Effective immediately, the Monday Zazen schedule is changed to 7:20-7:50 p.m. Please make a note of that and make an effort to attend.

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday, we concluded a four day Sesshin at the Grail Center in Cornwall, NY. It was truly a remarkable experience that deepened the practice for each of us, strengthened the Sangha bond, and left us all feeling encouraged and spiritually nurtured. I am grateful for the sincere dedication and openness of our Sangha members who participated, and I feel fortunate to be a part of this loving and supportive community.

As I often mention, Sesshins are integrated into Zen training and they bring out aspects of practice that are not available to us in everyday engagements. With every Sesshin that goes by, it becomes more clear to me why regular participation is so vital and so skillful for training. It is impossible to describe but available to experience. Practitioners who do not embrace this aspect of the training will likely reach an impasse in their practice and will find it very difficult to penetrate the heart of Zen.

Next month we have two events on the calendar:

  • May 7th - Mondo from 10:00 until 11:00. We will begin at 8:30 as usual.
  • May 21st - Originally this was scheduled as a half-day sit, but since we had to cut our last Zazenkai short I would like to hold a full day, from 8:30 until 4:00. Please let me know if you are available to attend.

Love to all,
Junryu

Dear Friends,

Our spring Ango begun yesterday with great determination and clear intentions. We are all now moving on to the meticulous work of personally maintaining this level of determination with every step, and through every interaction. This means to peel our eyes wide open and to meet the freshness of life with a supple and curious mind, and to choose to yield to rather than to resist. If you are experiencing difficulties in upholding your Ango commitments do not hesitate to reach out to me and/or to the Sangha for support and encouragement.

>> LISTEN: Ango Opening teisho

Love to all,
Junryu

Dear Friends,

On Sunday, March 26, 2017, we will enter the spring Ango training period. During this Ango, we will individually and collectively focus on specific ways to skillfully tighten up the connection between the Dharma and everyday life, so we can blur the imagined line dividing the holy and the mundane. I am asking and encouraging everyone to listen attentively to today's Teisho, and to print and fill out the below Ango entry form with sincere and clear intention. Remember to bring the form with you on Sunday for the entry ceremony. If you are not able to attend the ceremony, please email your form so it can be read on your behalf during the event.

During this period, we have a monthly intensive event (zazenkai or sesshin). As your teacher, I have a responsibility to express to each of you that these events are of great importance on the path of Zen, especially when it comes to Sesshins. If you have not participated in a Sesshin during the past six months, please make arrangements to register for our spring Sesshin at the Grail Center from April 20-23.

On April 15th, we will hold a Tokudo (novice priesthood) ceremony for Mitsugen and Taishin. Your support as a Sangha member and as a friend is deeply appreciated.

Love,
Junryu

Dear Friends,

Our next Zazenkai will be on Sunday, March 26, 2017. I need to teach an Aikido class in the afternoon, so it will be a half-day event, from 8:30 until 12:30. This will also be the beginning of our spring Ango and we will hold an entry ceremony during this event. Ango forms will be emailed in the next two weeks. Please make arrangements to participate.

I am happy to announce that on Saturday, April 15, we will hold a Novice Priesthood ceremony for Mitsugen (Ricardo) and Taishin (Akesha). This is a very significant step on the spiritual journey of a practitioner, but it is also an important event for the entire Sangha and it boosts our collective efforts to be a force of goodness in the world. The ceremony is scheduled for 3:00 pm, and it will last about 90 minutes. This is a Sangha event/celebration, so please plan to be there.

Love to all,
Junryu

Dear Friends,

Our next Zazenkai is scheduled for Sunday, February 26. This will be an all-day event, from 8:30 until 4:00, and it will include lunch in a traditional format. The fee for the day is $25. Please register as soon as possible via email.

As most of you are well aware of, these events are an integrated and essential part of Zen training, and everyone is encouraged to participate. If you have any questions or concerns please let me know so we can work together to clarify and resolve any obstacles. 

Love to all,
Junryu

Dear Friends,

We are scheduled to hold a one-day Zazenkai next Sunday, but due to an Aikido seminar later that day I need to change it to a half-day event. It will be from 8:30 until 12:00. Please let me know if you are planning to attend.

The deposit for our spring Sesshin is now due! If you have already registered and paid, thank you! If you have not done so yet please get back to me as soon as possible and  register for this event.Note that capacity at the Grail Center is limited. 

Love to all,
Junryu

Dear Friends,

We are having a New Year's potluck party at the dojo on Saturday, January 7, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. This event is open to our Aikido members and our Sangha members. Families are welcome as well. This is a great opportunity for all of us to get together to celebrate a new beginning and our friendships. You can bring any food and drink you would like to share with everyone. Please let me know if you available to attend.

Have a wonderful time with your friends and family during the holidays.

Love to all,
Junryu

Dear Friends,

As we wrap up 2016 and get ready to take on 2017, I encourage each of you to take a little time to reflect on the way you have been practicing thus far, and how do you want to continue from here. It is obvious that any endeavor we choose to take on in life requires a sustained discipline so it can gradually become embodied. It is also obvious that during the gradual process of embodiment, our willingness to remain disciplined is put to the test by our habitual patterns, by everyday responsibilities, and through social and familial interactions. In Zen training, these challenges are embraced, and are viewed as a grinding stone that can help us sharpen the sword of wisdom, so it can better cut through our delusions. But this can be so only if we become aware of the declining discipline, and choose to rejuvenate it.

Of course the line between 2016 and 2017 is made up, and December 31st at midnight will not be more significant than this moment. But symbolically this can be a reminder of a new beginning, and an opportunity to shed the extra and muster up the courage to step into the unknown bare naked - an opportunity to clarify our intentions and tighten up the slack.

Use this time of reflection to burn up all traces and reignite the commitment to your practice and to the well-being of our wonderful Sangha. As you do so, take a look at the upcoming events for 2017, add them to your calendar, and make arrangements to attend.

Schedule for the remainder of this year:

This Sunday, 12/18, we will hold a Mondo (semi-formal Dharma discussion). The schedule will be 8:30-11:30. The center will be closed on the following dates: 12/24-25, 12/31, 1/1-2.

Events for 2017:

January 13-15: Sesshin with Shinge Roshi at NY Zendo (http://www.daibosatsu.org/newyorkzendo.html)
January 29: One-day Zazenkai
February 26: Half-day Zazenkai
March 26: One-day Zazenkai
April 20-23: Spring Sesshin at the Grail Center, Cornwall, NY
May 21: Half-day Zazenkai
June 11: One-day Zazenkai
July (date TBD)
August (date TBD)
September 10: One-day Zazenkai
October 20-23: Fall Sesshin at Dai Bosatsu Monastery
November 19: One-day Zazenkai
December (date TBD)

Further events and ceremonies will be announced at a later time, as they become available.

Happy Holidays and much love to all,
Junryu

Dear Friends,

We are currently forming a new group for a Jukai class which will start at the beginning of 2017. The study will take between 4-6 months and will include the following:

  • Bi-monthly group meetings - in person at the dojo, or via Skype.
  • Individual study which involves reading and reflection/introspection regarding the meaning of each precept on a personal level.
  • Sewing a Rakusu (guidance is provided).
  • Receiving a Dharma name.
  • Jukai ceremony upon completion.

Jukai is perhaps the most significant event on the path of Zen, and is considered a step into a life that is rooted in deep wisdom and is guided by morality, equanimity, and compassionate action. It is a step out of the small sphere of self into the vast dimension of interconnectedness. It is vital and highly recommended for all Zen practitioners to explore a possibility of taking Jukai at some point along the path. If you are interested in examining this possibility please let me know so we can set up time to discuss this.

The total cost of the study is $200, and it is open to all our local and remote practitioners.

Love to all,
Junryu