The dharma expounded by nonsentient beings
News from our directors
Sanshin's restated mission: The board of directors has adopted a restated mission statement for the organization that clarifies the practice vision under which it functions. The practice vision comes from the intention of founder Shohaku Okumura in establishing Sanshin two decades ago. The new statement reads:
Sanshin Zen Community enables the investigation of interconnectedness as it manifests in community by engaging in five points of practice within the Soto Zen tradition:
• Zazen in a Buddhist context
• Keeping forms simple
• Balancing peace and progress
• Dharma study as a support for zazen
• Work practice as an investigation of community
Learn more about Sanshin's style of practice with its free e-book, Understanding Sanshin Style.
Dōgen Institute announces strategic changes: During Sanshin’s annual board of directors' retreat in August, the Director of the Dōgen Institute (DI), David Thompson, secured the board’s agreement for changes in how DI operates. David expressed his pleasure in being able to transition certain DI operational duties to fellow board member Karla Passalacqua.
Karla will be facilitating the DI “Board portfolio” for the day-to-day operational duties associated with DI, including working with personnel—especially with regard to event planning and e-properties. Ensuring that we have the proper long-term supports in place for organizing our new annual ten-day dharma study intensive along with the ability to maintain our presence on the web is a vital part of Sanshin’s and DI’s strategic plan. Karla will be the DI liaison to the board for these matters. She's been a director since 2021 and is a long-time Sanshin practitioner. She has attended many past genzo-e and has lent her professional proofreading talents to DI for a number of efforts, including our latest book Adding Beauty to Brocade .
David has led the Dōgen Institute since he joined Sanshin’s board in 2012, and during the August retreat he announced his retirement from the board. He will now assume the new title of DI Editor-in-Chief. This change allows David to spend the next few years shaping and assuring the future of DI and its editorial direction. This includes three aspects: (1) helping Okumura Roshi to complete his life’s work; (2) supporting new authors for DI, such as Hoko; and (3) identifying strategic partnerships with other organizations. In addition to his work as the editor-in-chief, David will also be taking care of the long-term digital archive project, our effort to preserve the teachings for future generations of practitioners and teachers. He'll still be providing ongoing support and advice to Karla, DI employees, DI volunteers, and the board.
All of these activities represent the next steps in DI’s role within Sanshin’s overall strategic plan.
Dōgen Institute (DI) is the educational outreach arm of Sanshin Zen Community; through its efforts, translations, commentaries, and lectures are offered through books, audio, video, and web-based materials.
Developing Soto Zen in North America: Hoko has been asked to head up a short-term committee of Soto Zen North America charged with creating a four-rank system for its recognized teachers (kyoshi). SZNA works to continue the tradition of clergy formation and training as passed to North America from the Soto Zen denomination in Japan. It's asking the five-person committee to propose a system that develops ongoing leadership for the various roles and responsibilities necessary for the association to thrive; develops ongoing leadership to cultivate a culture of caring for the lineage of Soto Zen in North America and connection with the Japanese Soto-shu; defines the roles for each rank; and has criteria and an evaluation process for the ranks.
"This isn't a project designed to judge and label teachers," Hoko explained. "It's a system designed to help us all develop our dharma leadership and to build mentoring relationships with each other around the country. I see so much potential for creating a strong network of teachers in North America that share what they know and know how to do with each other, and especially for helping beginning teachers get started in an intentional and sustainable way."
Work practice focuses on 1708 legacy cleanup: Crews of sangha members have tackled several large cleanup projects that have resulted from the end of the lease on the building next door at 1708 Olive St., which Sanshin had rented for many years and used to house visiting practitioners and residents as well as to cook and serve meals, make candles, and host meetings and robe sewing. Piles of housewares, supplies and equipment made their way to the zendo, where they had to be sorted, thrown out, given away or housed. The staging area at the back of the zendo was dealt with in conjunction with a rethinking and restocking of the small zendo kitchen. Without the 1708 kitchen and meals area, Sanshin will be using the zendo kitchen to cook for sesshin, and meals will be taken using oryoki in the zendo.
Next were the bathroom storage closet and the office, both of which were completely emptied so the contents could be sorted and evaluated. Some of the items from 1708 had been temporarily stashed in these two spaces, so they also had to be attended to as a part of that legacy. With the zendo, kitchen, storage closet and office now in order, we've reclaimed some much needed space and moved along some tired and unused items and some old stuck energy.
At the same time, Sanshin received notice from the city that the bamboo growing on the 1708 side of the lot had been classified an invasive species and had to be removed in a timely way. The grove had been growing there since before Sanshin bought the land, but a work day crew cut down and treated the bamboo, and trimmed the stalks so that they could be saved for fence building and other projects. Future work will involve removing the enormous brush pile next to 1708's back yard and extending the fence between the two lots.
Save the date for November virtual dharma study intensive: Plans are underway for our Dogen Institute to sponsor Okumura Roshi’s virtual ten-day dharma study intensive from November 1 - 10, 2023. This annual event is meant as a successor to his genzo-e retreats, which are no longer being held. He will offer one morning lecture a day for ten days, a format which is less strenuous for him. He plans to lecture on Dogen’s Shobogenzo fascicle “Zazenshin.” A web page with event information and registration mechanics will go up within the next few weeks. This is a virtual event, and in-person attendance will be restricted to support personnel.
Visit our Schedules and Calendars page for information on all upcoming events.
Transmission complete: Gyoriki Herskamp from Germany has completed dharma transmission with Okumura Roshi. This month he goes to Japan and will begin practice at Kotaiji in Nagasaki in the beginning of September.
The French connection: While visiting southern France, New York sangha member Yael Weiss was able to connect with practice friends. "Amazingly, the Sanshin global community is alive and well in the area. Yesterday I had a chance to meet with Shogen in Avignon and we drove to visit Shoju’s zendo in Alès. It was very moving to see the practice from Bloomington making its way all the way here.:"
World in the woods: Shoryu hosted practitioners Ryushin, Densho's student from South America, and Jinryu, Hoko's deshi from Germany, for residential practice at Gyobutsuji in Arkansas.
Virtual dharma study opportunity from Minnesota: Shodo will lead a fall online study group on Wednesday evenings beginning Septermber 6. The text under discussion is Casting Indra's Net by Pamela Ayo Yetunde, and class will include readings, lecture, discussions, exercises, homework, and optional zazen after each session. The group is limited to 20 participants and will meet until mid-December. There is no fee but donations are gratefully accepted. Please register by email. Further details are here.
For complete information about Sanshin and our style of practice, visit our homepage.
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