Friday, November 20, 2009

I'm just going to the zendo...

I've been appreciating Zenkei Blanche Hartman's presence and leadership in this practice period more and more, as I mentioned previously. She has been going to nearly every period of evening zazen, and it is so encouraging! The residential Sangha at City Center are not necessarily expected to go to evening zazen- it is considered an optional thing- so it is sometimes hard to get people to go when they feel like they "don't have to" (whatever that means). I saw Blanche in the hallway up here in the evening before zazen in her robes, and I asked her, "Oh, are you the Doshi?" (officiating priest). And she just gazed at me quite compassionately for a half a second, and then said, "I'm just going to the zendo..." Ha! What a teaching. Here is a picture of Zenkei Roshi with one of her disciples, Lien Shutt. Lien is our regular Tuesday evening Doshi here, and a dear friend.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jukai at Green Gulch Farm

I like any excuse to go to Green Dragon Temple in West Marin, it is such a beautiful place to be. We are so blessed in the Bay Area to be able to leave a heavily built up urban area, and in such a short space of time be in farmland and wilderness. After writing the last blog entry last Sunday a few of us headed over to Green Gulch Farm for a beautiful Jukai, a Bodhisattva Initiation ceremony. The preceptor was Senior Dharma Teacher Eijun Linda Ruth Cutts, and the ordinees were Patricia Sullivan, Jeff Kennedy, Devin Patel, Sarah Weintraub and Leilani Monfort. The ceremony was very lovely, and it had that quality of Men Mitsu No Kafu, loosely translated "Paying careful attention to the details of our Ancestral Way", that Linda Ruth brings to everything she does. I do love that Green Dragon Temple zendo, I always feel so welcomed there. I had a great view of the proceedings from the tan in the back. As the solemn tones of the O-Bonsho carressed my eardrums, I took the opportunity to reflect how grateful I am for this practice. Sorry to relate I got there late for the picture-taking, and too bad too, because the Autumn light was intense. Here are Rev. Steve Weintraub (Sarah's pop!), Patricia Sullivan (who appears to be memorizing her new name), Rev. Eijun Linda Ruth Cutts (Sarah's mom!), and her Jisha Rev. Tova Green, Linda Ruth's close disciple and the first person that Linda Ruth ordained as a priest, walking away from the photo opp to join all the well-wishers at the reception. It was particularly special that Tova was Linda Ruth's Jisha in the ceremony, as Jeff is a student of Tova's!

And here are Leilani and Sarah sporting Buddha's Robe in the aforementioned intense light! ("Intense Light" could maybe be a Dharma name?)

And here just for the heck of it is a picture of Sara Tashker talking to Arlene Lueck.

Best wishes to all the newly minted Bodhisattvas!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What? Me Blog?

I feel like the Universe is trying to tell me to get with it with this here blog. For one thing, directly as a result of writing this blog and sharing how much I enjoy officiating weddings, I will be doing two more before the year is out! I call that encouragement to keep blogging. Also, the Universe in the form of ZC Corporate Secretary and Website Manager, Dana Velden, emailed me; "We're going to be redoing the Community Page so that our blog roll is the first thing you see and is accessible to everyone. So I just want to encourage you to keep blogging!" I call that encouragement. Too bad she sent me that e-mail about two months ago! Ulp.


So I'm a Content Provider. I get it. I decided I just needed to shift my point of view a little and start considering this as part of my Ino responsibilities. Of which there are many. So here I am on a sunny Sunday afternoon just hunting and pecking away. It isn't as though I'm lacking for anything to blog about, far from it! The problem is that all that stuff is keeping me from having the leisure to blog about any of it!
Here in City Center we're in the midst of an amazing Practice Period being led by Zenkei Blanche Hartman and Shokan Jordan Thorn, with the able assistance of Shuso (Head Student) Joan Amaral, who has brought a special pizzazz to our practice life here these days. I certainly might have blogged about the death of beloved student Gi Yu Myo Shin (Loyal Friend, Luminous Heart) Michael Steingraber, and subsequent three ceremonies, the witnessed cremation, funeral, and ashes interment ceremony. I talked about it in this Dharma Talk here. The funeral was officiated by Zenkei Blanche Hartman, and that made it so special for me. She put a lot of thought into it, and it was a real joy to work with her on crafting the ceremony.
I find myself having more and more appreciation for Zenkei Roshi as this Practice Period goes on. I am very priveleged to have an office across the hallway from hers, so I see a lot of her. In fact she just now cruised by, idly wondering what I was doing in here on a Sunday afternoon, and I told her I was writing about her. Yesterday we had a one-day sitting here that was particularly joyful for me. Rev. Steve Weintraub gave the talk in the morning, which he is calling "The Luncheonette Business" wherein he shared some of his recollections of Suzuki Roshi, and it was mighty sweet. But the culmination of the day was a Shosan ceremony, a Dharma Inquiry event with Zenkei Roshi wherein every one in the sitting asked her a question publicly, one by one, and she responded to them all with grace and aplomb, certainly, but above all with great warmth and love. And people responded to her in kind, opening up and showing their true hearts with their questions, including some very painful places in some cases. Big sigh. It was so beautiful.


Another thing that made yesterday very joyful for me was to see our cherished Dharma Sister and Saturday Sangha member Michelle King walking into the building under her own speed! Wow! Michelle was in a horrendous automobile accident (she was walking, the car that hit her was not) last July 31st, and has been working hard on rehab ever since, and it has paid off big time! Here is a picture of Michelle practicing on our bells in the Buddha Hall taken on October 3.

(Insert pun here, related to Beatles song of your choice, hem-hem..)