(Original Email Version)

Newsletter for May 2016

Quite a variety of stuff this month. Happy scrolling and reading!


May 1: Sangha Sunday (Kokizan-ji)
May 3: Tues. Evening (Sands)
May 10: Tues. Evening (Sands)
May 11: Wed. Zendo (Roseberry)
May 15: Half-Day Zendo (Kokizan-ji)
May 17: Tues. Evening (Sands)
May 22: Half-Day Zendo (Kokizan-ji)
May 24: Tues.Evening (Sands)
May 29: Half-Day Zendo (Kokizan-ji)
May 31: Tues. Evening (Sands)

Special Events

May 18, 2016 (Wednesday): Deadline for nominations for election to the board of directors, Zenwest Buddhist Society. E-mail Doshu at doshu@zenwest.ca
May 25: Zenwest Annual General Meeting 7:00 pm 2738 Roseberry Avenue

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! 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.

Annual General Meeting

We invite you to join us at our Annual General Meeting!
When: Wednesday, May 25th at 7:00 pm
Where: 2738 Roseberry Avenue (Victoria)
The agenda will include a quorum check, adoption of the minutes from the previous year’s AGM, reports from the Abbot and Chair, presentation and adoption of the financial statements for 2015, and election of the board of directors for the coming year (please note Associates are not eligible for board positions nor to vote at the AGM).  Following the meeting there will be some time for socializing, so please feel free to bring snack food to share.
To nominate yourself or someone else (with their consent) for election to the board of directors, nominations must be received by the secretary, Reverend Doshu Rogers by May 18, 2016. E-mail Doshu at doshu@zenwest.ca
To qualify as a director, one must have been a Zenwest member for at least one year, and be in good standing (fees paid up, etc).

Our current board of directors is comprised of:
• Kozan (Chair)
• Rev. Soshin (Treasurer)
• Rev. Doshu (Secretary)
• Elder Hoyu
• Seizan

Our board meets for two to three hours once a month.
Please contact the secretary (doshu@zenwest.ca) for complete information on nominations for board, or for info on the AGM.

With Gratitude
By Seishin Ledingham

   The past month was busy at Zenwest and, as usual, many members and associates jumped in to make all of our events and happenings run smoothly. I would like to especially thank:

• all those who made the Genjo Marinello Osho Visit such a success. I would in particular like to thank Seizan and Eko, who worked behind the scenes with registration. I would also like to thank our fearless tenzo, Doshu, who once again worked tirelessly in the kitchen. A HUGE thanks goes out to the Martin Family who once again made space and time for us to practice. Thank you to Genjo Marinello Osho for leading our practice over three days.

• Kendo and Janine for their good cheer, delicious snacks, and zesty refreshments made available to those walking on the Galloping Goose Half Pilgrimage. I would also like to thank the gorgeous weather and the beautiful setting for making this such a perfect day.

• The Zendo Team —in particular, Kido, who heads up the Zendo Team. The Zendo Team provides a wonderful opportunity to put into motion our practice at Zenwest. While the team members take part in Zendo Team activities as part of their practice, I would like to give them all a huge round of applause for all they do in setting up the zendo, attending to the butsudan, keeping time, turning on and off lights, guiding us through chanting, and making and serving tea. Thank you Zendo Team!

Poetry offering
By Sonja de Wit

When someone tries to tell me what to do,
I prickle with indignation.
How dare you! Mind your own business!
On the path of Zen
there’s only the moon
to show me the way.
Trees and shadows
keep me company.
Stay on the path!
murmurs the night wind
as it rustles the leaves.
Straight ahead runs the way!
I listen hard
but that’s all I can hear it say.

A Weekend With Genjo Marinello Osho:
April 1–April 3, 2016

By Elder Hoyu Boulter

Sangha Together with Reverend Soshin McMurchy behind the camera

Our Zenwest sangha appreciated the offerings of Genjo Marinello Osho from our sister Sangha Choboji in Seattle. Friday night, 25 of us sat with open ears and hearts as Genjo and Reverend Tendo Kirkpatrick, also from Choboji, shared our new Zendo space at Sands Funeral Home. Genjo Osho’s Teisho pointed us to the basics of practice and presence with what is.

To put into words how the presence and wise words of a seasoned practitioner continue to impact my practice is impossible. Saturday’s intensive was such an experience. Attended by 12, we practiced from 6am to 1pm with the always appreciated three bowl meals (breakfast and lunch), dokusan (interview) with Genjo and, of course, chanting, zazen (sitting) and kinhin (walking meditation).  The morning’s familiarity was followed by an illuminating workshop, Shinzen and Bill joined us, by Genjo on the Ten Oxherding Pictures. Then, as a satisfied sangha, we satiated our appetite with an outstanding potluck and socializing.  The day, a mix of the formal and informal, reminded me over and over again to come back to just this.

Sunday morning, 12 of us gathered for a half-day zendo.  The highlight for me was Genjo Osho’s Teisho on “Zhaozou and the Old Woman’s Obstacles” from “The Hidden Lamp” which can be heard in its entirety at this link: http://genjo.libsyn.com/

Genjo Marinello Osho on deck at Kokizan-Ji, our Sooke Zendo

20 KM Pilgrimage
By Egen Kelly

A few weekends ago was the fourth time I stepped on the Galloping Goose trail with Zenwest to embark on what is usually the day-long affair of walking all the way to Sooke. From the starting point of the trail downtown to the conveniently placed hill-top zendo is a 37.5 km hike of very serious magnitude. This was not the ‘serious’ hike we usually do but a milder version that began at the halfway point, about 20 km from our finish line.

20 km is still serious.

Kozan, Seishin, Kyle, Deanne, Eshu, Soshin, Doshu, Mr. Carson (Eshu’s massive dog, not the character on Downton Abbey) and I began the day around mid-morning in the bright spring air that Metchosin offers in April. At points along the trail we had a car full of snacks stop to give us some sustenance, which made the whole thing a whole lot more manageable. Kendo and Janine, both caring for our hunger and emotional needs, managed the snack car. I’m sure Kendo won’t mind a shameless plug for his zen fishing trips here…just like regular fishing, but with Kendo… and you.

At some point the group broke up into a Doshu/Soshin team (who ran ahead) and the rest of us. I’m always really struck by how Sooke smells a whole lot different than anywhere else closer to the city. It’s probably just a certain plant that can’t live near lots of people, but there is a smell, and because of that I always get a real feeling of arriving in Sooke. Anyway, the lazy group got to walk a little slower to smell the smells and talk about Eshu and the Zen Centre’s new situation, which is in a state of change right now. His new position as the spiritual care coordinator for the Victoria Hospice will mean some changes to how the centre operates, and will mean that members will have to be more involved with the running of the centre.

Having this be the fourth time I’ve walked the trail I was reminded of what kind of mindset I was in when I walked the trail the previous three times. I don’t really remember the first time, as I had been practicing less than a year and was walking to Sooke to begin a three-month monastic training period. The next two times I remember were pretty cool because I had then been practicing enough to actually be with the pain I was feeling, which made the experience way more fun than just being in the pain. This time seemed like a walk in the park—because that’s exactly what it was. And it’s a little easier to see that now.

Mr. Carson meets a horse on the trail.


Meet a Member

Seishin Ledingham

When did you start on the path? And where?

I guess to a certain extent I have always been on the path. I was one of those really intense kids asking “Why am I here?” and gazing up at the stars. From my earliest memories I have been looking for meaning in my life and have always carried those big questions around with me.

I was lucky enough to spend whole summers on the beaches and in the forests of a local Gulf Island. It was all that time alone (preferably barefoot, in my nightie, and in the early morning), skipping on the sandy beaches, wading through the cool tide pools, stepping on the fragrant, moss-covered stones deep in the woods that I came to an understanding of the aliveness of our planet, of our universe. Everything was infused with energy and life and it was bursting alive, all around me. That inter-connectivity and aliveness has always informed my understanding of ‘the path’ and my own practice.

From this beginning, I started my quest for “religion” (having figured that it must be “religion” I was experiencing in the woods and on the beaches of my island). Starting when I was 11, I began taking myself to church. Over the course of several years of attending church, a youth group, and bible camp, I realized that church was not answering my questions in a way that felt authentic to my understanding of life. From high school until my graduation from university, I did a ton of reading (and took GREAT courses at university like Buddhist Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, and The Religions of Asia) and I discovered that Buddhism (and specifically Zen Buddhism) best suited how I was wanting to live my life.

For many years I was looking for a teacher and a Sangha and, after moving to Victoria in 2006, finally found Zenwest. Lucky me!

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

I don’t think there were any life challenges that brought me to practice.

Why do you continue?

I continue because I am still that kid searching for meaning in life. I have always looked at my life as a gift and it would be such a horrible waste to not pay attention and to not live this life as thoroughly as possible. Mary Oliver’s quote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” resonates very deeply with me. Life is such an exciting thing, and I feel so privileged to be here and to be able to practice.

Zen practice is an outstanding way to engage in life. Practice allows me to not only see myself more clearly (and all the ways I tune out or act subconsciously or layer denial over my actions), but it is also a way to investigate how to live more harmoniously with everything (absolutely everything!) around me. A big part of my practice now is about love and what that means.

What, at this time, do you find to be the greatest challenge in walking the way?

The biggest challenge in walking the way for me is finding that ever-elusive balance. Our modern lives are so darned busy and bursting with things to do; finding the time to squeak in one more thing can be anxiety-provoking.

When I first began practicing with Zenwest, I was an uber super-keener. I loved (and still love) everything to do with practice and I was really interested in more intensive practice. That was before my three kids got older (and strangely needed more of my time), before I took a wonderful and challenging job (that zaps huge amounts of my energy), and before I began my wonderful relationship with Kozan (also a member of Zenwest). As a result of these demands on my time and energy, I decided to step away from intensive practice. It was heartbreaking! I have to say, though, becoming a householder has taught me so much about making the right decisions for myself, about setting boundaries that are healthy, and about being really clear about my priorities.

Being a householder has also taught me about how to live my practice. It is such a wonderful thing to start living (and demonstrating and manifesting) all those things I have learned on the cushion and make it part of my life with my children and partner and co-workers and community.

The challenging thing for me has been the guilt I have carried with me about stepping away from intensive practice.—guilt about not doing enough and not being enough, which has been its own wonderfully juicy practice. By sitting with my guilt, I have made many discoveries about how my first, knee-jerk reaction is to blame others for creating this emotion in me. It is only through really being with guilt do I see it for what it is and its remedy: practicing kindness towards myself. It is being patient and being honest with myself as well.

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

Just do it. Find time—I know it is hard. Be patient with yourself. Do your very best. Be gentle. Find beauty. Celebrate. Trust your own insights. We are so lucky! Do not let life pass you by.

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

Love. Appreciation. Celebration.

Rock n Roll

Your humble layout editor does this as a form of zen off the cushion. When the mini-sangha otherwise known as the “band” is in the zone, all selves dissolve into one thing with the audience, the building, the universe, etc… Just as they already always are, but generally we only get a few moments where the illusion of separateness dissipates. It is the most awesome and serious fun that you can imagine.
Please check out this little example at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx4zwLNVU9o.


My name is Cason Shade Harris and I am from the U.S. Currently, I’m teaching in the northeast of China in Jilin province. I’ve been living abroad for five years or so. I first heard about Zen practice after finding a flyer advertising a Dharma talk given by Claude AnShin Thomas. I went to the Dharma talk and I was blown away by what was said. I did not expect Zen to be so practical and straightforward. Shortly after the talk I was knee deep in Zen literature and sitting on a pile of pillows.

After some time of practice, I began searching for a Zen center so I could work more closely with a teacher. I decided to attend a retreat for a couple of days and that’s where I met Eshu Osho. He seemed genuinely friendly and told me if I ever had any questions about practice then I should contact him. After the retreat, my practice continued for a time, but I suppose my life became hectic with school and work and my Zen practice soon became nonexistent.

It wasn’t until I began working in China that I started sitting again. I didn’t experience any grand epiphany or sudden realization that motivated me to start sitting again, I just picked up where I left off. I’ve been sitting steady for a couple of years now on my own and I decided to seek the support of a Zen teacher and community. So, I contacted Eshu Osho and here I am!

I’ve only been a member of Zenwest for a few months but it’s good to know that I am part of a community of like-minded individuals who also want to wake up. I may be new to Zen practice, but I know that it is valuable. It’s encouraging to know that when I sit on my cushion, I’m joining others in this practice. I’m not sure where my Zen practice will take me, but I’m taking it one breath at a time.

Cason Shade Harris

Spring Sesshin in Seattle at Chobo-ji
By Reverend Soshin McMurchy

In the days leading up to the Spring sesshin, I started to notice a feeling in my chest. Just a warm tug, so slight it could easily have been missed in the mad rush of life and work.  I wondered what it was, and soon images, memories of Chobo-ji came up: the peaceful garden where we worked during samu with the instructions “allow your attention to continually return to whatever your hands are doing”, the beauty of the altars, half seen through lowered eyes, awakening again and again to the ethereal sound of wind chimes sending shivers up and down my spine.

My intention for this upcoming sesshin was to find a new way of being. Clearly, whatever I was doing at this point in my life was not working. I was causing suffering, not being of benefit to all beings.

I knew I just had to go, yet my life seemed an impossible tangle of responsibilities. Because sesshin was tugging at my heart, I put my doubts aside, and began taking the steps necessary to make the trip possible. Much to my surprise it worked out.

I was tired and unprepared. Sits were long and I was plagued by aches and sleepiness. But the schedule is brilliant, supportive, honed over time to challenge the practitioner but also designed to encourage success.

It is one of the safest places I have experienced. Old hurts, pain, joy, personal issues, tears, illness, awareness, peace, global events, war, genocide, dissatisfaction, fantasy – all is included. There is nothing excluded. For me, it is worth being there just for the wonder of seeing denial as an option, not a necessity.

By the third day, I had caught up on my sleep or sesshin energy had kicked in, and sleepiness was no longer an issue. The second day talk by a wonderfully energetic nun, Genko Kathy Blackman Ni-Osho, had really inspired me. She talked eloquently of other things, but in passing talked of being mindful of pain, relaxing around it, asking what it really feels like, and then continuing to ask and pay attention to it. This is a powerful mindfulness practice that is applicable to any situation where pain, discomfort, or dissatisfaction may arise. Rather than distracting ourselves to death, this practice makes it possible to be alive while living.

That day was followed by many more luxurious days of sitting and samu, talks by Genjo Osho on stories from The Hidden Lamp, a humdinger of a talk by Eshu Osho, meal practice, and just enough gorgeous sleep.

Did I find a new way of being, one more in line with the vow to be of benefit to all beings? Perhaps.

Later, I found this scrawled in my journal:

Last Day
Lovely morning of quiet slow breathing
Root into the deep deep brown Earth
Breathe in the hara low and slow
Listen and listen to the presence

Podcast comment
From a listener

I live on Bainbridge Island, WA. I do the ferry commute to downtown Seattle five times a week; fortunately its walk-on and walk-off, not driving nor bus. I moved here from Coeur D¹Alene in 2011; before that I lived in Ketchikan, Alaska, and on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska for many years.

I got interested in Buddhism—particularly Zen—whilst in Ketchikan in 2004/5 when podcasts via iTunes were just cranking up. I had been, as most are, in the process of searching since getting sober in 1994, in a small, remote Alaskan village prior to moving to Ketchikan in 2000.  I listened to podcasts  on Zen Buddhism steady and regular from 2005 onward, with more and more understanding—or should I say interest, as understanding was certainly not there with any depth until I began sitting on my own just this past year spring of 2015! In conjunction with all I had heard, I also started to read.

My current lineup of regular podcast listening includes Living Zen (I think I found it in 2012), San Francisco Zen Center, Rochester Zen Center, Mountain Cloud Zen Center (which discovered this past year—very good),Village Zendo, Austin Zen Center, Houston Zen Center, Minnesota Zen, and many more. Since audio quality is important, I consider Living Zen one of the most consistent with quality audio; the whole set-up and—dare I say—concept is good.

Bainbridge Island has a small and once-a week-only (if that) Sangha in a private Zendo that I have yet to go to. I will probably make the plunge and head over to Seattle to the Soto Zen Center for their open Sunday morning sittings for my first-ever group practice—soon.

Keep up the good work! And it is worldwide, considering the internet.

Two Ways To Engage Deeper!

Kickstarting your Tuesday night meditation practice into a regular event involves commitment. Here are two simple ways:

  1. Offer to pick up another Tuesday nights at a designated time and place. This same time, same place consciousness gets you to your Sands Zendo sit, engage with others and offers the opportunity to be of service. If you are able to pick up or if you require a ride, let us know where you’re coming from and, if you’re driving, how many sitters you have room for and we’ll arrange the initial connections. 
  1. Step into a role on the Zendo team. Practice from the inside out by learning form while serving others and supporting Zenwest’s reach out to the greater community. Minimal requirement for Tuesday sits is your associateship with Zenwest.

For more information on either of these, please contact Elder Kido deRosenroll at geoffderosenroll@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 May 15th. Help us get this idea realized!

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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