Wishes do come true! After the last Path of Koan class, we wanted more koan study with Roshis Enkyo and Joshin, and here it is! Not Knowing, The Path Of Koan
begins Sunday, February 20 and will meet monthly through July 24. Read all about it it below.
Next—more good news about the new space! Myoko Sensei has given us a lively progress report on the setting-up process, assuring us that it is “in various states of swing.” It is so exciting to hear what is being done, and the part so many Sangha members are playing in bringing this new space to life for us.
Meanwhile, we continue our full schedule of Zoom talks and group meetings—the Bolivian group and the People of Color Sitting Group, which meet weekly, and the Book Group, which will meet, as always, on the last Sunday of the month. The Zendo will be closed on February 21 for Presidents Day.
Speaking of groups, we have a report on the VZ prison letter writing group. Our reporter, new to the group, shares this: “Writing a letter to someone incarcerated has been a venture into the unexpected joy of connection with another.”
I love the way Zoom enables us to bring into our circle people who are far away—like Iris Hoger in Germany. I want to share her appreciation: “To me the Village Zendo feels like such a creative, outgoing and welcoming community that gives me a deep sense of connection despite the physical distance! Bows to you all!” See her poem below.
This expression made me think of the gratitude we feel toward the Zendo and other nourishing aspects of our life. When we asked people for their experiences, we got some amazing takes!
Finally, to remember Thich Nhat Hanh who died in January, please enjoy his brief poem, above.
With bows of gratitude to all,
Nina Shuka Klippel
Thursday, February 3: Dharma Talk by Fusho
Sunday, February 6: Practice and Inquiry Circle with Joshin Roshi
Tuesday, February 8: Afghan Refugee Meeting (see below)
Thursday, February 10: Dharma Talk by Mukei
Saturday, February 12: Zazenkai with Dharma Talk by Ryotan Roshi
Sunday, February 13: Dharma Talk by Seicho
Thursday, February 17: Dharma Talk by Soten
Sunday, February 20: Dharma Talk by Enkyo Roshi
Monday, February 21: Zendo Closed for Presidents Day
Thursday, February 24: Fusatsu + Newcomer’s meeting with Ryotan Roshi
Sunday, February 27: Dharma Talk by Kansho
Book Group, 5 pm
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
2022 Not Knowing, the Path of Koan
Sundays 1:30-4:00pm online
This monthly group meeting led by Roshis Enkyo and Joshin will use koans from the Mumonkan, the “Gateless Gate,” to deepen our relationship to reality and learn to return to Beginner’s Mind. There are many translations, with commentaries, available on the Mumonkan
. We’ll work from the Shibayama version, published by Shambhala: The Gateless Barrier, Zen Comments on the Mumonkan.
In addition to lectures, class discussion and small group work, a monthly reflection in writing about the koan is encouraged. Posting to the class listserve helps to keep the koan present in our everyday minds. When we take the time to practice with a koan, to sit with it, to turn it around in our heart-minds, to question it, and ourselves (!), we allow ourselves to open to the rather oblique Zen teaching embedded within.
The online Path is interactive. Please be sure your audio connectivity is functioning effectively!
For the first class come ready to discuss why we study koans.
Can you think of a koan that you remember hearing about, that affected you?
February 20, March 27, April 24, May 22, June 19, July 24
Members $360, Non-Members $420
Your participation is important to us. If you can't give the recommended amount, we hope you'll pay what you can afford.
Village Zendo Book Group
Sunday, February 27th at 5:00PM
The Dharma of Dragons and Daemons:
Buddhist Themes in Modern Fantasy
by David Loy and Linda Goodhew
Leader: Michael HonGō Brooks
The Village Zendo book group will meet to discuss The Dharma of Dragons and Daemons: Buddhist Themes in Modern Fantasy
, by David R. Loy and Linda Goodhew with a forward by Jane Hirshfield. Hongo will facilitate the discussion. All are welcome!
“I was intrigued by the book review in Tricycle
and was surprised to find Buddhist wisdom in these books as examined by David R. Loy and Linda Goodhew: J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
, Michael Ende’s Momo,
Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials
, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea,
and Hayao Miyazaki’s animation films, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke
From the publisher:
It employs a Buddhist perspective to appreciate some of the major works of modern fantasy—and uses modern fantasy fiction to elucidate Buddhist teachings. In the tradition of David Loy’s cutting-edge presentation of a Buddhist social theory in The Great Awakening, this pioneering work of Buddhist literary analysis, renown scholar David Loy and Linda Goodhew offer ways of reading modern fantasy-genre fiction that illuminate both the stories themselves, and the universal qualities of Buddhist teachings.
The book is available from Amazon in Kindle format and the publisher in print and e-book format:
JOIN THE DISCUSSION ON FEBRUARY 27TH, 5PM
Prison Letter-Writing Group:
Report by Anne Goodale
Our Village Zendo Letter writing group had an inspiring meeting on a Saturday afternoon in late January.
As a new member, I looked forward to this chance to share letters we have received, our insights, questions, and listen to others’ experiences. Our meeting started with the reading of a letter and a reflection by a member who could not be present. The reflection asked us to consider the meaning of imprisonment. How are we imprisoned? I think this set the tone of our meeting.
For me, listening to a letter read aloud brings to life the voice of a person that we begin to know. One member shared the wonderful drawings she received from her pen pal who writes a letter every day! Another letter said, “When I hear from you, it always brings peace and healing to my mind and soul.” Some letters express issues that are more difficult to respond to. The guiding principles of non-judgment and witnessing help us respond appropriately.
Two members, JoAnna in California and Jane in New Mexico, shared their experiences teaching meditation and running groups in prisons for years. Noting that in some prisons prisoners can sit with Sanghas on Zoom in their cells, JoAnna shared a connection to The Boundless Freedom Project, an opportunity to better understand life in a prison from former prisoners.
Another reflection which I think we all felt deeply asked the question: How different are we really from those incarcerated? Many did not have the support of society, family, money, and education that we have had.
For me, writing a letter to someone incarcerated has been a venture into the unexpected joy of connection with another. It’s very simple: just put pencil to paper, someone is waiting for you.
Note: To join our Lifelines to Solitary group and receive the name of a person to write to, contact Shuka at: Ninak223@aol.com
Help a Refugee Family Settle in New York
Meeting Tuesday, February 8th at 7pm
With so many Afghan and other refugees waiting to be resettled, refugee resettlement agencies are somewhat overwhelmed, so groups of volunteers are filling a critical need. A group of VZ members met last month to plan to sponsor a refugee or refugee family, likely from Afghanistan, helping them to resettle in New York. We would partner with a refugee agency which would provide training and guidance.
If you missed our first Zoom informational meeting, there will be another Zoom meeting with people from other sanghas who might want to collaborate. That meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 8th at 7pm, using this link
We need to assemble a team of 10 – 12 people who could meet regularly with and help the family. If you are interested in joining this important humanitarian effort, please contact Doshin at email@example.com
Our Shuso, HonGo, on his commitment form, wrote, “During this Winter Ango let us examine and discover the beauty in your life—with generosity, gratitude, and clear vision.” How do sangha members see gratitude? Here are some of the ways.
I am ever grateful for my life and the teachings of freedom and equanimity. It has and continues to make life a blessing.
—Carol Enmei Cirigliano
I am grateful that my mind is clear enough to discern beauty in deconstruction and friendship in hard to swallow truths.
I was delighted and very grateful to be able to play a small part in helping to get the new Zendo space ready. Something as simple as wiping the dust off the windowsill was deeply satisfying. I also loved to see the rough shape of Manjushri under a cloth on the altar, waiting for the eye-opening ceremony.
I am grateful for the opportunity to feel…I wake in pain most mornings and yet, I 'get' to feel.
One of my wisest teachers was a woman named Trudy. I worked for Trudy for a year after college by bicycling to her flat early in the morning (4:00am). We had a routine together; I would start by greeting Trudy, turning on lights, emptying her catheter bag, emptying her bowel (by hand), moving her limbs for circulation, bathing her body, dressing her, getting her into her electric chair, brushing her hair, feeding her breakfast, loading her up into her van and taking her to a different school each day, so she could offer her speech therapy skills.
Trudy's 'skin-bag' had been in a car accident when she was 25 years old, and the result was quadriplegia. She could not feel anything from the neck down. She had a fiancé at the time of the accident, and she let him go. Then she decided to go back to school and learn how to be a speech therapist. By the time I met Trudy, she was 50 years old, and worked as a successful speech therapist at several elementary schools in Boulder, Colorado.
And finally, these words from Roshi’s talk on January 17, Dr. King and Shodoku
, enlarging gratitude….
I think that Zen’s most important teaching is that our life here and now, is our opportunity. There is no other life, no other reality to enter, but rather, right now, here, is where we live our lives and serve Life—which is actually mixed up with everyone and everything else.
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.
—Martin Luther King
PROGRESS REPORT ON THE NEW SPACE
By Julie Myoko Terestman
Slowly and steadily, much has happened and is happening at the new space. After amazing teamwork led by Joshin Roshi got us up and out of our old home, the setting up process in the new one is in various states of swing.
The space itself is wonderful. All the design & construction is overseen by Jane Smith and her company Spacesmith who’ve been simply amazing. They have seen to the transformation of everything from the floors to the ceilings and all that is in between. Truthfully, it is hard to imagine how this could have happened otherwise!
The proportion of the space is quite square, so it feels very different from our old one—as Roshi said, “more intimate.” While I was worried at first that its being on the ground floor would feel very enclosed, even perhaps a bit grim after being so high up in the sky, surprisingly it is the opposite. The squareness gives it a spaciousness, stability & warmth. Jane conceived a wonderful solution using white translucent screens on the bottom half of the very large windows allowing for both privacy and light, as well as an interesting view up. Being on the ground floor, it does indeed feel Grounded, which in these times feels like a good thing.
Ryoshin, Kojin and Shugo have been busy beginning the installation of the technology for the hybrid endeavor. Mukan did a beautiful job overseeing the installation of an amazing entry and security system. Tokuyu Hoshi is now liaising with our new super, Constantin, who is indeed super.
Two very willing and eager full teams of helpers began the set-up of the kitchen and main zendo area. Being able to have just ten people in the space at a time due to Covid, we had to put some volunteers on hold for the next round. The energy and desire to help is abundant….
An excellent start has been made but the space is very much still in progress. Once in, we realized it would be optimal for another wall to be built. Due to supply chain delays because of Covid, work on the kitchen and bathroom still needs to be completed, and there are still some electrical and other tune-ups to be done. Hopefully we may be able to open in about another month, but because of various uncontrollable and unpredictable things, it’s impossible to give a specific date yet. It will be done as soon as it is done. That said, the progress is continuing….
Everything about this place feels like a mitzvah, a miracle! Starting with how Roshi just happened to find it, to Jewel Heart being the previous tenants, to our benevolent landlord Jonathan Rose, to the synchronicity of Jane’s timing, to its amazing location, to its truly unbelievable rent, and to whatever else I’m forgetting. It’s interesting how it feels so natural for us to be setting up again in another new space. Another theatre for the play of Zen which we bring to wherever we are—the apartment in Washington Square Village, Varick Street, the ninth floor at 588 Broadway, the 11th floor at 588 Broadway, The Grail, Wisdom House, Zoom….
It makes it ever more clear how it’s the community and the practice which create place. Against all odds, the Village Zendo continues to be the little train that could….
"When we see truly, there is nothing at all.
There is no person; there is no Buddha.
Innumerable things of the universe
Are just bubbles on the sea." [from: Shodoku]
i am a creature among creatures
a sound among sounds
in the midst of the vast ocean
do i add myself to the buzz of life
just rolling with the tide
in and out
In an article in
by Taylor Plimpton
Bill Murray in Groundhog Day
), our Associate Editor celebrates Groundhog Day (February 2) as well as the movie of the same name, pondering: “The pandemic makes it seem like we’re living out the same day every day. What if we are?”
Here’s an excerpt:
That’s the real reason the Groundhog Day perspective is such a gift. Because it forces us to come to terms with the fact that, in a certain sense, this is the only day we get. After all, if every day’s the same, it cuts through the illusion—the hope—that a future day will provide some sort of magical solution, make everything perfect once and for all. (To be sure, even now, we’re thinking these thoughts: when the pandemic’s over, everything will finally be fine again—but this thinking is the very issue at hand.) Indeed, in this light, the idea of waiting for another time becomes preposterous. It’s now or never, forever and ever. This, right here—this chance, this day, this you—is all you get.
One might argue that the whole purpose of Zen Buddhism is to wake you up to this simple fact: this is your life. This is it. And that’s not a depressing thought, but a joyful one. This is it! This is my life!
Perhaps that’s part of why Zen puts such emphasis on everyday activities—chopping wood, carrying water—because, seen clearly, the everyday is all there is. As the great novelist Jim Harrison puts it in the novella, The Man Who Gave Up His Name: “[H]e somehow understood that life was only what one did every day.” Or, as John Lennon sang it, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” And that’s the thing—it’s so easily overlooked! Life gives itself to us day after day, and somehow, remarkably, impossibly, we keep on missing it. There’s a beautiful song I first heard in Palm Springs that I’ve become quite enamored with, called “Man Stupid Being.” And we are.
Even the idea of getting the day “right” somehow misses the simple truth of it: that this day here in front of us is missing nothing, that it’s already right. Because, really, what is a perfect day? What would it look like? Would it actually look any different? If today were the only day you ever had, would it be enough?
Read the full article HERE
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
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"DANA" in the Comments box. Thank you!