Friday, June 29, 2007
In this still place I follow my nature, be what it may.
From the one hundred flowers I wander freely,
the soaring cliff-my hall of meditation
(with the moon emerged, my mind is motionless).
Sitting on this frosty seat, no further dream of fame.
The forest, the mountain follow their ancient ways,
and through the long spring day, not even the shadow of a bird.
Reizan (d. 1411)
Friday, June 15, 2007
Margaret and I are at the point where we would like to begin formalizing the relationship between Tall Grass Zen and the Kwan Um School of Zen. This stems primarily from our commitment to the practice and the school. Our secondary motive is more practical: when we formalize, the school will return fifty percent of our dues money. This money will help offset some of the costs of running retreats and the prison dharma work. More importantly, it will help us to grow, to make the practice available to more people in the Manhattan area.
The school recommends that a group have four to five dues paying members of the Kwan Um School before requesting recognition. We have three members already: Christina, Margaret, and Dick. Richard Brown will join when we formalize. Others (as many as three) have indicated that they would like to join.
We’ve posted the complete guidelines to this blog: scroll down to read them.
We would like to emphasize that no one is being asked to join the school. Joining the school is NEVER a requirement for coming to practice or sitting retreats. In most respects, formalizing our relationship to the school will change nothing.
We would like to hear from you! Are you interested in formalizing? Are you interested in joining the school? Will you run in the opposite direction if we take this step? Please feel free to use this blog to share your thoughts and feelings. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us or talk to us after practice.
Yours in the dharma,
Christina & Margaret
1. A dharma teacher (or higher) in good standing with the Kwan Um School of Zen may decide to start a sitting group and promote it to the local community. It’s best if the group meets in a public space for practice. It is important that Kwan Um forms (chanting, sitting, bowing, reading letters, etc.) be introduced from the beginning. This can be done gradually. A web site, newsletter, and e-mail list can also be established. A dharma teacher should identify him/herself as a dharma teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen in any publicity.
2. Either as a kick-off event, or soon after the foundation of the group, the dharma teacher should invite a Zen Master or Ji Do Poep Sa Nim to give a public talk or workshop. Establishing a relationship with a guiding teacher is the key to the development of a new Zen center. It’s best if a guiding teacher is involved from the very beginning of the group.
3. Developing membership is an important and sometimes difficult step. Show prospective members that there is something worthwhile to join by continuing to invite teacher(s) and to offer workshops, public talks, and perhaps one-day retreats. New students will be more confident in joining a group knowing it is part of a larger sangha. While a group is forming, new members temporarily join as members of the guiding teacher’s home Zen center (or a geographically close Zen center). The new group’s portion of its members dues are routed through this Zen Center, helping the new group develop a financial profile that will be needed when the costs associated with practice equipment, incorporation, insurance, banking, etc. begin to appear. It is suggested that four to five members be onboard before a group becomes a Zen center. Five members generate $750 annually for a group.
4. The group must request ratification of its guiding teacher by the School trustees. The group establishes and maintains a consistent practice schedule of weekly sittings and several retreats per year.
5. The guiding teacher should encourage and help facilitate incorporation as a non-profit and the adoption of the common bylaws. The group must establish a board of directors and officers, all of whom must be members. The group should request that it be included in the School’s non-profit 501(c)(3) status. It is strongly recommended that groups carry liability insurance, officers and directors insurance, and professional liability insurance. (The guiding teacher is already covered by the School’s professional liability insurance, but the Zen Center is not.)
6. When it has accomplished the underlined items, the group will become a Zen Center in the Kwan Um School of Zen and be listed in Primary Point and on the School website.
April 1, 2006
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
During the circle talk at my last IZC retreat, someone mentioned how nice it was to have four guests from Kansas who knew the chants so well that the group didn't just sound like Eddy (a local Dharma Teacher) and his back up singers as usual. Well! They have been practicing! The chanting was amazingly enthusiastic, confident and downright inspiring. Only 3 or 4 people needed chanting books at all, and no one used them during the Heart Sutra. For someone like myself who practices alone most of the time, this enthusiastic chanting was absolutely inspiring. I found myself taking big gulps of air at times in order to get it around the lump in my throat. Practicing alone is necessary, but the opportunity to practice with a Sangha means partaking in what is deservedly one of the three jewels of Buddhism along with Buddha and Dharma. Keeping a practice going on my own has proven to be very difficult, especially during times of stress and anxiety when I (and the world) need it the most. But, the inspiration and support one derives from sitting, chanting and walking with others of like mind and direction provides the momentum and helps with the considerable discipline needed to keep it up. When thinking about Sangha I'm always reminded of what Garrison Keiler says about Powdermilk Biscuits on his radio show. “They give you the get-up-and-go to do what needs to be done.”
Interviews with Linc were wonderful (of course). We talked mostly about impermanence as it applies to getting older and to jobs and relationships whose natures are always changing. He pointed out that I have real life koan to sit with in order to help my situation. I found this very helpful. Of course, just sitting for two and a half days was an immense help in toning down my stress level.
The drywall is up in the IZC Dharma room as they continue to convert their two year old
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Friday, June 1, 2007
We venerate the three treasures
And are thankful for this meal
The work of many people
And the sharing of other forms of life