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,
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
A New York Poem
Nina Shuka Klippel
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,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
. 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
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:
TIMESTAMPS FOR SAL GESSHO RANDOLPH
1. Q and A with Gessho and the Village Zendo
By Filip Marinovich
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
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
Also it helps you
There's a lot of self that appears
It's a gift
. . . . .
2. DEAR ROSHI,
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
. . . . .
FILIP AND ROSHI
at 6:57 PM
–I love this: "EMPOWERMENT BOX."
–You can crawl right in there if you'd like!
. . . . .
3. ODE TO GESSHO
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
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: Taylor Plimpton
Editor-at-Large: Nina Shuka Klippel
Managing Editor/ Design & Production: Howard Thoresen
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!