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EkiZen - Newsletter from the Sangha of Shinnyoji

Winter 2013 - n. 17 year IV

Our beloved Temple, Daijoji immersed in the snow

Zen Temple La Gendronnière 18-20 October 2013

Our Teacher Shinnyo Roshi visited “La Gendronnière” Zen Temple in France to attend the Annual Seminar organized by the “European Sōtō Zen Office”.
This year the conference, held in English and translated into French was titled “Critical Interpretation and Technological Instruments in the Study of Doctrinal Foundation Sōtō Teachings” specifically “The way of studing Dōgen and the Sōtō Zen Teaching - Introduction to Japanese and Western approach”. The speaker was Seijun Ishii, ex-Director of Komozawa University, of the greatest international expert of research and modern interpretation of the Sōtō Zen teachings and of the most notable academics in traditional and modern methodologies in Buddhist Studies.

Warriors of the Spirit

The other night during the Kusen held at the second Zazen, our Teacher used this phrase “Warriors of the Spirit”, referring to us, Zen practitioners. It was lovely! So whoever of us chooses to practice the Zen Way with our Teacher, is a warrior, and the adversaries are illusion, attachments, conditions, habits, egoism, and incorrect views. Summed into one word: your ego.
Us warriors of the spirit have a very powerful weapon: Zazen. Our Teacher, faithful to the heritage of our Lineage, doesn’t ever get tired of telling us how much importance Dōgen placed on meditation. Furthermore, like every true Zen Teacher, Shinnyo Roshi tells us that even who does not practice Zazen can be a person on the Path. Each one of us, as she always says, is a Buddha and we all live with our karma.
I am once again on the path and thank my Teacher and my friends of the Sangha, especially those with whom I have been practicing for a long time. Whenever I was down, they know how to support me with their gazes (every time we saw each other) and with their Zazen. Thanks
Gasshō

Being there

Our Teacher often tells us about the importance of our presence at the Temple. A thousand books are not equal to a Zazen done with a Sangha and Zen Teacher. Beyond being there, it is also the only way to live, with practice, the Bodhisattva spirit that can help others. How else can new and old practitioners testify that we are there, in Zazen, supporting and encouraging ourselves.

Shinkai

Silence

Silence - it’s a physical necessity, almost like air.
What is silence? What does it mean to me and why do I need it so much?
Silence scares us because it frees a suffocated scream inside the mind. Silence is disarming because it puts us in front of ourselves, it liberates us from distractions, it takes away excuses and options, it obliges us to catch our breath and listen closely. It is hard to manage, it seems useless and dangerous, unattractive and often unknown, silence, in reality, is a big effort. It helps us open the windows of those dark musty and stale rooms in our minds. The bright light of wisdom and compassion shines and finally lets us find the things that have been there for years but we have never noticed.
Silence strips bear the I - it disarms it, making it insecure, taking away its strength. At the beginning its reaction is angry and it unleashes a complex creation of images, visions, apparitions made just to distract the attention from its nudity, but the effect lasts just a little bit because it doesn’t have the catalyzing element: the listening, observing and gawking public. Without it, the I cannot bear the standoff with its worst enemy: the impossibility for it to exist alone.

Silence, a great inspiring strength, a great refuge. In it we can perceive, even if just for a moment, the essence of our existence.
One can have a visual flash of what the complex mechanism is that governs us, the unstoppable flow of our mind evolving that mixes into infinite other beings, like water into water. In silence, every movement, every thought can move with a very natural cadence allowing itself to exist in awareness.
Will we ever have enough of silence? It is something too big for us and for our minds. Our continuum, exactly like a river, wears away at the bed, making a channel along a path determined by causes and external factors. If it didn’t, it would disperse into thousands of useless streams and would be easily absorbed into the ground. No, we are still not ready to give ourselves up to silence, our minds still cannot penetrate everything - we are still not like water in water.
I turn on music, I open a book, I squint my eyes, I look for someone to talk to.... I fill an emptiness with emptiness but I feel more secure, and from the void, the I reappears, rejoicing for having escaped danger, arrogant as usual.

Ei-shin

Thank you

The past few years have been very hard for me. EkiZen has been a clear and silent testimony. My testimonies have gathered and revealed how much that has happened in my life. Today I can say that thanks to my pain, I am free from any “illusions”. I am certainly more alone and I have fewer hopes, but there are still some. Practice was a big help. Shinnyo Roshi knew how to stay close to me without doing anything out of the ordinary, but she was there. She was my light through desperation. If practice is for this, for the joy of being able to -maybe- one day be a light to someone: my children, my wife, my friends, strangers who I have met and - who knows- even people who have hurt me a lot and I would like to forgive.

Shinkai

Quarterly Newsletter from the Daijoji Monastery,
Daijoji Dayori n. 115 September 2013

“The Foundation of the Sekai Zen Senta, International Zen Center”

Sekai Zen Senta was founded at Daijoji on May 14th, 2013.
The Inauguration and First Reunion was held on June 9th.
During the Second Reunion on July 3rd, the official assignments were given to the members and our Abbot Azuma Ryushin Roshi was nominated President of the Center and Hei Dōki Roshi as Vice President. The other roles are published on the following page (2).
The main objective of the Sekai Zen Senta is to define the current reality of Zazen practitioners throughout the world, mainly their state of collaboration and reciprocal relationship. We deepen our prayer for world peace. The activity for preparation and services are beginning. We sincerely ask for your understanding and collaboration.

“The Suzuki Daisetsu Museum
A Series of Conferences held from Sanshu Roshi - Our Abbot”

The Suzuki Daisetsu Museum in Kanazawa organized a series of conferences to help us understand this great philosophy on the theme: “Suzuki Daisetsu and Zen Culture”, upon which Sanshu Roshi, our Abbot, held talks on: “The Source of Everyday Culture in Japan and Zen” on May 18th, 2013 and later on: “The Origins of Zen Culture” on June 15th, 2013, both at the Kabuki Theater in Kanazawa.
Since there were more requests to attend than expected, the Museum organizers had to limit the maximum number of attendees to 70 people, which was the max capacity of the venue.

“An Italian Group Lead by Shinnyo Roshi: The Visit and the Practice”

Iten Shinnyo Roshi, Abbot of Shinnyoji and follower of our Abbot Azuma Ryushi Roshi returned to Japan with three of her followers, Iten Goshen, Iten Benshin and Gregorio Pitti. They intensely dedicated themselves to practicing the Way of our Temple from June 7th to 18th. They were all very happy to have follow the course held by our Abbot on the the Shōbōgenzō Zazengi.

“Buppō, Bukkyō, Butsudō: The Buddha Dharma, Buddhism, the Way of the Buddha” by Abate Azuma Ryūshin Roshi

Reading the texts by Dōgen Zenji, for example the 95 volumes in the Shōbōgenzō, we notice the fact that, besides the Bukkyō chapter, they mostly contain numerous words such as “Buppō” or “Butshudō”.
There are various interpretations of the term “Hō” (Dharma) of the Buppō, but according to me, Dharma means Truth.
So what is Truth? It signifies the consciousness that cannot be expressed through words and letters, meaning Reality itself that goes beyond our discernment. Through the three times: past present and future (time) and the Ten directions (space), everything that exists is Reality. Even we are Reality. But if he try to understand this, we immediately fail. The Shakamuni Buddha understood the Dharma through Zazen and became aware of being Dharma itself. The term “Kyō” (teaching) by Bukkyō represents the transmission and words of the Shakamuni that originate from his compassion by helping us be aware of the Dharma manifested before us. They are the Sutras. The Sutras are the Buddha’s teachings. The Sutras are taught according to the level of who is studying them because they can be accepted by everyone. It is why they care called “Hachimansisen no Hōmon - the 8,400 doors to the Dharma - the numerous teachings”. The Sutras will numerously arise also in the future because people will be saved and Enlighted through them.
In the end, although the teachings of the Buddha are very beautiful - the merits of the Bukkyō cannot arise if it is not practiced. This practice is the Way, in other words, the Buddha Way - Butsudō. The Way of the Buddha is limitlessly extended like our daily lives.

“Zazen and Zen”

Everywhere in today’s society we loudly hear the word Zen. Daijoji is a Buddhist Temple for the Zen School. It is generally defined- by myself and by others - as a Temple belonging to the Sōtō School of Zen Buddhism, but this definition is usually the consequence of the custom of today’s society. In his texts, Dōgen Zenji very often mentions the the words Za (sat down) and Zazen. He rarely uses the word Zen. He said that it wasn’t possible to correctly define the teaching transmitted from the Buddha and the Patriarchs with the same of a School like Sōtō or Zen. The origin of the word Zen is Dhyāna, in Sanskrit which comes from the Chinese word Channa, abbreviated as Chán, or Zen in Japanese. According to the Buddhist dictionary by Iwanami Publishing House, the word Zen means meditation or unification of the mind and body.
However, according to Dōgen Zenji, the Zazen correctly transmitted from Sākyamuni Buddha and of the Patriarchs is Hishiryō, meaning “to stop all thought moment and the concentration of the mind,” or in a shorter version, not to think of anything. This is why it’s better to use the word Za rather than the word Zen, and even better, teh word Zazen. Dōgen Zenji said that Za was the True Nature of ourselves. Zazen isn’t meditation. It doesn’t try to unify the mind and body. It can’t become Mu, nothingness.

Kyosaku

The Kyosaku is a 70 cm long stick that resembles a sword without a hilt. It is often used in Zen Monasteries and Temples to help practitioners concentrate. During Zazen, an elderly practitioner slowly walks behind the fellow practitioners as they meditate and hits them on a precise point on the right shoulder with the Kyosaku. This hit has the power to calm someone down if he or she is nervous or it can awaken if the person is sleepy.
At Shinnyoji, the Kyosaku is kept near the altar. Our Zen, although it is rigorous and respects the tradition of the Ancient Patriarchs, does not use the Kyosaku. I’m not going to explain why not because I’m just a practitioner, but I can say that having had direct experiences in Zazen practice in other Italian Zendos, I think that our praxis is very interesting. Also, this “missing element” forces us to work harder to calm down or wake up, on our own. It also gives us a larger silence and a larger concentration, as well as solitude during meditation. Lastly, it doesn’t bring “light punishment” that using the Kyuosaku may provoke. It doesn’t ignore the few times that our Teacher used the Kyosaku, we welcome it like everything else at Shinnyoji- with open arms, without judgment, we let our bodies and minds go. Or at least (I say this with a smile) I try to do so.

Shinkai

A Teacher’s Example

Although the Zen Way is practiced by few people in the world and few throughout history, it has produced many texts. This is very strange because if we read a few “official” texts, like the historic ones, it seems that our Practice must be done along with a Teacher. It’s an uncomfortable idea because an instructional book is like a dog, you are in command of it, but a Teacher on the other hand, a Teacher interacts with you and sometimes not in agreement of how we would like. From my experience, I can confirm that a Teacher is necessary most of all for the example. It doesn’t matter if he or she says something, just that he or she moves. A person on the Path understands the silent language of the Teacher. Our Teacher Shinnyo Roshi very often speaks through her actions that create numerous silent teachings. A recent example: Roshi decided to shave her head a little while ago for the Rōhatsu night, a very important night for us Zen Buddhists and in particular, for us at Shinnyoji because two practitioners were ordained. The gesture of shaving her head was very powerful and gave a strong example for all of us.

Shinkai

Estratto da: “Introduzione” Capitolo primo del Sutra del Loto.

Excerpt from: “Introduction” Chapter 1 of the Lotus Sutra
“And I see those who
observe the precepts,
no flaw in their conduct,
pure as jewels and gems,
and in the manner seeking the Buddha way.
And I see Buddha sons
abiding in the strength of fortitude,
taking the abuse and blows
of persons of overbearing arrogance,
willing to suffer all these,
and in that manner seeking the Buddha way.
I see bodhisattvas
removing themselves form frivolity and laughter and from foolish companions,
befriending persons of wisdom,
unifying their minds, dispelling confusion, ordering their thoughts in mountain and forest for a million, a thousand, ten thousand years
in that manner seeking the Buddha way.”

Since my recent trip to Shinnyoji last September I feel even stronger the importance of having and taking care of an altar in my home. My is in the loft area of my apartment in Seattle, a little space about the living room with a ladder meant for a storage space, for me it is where I practice Zazen every morning. When I made my altar, I took a box and a roll of bamboo, then I put a little Buddha statue on top that my brother gave me for my birthday. I added a few green and grey stones, crystals and a white candle. I always keep a lemon or sprig of basil, or something that reminds me of Italy on my altar. Our Teacher gave me a small bowl that came from a temple in Kyoto for daily offering. I always keep seashells from Viareggio, one is turned upside-down and filled with sugar for the offering. Somethings change on my altar, like when someone gives me something, or sends me a postcard, in the picture there is the incense that the Teacher gave me. Now there is a postcard from the Pantheon, a very spiritual place for me.

I think a lot about the altar at Shinnyoji, I feel the candle’s flame and the smell the incense. I think about you all while we sit together, I wish I could be with you, remember that my heart is there. Thank you Teacher and my Sangha, whom I love very much. Thanks again.
Gasshō

Tenshin

Our Teacher was invited by Rev. Taigō Spongia Sensei - Head Instructor in Italy of the IOGKF- held a day of Zazenkai at the Tora Kan Dōjō in Rome.

Conference on “The Style of Japanese Poetry: Haiku” by Prof. Paolo Pagli at Shinnyoji on October 13th, 2013.

Conference: “The History of Buddhism in Japan” by Prof. Hiroo Nakajima at Shinnyoji on November 16th, 2013.

Zazenkai October 13th, 2013

SPECIAL RŌHATSU 2013

Excerpt from “Zen in the Art of Enlightenment”
by Keizan Jokin, the second Abbot of the Daijoji Temple 1268-1325
Chapter 1 - Buddha Shakyamuni

The Shakyamuni Buddha abandoned his palace when he was nineteen years old and shaved his head. For six years he followed ascetic practice. He sat for 6 years in an indestructible chair so still that there were spider webs over his eyelids and a bird’s nest upon his head and plants grew around the chair where he sat. On his 30th birthday which was the 8th day of the 12th month, we was suddenly Enlighted when the first morning star appeared. He said, “I am Enlighted along with all other sentient beings of the earth”.
He then passed the next 49 years teaching and helping others, without ever being alone. With only his robe and a single small bowl, he had everything he needed. He taught at more than 370 assemblies, finally passed the Eye Treasure of Truth to Kashyapa and this transmission continues today.
This is the root of the Transmission and the Practice of the True Teaching in India, China and Japan.
The Shakyamuni Buddha’s behavior throughout the his life is a model for his disciples who succeeded him. Ever since there have been people in the world who searched for the Way of his Teaching, they have always imitated the form and behavior of the Buddha and in their every movement, they kept the task of self-awareness preeminent. Having been passed from Buddha to Buddha, from follower to follower, the true Teaching has never been forgotten. Although the Buddha did not always indicate or explain the same thing in more then 370 discussions during his 40 years, the various stories, parables, metaphors and explanations do not go beyond the exemplified principle of the story of his Enlightenment. This means that the self is not the Shakyamuni Buddha, even if the Shakyamuni Buddha comes from the self. Not only does it give birth to the Shakyamuni Buddha, but all beings on the Earth come from it. In that same way that a woven net creates a cloth, when the Shakyamuni Buddha was Enlighted so too were all of the beings of the Earth and all Buddhas of the past, present and future.
Being like this, what is the principle of Enlightenment? I’m asking: The Buddha is Enlighted along with you? Are you Enlighted along with a Buddha? If you see that you have become Enlighted along with the Buddha or that the Buddha has become Enlighted with you, it is not the Enlightenment of the Buddha. This is way you cannot call it the principle of Enlightenment. Also, I, and others together are not neither one nor two. Your skin, flesh, bones, or marrow; does not have great physical elements not mental elements. Therefore do not consider the Earth’s being different for yourselves. The seasons come and go, mountains, rivers and regions change in various moments: know that it’s due to the Buddha who is raising its eyebrow or blinking its eyes. It’s due the unified body that is manifested in a myriad of forms. This is why studying it from every angle and penetrating it in every way, you clarify the Enlightenment of the Buddha and understand your Enlightenment.
“A branch protrudes from the old apricot tree. At the same time thorns are born.”

PRACTICE TESTIMONIES

Yūshin

It was difficult developing this year’s practice theme. Mushin is a very delicate and fragile condition for me, that can escape at any moment.
It’s hard to free the mind from the attachments of everyday routine defined by my study schedule, my family and work. Practicing Zazen has become more and more tangible as there are not only attachments and obstacles that must be overcome but worries in connection to world activity, worries that our minds ironically don’t want to separate themselves from.
The Sesshins this year have help me experience clearing away the clouds that weigh my mind, Zazen after Zazen the habits of our thoughts cease, naturally and spontaneously allowing Mushin concentration. The more time that passes, the more experiences of the Way that show me how difficult it is to practice Zen in a world and in a condition in which we all live. Despite these difficulties, I am not discouraged because I know that I’m at home upon the path that I’m taking.

Piergiorgio

Our practice has made me understand and appreciate the sense of being aware. Sitting in Zazen with my eyes open, a low gaze, I awake, I settle down and I feel light as a feather. I find myself aware, present, I go into a flow with everything, here, now, but also with my past and future. I notice that I am without form, empty and full at the same time. I smile during this moments of awareness.

Daishin

Ever since I began sittingin Zazen, as a mountain lover, I have thought about writingi something on “Zen and the Art of Mountain Climbing”: primarily focusing on the physical and emotional act of climbing that involves the body and mind, moments of interior confusion, inclinations, hesitations, fear and imagination, all to be recovered in the “here and now” represented by your breath, by the clarity of the mind, and by the action done in the moment: step by step, with awareness, with handles that are often unexpected.
Recently, other metaphorical aspects of my mountain climbing experiences have related to my Practice at the Temple and in the Sangha, 2013 was like a theatre with sudden twists, changes, expansions and regressions.
Even my private life, times of tiredness and fear, have contributed to this resonance bringing breathlessness, exhaustion and the emptiness that I feel while climbing.
Economic efforts to sustain people close to me in difficulty and my son who studies in another city, all choices made with a heavy heart, mind and body, have created weight, like friends attached to me by a metaphoric cord around my waist, emphasizing the responsibility I own for their well being. Between work, practice, everyday exhaustion, pain and stiffness my of aging body, and a short hours of sleep full of dreams, like the high altitude escape interposed when possible, I have often treated myself like an object, between clarity and a light trance. I have often perceived the Temple as a peaceful oasis, but even it has seen unforeseen avalanches. I have shared long collective efforts for supporting those with emergencies. Some fellow climbers have marched together in a convoy together, while other have seen someone stumble a bit, risking a fall, dragging newer climbers behind them. Sometimes a foots “falls” into hard snow on the surface and goes deep: the equilibrium is broken and the cord is yanked causing us to gasp. If someone slips from a steep cliff someone else must dive to the other direction in order to save the rest of the group from falling. We hardly ever take risks, or we fall alone. This is a Sangha. This is how I feel.
The rigid formality of the Temple is like a self-examination, done in refuge, with your own tools and on your own capacity to get out and climb; it is what you know about yourself and what you are, and free from resources that allow you to contemplate around horror, beauty, ease and danger.
I go, I act, I walk.... in a given time I think that I’ve reached the next pinnacle, I try, I detach myself, .... and I find myself still far away from it. My disappointment of the mirage shouldn’t destroy the tension of progress: never think too much, don’t have regrets, get mad. I think about rhythm, counting and breathing step by step, or singing, keeping rhythm, ancient memories, powerful like a Sutra.
In the same way the deceiving feeling that the sought after pinnacle is near vanishes. They say that you can never own the mountain: on the summit, it is the mountain that possess you, and you realize this only while looking up from the valley, your feet are humbled by the euphoria of trying, after having loosing concentration and exhaustion of descending. I have always risked this in my Practice, every time I seem to have reached and grasped onto something
From above, if you hang around on the cord or stumble into the hypnosis of automatic steps, someone may yell at you or tug you. At the Temple, Roshi’d Kyosaku doesn’t strike those who are daydreaming or undisciplined, but words, the mind, and goals, it hits more than wood, and with the same objective, strikes energy and compassion. In the Sangha, we are bound together by the chord of our practice, sometimes in the smiles of green pastures and streams and sometimes between pain and hardships of war within a parched interior during Zazen, Samu, assigned responsibilities and our everyday private lives, together we resist and progress together.
With snow up to my waistline, the first in line creates the trail and whoever follows steps in the footsteps making changes upon it. Someone retreats by untying himself, disappears in the fog, or falls and is lost forever or just for a little while. From what I have seen, between us in the Sangha, the reciprocal repercussions of these events are never brief or go without notice. In light of climbing and the “race to the top”, we recently had an experience regarding something often debated even between us climbers. In the past, as perhaps in martial Zen that one feels in some environments, the verticality, the absolute heroic tension toward the top, and it’s unquestioned following, are unalienable values.
Today, some dissident and transgressive voices, fundamentally sustain, if necessary, the valor of quitting or holding back.
As in Zazen, one should practice without goals, as you should move toward the summit with an innocent spirit, with simplicity, naturalness, and sensitivity, heart to heart, between person and environment, between Climbing Buddha and Mountain Buddha, which is the moment in which a climber can break an eggshell and dare, while the Mountain, like a teacher, welcomes him to the top.
Sometimes it is necessary to stop, even if just a step away from the sparkling icy top. Abandon plans and organization, if inadequate. I admire and smile upon the idea of knowing when to quit.
Back on the ground again, tiredly walking, amongst our own imperfect Zazen and repeated errors, our integrity and the integrity of others: admitting and accepting who we are. This is why, in order to stay whole, to stay optimistic but in realistic conditions, you don’t have to always only climb: you can also wander, or go down, for a little while or forever: this doesn’t mean to give up, it means to work on and care for a process of awareness. In 2013 I perceived this very often, and Roshi, with a great heart, words and actions seemed to emphasize this. I see the stone tower built and demolished many time by Milarepa, by apparent fits of his Teacher Marpa, before coming to him and welcoming him as a student, and always supported from afar by the compassion of the Teacher’s wife.
..... “The Life of Milrepa” by Rechung, “The Analog Mountatin! by Daumal, “The Meditations of the Summit” by Julius Evola...
Books, trees, rocks and ice: the living Buddha of my Practice.... I run my fingers along the book bindings along my partner’s bookshelf, and that only have a partial existence in my life, I read a title, an author, and I open a random page, I feel voracious, full of human pain and tension, without enough practice and time, like the prose and poems of Dino Campana.
I wander between journeys and resting places the pilgrim mountain.
Words that welcome many more, Mushin, and that I freely construct: I find these words adequate for this evening of vigil and this time: “I lived between mystic loneliness detached like a simple grey dove flying towards the immensely open valleys.... The tall rock columns of the Verna, that reflect grey light at the summit during sunset, a dark forest all around me...
On the unending rocks that go higher and higher, natural towers are built that suport the conventual house reflecting light from the West... The peaceful strength of the spirit, rocks thrown in a pile from a strong wind toward the sky, the peacefulness of nature before being covered with green woods, purified by an infinite loving spirit...”

“There is the night; and here I stay vigil
Clearer and clearer: I am far and alone
The service is quiet, toward the infinite
(The spirit is quiet) solemn poems
To the night: to the night: I mean: Only
Shadows that return, that had left us....”

Benshin

Sitting at the Temple during the Rōhatsu vigil to me signifies that another year of practice has passed and I’m still practicing. Therefore a it is like a little personal celebration at the same time as the great celebration of the Buddha’s Enlightenment. The Teacher spoke about Mushin this year as the theme for our practice, it seems rights as that I momentarily sensed its perfume, lowering my gaze, I welcomed it somehow. Anyway, the path seemed straight and clear, however I came to a slippery path full of confusion, doubt and fear, lots of fear I remember a Benshin from a few months ago, she was so serious, efficient and always present, she was so strong and convinced of the Temple’s practice that she decided to return to the Temple in Japan. Sometimes I regret it. Maybe she was too efficient, too present, too convinced. And this is how the prickly period began after the stay in Japan. A break from practicing at the Temple, but have been consistent at home.
It’s truly difficult to practice alone, you feel naked and very lonely, and one doesn’t know how to move forward, but one can go alone, at least for a little while. But what a fear it is to lose your practice, to be lost! I came back to the Temple thanks to the Teacher, as with the rest of the difficulties with her I left them behind. Now there is a hesitant Benshin, on her own, without Samue and Sangha friends. More fragile? More aware? Maybe only different.
Sometimes I ask myself why I practice. I don’t find an answer. But I practice, and most of all, when it’s sunny out, I’m happy. Thank you everyone.

Shinden

It’s not easy for me to speak about my experience at the Temple, words aren’t enough.... They are first of all “due” to deep thankfulness to Shinnyo Roshi, I would say “endless” thanks, a thankfulness for existing with us in this moment, for being someone to share with, on many levels, the same Path. Thanks for how she encourages and supports Living and Life. Roshi’s presence in our lives is undeniable, not because it’s useful, but rather because she’s “next to us!”.
Thank you for her passion and intelligence for the constant work and for establishing and always defining her Zen, Shinnyoji’s Zen, and Italian Zen, which I feel the most apart of and of which I share the deep spirit and most joyous about. Zen is based on the clear teachings of the Buddha and Patriarchs and offer a fresh and living historic memory, welcoming this Way of freedom with individual peculiarities and life choices that today express different types of freedom and concepts. A Zen that turn to others, to choosing compassion for opening up and helping others, in a reciprocal sense. A Zen without a hint of ecclesiastical exaggeration, that however maintains a living ritual. The seriousness that is held in Shinnyoji, the historic Lineage is recognized. The elegance of every aspect in Shinnyo Roshi’s life expresses what us practitioners have yet to learn. The joy of living, the lack of awareness and mortifications, the deep belief in being human and respect for the ability to evolve as people. The irony and the games that are always there. The deep listening and comprehension of every issue. Above all, the Truth of Zen practice that Shinnyo Roshi expresses with her life, her being. Verifying- using a gesture that I really love, Zen. In this “path on a path”, I believe, I would like and hope to practice with you, it has help me so much, a special and important occasion that will always be with me- because there is always “history”. It has been an intense year for me in every point of view, I am happy to be here at Shinnyoji, I am well and I feel good with a Shangha that reciprocates the support, transmits a positive energy, without any competition or careerism. Honest and sincere. Being so happy with a Sangha is not to be taken for granted, I hope that everyone fully understand and feel the strength of this gift...
A thoughtful thank you recognizing the Abbot Azuma Roshi who has done a lot for Shinnyoji.
On this holiday evening, I thank and hope that all of my loved ones, one of which I would like to mention: my mother, Massimo, Sergio, Stefano, Elisabetta.... and everyone else. On this Rohatsu evening, I feel again my faithful wish for Shinnyo Roshi, to the Sangha and each one of us.
Thank you Buddha!

Michele N.

I am what I am
Happy to be who I am
And I would never want to be anything else.
I am who I am, here and now;
I think of what I am
I speak of how I am
I welcome my being, about being who I am
here and now.
In the impermanence of everything, a flame of hope becomes reality, “to be touched”
by the state of the spirit;
in the ebb and flow of continuous being, a flexible action... a lion’s heart;
in the change and relativity of events, an indissoluble truth....
that is born and re-emerges what seemed inexistent;
stopping, to check yc, in depth, once done, refound, you will never forget,
or maybe you will, THIS IS PERMANENT.

Ismo Shinkō

Dearest Teacher Shinnyo, Friends of the Shinnyoji Sangha, those old and new, I practiced at Shinnyoji while living in Italy 2 years ago. It was a very important time for me and my family. I now lie in Finland and practice in a different Zen School under the guidance of a new teacher, but Shinnyoji has always been in my heart and I still consider Shinnyo Roshi as my Teacher- she will always be important. In a bit I will do sanpai and take down the offering, a little cup of sugar water. I learned this practice at Shinnyoji. I like giving offering in the morning removing it in the evening, I support the Buddha as the Buddha supports me. The different schools and different Teacher use different ways to help their followers understand reality. I don’t think that one method is similar to another- Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form.
Even if I have been practicing for many years now, I don’t think I will ever be a better person. I get angry, I get beaten down, sometimes I drink, sometimes I feel like crying. At the same time my life has not gotten better and I still have a lot of problems - but the practice goes along with difficulties, this is ok. I have a lot to handle in the world surrounding me. I cannot change much, not even myself, but practice has opened my mind to the reality of life and has allowed me to accept things as they are. Paradoxically, this has been a great change. Thanks to you, Teacher Shinnyo, and all of my friends of the Sangha, have a fantastic Rōhatsu, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. A big hug to you all.

Ivano

When I arrived at Shinnyoji, during my first meeting with the Teacher she asked me the most difficult question: “Why did you come here?”
My answer was, “to practice Zazen”, Roshi simply smiled without saying anything else. Ever since our first meeting, I have known how Zazen at Shinnyoji is done, continuous and intense. A Zazen done from many things, continuous attention where awareness is a part of every gesture and word. An ancient Indian saying says, “when the disciple is ready, the Teacher will come”. Thank you Roshi for giving me a place to sit.

Marco

I have been going to the Temple for a year and half now. When I’m here, I try to follow the rhythm that the Teacher implies through her actions. I sit and breath like everyone else. I joyfully sit, sometimes with a bit of fear, about being about to speak with the Teacher. Heartfelt greetings to everyone. Thanks to the Teacher, the monk, the elderly and all practitioners that have made this place possible.

Tenshin

I have observed and learned many things throughout this year of practice. I practiced nearly the entire year alone at home in America with the support of the Teacher, the Sangha and the Patriarchs. This year was very difficult, between work, moving, loneliness and various other unfortunate events, but I found inspiration and determination through my Practice and Vows of the Bodhisattva. I have done Zazen everyday, I did service to the Temple, and I leaned upon faith in my Path. Before coming back to the Temple this September, I was a bit nervous from the fear that I hadn’t practiced well enough and that I would have disappointed the Teacher. Instead, my return was a marvelous confirmation of my practice and faith. I felt a deep connection between myself, the Teacher, Shinnyoji and the Patriarchs. Thinking about it now reminds me of how I felt when I realized that I had been walking in the fog and returning to the Temple, I was wet. Honestly, I didn’t think I was doing anything. I received the vows with seriousness and effort, from there on, everything unfolded on its own. Our Practice is a great gift, I accept it with strength and delicateness, and most of all, with thankfulness. Thank you Teacher! Gasshō

Gregorio P.

Hi Teacher, how are you? Things are fine here in Berlin. I begin German language lessons on January 13th. I hope to find a job soon (it’s not as easy that I’ve been told). It’s also difficult to find a place to live if you don’t have a job and don’t speak German. I do Zazen as soon as I’m alone at home. Warm greetings to you and the Sangha. I will try to sit with you during the Vigil on the 8th. See you soon. Gasshō

Michele G.

I thank the Shinnyoji Temple for this year where I have concretely strengthened the awareness in myself that is the base of my spiritual path: every person has their own Buddha Nature. In front of this reality there is a myriad of illusions, useless goals occur, while embracing the true path of man toward existence. One can’t say that we’re just made a certain way and there’s nothing that we can do about it, in reality, there are many things we can do about it now and you can do them. What magnificent Reality that occurs right before our eyes, people who are no longer slaves of themselves, free from themselves in all, many challenges, battle to confront with a constructive spirit, moving forward we create, uncover the Humanity in every human. Humbly Gasshō....

Our Teacher often says, “ everything is One”. You realize how much this philosophical concept is in reality absolutely relative to everyday experience in the moment in which life gives you a hardship. A strong lesson, violent and sudden. Learning how not to judge, not to follow our foolish dual mind that dominates: this is my goal that I’m setting for this new year of Practice. Learning how to not judge myself, let alone discover myself. To know myself- and therefore know my Buddha self in the silence of Zazen. Uncover myself in facades that I encounter in the everyday world, to welcome without categorizing the behavior of those around me. I feel the closeness of every member of the Sangha. I feel the presence of the Teacher in my life, and with her- through her - all of the Ancient Patriarchs. A sincere thank you to her, tirelessly, constantly pointing her finger to the moon to us.

Shinkai

The evening of Rōhatsu brings back a lot of memories. Is a an unforgettable evening, for many reasons. I remember my first Rōhatsu in San Domenico. Many precious faces, some are even here tonight. Then the last one, last year; one of the most difficult and painful years of my life. My physical presence was there, but my mind and spirit were not. After one or two Zazen sittings, I had to go down to the guest quarters where I slept, laying in thought about being in the only place in the world where I wanted to be in that painful moment, but aware that nothing and no one could help me feel better.
This Rōhatsu represents a rebirth for me. I am here to testify that even after great pain, you can get up and start again. I am not here for myself, but to dive my presence to all of you and to carry an important lesson: keep going on that Path that first Buddha, then Dōgen have given us. Rōhatsu without practitioners is only a word, with us here it becomes an event and we can confirm that after hundreds of years the Zen Way is still alive.
For us practitioners of Shinnyoji, it is still more important for us to be here. We a supported by our Teacher Shinnyo Roshi - within our official Lineage - our personal way of verifying Practice. Whoever crosses the doorway of our Temple may notice the love, welcoming, compassion and gift that are here. Like a musical vibration, our waves move in harmony with the teachings from our beloved Teacher that penetrate the being of each guest and we are sure that will remain in their memories and in their hearts forever.
Gasshō

Haiku - Rōhatsu Vigil 2013

The holy mirror, repolished,
is also pure.
blossoms of snow.

Toginaosu
kagami mo kiyoshi
yuki no hana.
Matsuo Bashō (1644 – 1694)

Tears of Reverence
Now dyed crimson
By the falling maple leaves.

Tōtogaru
namida ya somete
chiru momiji.
Matsuo Bashō (1644 – 1694)

He hides his trail:
that’s how a master travels!
Autumn is now waning.

Ato kakasu
shi no yukigata ya
kure no aki.
Yosa Buson (1716 - 1783)

Autumn night
reading an old book,
lthe Nara priests.

Aki no yo ya
furuki fumi yomu
Nara hōshi.
Yosa Buson (1716 - 1783)

Lightning.
streak by streak:
cures the world.

Inazuma ya
hitokire zutzu in
yo ga naoru.

Kobayashi Issa (1763 - 1827)

The year ends.
How long will
that turtle hang here?

Toshi no kure
kame wa itsu made
tsuru saruru.

Kobayashi Issa (1763 - 1827)

Standing in the cold rain
for other’s sake
the Buddha.

Hito no tame
shigurete owasu
hotoke kana.

Kobayashi Issa (1763 - 1827)

Pictures from the Vigil

SPECIAL RŌHATSU 2013
TESTIMONIES after the RŌHATSU

Correspondence between Shinnyo Roshi and Maestro Dami

Dear Teacher Dami,
During the evening of Rōhatsu, your music expanded our hearts, it passed through every emotional rivulet and tremor. The vibrations from your impromptu notes, in their composition and dissolution, reminded us of every joy, pain, weary, effort, difficulty, elation, disappointment and euphoria of our lives in Practice, through a musical counterpoint that in a magical moment that we shared had the chance to express itself.
The music that you created was not “another” from our Meditation, and this is why, within your notes, the silence of our Zazen was played in a harmonious continuum. A deep and thoughtful thanks for this sublime gift that you have given us, with hope of seeing you again.
In particular, thanks to your wife for her sweet presence.

Iten Shinnyo

Dear Teacher Shinnyo, it is my honor to thank you for the extraordinary opportunity that you have given me. Being in your Temple was a source of happiness and and great honor. It was more than the strong emotions that I play through my instrument. I wish you a lot of happiness and I am sure that our paths will cross again soon. A warn hug,

Volfango Dami

Correspondence between Shinnyo Roshi and Venerable Longo

Honorable Longo,
A deep thanks for your precious participation at Shinnyoji during the Rōhatsu evening, as a father and testimony to Ivano Ei-shin’s Ordination. It was a great joy for me and the others to have met you and your presence expanded the inter-religious dimension at the height of our Tradition and in the sacred breath during the Ordination Ceremony.
Gasshō

Iten Shinnyo

Reverend Iten Shinnyo,
Thanks to you for sharing, thanks for the honor and privilege that you have given me. I was very happy to be with you, I felt at home with my Dharma sisters and brothers, with deep feeling and presence I pass a very important Zen evening, and therefore, as for the entire Buddhist world, the Rōhatsu evening. It was a very intense and significant time while Eishin took Refuge and was Ordained. I hope to see you again soon.

Raffaello Longo
Lobsang Gonpo

Correpondence between Shinnyo Roshi and the Calligraphy Teachers

Dear Paola,
Deep thanks to you and Nicola for the splendid gift of calligraphy that you made during the Rōhatsu evening. Seeing in “in action” was like doing Zazen along with you. Our silence united with your expert and joyful hand that impressed with strength and sweetness the sign “Satori” and supported us in harmonious Unity.
Thank you for your precious presence with us on the Vigil evening to celebrate the Enlightenment of the Buddha.
In Gasshō, with recognition

Iten Shinnyo

Good morning Shinnyo!!
Thank you and your Sangha, silently and strongly united, the intense welcome!
A big hug

Paola e Nicola

Rev. Paolo Taigō Spongia

Dear Shinnyo San,
We got back to Rome at 8, and of course, went straight home, I wasn’t able to fall asleep, somehow our Vigil continue with you.
I would like to express my thankfulness for the warm welcome in which you and your Sangha offered to us.
I was deeply moved by finally being able to sit in the Reign of Peace and Harmony that Shinnyoji has become thanks to your generous effort and your immense love. You are truly a Great Teacher, a Great Mother of all Beings, you have always been this, but now more than ever you are offering a rare and pure Dharma.
I hold a deep admiration for your and unconditional affection for you. The look that we exchanged in the Dōjō when we were about to leave was the seal of an unbreakable tie that was truly heart to heart like the beautiful calligraphy that you gave me.
I care for you and if you ever need anything from me, I will always be here for you.

Paolo Taigō Spongia

Yūshin

Lots of energy and lots of enthusiasm. The tradition at Shinnyoji, as desired by out Teacher, makes Rōhatsu an occasion of welcoming and sharing. Again this year, showed its fruits, confirming a precious opportunity to live in harmony with joy and to practice together. Old and new practitioners, guests from our and other traditions united to celebrate one brotherly spirit, the Enlightenmentof the Buddha. The spontaneous adhesion of those wanting to be a part of the Rōhatsu confirmed that this year there would be a lot of participants, help and joy from all practitioners, surely emphasized by the new Ordination. This energy that supported us and has been with us through the Vigil was the benefit from the work and dedication from the Teacher, the Sangha for making sure that this tradition is repeated, we open our hearts, practiced the Japanese rigorous form from our Lineage.
Gasshō

Michele N.

THE DAY AFTER: Monday December 9, 2013.
The day after the Vigil was a true realization of Taking Refuge in the Three Treasures; during a frenetic and very emotional but controlled Rōhatsu. Aware, serene of what I was about to do in every step, I felt a passed time, in a flash, a moment in which a door was opened to me, unable to be explained through words, as if I was trying to explain a though to a robot... Meeting a Lama, with whom after shaking hands and talking a little, “I understand that he has understood” is a unique feeling, said from someone like myself, who is far from “feeling” the Tibetan tradition. As I said, the day after was a true “realization”: wearing the Rakusu for the Sutra in the morning, a true volcano exploded, all of the magma that was inside, that has always been there, was just waiting for the right moment... Bummm!! “Here you are Michele, go sit, do what you need to, welcome back”.
Gasshō.

Daishin

Little time has passed since the Rōhatsu Vigil.
It was a great effort for Roshi and for the Sangha to organize and prepare for the event, to welcome the many expected guests, to celebrate with dignity the Ordination to Bodhisattva and Taking Refuge, this year falling on the vigil night. An intense and harmonious effort.
The determination remains in my heart and mind, but so does the happiness and joy live in this communal action; a feeling of interior strengthening felt by adhering and coming closer than ever to out Temple’s tradition. Thankfulness for the experience lived, for the music given to us during the evening, for the precisely maintained order of the ceremony, reading the testimonies of practice, the ceremony of Taking Refuge and Ordination, the formal meal in the Zendo.
Joyfulness for this collaborative feeling of reunion, togetherness during the tension and aligning to serve the Buddha for all those present, between the stress, the weariness and their overcoming these obstacles throughout the vigil.
Happiness, also, even for the serenity expressed by the Teacher. Everyone seemed to have shared the feeling of union and positive connection, from those present to those absent, that in some way we are concretely “made to perceive” from America, to Finland, to places closer to Shinnyoji: the perception of the universal Sangha. Rōhatsu 2013 helped me live in an intense way, I still carry the vibrations with me, the strength, the support and the joy coming from being able to Practice with this Sangha, in the steps of our Lineage.
Gasshō.

Shinden

I personally lived this evening in a very tranquil way and with ‘unconscious’ awareness of being in a ‘special’ moment, but without rhetoric or effort of forcing myself to ‘do my best’ because it was obliged. The feeling of being there and not being there was beautiful. We affectionally and faithfully welcomed the words of Shinnyo Roshi who wished us a good new year of practice, offering us a new theme: Mushin, new because it is another thing to uncover and practice.
I heart beautiful music played ‘impromptu’ by Teacher Dami, I saw the calligraphy teachers working with joy and technique, I heard the splendid haikus...
We participated with lively emotion during the solemn Sanbō-kie Ceremony and Zaike Tokudo expressing and consolidating two presences in the Way of our Sangha, Michele and Ei-shin. Those who were with us, my friends, were actively present, they welcomed us with joy throughout the night, there weren’t practitioners, followers and guests, just a “everyone” for this evening, a gift, a homage, deeply felt, with serenity and honesty.
The Temple had guests from Rome, the Rev. Spongia and his followers the Venerable Lobsang Gompo Longo, each brought something inexpressible through words, something serene and joyous that will remain with us.
The interventions from the Sangha were very beautiful, touching, and each had expressed a sincere Truth that moved in and in a certain sense, ‘took in my heart’ consoling the happiness of that moment.
The meal in the Zendo was in silence, Zazen until dawn, the Zazen that ‘opens’ and keeps going from the first hours of the evening upon ‘It’s Way’.
This night is like a life-zazen-poem. It’s this for me. Without thinking about it, I lived, I was there, we were all there and that’s all. Now I think about it and ‘I miss it’, but I know that I can’t miss everything about it because everything continues, it still is. Thanks again to Shinnyo Roshi, I know that she had done a for the past Rōhatsu vigils and who knows, those in the future... with admiration and with affection and all respect possible, thank you, thank you for the LIFE at Shinnyoji!

Shinkai

After the Rōhatsu 2013
The temptation is to color a rainbow rather than write words. Leaving the colors and their meanings, I try to evoke what happened. It was without a doubt the most intense, lively, emotional and moving Rōhatsu. For me it was the personal and professional “rebirth” Rōhatsu after a period of darkness and pain. I also have in front of me a a particular and decisive year for my Zen Buddhist practice and this has played an important role in every time I come to Shinnyoji which has become my second home. There were many crucial and touching moments. I cried with Benshin improvised her testimony. Saturday evening Benshin melted my heart with hers. I felt close to her like never before. I am happy for her and her courage. Having Taigō Sensei here with his group of practitioners from Rome was a true joy. It seemed that they were at home, rather it was the first time that I’ve been. The Venerable Lama Longo represented an unexpected presence but equally wonderful. I was able to speak with him for a bit and he seemed like a very interesting person. I really appreciated his simplicity and essence. What can I say about my dear friend Volfango Dami, a great musician and orchestra director, who has given me for violin improvisations that are truly precious and musically stunning. A beautiful walk under the stars awoke our minds and our bodies, toward the halfway point of the long Vigil night. The significant light from which we burnt our propositions for practice that we wrote last year. I don’t know what to say about my Sangha brothers and sisters without feeling that they just allowed all of this to happen. EI-shin and Michele were delicate and strong along with an embrace - officially - on the Buddha Way and Bodhisattvas. I’ll end with a thankful thought for Shinnyo Roshi. Everything at Shinnyoji is there by her impulsive vision and her undying faith and authenticity. For me it is a great joy to walk with her and serve her with devotion and respect. Thanks to her I am proceeding strong along my prickly walk with my karma and her nurturing knowledge about the Dharma, always knowing when to intervene at the right moment, to teach and indicate my path.
Thanks. Gasshō

Iten Ei-shin

This is my first Rōhatsu Vigil and Jukai ceremony and my ordination at Shinnyoji. A unique night, unforgettable, rich of emotion and an intensity that I have never felt until now. The tension and the tiredness accumulated by the preparations went away the moment I entered the Zendo and I felt the extraordinary energy that it gave off.
During the course of the night I felt joy, I cried, I understood, I abandoned and I let go. When dawn broke, nothing was like before.
Venerable Teacher, in these few months I have received so much from you. Not only has the Sangha welcomed me by accepting to guide me along the Way, but it allowed me to touch the true Dharma, live and pure that flows with our Lineage through you. I await a long and tiresome walk but in the awareness for the strength and protection of the Precepts, I confront it with an open heart and free mind. Deep heartfelt thanks to you, the Noble Patriarchs, all of the Sangha from Daijoji and Shinnyoji - now I am at home.

Communication to the Sangha

Dear Sangha, Our Teacher would like to inform us that in light of the last Rōhatsu, Lisa Tenshin sent a o-fuse from America, complete kits for calligraphy. Alos, Ismo Shinkō sent a generous monetary offering to the Temple, a deep thank you to both the you for your offerings to the Temple and to the Sangha. CZF Secretary - Shinnyoji Temple

Teacher Reverend Iten Shinnyo Roshi

Dear Sangha, dear Ordained,
I deeply thank each one of you for your participation and dedication given during the evening of Rōhatsu at Shinnyoji.
This year was a particularly intense, attended and complex Rōhatsu in the events starting with the magical notes from Teacher Dami’s violin, to the sacred and solemn Ordination Ceremony, the presence of Reverend Taijo Spongia and his followers, to the testimony from the Venerable Lobsang Gompo Longo.
It is thanks to your generous, harmonious and attentive presence that you were able to participate in every moment of the Vigil, that we live an intense and unforgettable moment of Practice together, dedicated to the Enlightenmentof the Buddha.
In Gasshō, with infinite affection

Rev. Iten Shinnyo

Benshin

Dear Teacher, I thank you for your thoughts, your presence and your heart. Participating in the Vigil was good for me, I was happy to have been able to be with all of the people who contributed.
Gasshō

Shinden

Thanks Roshi, a profound thanks for the Zen that you transmit to us. Your words give us comfort and help us. With faith.

Daniele

Dear Teacher,
Thanks for having guided and encouraged us throughout the night. I remember some very beautiful moments, mostly the kinhin under the stars and the Sutra fire. Gasshō

THE TEACHINGS OF THE BODHIDHARMA
Chapter IV – The Awakening Sermon

[TABLE13]

Long ago, there was a Buddha named Dipamkara, or lamplighter. This was the meaning of his name. But fools don’t understand the metaphors of the Tathagata. Persisting in delusions and clinging to the tangible, they light lamps of everyday vegetable oil and think that by illuminating the interiors of buildings they’re following the Buddha’s teaching. How foolish! The light released by a Buddha from one curl between his brows can illuminate countless worlds. An oil lamp is no help. Or do you think otherwise? Practicing all six periods of the day and night means constantly cultivating enlightenment among the six senses and persevering in every form of awareness. Never relaxing control over the six senses is what’s meant by all six periods. As for walking around stupas, the stupa is your body and mind. When your awareness circles your body and mind without stopping, this is called walking around a stupa. The sages of long ago followed this path to nirvana. But people today don’t understand what this means. Instead of looking inside they insist on looking outside. They use their material bodies to walk around material stupas. And they keep at it day and night, wearing themselves out in vain and coming no closer to their real self.

[TABLE 14]

The same holds true for observing a fast. It’s useless unless you understand what this really means. To fast means to regulate, to regulate your body and mind so that they’re not distracted or disturbed. And to observe means to uphold, to uphold the rules of discipline according to the Dharma. Fasting means guarding against the six attractions on the outside and the three poisons on the inside and striving through contemplation to purify your body and mind.
Fasting also includes five kinds of food. First there’s delight in the Dharma. This is the delight that comes from acting in accordance with the Dharma. Second is harmony in meditation. This is the harmony of body and mind that comes from seeing through subject and object. Third is invocation, the invocation of Buddhas with both your month and your mind. Fourth is resolution, the resolution to pursue virtue whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. And fifth is liberation, the liberation of your mind from worldly contamination. These five are the foods of fasting. Unless a person eats these five pure foods, he’s wrong to think he’s fasting.
Also, once you stop eating the food of delusion, if you touch it again you break your fast. And once you break it, you reap no blessing from it. The world is full of deluded people who don’t see this. They indulge their body and mind in all manner of evil. They give free rein to their passions and have no shame. And when they stop eating ordinary food, they call it fasting. How absurd!

[TABLE 15]

It’s the same with worshipping. You have to understand the meaning and adapt to conditions. Meaning includes action and nonaction. Whoever understands this follows the Dharma.
Worship means reverence and humility it means revering your real self and humbling delusions. If you can wipe out evil desires and harbor good thoughts, even if nothing shows its worship. Such form is its real form. The Lord wanted worldly people to think of worship as expressing humility and subduing the mind. So he told them to prostrate their bodies to show their reverence, to let the external express the internal, to harmonize essence and form. Those who fail to cultivate the inner meaning and concentrate instead on the outward expression never stop indulging in ignorance, hatred, and evil while exhausting themselves to no avail. They can deceive others with postures, remain shameless before sages and vain before mortals, but they’ll never escape the Wheel, much less achieve any merit.
But the Bathhouse Sutra says, "By contributing to the bathing of monks, people receive limitless blessings." This would appear to be an instance of external practice achieving merit. How does this relate to beholding the mind? Here, the bathing of monks doesn’t refer to the washing of anything tangible.
When the Lord preached the Bathhouse Sutra, he wanted his disciples to remember the Dharma of washing. So he used an everyday concern to convey his real meaning, which he couched in his explanation of merit from seven offerings. Of these seven, the first is clear water, the second fire, the third soap, the fourth willow catkins, the fifth pure ashes, the sixth ointment, and the seventh the inner garment He used these seven to represent seven other things that cleanse and enhance a person by eliminating the delusion and filth of a poisoned mind.

SanghaFondatori met:
Sunday October 13 - Monday November 11

PRACTICE RETREATS

Zazenkai 13 October 2013
Sesshin 15-16-17 November 2013
Rōhatsu Vigil 7-8 December 2013

Translation from English of the Bodhidharma text by Eva Yōshin
Pictures by Fabio Daishin and Lisa Tenshin
Editing by Giancarlo Shinkai
Translation of EkiZen from Italian to English by Lisa Tenshin

Calendar of meetings for Zen Practice:

Zazen – Three meetings per week: Monday evening from 8:00 to 10:00, Tuesday mornings from 6:30 to 7:30, Friday evening from 8:00 to 9:30.

Zazenkai – One Sunday per month from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Sesshin – One weekend per month from Friday evening at 8:00 to 2:00 Sunday afternoon.

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