January 30, 2010

Opening the mirror

2010 will be a year in which tremendous energy and sweat will be expended on behalf of Korinji. January 23-24 marked a properly energetic start to such a year with the Kagami Biraki event hosted by the Aikido practitioners of Huron Valley Aikikai in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Rodger Tozan Park Sensei, Huron Valley's chief instructor and a brother in the Dharma, organized the event to benefit both the Korinji Foundation and Brooklyn Aikikai. Ryugan Robert Savoca, founder of Brooklyn Aikikai and also a Dharma brother, traveled from New York to take part. I was honored to help instruct the Aikido portion of this training weekend and to lead zazen; Park Sensei and Savoca Sensei also instructed Aikido, and Ryugan led us in the misogi training he practices as an affiliate of the famous Ichikukai Dojo in Tokyo.

Kagami Biraki is a traditional New Year's ceremony, which literally translates as "opening the mirror". Shinto shrines typically contain mirrors, and the ceremony of opening the shrines and exposing the mirrors within is considered a greatly auspicious event. Huron Valley Aikikai's opening to 2010 was certainly auspicious for everyone who attended. I'm pleased also to report that Park Sensei was able to make a generous donation to the Korinji Foundation as a result.

As always, our gratitude to our Aikido friends who so often sacrifice their energy on behalf of Korinji.

January 20, 2010

Winter at Korinji: Community Meeting on Feb. 21st

We've just returned from a visit to Korinji, and are pleased to report that our structure is weathering the winter perfectly. Though our foundation pilings extend several feet below the frost line, one always worries about movement. Or at least I did. Happily, none was detected, and our deck is as level as we left it in October. The treated lumber has dried, and everything feels rock solid. Jim Mills, a master carpenter and woodworker among other interesting things, accompanied me on a snowshoe tour of the site. That our work thus far met with his approval was a very good thing.

With the foliage all down, once again we're able to see every contour and rock in the land , and future development becomes easy to envision. Also interesting is that the individual characters of each tree are more easily seen without the dense canopy. I was surprised to see not only the birches and maples that seem to predominate, but also that we have a great number of hawthorne, apple and musclewood trees.

On the way up, I should mention, Jim and I also stopped in to speak with some wood-burning stove folks: based on the information we were able to get regarding efficient wood stoves, our options for heating Korinji's zendo may have expanded.

Finally, another important meeting occurred in Chicago this past weekend, and another is shortly to occur: project managers Tom Teterycz, Greg Dekker and myself have sketched out a draft construction schedule for the year. We'll be giving presentations on this and other aspects of our monastery project at the annual Korinji Community Meeting, to be held at Daiyuzenji in Chicago on Sunday, February 21st, 11am.

We invite all our donors, supporters and any other interested persons to come. 2010 will be the year we see a roof over our heads at Korinji, and we welcome your participation!