From the frontispiece of the edition of the Diamond Sutra printed in 868 CE. It is perhaps the oldest known printed book. This frontispiece is the one of the earliest known printed images.
April Events: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, Oh My!
April’s birthstone gem is the diamond (no joke!) and how appropriate given the month is chockful of events celebrating the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha!
Dharma ~ April 1–3
Genjo Marinello, Osho, Abbot of Chobo-ji of our sister temple in Seattle is scheduled to come to Victoria. Genjo Osho is our Abbott’s teacher. At the time of this writing he is engaged in the practice of touching heart-mind at the Chobo-ji Sesshin with Esho Oshu and the Reverend Soshin McMurchy. This weekend of practice hot off of them their burning up on their cushions for a week should be very juicy! There will be opportunity for associates and members who are not able to participate in intensive practice to engage in an afternoon workshop on the Ten Oxherding Pictures and a Saturday evening Social Potluck at the Kokizan-ji Temple in Sooke, as well as the half-day intensive Saturday morning and practice on Sunday morning. Please see link for info, fees and suggested donations for partial participation: http://zenwest.ca/index.php/sangha-events/111-genjo-2
Sangha ~ April 10
This event takes the ‘grim’ out of pilgrimage! Our first annual half-pilgrimage is scheduled to commence at 10 a.m. at the parking lot behind Willow Wind Feed store, near the intersection of Sooke Road (#14) and Glen Lake Road. It’s a little less daunting than the start in downtown Victoria, and also differs in that this is not a silent pilgrimage; members and associates are encouraged to socialize and support each other along the way. The pilgrimage to Kokizan-ji is approximately 18 beautiful kilometres, so you will have 3–4 hours to spend with your sangha mates. We’re hoping to have some social/refreshments stations along the way and will be looking for support volunteers and shuttling back to vehicles at the end of the walk. More info here: http://zenwest.ca/index.php/sangha-events/127-pilgrimage-2
Buddha ~ April 24
More fun, food, and Sangha! This annual event, the Buddha’s Birthday Party, will again be held at the Kokizan-ji Temple in Sooke, 10am–12pm. Associates, members, and their friends and family are welcome to join us for this morning of storytelling, ceremony, and fun! We will wrap up the event with a community potluck. More info here: http://zenwest.ca/index.php/sangha-events/15-buddhas-birthday-2016
If you have any questions about these events, or would like to volunteer, please email Janine.Theobald@gmail.com.
See you in April!
Janine, Zenwest Buddhist Society Events Coordinator
Join us for Tuesday Zen
Settling in at Sands Funeral Chapel on Quadra Street has gone very smoothly due in great part to the attention to detail and kindness of our host, Sands’ managing director, Nolan Adam. Sands has provided us with hot water for our famous sangha circle tea, along with heaters, additional lighting, and a storage room for our kit. Best of all, parking is plentiful and free.
What a wonderful, visible space, right here in downtown Victoria! Coming soon will be a sign on Quadra Street announcing our Tuesday night practice. During the Tuesday, March 8th tea circle, Eshu Oshu remarked that there was a “palpable sense of settling in.”
Join us in town at Sands Funeral Chapel on the corner of Quadra and North Park where “We Make Zen Come Alive!” Feel free to share this information with your friends and family
Upcoming Orientation to Zen Buddhist Practice Course
By Reverend Doshu
I’m quite partial to aphorisms, little folk-wisdom nuggets that can help in navigating life. One that comes to mind when thinking of the upcoming orientation course is “Well begun is half done.” If you want to dig into the adventure that is Zen practice, the time and energy spent in developing a strong foundation for your practice will serve you well. The benefits of practice do not come from thinking about, dreaming about, or reading about Zen. You must get your butt on a cushion (or chair), and do it regularly in order to realize the transformation that Zen meditation practice offers.
Most of us would be only too happy to experience reduced stress, a clearer and less busy mind, improved focus and awareness, a boosted immune system, and improved sleeping patterns, or to gain insight into the mental, physical, and emotional habits that are preventing us from living life fully. The question is, can we manage the challenges of developing the regular sitting habits that can lead us? YES we can! Yes YOU can! Let the commitment of joining the course carry you forward. Let the accountability to the group keep you steadfast. Let the obstacles that slow you down in life come into clear view so you can move beyond them. Let the wild rumpus begin!
If this is the movement you want in your life, this course can provide a gentle yet powerful launching pad. When you persevere in this practice, you will be blown away by what arises. Remember the gem, often attributed to Goethe: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”.
For registration and other details, please click here.
I look forward to supporting you however I can, through this course or otherwise.
By Elder Hōyū BoulterA mirror.
To see into the eyes of my fears, my guilt, my imperfections, me as victim,
me as unworthy,
me as not good enough.
Not a sleeve nor a solution will wipe this clean.
Until I look closer deep into eyes gazing, eyes radiating compassion, kindness, love.
And realize that the first glance was a mere error.
And you holding the mirror, a gift.
“Inner Bee-ing” by Sarah Evans
A Home Blessing
By Seizan Phillips
Some months ago, when I made the decision to move, I thought about the possibility of having my new home blessed. I approached Eshu Osho on this matter, and he agreed to do so once I had moved.
As you know, moving—even under all the right circumstances—can be a stressful event! Oh yes! Fast forward about 4 months after the fact; once the dust had settled and I felt that my home was ready, I let Eshu Osho know that it was time.
On the evening of March 7th, with Eshu Osho, some close friends, and a few close sangha family members, the ceremony was conducted. It consisted of the use of sage, cedar, water and a candle and string, and, of course, chanting! Lots of chanting! With Eshu Osho leading me, we spent a few moments in each room using each of the items mentioned. In between each use, we bowed at the butsudan, while the chanting continued. Each element has specific meaning, and the ceremony was quite moving.
One could see the use of each of the elements, including the water coming from the well on our temple property, but one could ask, “What is the purpose of the string?” At the beginning of the ceremony, the string was passed behind each person, all of them gathered in the living room. At the end of the ceremony, Eshu Osho collected the string into a circular collection and cut it. Each person was given a piece and asked to tie it around their wrist. They were to wear it for a week. The purpose for this, you ask? It was twofold: one to take back to each of the guests’ home some of the “magic” of the ceremony; and second, as a support to the host of the home being blessed.
It was a wonderful experience on several levels to have had this done. A person’s home is, at least in my view, their sanctuary. It should feel safe and secure as well as inviting and welcoming. Having some sangha family members and friends there to be involved and support me in this ceremony truly made me feel loved and supported.
I want to thank my teacher, Eshu Osho, and all the sangha family and friends who attended and supported me in this event. As I sit back in my home, it feels all is well with the world, and this gives me the strength and hopefully the ability to take this out into our world, trying at all times to be a good fellow Buddhist walking the path we call our life.
Meet a Member
When did you start on the path? And where?
I started practicing with Zenwest about three years ago at the Tuesday night UVic sits. I was very excited about it because I had done a lot of reading about Zen, and was really into composers who thought Zen was the best thing in the whole world. It took me a while to see a reason to keep coming consistently though, and I gave it up after only a few months. I came back after a summer of not doing any sitting at all and started doing practically every Zenwest event. Having a really regular sitting schedule let me see the effects of the practice much quicker than before, and gave me the confidence that this actually was a worthwhile thing to pursue.
What, in terms of life challenges, brought you to the practice of meditation?
I was having trouble reconciling what I wanted from my life. I had started a music degree, but I had many doubts as to whether this was a place I should be, and wondered if I should be doing something that would help build a more secure future. This was a constant question for me, and it seemed like sitting down to just let the stories unravel in my head was the only way I could stay sane. After a few months of Zen practice I had an experience of an intense quieting of the racing thoughts that I was beginning to think were always going to be there no matter what I did.
Why do you continue?
I continue because I know the effects of this kind of practice have a huge positive effect on the world around me. It seems kind of silly at times, but whenever I have serious doubts about if Zen practice is worthwhile something comes up that reaffirms its value.
What do you find, at this time, is your greatest challenge in walking the way?
My greatest challenge since the beginning has been trying to keep a regular daily practice. I know that this is the fastest way to “catch fire,” but letting myself sit for even a few minutes every single day is the hardest thing.
If you could share one bit of practical advice about sitting zazen, what would it be?
My advice would be to realize that if you are having trouble with the posture or koans or the form, and if you persevere long enough, you will eventually understand why those things are part of what we do. It is actually better to have serious trouble sometimes, in my opinion, because only then will you really learn to appreciate why things exist in the first place. In terms of sitting specifically, try to settle into a posture that is right for your body, and to know that the pain you experience will eventually mold your body into a stable and balanced position.
Finally, in three words, can you express what Buddha, Dharma, Sangha mean for you?
Buddha is your own understanding. Dharma is your own understanding. Sangha is your own understanding.
My name is Roy Blackwell, I live in Lund, BC, with my wife Rayana, two dogs and a cat. I have been a distance member with Zenwest for over 3 years and an associate member for 3 years before that. We celebrated my 60th birthday last July.
My Zen practice started at age 19 in university when I was assigned a presentation on Zen Buddhism and tried zazen from instructions in Philip Kapleau’s Three Pillars of Zen. I read D.T. Suzuki as well as Kapleau Roshi for the presentation and laugh when I remember the conclusions I came to. Intrigued and puzzled by my reading, I did come to the proper conclusion that the only way to understand Zen was to experience Zen through practice. I started a morning and evening sitting schedule and took zazen breaks on the toilet between classes. Sitting zazen on toilets has stuck with me to this day. 🙂
I met Kosen Eshu Osho at an evening sit at the Vancouver Zen Centre and was drawn to his authenticity and humour. I took a Zen vacation to Victoria and sat with Eshu again on an afternoon in a church basement in Oak Bay. I started my associate membership after sitting regularly with Eshu online with his morning zazen cast in 2010.
My practice today consists of zazen in the morning, most days or somedays, and evening, some days, and on the toilet everyday. I chant while driving. Samu is cooking. Cooking and cleaning has been my work practice from university days and I have owned restaurants, and cooked, for 20 years now.
Our present restaurant is built out over the harbour of a village at the entrance to Desolation Sound on the northeastern shore of the Salish Sea. One of my practice goals this year is a sesshin, and I would very much like to meet as many Zenwest members as I can.
Comments from someone who listens to the Zenwest podcasts
I’m a regular viewer of your videos and some podcasts. As you mentioned, we can drop a line on what brought us to Zen, so here is my journey to Zen:I’m 67 years old. When I was in my early thirties I started reading The Three Pillars of Zen by Roshi Kapleau; later came Zen Mind Beginners Mind by Roshi Shunryu Suzuki, and The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. I live in the Country of Mexico and there are not enough Zen centres or groups.
Years later I found a Zen Centre, a branch of the Rochester Zen Enter in Mexico City, where I began to attend and learn about zazen. I got my zafu and zabuton and it was a wonderful experience. After so many years and many other books, I stop attending the centre because I moved to Guadalajara in the west of Mexico, got married, and had 2 kids 25 years ago.
There were no Zen centres in Guadalajara, so I practiced by myself and continuously as my daily activities and family would permit. Last year I found the website of Zenwest and I started watching all your videos.
I’m practicing daily with the help and support of Eshu in the video, which is of great help to me, as three years ago I was diagnosed with COPD and had cervical dystonia. I follow your instructions to meditate in a chair as I have severe movement problems.
I spread the word about the Zenwest Buddhist Society to all the people I know that have an interest in Zen Buddhism.
Each month we would like to feature a randomly selected question answered by our abbot, Eshu Osho, in a video response. (Click that for an example of Eshu talking.) If you have a short, simple, and succinct question you’d like to submit, please send it in email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “Ask Eshu” by May 15th. Help us get this idea realized!
The person who is supposed to make these happen is Kyōkū, the layout editor of our three person newsletter team. That’s me, the person writing this. We’ve had a couple of these ideas sent in but I dropped the ball and didn’t make it happen in time. I apologize for my negligence. My goal is to promptly arrange a meeting with Eshu Osho, get my camera and audio equipment ready, figure out how to insert a video into these newsletters, and make this happen for the May newsletter.
I lived in Japan for the 1980s and experienced a few times the super deep bow (prostratation actually) for gratitude or apology. The thanker or apologizer gets right down and touches his or her head to the ground. Once when my wife was in Japan and I was in Canada, and I had done something that she was grateful for, she put the following awesome emoticon at the end of her text message of thanks:
Look at it and think of someone prostrated before you in gratitude or apology. That’s me. Please ASK ESHU by May 15 and I’ll get on the ball this time and film his response.
You are encouraged to share a poem, haiku, meditative moment, or a photo in our monthly Zenwest e-newsletter. Send your submissions to email@example.com by the 20th of each month. Those wishing to be assigned small reporting duties of sangha events can connect with Hoyu at TommiWrites@gmail.com.