Leaving Home

farewell 3

On Sunday, August 30th, about thirty members gathered to participate in a farewell ceremony to express our gratitude and formally take leave of our temple home of seventeen years.

We had moved everything out the day before, so the Temple was clean and empty, free of ornament and clutter, yet clearly showing all the loving work that restored and maintained it over our years of stewardship. Even more palpable was the sense of so many hours and years of zazen and practice.

The ceremony began with strikes on the han, the lighting of candles and incense on the small altar, and three prostrations to each of the four directions. Our Maha-kinhin was led by Ken holding our incense offering. We processed through the entire temple chanting the Kanzeon sutra accompanied by bell and umpan.

On returning to the main zendo, we stood in a circle in silence as the densho tolled 108 times. Peggy read the “Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage” by Shitou Xigian, followed by a special dedication (below) and the bell-and-block ceremony, Finally, Karin performed the formal closing of the eyes of the Buddha.

Our special dedication, written by ZCD member Bill Hamaker:

As we leave this place, our practice home of many years,
We offer our gratitude to this sacred space:
To our temple that has nurtured us and given us sanctuary and sustenance,
To the temple of the earth and sky, the temple of fire and water,
And to the wisdom-temple of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
May we go forward knowing that the temple is always within us, around us, wherever we are.
May we keep the temple ever open to:

All beings throughout space and time
All bodhisattva-mahasattvas
The Great Prajna Paramita.

farewell 2

Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage

I’ve built a grass hut where there’s nothing of value.
grass roof
After eating, I relax and enjoy a nap.
When it was completed, fresh weeds appeared.
Now it’s been lived in – covered by weeds.
The person in the hut lives here calmly,
Not stuck to inside, outside, or in between.
Places worldly people live, he doesn’t live.
Realms worldly people love, he doesn’t love.
Though the hut is small, it includes the entire world.
In ten square feet, an old man illumines forms and their nature.
A Great Vehicle bodhisattva trusts without doubt.
The middling or lowly can’t help wondering;
Will this hut perish or not?
Perishable or not, the original master is present,
not dwelling south or north, east or west.
Firmly based on steadiness, it can’t be surpassed.
A shining window below the green pines –
Jade palaces or vermilion towers can’t compare with it.
Just sitting with head covered, all things are at rest.
Thus, this mountain monk doesn’t understand at all.
Living here he no longer works to get free.
Who would proudly arrange seats, trying to entice guests?
Turn around the light to shine within, then just return.
The vast inconceivable source can’t be faced or turned away from.
Meet the ancestral teachers, be familiar with their instruction,
Bind grasses to build a hut, and don’t give up.
Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely.
Open your hands and walk, innocent.
Thousands of words, myriad interpretations,
Are only to free you from obstructions.
If you want to know the undying person in the hut,
Don’t separate from this skin bag here and now.

Shitou Xiqian
(From Taigen Daniel Leighton’s Cultivating the Empty Field)

Zen on the Move

As most if not all of our current members know by now, the Zen Center of Denver temple building is currently under contract to be sold, and our move-out date, August 31, is quickly approaching.

The sale may, of course, come as some surprise to the many friends of the Center who are not currently members. For those, please know that the decision was not lightly taken. It was the result of many months of sangha meetings, careful examination, debate and soul-searching. The decision has many facets, but we trust now that moving will open up new practice opportunities and lead to a more sustainable outlook.

We are pleased to report that the building sale is moving along smoothly, and we owe a deep-seated bow of gratitude to those people who have helped in this complex process. Temple items are being inventoried, boxes are being packed and various other items are either being sold or given to charity. Although we will be saddened to be leaving this wonderful practice space, we are also certain it is possible to bring our love for Zen into a new practice space.

In that regard, we have identified two new temporary practice sites. The first, the Mayu Sanctuary, is located at 1804 S. Pearl Street and has a welcoming practice atmosphere. Karin Sensei and Peggy Sensei will be holding dokusan at Mayu on Tuesday evenings and Friday mornings. We can also go out for coffee across the street on Friday morning after the sitting. The second new practice space is the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center, located at 1939 S Monroe St, off Buchtel Ave. between University and Colorado Blvds. The RMMC has a beautiful large room for us to hold our Sunday morning sittings. Ken Sensei will be holding dokusan at RMMC on Wednesday mornings and Thursday evenings. In addition, we may have Sunday brunch every so often at a vegan restaurant (Native Foods) near RMMC.

In the meantime, we still have a lot of work to do at our current location. There is an upcoming zazenkai this Sunday, July 19. We also have a few more workdays scheduled this month and next. Then on August 23, we will have our last Sunday together at the temple, in which we will be holding a combined Jukai/farewell ceremony.

Finally, we will very soon be sending out a survey regarding sesshin. We will most likely have an early December Rohatsu sesshin, and so far two locations – the Franciscan Retreat Center in Colorado Springs and Shambhala Mountain Center at Red Feather Lake – appear able to accommodate us. Both are located in beautiful settings, and due to the higher cost of room and board, the ZCD will be subsidizing part of the cost of attendance. However, participants will need to commit to attendance earlier than usual so we can reserve the space.

We will be doing our best to keep everyone informed during this period of transition. Please feel free to communicate your questions or concerns to us. We realize the transition will be challenging, but it is also an opportunity to re-energize our practice, bring new life to our sangha and introduce new people to Zen.