Happy New Year to all Friends of Zen in Orlando!
Some of you spent the first minutes of the New Year chanting together “into the new year” at the Orlando Zen Center and I hope everyone else also made it into 2017 well. It certainly has been an interesting, if often troubling, year and promises to be a continuously interesting year to unfold. Practice is always important – but I find it especially critical when political and all sort of other relationships are in turmoil and the world seems to unravel. We surely need to do more than sit on the cushion – but those other activities will likely be much clearer and more effective if we also continue to practice diligently (or at all). And at the Orlando Zen Center, you will always find friendly people who support each other’s practice.
In my experience, one of the most valuable aspects of having this wonderful Zen Center around is that I meet and practice with people from all sorts of backgrounds – a group much more diverse that I would encounter in my daily travels otherwise. And interestingly, we always get along. Maybe because so much of what we do is done in silence J But we also become something like dharma family – with close and less close but still caring relationships that continue over time. (On that note: It has been wonderful to reconnect with old dharma friends in many settings recently – I hope our paths cross again soon!)
This Newsletter contains information about:
- Abbot’s corner forthcoming
- Temple Naming Ceremony
- Heart Kyol Che
- January YMJJ in Southflorida
- March Florida Sangha Weekend
- April Buddha’s Birthday and Transmission Ceremony
- OZC Membership and Dana
- Zen Center Residency
In the near future we will incorporate as regular feature the “Abbot’s corner” (tip of the hat to Tom Johnson, abbot of the Cambridge Zen Center ) where select answers to questions you have emailed will be shared with all (without identifying any person who asks them, of course.) Use the email AbbotOrlando@gmail.com to address any questions about practice you may have.
A few months ago we had our 15th anniversary celebration/Naming Ceremony where the Orlando Zen Center received a “proper” Korean Temple name: Hwa Om Sa – Flower Garland Temple, which invokes both the “Florida” flower connection as well as the central Flower Garland Sutra (Avatamsaka Sutra), one of the most influential sutras in Mahayana Buddhism. One of the central themes in that sutra is the interdependence of all beings and all existence. It occurs to me that this historical moment is a really good one to be reminded of the interdependence of all beings. May our Temple name help remind us of our potential to wake up and pursue the Buddha path of enlightenment to help all beings. (While it is one of the longest sutras out there https://goo.gl/hCrwiJ, you can find some online versions, e.g. https://goo.gl/DhAXpA.) Some pictures from the Temple Naming Ceremony and party afterwards can be seen on our Facebook page.
Heart Kyol Che
The traditional 3-month retreat, Winter Kyol Che, has commenced at our school’s monastery at Providence Zen Center. Some of our Dharma friends are sitting Kyol Che for part or even all of it. May they practice well and stay warm (especially the Florida people J. For those of us who are unable to join Kyol Che, Heart Kyol Che offers a good opportunity to dedicate intentional practice time and energy in support of our collective waking up and attaining Don’t Know mind. More information about Heart Kyol Che can be found here: http://providencezen.org/winter-heart-kyol-che-2017.
Heart Kyol Che can be a powerful way of integrating practice in your everyday life, and it is also a really wonderful way to support those who are practicing hard up at Diamond Hill Monastery at Providence Zen Center. The monastery was built with the purpose of providing space for people sitting Kyol Che in the winter (always 3months) and summer (usually four weeks). Anybody who has sat one week or two or 90 days can attest to the strong practice energy and special place that it is. Also, please note that there are scholarship opportunities for members of the Orlando Zen Center, if they want to attend Kyol Che.)
January YMJJ- Three Day Retreat in SouthFlorida
Please consider joining our friends in Southflorida at the end of this month, 1/27-1/29, at the beautiful Bo Hyung Sa Temple for a three day retreat with Zen Master Wu Kwang (Richard Shrobe). For more information and to register please see here. Wanna go, but can’t pay for gas and tolls? Give us a call, we may just have you covered.
There are two other special events in the near future that I hope LOTS OF US will be able to attend. So please mark your calendars:
March 4: Florida Party Time (aka Sangha Weekend)
Whenever I am at our school wide sangha gatherings, I hear “you have so many zen centers and groups going on in Florida. ” And indeed, there is a bunch of dharma activity happening in the Sunshine State. And so, for the second time, we will have a Florida Sangha Weekend at Bo Hyung Sa in Southflorida the first weekend in March. The main day of festivities will be Saturday, March 4. Festivities will include a Precepts Ceremony, a Florida Sangha Ceremony, some special events, and of course great food, cake and fun with old and new friends. And remember – the weather in Miami in March should b really lovely. There are no particular costs to attend – and the Orlando Zen Center will likely rent a van and drive down together either Friday evening or very early Saturday (depending on people’s schedules). Sangha weekends are major fun and great for people with or without experience with zen meditation or our school. So if you want to come along – no matter if you have been able to be at practice lately – please join us. It’ll be a fun road trip! More info will follow, but please reserve the date in your schedule and let us know that you will attend, so the folks in Southflorida know what to expect.
April 1-2: Buddha’s Birthday and Transmission Ceremony in Providence
About a month later, a very special set of events will take place at Providence Zen Center, our “mothership,” i.e. the main temple of the Kwan Um School of Zen in North America.
Buddha’s Birthday Weekend includes fun ceremonies, time to get to know others from across the country and world, lots of celebrations involving yummy vegetarian food, cake (Zen people love cake!), and this year also a very special Transmission Ceremony (a new Zen Master appeared and will be named) and an Inka ceremony (a new teacher appeared and will field public dharma combat and then be confirmed in the Inka Ceremony). This April is going to be especially nice for us to join the nationwide sangha – I can attest that everyone from Orlando who has ever visited Providence Zen Center at one of the sangha weekends has been happy they went. It’s a place full of strong practice energy, especially when 70-80 people chant together in the large Dharma Room. Many of the Zen Masters and JDPSNs will be there and it is a great opportunity to chat and mingle and get to know people from all over the country and many different zen centers. There is also a Memorial Room for Zen Master Seung Sahn with lots of memorabilia. (Please note that there are scholarships for members of OZC who have never been at Providence Zen Center.)
Membership and Dana:
Money makes the world go around (and keeps the lights on):
There is never a charge for practice. We welcome anybody to come join us, no matter what their financial background. At the same time, we have to pay rent for the zen center and for the use of the Pranic Healing Center for Sunday night practice. In the Buddhist tradition there is a long tradition of “Dana:” generosity. Giving generously from ones resources (or time) can express our gratitude to the teachers and teachings and to the community. In Asian contexts, people in the community usually bring something with them when they visit a temple. Requests for chanting are always accompanied by a donation (because those who are in the zen center will do extra chanting services for those who are suffering or have died, a very real service worthy of support,) When I have visited various temples in Southeast Asia and in Korea, altars were often loaded with bags of rice, pallets of water bottles, and other essentials for monastics’ life in those contexts. Bringing something to the Temple meant that people recognized the value of having a Temple to go to. Monastics chanting for their deceased relatives, for the sick aunt or teen daughter in trouble, all of these requests are mostly understood in an interdependent chain of being. In Orlando, our Zen Center does not have monastics, but the residents of the center spend significant time preparing the center so that all can come to practice and find a clean space with freshly made tea, they take on the role of practice leaders, welcome newcomers, and always help out as needed. While they certainly learn a lot by integrating their practice into their everyday lives (also known as the bodhisattva path) they really perform a great service to our small Zen community – and they and the Zen Center can use our support.
No matter if you attend practice often or just once in a while – isn’t it nice to know the space for it is there? We are committed to being here for all who want to learn about Zen practice and to practice together.
How can you support the Zen Center? By donating stuff that is needed (ask the residents or abbot or bring rice or tea or toilet paper or fruit or cookies), by showing up for practice (available every day of the week, see the schedule online for details) and by showing up for work period to help out with maintaining the Zen Center (on Saturday mornings) or volunteering for other projects. And of course you can also give money – we accept online donations as well as whatever you can afford to put into the donation box. Please be as generous as your circumstances allow.
Zen Center Residency
At the beginning of February we will again have a vacancy at the Zen Center. Do your life circumstances allow you to move into the zen center? Read some reflections by a previous resident (See Brian’s thoughts on living in a zen center) and please do consider if this is a good fit for you. Living together in zen centers is one of the fastest ways to get to see your karma and work on understanding your self as it related to the world around you. Zen Master Seung Sahn encouraged his students to live and practice together and we continue that tradition. It’s not for everyone – but if you think it might be for you, please do contact us in order to discuss the possibilities – we are here to support your practice!
Yours in the Dharma,
Abbot, Orlando Zen Center (Hwa Om Sa)