Here we are in the month of May—the height of spring, with its dazzlement of flowers, and surely a transition to summer.
For the Village Zendo, a time of transition, too, as we move into our new space. Roshi tells us, “We are in the midst of a ‘soft opening’ and there’s availability for 12 of us to sit—so please do check our website and come on down!”
As you’ll see on the calendar, some of our Dharma Talks this month will be given in person from the new space, though most remain remote. Check the calendar for which events are online only and which are hybrid, and remember that you have to register for in-person practice.
The month begins with a very special guest speaker on May 1, when the VZ is honored to host the Reverend Gyokei Yokoyama, a leading figure in Soto Zen. This is an in-person event but most of the reservations are taken. Join us at the online zendo.
On May 15, we’ll have our Book Group, this month discussing Ruth Ozeki’s new novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness.
And mark May 14 for our monthly zazenkai.
Our Sangha is taking part in a refugee assistance program—Sanghas Supporting Refugees—that is planning support for Ukrainian families. Contact Doshin
if you would like to participate.
We are delighted to report that the VZ has a new Roshi: Julie Myoko Kirin Terestman received Inka, the final Dharma Empowerment. So, the number of Roshis in our Sangha is now five—such a wealth of wisdom and support for our community to have gained!
However, this past month, our Sangha also suffered a great loss: longtime student Elena Yuuka Taurke passed away on April 18 after a long and debilitating battle with Progressive Muscle Atrophy (PMA) which is a rarer form of ALS. She was beloved by many, as you will see in the tributes at the end of this Bulletin.
The Zendo recently celebrated the “eye-opening ceremony,” as Roshi touched the eyes of our honored Manjushri statue, heralding our new space and a new season of practice. And so, may we all open our eyes to our selves and the extraordinary world we live. The ritual is a reminder, in this time of transition, that we all must strive to open our eyes to our selves and the extraordinary world in which we live.
Deep bows to all,
Nina Shuka Klippel
Sunday, May 1: Guest Speaker Rev. Gyokei Yokoyama
Thursday, May 5: Dharma Talk by Musho
Sunday, May 8: Practice & Inquiry with Joshin Roshi
Thursday, May 12: Dharma Talk by Kenko
Saturday, May 14: Zazenkai with Kojin
Sunday, May 15: Dharma Talk by Enkyo Roshi
Book Group with Mukei, 5 pm
Thursday, May 19: Dharma Talk by Fugan
Sunday, May 22: Dharma Talk by Bokushu
Path of Koan class, 1:30 pm
Thursday, May 26: Fusatsu and Newcomers’ Night with Ryotan Roshi
Sunday May 29: Dharma Talk by Ryoshin
The Bolivian Sitting Group meets Saturday mornings, 7 am
Bolivia Zoom 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
Sunday, May 1, 9:30 am to 11 am
Special Guest Speaker
Register for in-person HERE
Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of
Soto Zen Buddhism in North America
Please join the Village Zendo in welcoming Rev. Gyokei Yokoyama
of the Sozenji Buddhist Temple, Montebello, California.
In his talk, Rev. Yokoyama will share his perspective on religious pluralism within the Soto Zen tradition and the thread of Zen that runs through diverse expressions based upon his experience as an abbot of a rural community temple in Japan, a minister of a Japanese-American Buddhist church and temple, an interpreter for the Soto Zen Buddhism North America office as well as a board member of ASZB and SZBA. Rev. Yokoyama wishes to celebrate the diverse Soto Zen Buddhist communities in Japan and North America as we attempt to forge a close international and intercultural ties with the North American Zen centers in the coming century.
Rev. Gyokei Yokoyama currently serves as Kokusai Fukyoshi (Internationally Missionary) of Sozenji Buddhist Temple, Montebello, California, Secretary of Soto Zen Buddhism North America, Board member of Association of Soto Zen Buddhists (ASZB), and Board member of Soto Zen Buddhist North America (SZBA) He is a former minister of Long Beach Buddhist Church, a non-denominational Japanese American Buddhist Church and the former abbot of Iwoji temple, Shinshiro, Aichi Pref., Japan.
Sunday, May 15, 5 pm
THE VILLAGE ZENDO BOOK GROUP
The discussion will be facilitated by Mukei.
The Book of Form and Emptiness
By Ruth Ozeki
He writes: “Those who read Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being will find her newest book to be very different, but equally powerful, provocative and astounding.”
“Inside? Outside? What is the difference and how can you tell? When a sound enters your body through your ears and merges with your mind, what happens to it? Is it still a sound then, or has it become something else? When you eat a wing or an egg or a drumstick, at what point is it no longer a chicken? When you read these words on a page, what happens to them, when they become you?”
― Ruth Ozeki, The Book of Form and Emptiness
The book is widely available in print, digital, and audio formats.
Here it is at Greenlight Bookstore: https://www.greenlightbookstore.com/book/9780399563645
SANGHAS SUPPORTING REFUGEES
A message from Doshin:
A large group of volunteers has assembled to sponsor and support a refugee family moving to New York City. The group, which originally started with a meeting of Village Zendo members, has grown to 40 people who have signed up to volunteer and over 50 others who have expressed interest and support. The group consists mainly of Buddhists from New York area sanghas but also includes a number of non-Buddhists.
The group, Sanghas Supporting Refugees, is in the process of partnering with HIAS, a long-established refugee resettlement agency. Originally intending to support an Afghan family, the group has been told by HIAS that a Ukrainian family is more likely though we are open to supporting people from anywhere.
We could still use more volunteers and, once we are paired with a family, will have some specific needs which VZ members might be able to help with. For example, if you know a landlord who might offer housing at a reduced rate please get in touch.
For more information, please contact Doshin at email@example.com
or visit https://villagezendo.org/sanghas-supporting-refugees/
Photo by Roshi Enkyo
From Yuuka’s daughter Vita on April 19:
I'm writing to share that my beloved mom passed away yesterday, after about four years of struggling with Progressive Muscle Atrophy (PMA) which is a rarer form of ALS. I was holding her when she died, and we were with her brother, Alex, my partner Leor, and our close longtime family friends, Laura and Larry. It happened quickly and peacefully, and it was at a point in the illness where she was ready to move on and say goodbye to her body.
My mom was truly one of a kind, and one of the most brilliant, oddest, wackiest, loving, open-hearted, playful, and thoughtful people I'll ever know. I miss her so very much, chest aching, heart exploding, and wish that I had many more decades with her. The ways that my mom interacted with the world and people around her were very specific and funny, as you know, and her clown/zen/dance/body/feldenkrais/acting/psychology genius shone through in all her words, expressions, and reactions. She mattered very very much, and her wide feet are imprinted on the world and all of us forever and ever. She said recently that everything that I love about her will continue infinitely, and I very much believe she will.
Elena Yuuka Taurke was a passionate lover of life in all its manifestations of joy, anger, intellectual rigor, play, art, dance, and theater. She was devoted to her Zen study and practice and to the teachers and Sangha of the Village Zendo. You can catch glimpses of her art, and her spirit, at her blog site: http://www.psychozen.org/
She was a treasure in my life. My heart is broken. But I am comforted when I remember that a short time ago as we gazed at the view from her apartment window, she told me that she had realized her intimate connection with all things and that meant, in a sense, that she would never die.
Yuuka was my friend, a dear one, because she was my Dharma Sister. We sat knee to knee on my first week-long retreat. And, ooof, did my knees hurt. She had immediate empathy. She quietly gave me extra cushions and a towel to roll in order to ease some pain in my aching knees. She silently sat with what came across to me as gentle determination, and so inspired me to do the same.
When we took Jukai together, she noticed I was having trouble with my hearing and was a fast advocate, asking people to speak up, so I could hear better. We received our dharma names together and from there on out, she was a warm fixture, and a real cohort, in my practice at Village Zendo.
She was always posing questions I hadn’t thought of—“Why is it this way? What about…?” And I’d find myself wondering “Why IS it that way? And what ABOUT that?”
Most of all, I’ll remember her as a true creative spirit—and how she continued to investigate creative expression until the very end. I was delighted to collaborate with her on an improvisational video project about mothers and daughters, over the course of quite a few months. I would navigate the camera among her and the other performers as they moved and spoke and sang, responding, beautifully exploring the sometimes painful, sometimes joyful, and always inexplicable knots between mothers and daughters.
I’ll never forget her bravery—and the sophistication with which she used our community to process and face her diagnosis and her final days (and through the long days of pandemic isolation, to boot). From curating a group of VZ members to form a “Complaint Company” in order (for us all) to safely share how things were really going, to founding our small group of Moving Arts Women, which she lovingly called, “MAW,” for us to share where we were at creatively, each in our own way. Not to mention the incredible way she gave her last Dharma Talk—inviting five of us to read for her, as her voice, when she was losing the muscles she needed to speak, was almost gone.
When Yuuka said goodbye to MAW in an email, she told us that our lives matter and that she loved us. It was important for me to let her know how much she had inspired me, through all our creative journeys that had intersected at the zendo—always improvising, always examining; always finding a way to face IT and express IT! And that she had taught me lessons I’ll have forever. Her expression, her life, (our life) ripples out in ways we can’t know.
Her response: “May our creative journeys always intersect.”
Yuuka's Golden Boots
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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