March 15, 2012

Zen in Brooklyn

[Submitted by Enmei Hunter, Chicago]

The weekend of March 9th and 10th I traveled with Moore Roshi to Brooklyn Aikikai, a non-profit center where Zen, Misogi, Aikido and Iaido are taught, for an Introduction to Zen seminar.  I have developed several friendships with Brooklyn Aikikai's members due to my practice of Aikido and have always been impressed by their dedication and commitment, led by their chief instructor Robert (Ryugan) Savoca Sensei.  In many ways, Savoca Sensei and Moore Roshi remind me of one another with their focus on intense training and development.  Visiting Brooklyn Aikikai always leaves me with a lesson on how I want to practice and live my life.

The seminar began with a traditional lunch of miso soup and rice, eaten in silence with full attention being given to the activity at hand.  Afterwards, Moore Roshi provided the 25 participants basic instruction in zazen with an emphasis on posture, breathing and method.  After the first period of zazen, he provided more in-depth instruction on tanden kokyuho, the hara-centered breathing which is the foundation of our practice.  Participants learned a practical, 5-step method for developing and refining this way of breathing.  Roshi also provided instruction on how to receive the keisaku and for reinvigorating one's meditation.  More zazen practice then allowed the participants to put all these things into practice.  The seminar ended with okyo (chanting) and the spirit of the group came through very clearly in the tone and energy during the chants.

The evening closed with a potluck that gave everyone a chance to meet and develop new friendships.  After this, participants showed that training never stops as they pitched in to clean and return the dojo to its proper form.

I am grateful for every opportunity I have to train with others interested in Zen and thank everyone at Brooklyn Aikikai for hosting this event.  If you are interested in Zen practice or other traditional ways of mind-body development in the Brooklyn, NY area, please see Brooklyn Aikikai's site here.

March 8, 2012

Book group on Sundays at Daiyuzenji

The book group meeting at Daiyuzenji in Chicago after Sunday morning sitting is now in full swing, with a read-through and discussion of Paul William's "Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition" (available on Amazon). From Miller Roshi: "We are currently undertaking a systematic survey of Buddhist thought as it developed in India. We're just starting a study of Mahayana writings, those elements that form the conceptual basis for much of Zen practice."

Participants are welcome to join the group at any point. For the Daiyuzenji Sunday schedule, take a look here.

March 7, 2012

Recent interfaith dialogue and internal training seminar

[Submitted by Kristen Radtke, Chicago]

On Thursday, Feb. 16 Moore Roshi participated in an interfaith discussion at Sheil Catholic Center in Evanston, IL.  The event began with a brief presentation given from the Catholic perspective on the common ground between Christianity and Buddhism, emphasizing the work of Thomas Merton and the Catholic Church's position on the worth of other religious traditions expressed during the Second Vatican Council.  Moore Roshi then spoke about Zen from a practitioner's perspective, sharing his story of being drawn to religion at an early age, eventually landing within Zen as a tradition rich in methods of facing the fundamental human existential questions.  After some 30 minutes of dialogue, he made the final statement, "To me, it is perhaps not so important what religion you follow, but what sort of person you become through it.  If you have some insight, experience or belief but fail to integrate it into your being, into your interactions with other people, what good is it?"  Heads bobbed in agreement around the room, and participants affirmed that the goals of their different traditions were not different in terms of how they call us to become and act within the world, rather than to simply follow or believe.  The evening concluded with basic instruction in zazen and a brief period of group practice.

This past Sunday, March 4, Daiyuzenji in Chicago hosted an Internal Training seminar also led by Moore Roshi.  He began by lecturing on the intent and contents of the internal training curriculum, and then gave several hours of detailed instruction on tanden kokyuho, the hara-centered breathing and energetic cultivation method which is fundamental to our practice of meditation.  Hakuin's naikan no ho and nanso ho ho methods were then taught, followed by self- massage and the 16 primary breathing forms from the Do-in Ho section of the curriculum.  Donations from this event benefited the Korinji monastery building fund, and nearly $900 was raised:  thank you to the participants from Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan who came!

March 1, 2012

First 2012 Korinji work weekend: 3/31-4/1

The first work weekend at Korinji is set for the weekend of March 31-April 1.  Our plans this year are to complete the zendo interior, beginning with electrical and insulation.  We'll also continue to develop the Korinji grounds, and of course there is always a great deal of clean-up and trail repair after a long winter.  Volunteers are welcome!

To see some images from the end of last year's work season, go here.  To volunteer or sign up on Korinji's email list and receive future work weekend and event announcements, please go here.