(Original Email Version)

Newsletter for March 2016

Vital news about the new temporary location of Tuesday sits will follow the schedule section. Take note!

Mar 1: Tues. Evening (Sands Funeral Chapel)
Mar 6: Sangha Sunday (Kokizan-ji)
Mar 8: Tues.Evening (Sands Funeral Chapel)
Mar 9: Wed. Zendo (Roseberry)
Mar 13: Half-Day Zendo (Kokizan-ji)
Mar 15: Tues.Evening (Sands Funeral Chapel)
Mar 20: Mondo Zendo (Kokizan-ji)
Mar 22:Tues.Evening (Sands Funeral Chapel)
Mar 23: Wed. Zendo (Roseberry)
Mar 29:Tues.Evening (Sands Funeral Chapel)
Special Events
Mar 3, 10, 17, 24: Zenwest Chanting Choir
Mar 17—26 Choboji Sesshin

New Venue for Tuesday Sits

By Reverend Doshu

As you may know, our usual Tuesday UVic sits have had to move out of the Interfaith Chapel during renovations, and we have been meeting in the Wallace residence on campus for the last few weeks.  This location has proven difficult for many to find, and so we will be moving to a new (off campus) location for our Tuesday sits.
Starting this Tuesday (1 Mar 2016), we will be holding our Tuesday evening sits at Sands Funeral Chapel, 1803 Quadra St, (east side of Quadra St, between North Park St and Caledonia Ave), starting at 7:00 p.m. as before.

There is lots of (free) parking in the Sands parking lot at the back (east side) of the building.  This parking lot can be accessed from either North Park St or Caledonia Ave.  Bus access is available via route #6.

The best way to enter the building is via the clearly marked entrance on the parking lot side (east side of building). The space we will be using will then be immediately on your left as you enter, and you will not have to interact with any other functions that may be going on in other parts of the building.

The management of Sands has been most accommodating of our needs.

We look forward to a renewed energy for our sits in this easy-to-find, central location.

If you have any questions about this, please just ask.

I hope to see you there soon!

Zenwest 2016 Q2 FUNdraising Drive

By Eshu Osho

2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year full of surprises at Zenwest Buddhist Society!

In early February I was invited to be the presenter at a weekend private “Examined Life” retreat hosted by a friend of Zenwest, Rory Holland (Kyoku’s brother). This was a fantastic opportunity to introduce a dozen entrepreneurs to Zen practice for the first time, as well as generating some unexpected revenue, which will help us to keep our community afloat. Apparently, the retreat was well received, and I am currently discussing the possibility of participating in a second retreat, likely in June.

Last year, I was invited to begin leading a monthly Zen meditation session for the employees of Falcon Software by Zenwest Member Gary Eisenstein, who is the President and CSO of Falcon. Our monthly sessions are continuing this year, and I’m delighted to report that Zenwest Buddhist Society has been chosen to be the beneficiary of the Falcon Charity Gala event, which will be taking place in the fall. The board and I are hoping that the Falcon Charity Gala can help Zenwest to turn a corner towards greater sustainability and prosperity.

Currently, we have a newly minted marketing team that is getting down to the work of updating our website and online offerings. We have a truly amazing amount of quality resources, and we are exploring how to better catalogue, package, and deliver these resources to a global audience, as well as how we can best use these resources to ensure the long term sustainability of our vision at Zenwest Buddhist Society.

As you can see, there is a LOT going on!

All of these initiatives will take time to get up and running. In order for our community to make it from today into the bright future, each quarter, I reach out to all Zenwest Members and Associates, as well as our friends and supporters around the world, who, like you, know first-hand the value of belonging to the Zenwest Sangha. To this end, we have launched the Zenwest Q2 Fundraising Drive.

As a non-profit organization and federal charity, a significant part of our budget relies on charitable donations, and it is up to us to generate the resources that are required to keep our community developing, to support the practice opportunities and teaching that sustains us, and to keep generating the resources that allow us to share our wonderful community around the world.

Our 2016 Q2 fundraising drive is under way. Please visit our website here to help us reach our target of $8,000 before midnight on Wednesday March 16, 2016 by making a donation today. You can make a difference by ensuring that we can continue to deliver our outstanding programming throughout 2016.

You can also contribute by submitting a cheque, payable to “Zenwest Buddhist Society” to the address below, or to the board treasurer Rev. Soshin in person.

Zenwest Buddhist Society
4970 Nagle Road
Sooke, BC
V9Z 1C7

Please remember that the Zenwest Buddhist Society is a federally registered charity, and as such, a receipt for all charitable donations will be issued, which can be used for income tax purposes.

Thank you once again for helping to make Zen come alive!

Nine bows,


January Swallowtail
By Elder Hōyū Boulter

Rocking It Out in Surprising Ways—an XYZen Event

By Seishin Ledingham

A fire was roaring in the living room as the members of XYZen began gathering in the very warm and very cozy house of Inzen. We arrived armed with snacks (thank you, Gina, for the bread-free “garlic bread” and Soshin for the “traveling nut bar.” (see recipes below); we also had art supplies ready for an evening of warmth and camaraderie.

Earlier in January, Pola selected three stories/koans from The Hidden Lamp, Stories from Twenty-five Centuries of Awakened Women for our XYZen group to be inspired by and think about in the weeks proceeding our next gathering.

(Aside: The Hidden Lamp is such a great book!  For the second time now, XYZen has taken encouragement from the women who have come before us in Zen practice.  Several years ago we were inspired by the life of Otagaki Rengetsu, a Buddhist nun, ceramic artist, marital artist, calligrapher, and poet living in Japan during the 1800s. We discovered lovely, wonderful, playful Rengetsu in Zen Women written by Grace Schireson. What a gift Rengetsu has been to me personally.)

Only after taking the time to share the stories of our own lives (and drink copious amounts of mulberry tea—thank you Inzen!) did we open The Hidden Lamp. While working with a fun array of art supplies, members made art while reading aloud the stories from the book. I not only enjoyed the stories from The Hidden Lamp, but also thoroughly enjoyed the reflections that followed by contemporary female teachers and a final series of thought-provoking questions.

It was such fun to be in the company of my fellow XYZen members, being inspired by the lives of all those who live in the pages of The Hidden Lamp—but most importantly being inspired by each other.  We were all delighted to find that we were “rocking it out in surprising ways.”

Soshin’s Travelling Nut Bar Recipe


2/3 cup non-dairy non trans-fat margarine
2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs

2 ½ cups rice flour
½ tsp salt
2 ½ tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 tsp guar gum

2 cups chocolate chips –read the label for non-dairy, non-gluten
3/4 c walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Butter a 9 × 13 pan.
Melt margarine in a pot on the stove; add sugar and mix. Cool.
When cool add 3 eggs beaten.
In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients, add in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Add all dry to marge, sugar and egg mixture. Mix well.
Pour into buttered pan, bake 30 min at 375°F.

When I Say God
After Anne-Marie Turza’s Poem:
“Dear God—And When I Say God, I mean the God”
By Shinzen Ruebsaat

I mean the God who hits
the sidearm serve
in the volleyball match.  I’m positioned with
my rubber soled non-slip runners planted
on the gym floor to receive
the ball.  I angle my shoulders
to give direction, look only
at that ball as it hurtles
in its orbit towards me. “It’s mine!”
I shout, victorious, as I have been trained to do.
on the human team on our side
of the net holds their breath.
But that dirty grey orb, just before
I make contact, that mysterious
circle begins a new float and spin and when
I connect, the ball smacks off the side of my forearm,
it careens way outside the red line.
That’s the God I mean,
that God with the nasty side arm swing.

Meet A Member: Inzen Jordan
When did you start on the path?  And where?

I was born in England, but spent my childhood in Pakistan. I remember learning about Buddhism at school, in history class. I just loved how non-divisive it was, compared to Islam and Christianity, which, in Pakistan at that time, and in my family, were very divisive indeed.

Ten years ago, for the first half of 2006, Sei-in and I travelled through Southeast Asia with our kids. We spent ten days in Hue, Vietnam. There is a nunnery there, called the Chu Tay Linh nunnery, affiliated with Thich Naht Hanh’s lineage. By chance, I had read about this place, and the Abbess there, in a book I picked up along our travels. We visited, and were treated to the most delightful vegetarian lunch there, and I spent time with a senior nun called Huyin Dung, an amazing person.

At the time, my kids were really little, and daily life (when not swanning it around Southeast Asia) was a real challenge. I often felt tired and overwhelmed. We had dealt with huge personal trauma and losses, and our big trip, away from Canada, had given us breathing space.

I remember saying to Huyin that I didn’t know how I could possibly practice; I had these little kids, I was tired all the time, and life was just . . . hard. Huyin listened and then responded with, “Yes..” It was a compassionate yes—one that affirmed none of that was going to go away. At the time, this was key, because I hadn’t come across much information supporting the householder path.

What, in terms of life challenges, brought you to the practice of meditation?

Well, aside from the family losses, I returned to school to do my MA in Counselling Psychology in the fall of 2006. I’ve always understood that to be able to hold the space for the pain, and sometimes anguish my clients are in, I have to be able to sit with and tolerate my own pain and anguish. I knew I needed to get better at this so I could bring my full presence to each client.

Why do you continue?

I am a better person when I sit! Meditation is one of my most valuable resources to stay regulated and whole, to be embodied and grounded, and so to deal with my life. This does not mean I always want to do it, but I do feel better afterwards, so there’s that!

What do you find, at this time, is your greatest challenge in walking the way?

Getting out to the sangha events and the scheduled sits. I haven’t been to one in over a year at least!  Just not finding the time with our growing family and our work schedules. I do try to stay connected to some sangha members, because it is so lovely to support each other. That’s why I host XYZen.

If you could share one bit of practical advice about sitting zazen, what would it be?

Wherever you are in your practice, have compassion for your process. And a short sit is better than no sit!

Finally, in three words can you express what Buddha, Dharma, Sangha means for you?

Acceptance, Awareness, Homecoming.

By Jusan Barton
My name is Jusan and I have been involved with Zenwest since 2007. I was in my early twenties when a friend in Victoria (Yushin) recommended I attend the Tuesday evening sit. I enjoyed the structure and ritualism of the evening, and subsequently jumped into Zenwest’s activities enthusiastically. Shortly after taking the Intro to Zen Orientation course I attended a one-day intensive. The day was a big struggle and afterwards I ran far, far away! It took about six months before I came back to Zenwest, and I have tried to maintain a consistent practice ever since. Since 2011, I have been living away from Victoria and now reside in Nanaimo with my best friend and partner in life, Myosen. We were very fortunate to have our wedding blessed with the presence of some sangha members. Zen permeates every part of my life now, and I am forever grateful that I found Zenwest.Being away from Victoria has presented a challenge in cultivating a consistent practice. I had not realized, until I was gone, how much I valued the people that sat on the cushions beside me. Although we were for the most part silent, there was a real connection that developed in sitting, bowing, eating, and walking together. Those connections inspired me to sit and develop my own practice. I have recognized that without sangha interaction, I struggle to sustain my motivation. The online postings, emails, phone cells, and now this newsletter are all helpful to support me in staying in touch and connected to this wonderful group.

In response to a lack of an in-person sangha, I have recently started attempting to get a monthly Nanaimo sitting group happening. This is a new development and I am hoping it can become more established over the next few months. We currently meet at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s interfaith chapel on the second Tuesday of the month. Our timing lines up with the sitting group in Victoria at 7 p.m.

I look forward to continuing to practice with Zenwest, and thoroughly appreciate the consistent efforts the sangha puts forth to connect members over the internet.

Jusan at Ruby Beach. Apparently standing on water. Impressive.

Lend An Ear

By Kozan Nishigaya

Hello, members and associates of Zenwest! The marketing team is looking for some volunteers for a project. We are starting to transcribe and tag all of our talks and videos. We would like to use some automated transcribing software to convert Eshu’s talks and videos to text, but given the specialized words and names in Buddhism, we are expecting that some of the words will be incorrectly transcribed.  Volunteers would be requested to proofread the transcripts as you listen to the talks and correct any mistakes that you come across. You would also be responsible for picking two or three keywords that describe the content of the talk.
If you are interested in helping us out, please let me know. This could be a fabulous opportunity to catch up on talks that you have missed and deepen your practice. Please contact Kozan at anishi@gmail.com.

Ask Eshu!

Each month we would like to feature a randomly selected question answered by our abbot, Eshu Osho, in a video response. If you have a short, simple, and succinct question you’d like to submit, please send it in email to news@zenwest.ca with the subject heading “Ask Eshu” by March 15th. Help us get this idea realized!

Letter to the Editor (Our first one!)

Dear editor and newsletter staff:

I just read with interest the latest edition of our newsletter. I wanted to pass along a big thank you! It was so interesting and well put together. Each of the articles were so well written. It was great to read the article from one of our distance members—I actually know Rich Moore and have stayed with he and his lovely wife in their home. A truly delightful couple! As one of the three treasures, we know that sangha is one of those three. Well, I would say that one of our sangha’s treasures is our newsletter. It gets better and better, informs us of all the happenings, all while teaching us about our practice through member contributions. Bravo, I say, Bravo!

Humble bows,


Here the editorial staff, Hōyū, Renée, and Kyōkū blush and say “Garsh…”

Write On!

You are encouraged to share a poem, haiku, meditative moment, or a photo in our monthly Zenwest e-newsletter. Send your submissions to news@zenwest.ca 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. Together, “We Make Zen Come Alive!”

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