of calamity;”
I wish I wish I wish
wish is It
—Elena Yuuka Taurke
“The heavenly dragon listens calmly”
Hemlocks robed in white.
Lions’ roar of snowblowers
Wakes the dead. And me.
“Beyond praise, beyond blame”
Long sleeves of my robe
Dive into grey dishwater,
But don’t scrub the pot.
“The lotus lives in the midst of the fire”
Spark the year’s first offering.
The dharma wheel burns.
—Marjorie ChoGaku McCoy
People say it is positive;
People say it is negative;
But they do not know.
A smooth road, a rough road
Even heaven cannot imagine.
A note from Roshi Enkyo:
Jyakuen, a longtime Village Zendo member, is also a watchmaker, a chaplain, and a committed Zen practitioner. Here, in an essay for a final project in socially engaged Buddhism, she explores the connections among her varied roles and works and the compassion they inspire. Thank you, Jyakuen for sharing this!
THE CONNECTIONS I’D FORGOTTEN –
Final/Reflection Paper for
The Upaya Socially Engaged Buddhism Training Course
By JyakuEn Sherrilynn Posey
My vocation is as a watchmaker in the luxury timepiece field. I’ve been a watchmaker for 25 years. My avocation is that I’m a Per Diem Buddhist Hospital chaplain here in New York City. I’ve been a chaplain for about 12 years. A few years ago I realized that my two professions had run into each other. Or perhaps they had always gone together, matched up, had no separation—and I hadn’t noticed.
The connection came to me literally sitting at my desk at the watch company one day: 1. People often die with their watches on. Some kind of accident, medical emergency, terrorist attack (9/11), etc. In a sense they’ve run out of time. 2. People who are dying, people without a lot of time, and when it is difficult to get them to talk to me, when they find out that I’m also a watchmaker, they want to talk about time. People at the watch company wonder where their lives have gone, did they spend too much time at work and not enough with family, friends? How much time did they give to themselves? There is this sudden rush accompanied by an almost audible ”whoosh” to talk about what they did do in their lives. But more often they talk about regrets and how if they hadn’t wasted time on this, that or the other thing, then they could’ve done the things they haven’t done yet and feel there isn’t enough time for because… Time is running out suddenly so quickly.
I’ve always relied on my Buddhist practice. Great that one can meditate every day and “feel Zen” when things/times are good. It’s when things have gone south and/or collapsed to absolute shit that keeping up with one’s sitting practice means something. A question was once posed in a spiritual path class by the teacher: What do you want from your practice? It was a simple enough sounding question with so much in it: What do You want? Why start to do this practice? Why continue to work this practice? I instantly thought of my mother. My Mom is an evangelical Christian. There have been times in my life that I’ve thought that if you looked up the word Christian in a dictionary, Mom’s picture would be right there. My mother relied on her Christian faith. She was consistent in good times and bad. There was no separation. I thought about the question and instantly I said “I want what my mother has.” I wanted to rely on my Zen Buddhist practice. I have relied on and engaged my practice so much more last year and this year, like my mom I felt that I had nothing else to help me to take care of me and to help me to be there for others. To have no separation.
The more I engaged my practice before COVID and after COVID the more I’ve thought about the connections between my watchmaking job and being a Buddhist Chaplain. Sitting at my desk thinking “People die with their watches on and people will never feel that they have enough time. Death and life are not convenient. That Is Chaplaincy.” I’ve spent 25 years repairing machines that measure time and I’ve handled watches sent in by grieving individuals and families that sometimes through their damage tell when (time) and how (impact damage) someone died. I’ve spent 10-12 years hearing people speak about how time is suddenly so fast it’s as if they could look at a clock and see the hands spinning round and round and the sound of the mechanism mainspring letting, winding down. I hear this not just at the hospital but at the watch company and all around, on the cushion and off there is no difference, no separation.
I was looking to address my suffering and discovered that I am no different than anyone else, to some degree I am suffering and others, in the grocery store, watch company, hospital are suffering. None of us are the “other.” We have joy and sorrow and suffering—all of us. The suffering of my patients and their families, my watch clients and their families (since I’m not in person with them, the letters that are sent with the watches—and the watches themselves—reflect their pain), my co-workers at the watch company (I just heard that a colleague’s husband died suddenly 4 days ago), my own suffering when my wife was rushed to the hospital and in that dark moment, feeling lost, a chaplain came to me. I am not separate from any of these people or happenings and they’re not separate from me. This is Being With Suffering. Acknowledging my own suffering to be able to acknowledge the sufferings and the Joys (mine included) of others… and I still/will always have much to learn and experience. This Year I learned—Again—that moment to moment I am part of Indra’s Net. Reality is moment to moment, right here and right now, not separate, together with all in suffering and joy.
We communicate in three places online:
our email list, a Facebook page, and a Groups.io list
where we share events and information among the whole
Sangha. Explore these various ways of staying connected and
up to date here: https://villagezendo.org/connect-with-us/
Editor: Nina Shuka Klippel
Associate Editor: Taylor Plimpton
Managing Editor/ Design & Production: Howard Thoresen
Our Dana Bowl sits empty in our sequestered Zendo, but our expenses continue.
In these trying times, if you are able, please make a donation and type
"DANA" in the Comments box. Thank you!