Some notes from Sojun about the 2016 Spring Practice Period

Dear Sangha,

It seems a little early to talk about the Spring Practice Period, but due to new bi-monthly newsletter schedule, the next issue will be too late. So here is some news about this year’s practice period.

After seeking suggestions from the Senior Student group, there emerged a number of peers who would be qualified to be Shuso. Given that, I have asked long time practicing member Walter Kieser, Kosan Shinshi, (Tall Mountain, Deep Stillness) to take the position. This will be Walter’s only opportunity, as he will be retiring to his newly developed homestead north of the Bay Area at the end of this year.

The practice period will begin with a one -day sitting on April 30th, and end with the five-day sesshin from June 8th to the 12th. As I mention above, Walter Kieser will be our Shuso, and he will make his best effort to set an example and encourage our practice.

As the fundamental ground for practice period, committing to a zazen schedule that harmonizes with our other activities and following it, is what makes the whole thing work. For our mature practitioners we understand it as refreshing our practice and pruning the unnecessary growth that has accumulated over the previous year. It is setting a tone of lightness, agility, pliancy, tranquility, workability, proficiency, and uprightness to carry us through the year.

The other morning, stepping out of the zendo, we were awed upon seeing the trees in the patio blooming all at once in a magnificent announcement of spring, bringing forth in us a deep appreciation for the nourishing rain refreshing our body and mind. Numberless animate objects seemed to be proclaiming the Dharma, inviting us to awaken.

Our practice has three sides. The first side is turning away from the world and facing the infinite. The second is turning toward the world to face the numberless circumstances. And the third side is the matrix, the side that has no sides, but within which all sides are included.

I invite all of us to come together for this period of renewal and connection with each other, our surroundings, and the deep mystery of embracing and letting go. I have some ideas for our study, but am open to suggestions. If anyone does have suggestions, please contact me. Also if you are new or have questions feel free to contact me, or Vice-Abbot Hozan.

Finally, we will send out more details about the practice period sometime in April.