Practice Period Participants:
Opening ceremony at 3:10 pm – join us online if you are not in the sesshin.
Spring Practice Period 2023
The BZC 2023 Spring Practice Period is just around the corner – May 13 to June 25. This special time of deepening our practice will begin with the usual opening Sesshin, this year on Saturday, May 13, highlighted by the Shuso Entering Ceremony. Hozan has asked long time member Sue Oesher (Jumyo Seishin / Bright Pearl Pure Faith) to serve as Shuso, or Head Student alongside him for the six-week Practice Period. Preston Evers will take the position of Benji, or attendant during that time as the Jisha, arranging Sangha teas, and assisting Sue in various ways.
Below you will find links to the Participation/Commitment form, the Practice Period Calendar, and more details about the Practice Period.
Maha Ghosananda—What Is the Most Important Thing?
My “talk” this month is about an encounter with the great Cambodian teacher Maha Ghosananda—an excerpt from my new book Turning Words: Transformative Encounters with Buddhist Teachers (Shambhala, 2023). This piece was the basis for a lecture I gave at BZC onMarch 25, 2023. (Hozan Alan Senauke)
In the Autumn of 1992 about forty of us, mostly from across Asia, took the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, freezing all night in the excessive air conditioning, eventually arriving in Chiang Mai
at dawn. Open vans took us to Wat Umong, the “tunnel temple” at the foot of Doi Suthep to the west of the city. This was my first trip to Thailand, and my first International Network of Engaged
Buddhists (INEB) conference. The friends I traveled with and met there have been my close dharma brothers and sisters ever since.
An aging monk, diminutive and somewhat androgynous, took center stage in his orange robes. He spoke briskly, in low tones. The smile on his face was audible. This was the first time I heard Maha Ghosananda, Cambodian patriarch in exile, teach.
Later, I met with Bhante Ghosananda numerous times throughout the 90s—both at INEB conferences and in the Bay Area. Bhante traveled alone, and his students and supporters often did not know where he was or where he was going. From time to time someone would call and ask if I had seen Bhante: “We think he is headed to San Francisco.” And he would indeed show up in a day or two, completely calm, laughing easily, walking, floating two inches above the ground, and always moving forward.
Back to Chiang Mai in 1992. Maha Ghosananda made himself comfortable sitting on stage. He beamed at the assembly and asked, “What is the most important thing?” He called on young monks,on elders, on the INEB notables. Each threw out a good answer and each was met with a disap-pointed nod of the head. This went on for twenty minutes. Finally, Bhante said, “The most important thing is eating.” In his book Step by Step Maha Ghosananda explains:
Life is eating and drinking through all of our senses. And life is keeping from being eaten. What eats us? Time! What is time? Time is living in the past or living in the future, feeding on the emotions. Beings who can say that they are mentally healthy for even one minute are rare in the world. Most of us sufferfrom clinging to pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings, and from hunger and thirst. Most living beings have to eat and drink every second through their eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin, and nerves. Weeat twenty-four hours a day without stopping! We crave food for the body, food for feeling, food for volitional action, and food for rebirth. We are what we eat. We are the world, and we eat the world. . . .
Time is also an eater. In traditional Cambodian stories there is often a giant with many mouths who
eats everything. This giant is time. If you eat time, you gain nirvana. You can eat time by living in the moment. When you live just in this moment, time cannot eat you.
IN-PERSON ZAZEN IN GENERAL
If you are interested in attending in person zazen, please send your vax and booster information to the Office Manager – firstname.lastname@example.org – AT LEAST ONE WEEK BEFORE YOU ATTEND (if sooner than that, also bring your vax card and ID with you). You need to send it in by email, even if you have shown your card to the monitor.
IF YOU TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID within two days of being here, please notify the coordinator, Carol Paul, at email@example.com.