Two ZCD teachers, Peggy Metta Sheehan and Karin Ryuku Kempe, recently attended a meeting of the Diamond Sangha Teachers’ Circle at Palolo Zen Center, near Honolulu.
This was the fourth DSTC meeting that I have had the privilege to attend. As you can imagine, it is rare to be able to share the ins and outs of Zen practice, training and teaching with such wise and wonderful friends in the dharma.
Our meeting was rich and full of laughter, insight, warmth and sharing. Our agenda included daily koan study, translation topics starting with the Four Vows (more to come on that), history of the Diamond Sangha with wonderful stories of Robert Aitken, a bit about our strengths and weaknesses, and a few business topics.
We began each morning with zazen together in their beautiful zendo listening to the dancing calls of the thrush and rooster. (Their zendo, by the way, is around 900 square feet, a very nice size and food for thought as we embark on our journey.) We had the opportunity to share meals with sangha members each day. These meetings are not possible without sangha and we are tremendously grateful for their hard work, organization, delicious meals and steady presence.
One evening was a sitting with the whole sangha, followed by a panel of five teachers addressing various topics with questions and answers. Karin Sensei was one of the panelists. The topics were timely and brought forth by the Honolulu Sangha and included suggestions for strengthening lay practice, how is the current mindfulness trend impacting Zen and how we deal with the self that needs bolstering while simultaneously forgetting the self. Apparently there were a few first-time attendees to the Honolulu Diamond Sangha sitting that evening who wondered if this happens every Wednesday night. Good timing on their part, and too bad it doesn’t!
The week ended with a lovely celebration at Clark and Kathy Ratliff’s home that overlooks Honolulu and the ocean. Clark was one of the original group leaders at the Denver Zen Center on Columbine in the 1970s. There was a bit of entertainment at the celebration that included our own Sara Bauer, who has quite a voice, as many of you know. She was joined in harmony and on guitar by Sarah Athanas, who is her good friend and the DSTC assistant. Sara B. sends her good wishes and a big “Aloha!” to the Sangha. We are happy to be home, feeling inspired and enriched. Aloha!
-Peggy Metta Sheehan