September 2022





September 2022

                                                 Sunset over the Hudson River



Dear Sangha,

Maybe it’s because I never really grew up, but September still feels to me like the start of the year—summer drawing to a close, back to work, back to school. It’s a time to begin again, and recommit to our practice, our inquiry. We are, after all, students of the Way, and the Village Zendo is our school—the institution that helps us conduct our investigations into this great matter of life and death. 

And what a school it is! Consider, for instance, our teachers—an ever-growing wealth of compassionate human beings committed to guiding us (and each other) on this strange journey. (See below for a full list of those empowered to teach at the Zendo, as well as for an “interview on interview,” in which Shinryu Roshi discusses daisan and dokusan, the intimate face-to-face encounters with teachers where students can check in on their practice.) Or consider the new and ongoing classes the Zendo offers—this month includes the start of a new Path Class on the Ox Herder, for instance—not to mention guest lectures, book groups, and so on. The dharmas are boundless, as we say—and so are our opportunities to learn and grow.

So, without further ado, back to school we go!

Deep bows to you all,

Taylor Plimpton 

Interim Editor



Thursday, September 1: Dharma Talk by Musho

Sunday, September 4: Online—Practice and Inquiry Circle with Joshin Roshi

                                    In-person—Body, Breath and Mind, an Introduction to Zen

Monday, September 5:
Zendo closed

Thursday, September 8: Dharma Talk by Yugetsu

                                Newcomers’ Meeting,  6:40 pm

Saturday, September 10: Zazenkai, with Dharma Talk by Soshin

Sunday, September 11: Dharma Talk by Roshi Enkyo

Thursday, September 15: Dharma Talk by Daishi

Sunday, September 18: Guest Speaker Judith Ragir, 9:30 – 11 am

                              Path of the Ox Herder, 1:30 – 4 pm

Thursday, September 22: Fusatsu, with Talk by Myoko

Sunday, September 25: Dharma Talk by Mukei

Thursday, September 29: Dharma Talk by Ryotan Roshi


Ongoing Online Groups:       

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, September 18, 9:30 am to 11 am

Hybrid event/register HERE for in-person
or attend online without registering
Judith Byakuren Ragir

Presenting Her New Book

Untangling Karma

Intimate Zen Stories on Healing Trauma

9:30 am: Zazen (Zen Meditation)
10:05 – 11 am: Presentation and Discussion

Judith Ragir (also known as Byakuren in Buddhist circles) is a Dharma teacher in the Zen lineage of Katagiri Roshi. She was instrumental in founding the Clouds in Water Zen Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she was the Guiding Teacher for nine years and is currently Senior Dharma Teacher Emeritus. An accomplished artist, Ragir makes Buddhist-inspired quilts which are on display in Buddhist Centers around the United States. Her written pieces have appeared in many anthologies, including The Eightfold Path, Zen Teachings in Challenging Times, The Hidden Lamp, The Path of Compassion, Seeds of Virtue-Seeds of Change and Receiving the Marrow.  In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Judith was a dancer in the Trisha Brown Dance Company in New York City and also appeared in two one-woman shows of her own choreography. After her dance career, she was a doctor of Chinese medicine using acupuncture, acupressure, and Chinese herbs until she became a Zen priest in 1996.

She lives with her husband, has two adult sons, and now has a small temple in the woods – Mirror Lake Temple

Untangling Karma is available at your local bookseller.



Starts Sunday, September 18, 1:30 pm to 4 pm

Path of the Ox Herder 2022

A monthly online class 

With Roshi Enkyo O’Hara and Roshi Joshin O’Hara

Sundays 1:30 – 4:00pm


How do we practice in a world on fire? Where do we put our energies? What are we to do? And more importantly not to do?
In this class—Path of the Ox Herder, based on the 12th century text of Zen enlightenment, The Ten Ox Herding Pictures—we will pose questions. And work not as much to find answers as new ways of seeing.
Roshis Enkyo and Joshin will elaborate on the depiction of the steps to becoming a bodhisattva. The class will be interactive and comprise exercises that encourage us to reflect on the challenges of each stage as it relates to where we are in our lives.
The class email Listserv will serve as a log of engagement with the questions raised. They can be in the form of your thoughts, poems, prose, photos, more questions—whatever appeals.
We hope you will join us for this new turn of the dharma wheel. You’ll have great companions on the ride!
Dates: Sept 18, Oct 23, Nov 27, Jan 22, Feb 26, March 26, April 23, May 28, June 25, July 16 

Fees: Members $300; Non-members $350

Register HERE

For questions email:


Summer was a season for empowerments at the Village Zendo, with five longtime practitioners receiving Dharma Transmission and some becoming newly entitled to give the Buddhist precepts.

The Dharma Transmission and Preceptor ceremonies took place at the VZ’s summer ango retreat at Wisdom House in Litchfield, Connecticut.


On July 29, Jeremy Tokuyu Manasia and Allan JoAn Tibbetts received Denkai, becoming senior priests who are entitled to give the precepts and empower others to give them. At the same ceremony, Timothy Bokushu Tucker became a Lay Preceptor. He is also entitled to give the precepts, and to empower future Lay Preceptors.

On July 30, Enkyo Roshi gave Dharma Transmission to Jeremy Tokuyu Manasia and Allan JoAn Tibbetts. They received the title “Sensei” and are empowered to teach the Dharma independently.

On the same day, Ryotan Roshi gave Dharma Transmission to Lisa Soshin Dufour, Douglass Fugan Dineen and Timothy Bokushu Tucker. They too received the title “Sensei” and may teach independently.

All the recipients had been serving as assistant teachers (hoshis) at the Village Zendo and its affiliates for a number of years:

Tokuyu Manasia is a musician, composer and college professor and serves on the teaching staff of the Village Zendo in New York City.

JoAn Tibbetts works with emerging adults in college health as a registered nurse and teaches at the New Paltz Zen Center, a VZ affiliate in New Paltz, New York.

Soshin Dufour is the director of Human Resources for a non-profit environmental organization. She teaches at Oxbow Zen, a VZ affiliate in Western Massachusetts.

Fugan Dineen is a musician and ethnomusicologist. He teaches at the Hyannis Zendo, a VZ affiliate in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

Bokushu Tucker is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. He serves on the teaching staff of the Village Zendo in New York City.

A full list of the Village Zendo teaching staff:

Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Abbot and co-founder of Village Zendo
Roshi Barbara Joshin O’Hara, co-founder of Village Zendo
Roshi Randall Ryotan Eiger, guiding teacher of Empty Hand Zen Center (New Rochelle, New York)
Roshi Sinclair Shinryu Thomson, co-founder of Centro Zen Phajjsi Qollut Jalsu (La Paz, Bolivia)
Roshi Julie Myoko Terestman
Sensei Jeremy Tokuyu Manasia
Sensei Allan Jo An Tibbetts, founder of New Paltz Zen Center (New Paltz, New York)
Sensei Lisa Soshin Dufour, co-founder of Oxbow Zen Sangha (Northampton, Massachussetts)
Sensei Dug Fugan Dineen, co-founder of Hyannis Zendo (Hyannis, Massachussetts)
Sensei Timothy Bokushu Tucker
Hoshi Traven Fusho Rice

This does not include other Dharma successors of Enkyo Roshi:

Roshi Jules Shuzen Harris, Abbot and founder of Soji Zen Center (Lansdowne, Pennsylvania)
Sensei Catherine Anraku Hondorp, co-founder of Two Streams Zen (Westhampton, Massachusetts)
Sensei Deirdre Eisho Peterson, founder of Red Rocks Zen (Sedona, Arizona)
Sensei Robert Kaku Gunn (1943—2021), founder of Deep Ocean Zendo (Virginia Beach, Virginia)





By Iris Ryusho Hoger

The Bulletin spoke with Shinryu Roshi about our practice of checking in with a teacher on a regular basis.

Interviewer: Shinryu Roshi, thank you so much for shedding some light on our practice of dokusan, and maybe also demystifying it a bit and making it more accessible. Why is interview an essential part of our practice? And why is it important to do it with a teacher?
Shinryu Roshi: Well, in a way I think it’s just like zazen. It’s a way to see our minds, to let go of our thoughts and just see ourselves as we are in the moment. And I think it’s also a good complement to zazen. Sometimes it’s good to have an outside reference point and to just check ourselves and see if we could re-center a little bit one way or another. It’s like checking your posture in zazen. And why do we do it with a teacher? It’s not that the teacher has some kind of perfect perspective, but a teacher is just someone like you who’s been doing this for a long time. So they may have their own delusions and struggles, but they also have some experience under their belts that hopefully can serve them to help you stay on track.

Interviewer: Could you say a few words about the form of dokusan?

Shinryu Roshi: On a practical level there’s a little bit of formality when we start and finish—and in the middle there’s no formality (laughs). We start by bowing to the teacher and then we take our seat. And the first thing we do is we give our name and our practice: “My name is XY and my practice is following the breath, or koan study, or just sitting,” for example, so the teacher knows what kind of practice you’re doing. And then it’s totally open, completely wide open, and you can bring up anything that you want as long as it’s about practice in some sense. The best thing is not to have a whole story in your head when you go into interview, but to be very present to what’s happening in that moment. When you feel you have reached a stopping point, then you can just put your hands together and bow. Or the teacher can also bow or ring the bell to indicate that the interview is over. And then the student stands up and does a standing bow. So we end with a little bit of formality as well.

Interviewer: What makes interview different from, let’s say, an encounter with a teacher in the cloak-room?

Shinryu Roshi: The student’s job in interview is to be a student. And the teacher’s job is to be a teacher. So the teacher will try to uphold that position of being a teacher. And the student will try to occupy the place of the student. In another moment, you know, we meet in the cloak room, and we might have a very different kind of relationship. But in the interview we have a teacher-student relationship. Interview is not a social conversation. It’s not chit-chat, it’s not catching up. It’s going straight to the core of the matter. So normally interview is meant to be fairly brief and direct. And usually that’s the most useful. 

Interviewer: What should a student bring to dokusan?

Shinryu Roshi: What I love about dokusan is the sincerity that people bring to interview. As long as that’s there, I think the interview is valid and beneficial. So that’s the most important thing for the student to bring. They don’t have to have a brilliant idea, they don’t have to have even a question. But if they come in with opened heart-mind and sincerity, then it will be worthwhile. The teacher will try to meet them wherever they are. Whatever the student brings to the encounter is really what they’re going to get out of the encounter. It’s not something that the teacher is going to provide. It’s actually what the student brings to it that is the true value for the student.

Interviewer: Thank you very much, Shinryu Roshi.



The VZ Bulletin welcomes the new Jukai class. Below, a list of Jukai participants and their new Dharma Names.

David Kunin                       JIMON         慈門   Compassion Gate

Ronit Jinich                        SAISHŌ       済奨   Liberating Urge 

Anne Morrell Goodale          SEISHIN      清心   Pure Clear Mind

Jerome Miller                      KEIGEN.      啓玄   Unfold the Mystery 

Adam Harrison Levy            SEIDŌ:       清道   Clear Way

Louise Contin                      JIKAI         持戒    One who Upholds Precepts

Elizabeth Rossa                   KŌDŌ        光道    Illuminate Way; Way of Light 

Miguel Montero                   KIMON       気門   Energy Gate 

Rachel Lawrence                 KAISHIN     海心   Ocean Heart 

Iris Hoger                           RYŪSHŌ     龍翔   Fly like a Dragon  
Alison Cunningham              KYŪSEI      誠究   Sincere Study



Sanghas Supporting Refugees

The Zendo's VZ Action project Sanghas Supporting Refugees has been matched with a refugee family! We are now looking for housing for them.

Please share this widely via email, listservs, with brokers or landlords you know, etc.

Thank you!

Volunteer Group Seeking Housing for Refugee Family

A group of volunteers is looking for a studio or one bedroom apartment for a two person refugee family seeking asylum in the US. The family's new home needs to be close to public transportation, in Brooklyn, Queens, or Manhattan, and the rent should be no more than $1600, preferably less.

One of our group will guarantee the lease and we have raised funds to support them until they can do so themselves. They are legally able to work and are actively seeking employment.

We would like to find housing for them as soon as possible and no later than October 1st.

For more information, or to share ideas for housing, email


October 9 at 5pm

Village Zendo Book Discussion Series

As this training period's Shuso, Shugo was invited to choose a book for the VZ book discussion series. He chose This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers by Jeff Sharlet


Shugo wrote this about his choice: We often think of darkness as somehow lacking—that which lacks light, and therefore lacks the nature of illuminating what we really want to see: the truth. After all, the Buddha was enlightened. But the relationship of light and darkness is at the heart of our practice; is itself the practice. In This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers, journalist Jeff Sharlet takes us on a journey of pictures and stories with this relationship as our guide. He writes, "Darkness isn't the absence of light, it's the presence of ink.The stuff from which letters and words and stories are made. Darkness moves; it flows from one letter, from one image, to the next." Joy, pain, hope, despair—the stuff of light and darkness. We flow with Sharlet's beautiful writing, with the stories of strangers, with our own stories. The book is widely available in hardback and ebook formats, including here at Greenlight Bookstore:


November 6, 2022

The Elder Years:

Grit, Growth, Grace

Dear Sangha,
Thanks very much to those of you who responded to the survey inquiring about topics of interest for the sessions we are planning on the overarching theme, "The Elder Years: Grit, Growth, Grace."  
The topics of most interest that emerged from the survey will be addressed in online sessions: "The Path of Wisdom and Compassion: Spiritual Challenges, Gifts and Practice in the Elder Years," scheduled to take place the afternoon of November 6, 2022, and "Laying the Foundation: Planning for Safety, Security and Support," scheduled for the afternoon of December 4, 2022. If additional topics of interest emerge during those sessions, we will consider developing additional session(s) aimed at illuminating the elder years.  
More information will follow in the coming weeks. We hope you are able to join us for these sessions.  


Soten, Ann Danoff, Seigen, ChoGaku
P.S. The impetus for this program arose during the VZ book club's discussion last Fall of Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, which addresses America's moral and medical failures regarding our elders.



On Being a Part of the

VZ Lifelines to Solitary

Prison Letter-Writing Program

By Marjorie ChoGaku McCoy

I’ve been writing to “Johnny” since April 2019. Unlike most of the incarcerated men and women who are matched with Village Zendo letter-writing volunteers through our affiliation with the national organization Solitary Watch (, Johnny was given (or sold) my name and the VZ address by an acquaintance at Angola Prison who stopped writing to me when I declined to do research for his autobiography or type his handwritten drafts. 

In his first letter to me after I agreed to correspond with him, Johnny asked me to commit to writing each other religiously once a month. I did so, and have kept that commitment. Johnny’s letters come sporadically. Sometimes I get an eight-page letter. Sometimes he sends a card with a simple message. Sometimes I receive little handmade gifts. I’ve come to understand the difficulties Johnny faces in trying to write regularly. These include his unspecified long-term psychiatric illness, a painful condition in his writing hand, and frequent moves within the prison, particularly during the pandemic when he was exposed several times to COVID in the overcrowded 60-person dorms.

Johnny has been incarcerated at Angola since his early 20s. He will be 60 in November. I have not asked about his conviction and, although he says he wants me to know what he did, he has not yet told me. Johnny has spent almost his entire adult life in the hellhole that is Angola (Louisiana State Penitentiary) Prison—a former plantation in the north-central part of the state. Today, the incarcerated men take the place of slaves who originally worked the fields. The late Albert Woodfox, a longtime Angola prisoner, graphically described conditions in Angola in his award-winning book, Solitary ( No sentient being should have to endure Angola imprisonment. It’s a national disgrace.

But I can’t fix this. Not for Johnny, not for anyone. For the most part, I’ve come to terms with this. My letter-writing practice renders the Three Pure Precepts real for me. Not Knowing, Bearing Witness, Compassionate Action for Self and Other—these arise every time I pick up my pen to write Johnny, send him a prayer, blessing, or article he might appreciate. Every time I find an envelope from him in my mailbox and save it for a quiet time. Every month I don’t hear from him and wonder if he’s okay, still alive; will he ever write again.

There are no fixes. Only relationship. Only learning, experiencing, caring. I don’t know what I thought I was getting into when I agreed to correspond with Johnny. I simply know he has deepened my practice, opened my eyes and softened my heart in a way no one else could ever do.

If you’re interested in joining the VZ Lifelines to Solitary group to correspond with an incarcerated man or woman, please contact ChoGaku at Everyone is welcome to learn more about this practice by attending our next meeting on October 8, 2022 at 1:30 in the VZ Zoom room).

 We communicate in three places online:
our email list, a Facebook page, and a list
where we share events and information among the whole
Sangha. Explore these various ways of staying connected and
up to date here:

Editor-at-Large: Nina Shuka Klippel
Interim Editor: Taylor Plimpton
Managing Editor/ Design & Production: Howard Thoresen


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In these trying times, the Village Zendo still relies on your support.
If you are able, please make a donation and type
"DANA" in the Comments box. Thank you!

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