This week saw a flurry of activity as the Korinji Foundation's schedule of spring events clicked into gear.
This past weekend Shininkai in Chicago hosted the first of the Foundation's two 2011 Internal Training instructional seminars. 35 participants from Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky and Montana traveled in for the two-day training led by Moore Roshi, which focused on the foundational practices of Korinji's internal training curriculum: Tanden Kokyu-ho and the Naikan no Ho and Nanso no Ho exercises of Hakuin Zenji. The second day's practice was able to get through the Do-in Ho self-massage and energy circulation exercises in a cursory manner; a second seminar on Sept. 3-4 will focus on a more detailed examination of them as well as Hara Tanren.
Both seminars this year benefit Korinji of course. This first seminar raised approximately $2000.00 for our building fund. This will just about cover the cost of Korinji's crucial new driveway and parking areas which are being completed in a few weeks (work crew volunteers: this new graveled drive means no more hauling of building materials through the woods by hand!).
Yesterday, another event truly served to drive home the fact of spring's arrival. McHenry County College in Crystal Lake, Illinois has established a beautiful Zen garden in a courtyard on campus, and Korinji was invited through the Japanese Culture Institute to participate in its dedication. Moore Roshi briefly spoke on the significance of art from the Zen Buddhist standpoint and conducted a traditional blessing ceremony with assistance from Jim Mills Sensei (who instructs meditation at the Lake in the Hills practice group). A spring poem by the famous Zen master Ryokan was read by a college faculty member:
First days of spring - the sky
is bright blue, the sun huge and warm.
Everything's turning green.
Carrying my monks' bowl, I walk to the village
to beg for my daily meal.
The children spot me at the temple gate
and happily crowd around,
dragging my arms till I stop.
I put my bowl on a white rock,
hang my bag on a branch.
First we braid grasses and play tug-of-war,
then we take turns singing and keeping a kick-ball in the air:
I kick the ball and they sing, they kick and I sing.
Time is forgotten, the hours fly.
People passing by point at me and laugh:
"Why are you acting like such a fool?"
I nod my head and don't answer.
I could say something, but why?
Do you want to know what's in my heart?
From the beginning of time: just this! Just this!
Afterward additional cultural demonstrations were offered, including the making of ceramic tea bowls by Hironobu Nishitateno Sensei, a shodo (calligraphy) demonstration by Hekiun Oda Sensei, and Aikido and Iaido demonstrations by instructors and students from Aikido Shimboku Dojo led by Lisa Tomoleoni Sensei. A wonderful day!
Finally, our practice group in Highland Park, Illinois which began this past winter has now taken root well and seems to be growing in energy and vitality as the days lengthen. After only a few months we now have a solid core of a half-dozen meditators, with new members coming in frequently to receive introductory zazen instruction. And now that spring is here we're starting to truly enjoy the setting of the nature center where we meet: located within 17 acres of forest and restored prairie, it's an ideal place for practice. We look forward to seeing this new community grow through the rest of 2011.
We're focused now on our next work weekend at Korinji (May 7-8) and on planning the decisive progress we'll make at Korinji this year. More information shortly on this, as well as some other exciting developments that are in the works...