February 2023


February 2023

“Every day is a good day.” —Yun Men

Dear Sangha,

Happy Groundhog Day! It’s February, and just as in the Harold Ramis movie starring Bill Murray, there can sometimes be the feeling in these dreary middle months of winter that every day is pretty much the same. And while sure, one could get depressed about this, yearn for something different, something new, we Zen students (theoretically) know better. Because, yes, this is the only day we ever get—and how wonderful! 

After all, consider what opportunity this day holds! Indeed, here at the Village Zendo, each day, no matter the day, practice-enlightenment opportunities abound: zazen in-person and online, Dharma Talks, book groups, sitting groups, inquiry circles, zazenkais, fusatsus (see the calendar below for a full list of all upcoming events). Each day, there is poetry (see below for poems from Shuka and Filip). Each day, in the Zendo, and in our own private spaces—life (see below for an intimate reflection on at-home practice by Ryusho). 

What other day are we waiting for?

With warmest wishes to you all,

Taylor Plimpton


Thursday, February 2:      Dharma Talk by Soshin Sensei

Sunday, February 5:       
 Online: Practice and Inquiry Circle with Joshin Roshi

In-Person: Body, Breath and Mind,

                                                             an Intro to Zen with Howard

Thursday, February 9:        Dharma Talk by Ryotan Roshi

                                            Newcomers’ Meeting, 6:40 pm

Saturday, February 11:      Zazenkai with Dharma Talk by Soten

Sunday, February 12:         Dharma Talk by Gessho

                                            VZ Book Group, The Uses of Art, 5 pm

Thursday, February 16:     Dharma Talk by Enkyo Roshi

Sunday, February 19:         Dharma Talk by Ryoshin

Monday, February 20:        
Zendo Closed for Presidents Day

Thursday, February 23:      Fusatsu with Precepts Talk by Ryotan Roshi

Sunday, February 26:         Dharma Talk by Fugan Sensei


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

Sorting Out Your Stuff meets Tuesdays at 10 am 


Two poems from Editor-At-Large

Nina Shuka Klippel

A New York Poem
A flow of molten gold
You could gather in your hands:
The #6 train coming round the bend
Of the 14th street station,
Light from its headlamp rippling ahead
across the white tile wall.
Illumination is everywhere.

“If It Were Sound” – Poem after Denise Levertov’s “In Summer”

What can compare with the magic
of sunlight in a tree,
edging the leaves
with liquid gold?
Comes a breeze,
they ripple
in a way that,
if it were sound,
would be like tinkling bells
singing the world awake.

*Editor’s Note: If you would like to submit poetry, prose, or other expressions to the VZ Bulletin, we would be delighted to consider it for publication! Please send all submissions and story ideas to tapink24@aol.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, January 5 at 9:30 am

First Sunday of Each Month:

Online, Joshin Roshi continues her popular Practice and Inquiry Circle.

In-Person, we offer Body, Breath and Mind: An Introduction to Zen,
led by our Executive Director, Howard Thoresen.

Practice and Inquiry Circle
Image: "Timeless Spring" –Kazuaki Tanahashi

9:30am – 10:00am  —  Zazen
10:05am – 11:00am  —  Practice & Inquiry Circle, then Four Vows

Practice and Inquiry Circle, led by Joshin Roshi, explores in real time the Zen Peacemaker Precepts of Not Knowing, Bearing Witness and Compassion in Action. A theme is presented as an avenue of inquiry and participants are invited into dialogue. Listening and speaking from the heart we learn to drop into what’s newly emerging in our presence with another and find healing connection to sangha.



9:30 am to 11 am
Body, Breath and Mind: An Introduction to Zen

Howard Thoresen, the Village Zendo's Executive Director, will introduce Zen meditation and other aspects of Village Zendo practice. 

Instruction begins promptly at 9:30 am. Please arrive a few minutes early.

Recommendations for a comfortable, stable sitting posture are given, as well as guidance on how to begin a meditation practice and do walking meditation.

There will be an emphasis on finding ease in practice, and on the significance of practicing with a community and with teachers. The instruction is punctuated with short periods of silent meditation.

There will be ample opportunity for Q & A.

In-person registration is not required. Please bring proof of Vaccination including at least one booster shot, and be prepared to wear an N95 or similar mask during the program.

Donations are appreciated. Donate here and note "Intro to Zen" in the comments box. 

When we practice zazen our mind always follows our breathing. When we inhale, the air comes into the inner world. When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world. The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is limitless.

We say “inner world” or “outer world,” but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out, like someone passing through a swinging door.

If you think, “I breathe,” the “I” is extra…what we call “I” is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves, that is all.  When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no “I,”  no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door.

From Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,  by Shunryu Suzuki


Saturday, February 11


8:30 am – 12:45 pm


We invite you to participate in Village Zendo’s zazenkai, a half-day retreat that will be held both online and in person. It will include ample periods of meditation, service, a Dharma Talk, and conclude with open sozan.

Zazenkai will be held in a hybrid format, in which both virtual and in-person participants will practice together. Please note that there is separate registration for online and in-person attendance.

Please consider in-person practice.

Register for Online HERE

Register for In-Person Practice HERE

Sunday, February 12, 5 pm

Online Only


Join The Village Zendo Book Discussion of

The Uses of Art

By Sal Gessho Randolph


The Village Zendo’s own Sal Gessho Randolph will talk with us about her just-published book.

Gessho‘s book needs to be specially-ordered either from the publisher or an independent book vendor such as Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore, so don’t delay.

Gessho‘s publisher’s link is: https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9798986799018/the-uses-of-art.aspx

You can read an enticing sample of the book on Gessho‘s website:  https://linktr.ee/salrandolph

Join the online discussion on February 12th at 5pm

More On "The Uses of Art" 

On January 20, Sal Gessho Randolph celebrated her new publication with a book party and reading at the old Zendo space at 588 Broadway. Below, Filip Marinovich offers a poem to honor the occasion:

By Filip Marinovich

1. Q and A with Gessho and the Village Zendo  

                                        at 6:43 PM

I'm wondering about your writing practice
How do you do it
When do you know you've had a good session

McNally Jackson Cafe Distraction
Two hours
As with any book
There are many origin stories that braid together
A love letter to the literary types
I love most
To bring them
A bridge into
Worlds I love

I wanted to finish
Even in moments of despair

And how did you know you were finished

Once it had a shape it had holes and problems
I would love to see

How would you say your zen practice affected the book

The zen crept into it
Sitting down
Withstand yourself

Also it helps you
Withstand yourself
There's a lot of self that appears
Some say
It's a gift

.       .       .       .       .


I saw you close the eyes of Manjushri
But the eyes of Manjushri
Are wide open in here tonight
Gessho reopened the eyes of the old avocado
Where they were ceremonially closed
But who's standing on ceremony anyway? The
Only floor to stand on's nowhere vapour
Cloud trails from the March Hare exhaled
For the inhale of the incoming Water Rabbit Year

.       .       .       .       .


                                at 6:57 PM

–I love this: "EMPOWERMENT BOX."

        –You can crawl right in there if you'd like!

.       .       .       .       .


                                        at 1:02 AM

Excuse me Manjushri
We closed your eyes
So why were they wide open tonight
At the former temple

And why am I looking through them
I don't have a sword just this phone to tap
It must be Sal opened your eyes
With her voice and the words she brewed

For over a decade to make them ferment
Into heard one hand clap
And the flowering staff can't grow purple hair
The way Sal can from her acorn helmet

And now I'm sure I'm nowhere
So why do I find myself at my apartment
With friends echoing through my body
How did I live so long without your body imprint

Hugs? I must take out
The basement in this building
And put it on top of it
To show how far I'm coming from

Since the last time you saw me
I lived life as a mop and then regrew
A human body to find you tonight
Opening your book eyes to voice lash letters arising

From pages that can't stay attached to spine
But fly into our minds to spy our thoughts
So we can hear them in Sal's light
Portable amplifier whose eyes are lidless
So close them all you want just try


On At-Home Online Practice:

By Iris Ryusho Hoger

Shrunk down to one and a half square meters in a corner of the cluttered bedroom my partner and I share, my zendo doesn't allow for much hiding or idealizing. It's right here in the midst of messy family life. Sometimes I find somebody's worn socks under my altar. Or somebody's wrinkled homework diary. Or a plastic dinosaur all cuddled up to Manjushri. Can I bow to my life as it is?

Picking up my kid from school. Subway ride, crowded, smelly. Somebody asks for a few cents. So much poverty and suffering in this rich city. Rushing late into dokusan in the midst of a busy day. Roshi smiles at me from her little box on my screen, helping me fall onto my cushion and into my breath. Daughters singing or fighting in front of the door. In this raw dokusan room tingling with immediate aliveness, it doesn't make much sense to theorize about zen.

Fusatsu ceremony on a Thursday in the middle of the night as we're six hours ahead here. It was difficult to stay awake until 11:30 p.m., now it's difficult to stay awake during zazen. Very few lights still on except for somebody partying next doors. "Namo-o-o" mingles with a hip-hop bassline. I'm so tired. And happy. This. Here. My true expression temple.

 Connect With Us

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where we share events and information among the whole
Sangha. Explore these various ways of staying connected and
up to date here: 

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

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VILLAGE ZENDO – True Expression Temple

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