March 29, 2010

Bread for Korinji

Rich Bryant, a Chicago Aikido student, has started a new fundraiser baking and selling bread for Korinji. Here's his report...

I recently started baking loaves of bread when I became disappointed with what I was getting from the store and it's rising cost. I got tired of spending so much money on something I knew I could do better. There was also the satisfaction that what I was eating was a more organic food because I knew what I was putting into it. Soon I began to look into a various recipes and recipe books and the seed for my idea was born. After a few unexpected results and a lot of course corrections, I finally started to see and taste the results of my efforts.

That's why I'm here. I'm hoping to be able to share those results with you. On Facebook, I set up a small group page called "AI KI Dough". On this page, I've posted pictures of some of the breads I've made recently and how to contact me in case you might want to order some (hint, hint). I am donating a portion of the money from each sale to the Korinji Foundation Monastery Project and investing the other portion into buying yeast, flour and spices. I am hoping to have this fundraiser throughout the year. This Facebook website will be where I put photos and various updates of what's available and the progress we've made in raising funds.

To keep it simple, I am currently offering only three bread types at the moment, a sesame, a white and an Italian spiced. I have shipped some bread out of Chicago but shipping costs can be expensive. I'm hoping to find a way to set-up a paypal account to ease the process. I will offer special limited time only breads throughout the year as well. Even more reason to keep checking in. The first is a cinnamon raisin bread.

Please contact me via Facebook and I'll respond to you as quick as I can. If you don't have a facebook account, you can e-mail at Please put in the subject line Korinji Dough. That way I don't accidentally delete it. Also, there is usually a week between when you order and when your bread is delivered. So if you send your order in on a Tuesday, and your local, you can get your bread by the following Tuesday unless other arrangements have been made.

Thank you for your continued support to a very worthy cause.

March 25, 2010

Korinji kick-off

This past weekend, March 20-21, saw the beginning of the 2010 construction season at Korinji. With the snow gone, we were able to closely inspect our completed substructure to see how it weathered the final part of winter. The verdict: no movement whatsoever, and everything remains rock-solid. After some final tweaking of our deck bracing, we're now ready to lay down the deck plates and start framing walls. Measuring the nearly 70-foot long structure, we found the width at the north end to be 29 feet, 8 inches. At the south end: 29 feet, 7.5 inches. Not too bad!

Our next construction dates are April 23-25. After taking delivery of materials on that Friday, we'll need our usual dedicated volunteers to come up on Saturday and Sunday. Now, especially, we need people with basic construction or carpentry skill sufficient to frame our simple (but large) structure with direction from the managers. If you're one of these people, please join us for one or all of the coming work weekends! With each work weekend now, our structure gets higher...

The updated calendar of construction dates can be found on the Korinji site here.

March 10, 2010

Sango, Jigo II

Here's a link to a video of Engakuji, the temple referenced in our earlier post, courtesy of Tozan Park who's just returned from Japan. While there he happened to film the Byakurokudo: the "White Deer Cave" from which, legend says, emerged the the deer that came to listen to Mugaku Sogen's lecture.

March 9, 2010

Sango, Jigo

A recent question from one of our members prompted us to examine the tradition of naming Zen temples, which comes originally from China and was maintained in Japan.

Temples have two names: the sango (mountain name) and the jigo (temple name). You will often see these written on the temple gate.

For headquarters temples, the sango is generally Daihonzan ("Great Origin Mountain"). In the medieval Japanese system of temple ranking, Daihonzan are temples that serve as the ceremonial, training and administrative headquarters of distinct lines of Zen, or ha. Daihonzan Tenryuji in Kyoto, for example, is still today the headquarters for all of the temples affiliated to it, which are part of the Tenryuji-ha. Daihonzan Myoshinji has its affiliated temples. These divisions are best thought of as the result of lineage and history, and do not represent sectarian divide or any fundamental differences in practice.

Temples which are not Daihonzan, however, have varying sango. This is where it gets interesting. Many of these "mountain names" seem to be actual place names, or names descriptive of scenery or events. For example, a temple located on a mountain with an existing name of "White Cloud Mountain" may well have that name as its sango. The sango of Engakuji, a famous Rinzai temple in Kamakura, is Zuirokusan: "Lucky Deer Mountain". This comes from a legend relating that on the day of the temple's founding ceremony, the first abbot, Mugaku Sogen, gave the customary sermon. A herd of white deer, it is said, walked onto the scene and stood listening to him. This was considered a fortunate omen.

Jigo, the actual temple names, more often have distinct meaning in terms of Buddhist teaching. Daitokuji, for example, is the "Temple of Great Virtue". Myoshinji is the "Temple of Wondrous Mind".

Closer to home: the sango/jigo for our temple in Chicago is Sokeizan Daiyuzenji. Sokeizan is the sango for one of the temples related to the Sixth Patriarch. It seems to be an original place name; its use for us, however, is due to this connection with Huineng. Daiyuzenji means "Great Sublime Zen Temple". The "Great Sublime" comes from Daiyu-ho, "Great Sublime Peak", which was the mountain associated with Pai Chang/Hyakujo Ekai, considered the founder of the Zen monastic system. (see Hekigaroku case #26 "Hyakujo Sits on the Great Sublime Peak").

Hosokawa Roshi, Daiyuzenji's founder, picked these two names associated with pivotal early Zen ancestors to indicate roots and energy that go back before Zen's split into the so-called Five Houses and Seven Schools.

For Korinji: the sango is Sotekizan, "Patriarchal Target Mountain". This can be interpreted several ways from a Zen standpoint. On a more prosaic level, however, the name can be translated simply as "Ancestors" or "Grandfather's" mountain, and is in honor of one of our neighbors, a farmer in his 80's, who at one time owned the land on which Korinji is being built.

The jigo Korinji is fully Korinzenji: "Bright Forest Zen Temple". Korinji's forest is actually fairly dark and dense, but "Bright Forest" in this context refers to something else!

As we look at temple names, and the distinction between Daihonzan and other temples that exists in Japan, we see a different development in the West. There seems to be little or no attempt to organize Rinzai temples in a hierarchy. This is probably due to the fact that the various temples that have sprung up have roots in different Japanese ha, and thus there is no central Rinzai authority striving to exert organizational control outside of Japan. Rather, what we see here are loose associations of temples, bound together by common training roots, lineage and personal relationship.

For now, this seems perfect.

March 5, 2010

First 2010 Korinji Construction Weekend!

The Korinji Foundation Board of Directors has announced the following preliminary schedule for construction at Korinji this year. These are the primary work weekends for which we hope to have strong volunteer support. There will be additional weekends, however, during which we'll also welcome help...these will be announced as the building season progresses. Please note that some of these weekends may be subject to change.

3/20-21: Setup weekend
4/14-16: Work Weekend
4/23-25: Work Weekend
5/14-16: Work Weekend
5/28-31: Work Weekend
6/18-20: Work Weekend
7/10-11: Work Weekend
8/21-22: Work Weekend
9/10-12: Work Weekend
10/15-17: Work Weekend
10/26-31: Year End Work Week and wrap-up

Within the first couple of weekends, we'll see our walls start to take shape on the substructure we completed last fall. We look forward to seeing you at Korinji during this exciting time!

RIGHT NOW, we are calling for volunteers for the first weekend, March 20-21. There will not be major construction going on that weekend, but we'll need willing hands to help us with site prep, getting tools out of storage and back on-site, the clearing of winter debris from trails, etc.

To volunteer for this or any other weekend, in whole or part, please email us:

Carpooling will again be conducted from Daiyuzenji temple in Chicago on the morning of the 20th, and additional drivers are helpful if you have a car. If the weather is too cold for our usual camping arrangements on the land, we do still have an extremely reasonable rate at a local hotel. More details will be sent out to our volunteers shortly.

Thank you as always, and see you on the 20th!