April 18, 2012

Volunteer at Korinji: April 28-29

The next work weekend at Korinji will be April 28-29.  We plan to start at 10am on Saturday (with zazen as always), followed by an early lunch and then a full afternoon of grounds work.  Saturday evening generally sees us gathering around a grill or campfire, or in town, for a group dinner.  Sunday work generally ends in the early afternoon.

For more information or to volunteer, please email Korinji:  info@korinji.org.

In memoriam: John Wallace

[Submitted by Meido]

Chicago-area members of our community were saddened this past week to learn of the death of John Wallace, 72.  John had been practicing Zen with us for several months.  A long time Karate practitioner, he navigated the usual challenges experienced by beginning students with a solid, stoic quality that revealed his training and strength of character.  Only a few days before his death, John was able to join us at Korinji where he participated in the work being done there. 

Though not with us for long, John had spoken to his family of the deep meaning that Zen practice held for him.  Due to this, perhaps, I was asked to jointly officiate at his funeral this past Monday.  After a ceremony that celebrated what was obviously a life that had deeply touched those around him, we traveled to the cemetery for a brief burial service.  By chance, John's ashes are buried not more than fifty yards from the grave of our late teacher, Toyoda Sensei. 

Please remember John in your chanting and dedication of merit.  His obituary, including information on sending memorial donations to charities he supported, may be found here.

April 6, 2012

March 24 zazenkai report

[Submitted by Chris Wagner, Chicago]

On Saturday, March 24 at Daiyuzenji members of our Zen community came together for zazenkai, the quarterly overnight retreat dedicated to the practice of zazen.  These retreats are an ideal time for practitioners to set aside all other concerns and commit themselves to a sustained period of sitting meditation.  Along with zazen, participants were also able to practice (and in some cases learn) the traditional tea ceremony and mealtime forms, practices which not only remind us how to serve and be of service to others but also prepare us for sesshin, the longer intensive retreats.

Zazenkai commenced with the resonant echo of the han being struck, signaling both our coming together for practice and the approaching nightfall.  After opening with a brief tea, zazen was begun in earnest.  Following many periods of sitting we chanted okyo including energetic repetitions of Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, lifting our spirits and giving us the energy for continued practice.  The night concluded with a brief talk by Meido Roshi, who exhorted all present to delve deeper into their practice through sustained and continuous effort.  Training continued early the next morning, and after taking breakfast together silently we all shared the task of samu, or mindful cleaning.  After more periods of meditation we completed our time together with morning okyo and a final tea.

As we finished the formal schedule, I was taken aback at the effort we all expended in order to make this short retreat possible.  This style of training can only be achieved when many of us come to the same physical space and dedicate ourselves to practicing together.  The support and encouragement of others is what allows us to break through to new levels of practice, and in this regard I found much by which to be inspired.  These opportunities are quite rare, so it is with deep gratitude that I thank everyone involved who made it possible for this practice to occur.