(Original Email Version)

Newsletter for September 2015

• September sees a bit of a different schedule due to some special events. For example, instead of the monthly All-Day Intensive that would have been on Sept 20, the annual Galloping Goose Pilgrimage will take place. This is a silent walk from downtown Victoria to Kokizan-ji (Red Flag Mountain Temple) in Sooke along the beautiful Galloping Goose trail.
• Please take note of the Q4 Fundraising Drive, starting Sept 7. Zenwest is a not-for-profit association, but it requires money to make the offerings we do. Anything you can manage will help.
• Scroll on down for lots of news!

Sept 1: Tuesday Evening (UVic)
Sept 8: Tuesday Evening (UVic)
Sept 13: Half-Day Zendo (Kokizan-ji)
Sept 15: Tuesday Evening (UVic)
Sept 22: Tuesday Evening (UVic)
Sept 23: Wednesday Zendo (Roseberry)
Sept 27: Mondo Zendo (Kokizan-ji)
Sept 29 Tuesday Zendo (UVic)
Special Events
Sept 7—23: Q4 Fundraising Drive
Sept 9: Zenwest Strategic Planning—Phase 1 6pm—9pm
Sept 12: Zenwest Strategic Planning—Phase 2 9am—5pm
Sept 12—Dec 6 Kokizan-ji Training Period 3, 2015: Residential and Non-Residential
Sept 16: Zenwest Board Mtg.
Sept 20: Galloping Goose Pilgrimage

October Orientation:  Building Blocks For A Strong Foundation

Are you looking for a way to go beyond the simple basics of meditation, or how to take your practice deeper?

Are you ready to engage face-to-face with an experienced teacher, and explore how becoming involved with a community that was created to support meditation can inspire and enhance your own practice?

The benefits of a consistent meditation practice are well established—stress reduction, a less cluttered mind, improved focus and awareness, better immune function, more restful sleep, and insight into the habits that are limiting the realization of your true potential.

This course offers a progressive combination of study and practice, individual and group interaction, and personal guidance that will provide a strong foundation to experience the profound change that Zen meditation practice offers.

The Orientation to Zen Buddhist Practice Course is the primary gateway to Zen Training at Zenwest Buddhist Society. The course runs 2 hours on each of four Saturdays.

Course information and Registration
You can review the course outline here.

October 10, 17, 31, and November 7
Saturday mornings 9:00am—11:00am

In order to maintain the quality of instruction, course enrolment is limited to 12.

Practice Opportunities: “Getting Jiki Wit It”

By Elder Hoyu Boulter with wise words from Janine Theobald

At Zenwest, our Zendo Team offers an opportunity to fully engage in a role that helps to facilitate both our Tuesday night public sits and our offerings to the membership. When we commit to the Zendo Team we are trained, supported and encouraged to fully manifest the activity of a role.

The Jikijitsu stream is comprised of the team leader “Jiki” and the assistant and training role of Joko who performs an incense pass and plays the kaihan before and after sits. No team is separate from the other streams; all work is in concert to support harmony in or out of the Zendo.

The activity of Jikijitsu is not just that of a time keeper—performing bell ringing, block clapping and correcting; it is the expression of the strong father figure, firm but loving, maintaining order for the smooth running of the sit.

Janine as Jikijitsu drops away concerns of her Janine self and becomes the activity of Jiki; she is the embodiment of Jikijitsu. In her own words,

Like the rest of my practice (life), being Jiki is at times an effort, at others, a profound and flowing experience. The effort comes if I am concerned with ‘what’s next’ – the flow is when I am present with the role, knowing when to call and when to respond, not in isolation, but as part of the beautiful choreography of the Zendo Team.

When I started as Jiki I had been practicing with experienced Jokos, so was not doing training practice. I first had the opportunity at Sesshin to practice with someone who was new to the Joko role and this provided me an excellent chance to step up my game and deepen engagement. Recently, I have been able to again provide training to others which has been an absolute joy. It means I need to be really purposeful when providing direction and ensure I ask for feedback or questions.

The best part of participating as an officer is learning from mistakes; this is often a correction received from the Abbot or Ino, and sometimes I see where I need to pay attention on my own. I am completely smitten with the form of Rinzai Zen; for me, it is a safe and loving vessel to practice in. From the beginning of my officer training as Shoshoji I have taken every correction as kind of gentle pointing to the truth beyond knowing. Simply, pay attention. I deliver corrections in the same capacity, loving and firm, and let go of as soon as it’s done. It’s a bit of a challenge to know when to lean in and correct with brand new sitters, particularly on a Tuesday night—I don’t want to scare anyone away! I can’t assume they know I am here to provide open-hearted direction. Another challenge is second guessing myself when a more senior practitioner is doing something I think might need to be corrected. I am getting better at that, though!

Sometimes I ring the bell, and at other times I am the bell—I ripple out in waves of sound and settle into my zafu. It is an honour to serve the community and to make sure that week after week the form is held for us to come together and investigate this most mysterious activity of life.

The Zendo Team is overseen, at this moment, by Rev. Soshin McMurchy as Ino with Elder Kido deRosenroll in training as Ino-in-training. If you wish to engage further with our Zenwest Sangha on the Zendo Team, members and associates are welcome to contact Rev Soshin McMurchy for more information at zen@uvic.ca or at a Tuesday night sit.

We encourage you to share your experience of becoming a role!

Next month: The mother of all roles, Shoji.

Coming Very, Very Soon

Q4 Fundraising Drive (Dana)

Launch: September 7, 2015
Target: $7,000
Target Date: September 23, 2015

Help us continue to offer programs for those committed to “investigating the fundamental activity of self”. All donations, of any size, are gratefully accepted and much appreciated.

Strategic Planning

September 9, 2015:  Wednesday 6pm–9 p.m. at 2738 Roseberry Avenue

September 12, 2015: Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m. (bring a lunch) at 247 Beechwood Avenue

Your ideas and presence help us continue to build a strong, sustainable community.
All members are welcome!

Galloping Goose Pilgrimage

Sunday, September 20, 2015, 7am–4:30 p.m.
Join us in a silent walk to our Zendo Kokizan-Ji (Red Flag Mountain Temple), 4970 Nagle Road, Sooke. For more details, please visit our website, or contact eshu@zenwest.ca. 

Sangha Day-trip by Rev Soshin McMurchy

Nestled in the heart of bustling downtown Vancouver is a place of deep peace and beauty: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Egen, Kendo, Doshu and I (Soshin), after hopping on the 9 a.m. ferry, arrived just in time for one of the daily highlights—the ringing of the gong calling the koi fish for feeding time. We also happily met up with sangha member Barb Scouten pictured below in front of the Yun Wei Ting (Colourful and Cloudy Pavilion). This garden is a must see. If possible, give yourself 2–4 hours, and make a special trip to see it in the rain.

Flash From The Past, taken at Harvest Potluck 2012
Photo credit: Elder Hōyū Boulter
Gone Fishin’

By Kigen Martin

The recent outing with the Zenwest Fishing Club was a blast! It is so great to get out in the open water and have a great time with such amazing people.

I went out with Janine and Kendo; going out with such great people really made the trip spectacular.

One of my favorite things about salmon fishing is watching the rod bob up and down endlessly; it’s almost hypnotic. Being out in a boat with a couple of people really helps to integrate valuable skills,
such as patience, coexistence, and of course fishing! Unfortunately, we were unable to catch any salmon, though I think it was still a stupendous experience for everyone. The same day we went out there was also a salmon derby, and we saw salmon of all different sizes. One guy caught one just under twenty pounds! Overall it was an amazing trip.

“How To Make A Difference In The World Breath by Breath”

Breathe and smile
Breathe and accept a compliment
Breathe and accept a correction
Breathe and say thank you
Breathe and really listen
Breathe and offer a hug
Breathe and look deeply into someone’s eyes
Breathe and say I’m sorry
Breathe and cry
Breathe and laugh
Breathe and sigh
Breathe when you want to hold your breath
Breathe when the pain feels unbearable
Breathe when you meditate
Breathe when you do yoga
Breathe and count each breath
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe the cycle of life.

Breathe! Fill up your nostrils, fill your lungs down to your belly,
breathe into every part of your being and remember
you have the gift of breath and you are alive.

Elder Hōyū Boulter

Time Flies Like An Arrow
Photo credit: Elder Hōyū Boulter
Meet a Member: Reverend Soshin McMurchy

When and where did you start on the path?
I started on the path in Toronto as a young teenager in the 1960s. My brother had been avidly reading about this crazy thing called Buddhism. I was infected by his enthusiasm and called myself a Buddhist from that time. It was so wonderfully real, so impossible to attain, but spoke to a wonder, a quirkiness and almost magical way in the world, so different from my world up to that point with its Western sense of normal and of linear progress.

What, in terms of life challenges, brought you to the practice of meditation?
I dabbled in meditation from the age of twenty on, most of the time with no teaching, no teacher, and no sangha. As I tried to make sense of a strangely painful life, I experienced a few different forms of spirituality and healing modes. Two of them, Wicca (with Reclaiming Collective) and Qigong both strongly encouraged a daily meditation practice, but without explaining how to achieve this. When I bumped into Zenwest through Doshu’s interest, the time had come, and I just dove in.

Why do you continue?
I continue because it helps me open up to life and to death.

What do you find, at this time, is your greatest challenge in walking the way?
A big challenge is not taking it seriously. Delusion is a very powerful thing, and I think I am somewhat easily distracted. If I gave myself over completely to my Zen practice, how would that change my life? Would I die? Will I live? In a sense, who cares? What comes up is deep gratitude for the path, and all who have supported it and do support it now.

If you could share one bit of practical advice about sitting zazen what would it be?
When life keeps me away from the cushion (old habits of thought, mists of delusion, being late for work), I take note. Then I start again, and make a space in my life for the sitting, and for making it a beloved habit. And then I follow advice that was given to me from a Buddhist nun: Work hard, work hard!

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

Warning about Volunteerism!

Most people offer their services as a volunteer where they see an unfilled need and have skills and time meet it; the usual motivation is to alleviate another’s suffering, want or lack. PLEASE BE WARNED: although this is generally the outcome, there are far more benefits reaped, usually for the benevolent volunteer. Yes, I am sorry to shatter your altruistic intentions, but you will feel satisfaction, build relationships, and perhaps develop further skills while having fun and sometimes getting a workout!

We practice for the benefit of all beings, and volunteer with the same intent!

There is an exciting project happening at the Kokizan-ji Temple in Sooke. A Kinhin path through wooded grounds is being developed and we have received a donation of fresh mulch waiting to be spread along it. On the next two Sangha Sundays—August 30 and October 4—after the sit and social time, there will be an opportunity to volunteer with this project from 11:30am–1:30pm. Don’t forget to bring water, sunscreen, and appropriate work wear and snacks. If you would like to participate in this volunteer work day, please let Shika (Doshu) know when you reply to the email sent out the week of Sangha Sunday.

If you have any further questions or ideas to offer about volunteering with Zenwest, please contact Janine.Theobald@gmail.com.

Write On!

You are encouraged to share a poem, a haiku, a meditative moment or a photo in our monthly Zenwest e-newsletter. Send your submissions to news@zenwest.ca. Those wishing to be assigned small reporting duties of sangha events can connect with me Hoyu, TommiWrites@gmail.com. Together “We Make Zen Come Alive!”

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