Dharma Rain Zen Center - News
Zen Center News
Nehan is the commemoration of the Buddha’s death, or Parinirvana.
The adult Nehan ceremony focuses on a moment when someone goes up to the altar
lamp. A statue of the dying Buddha, reclining on his side and surrounded by
animals, has been placed on the altar for this ceremony. This is called a
Parinirvana statue, indicating that it depicts the Buddha entering his final
or complete nirvana (cessation), which comes only with physical death. Behind
the statue is a small screen, and behind the screen is a single candle that
remains lit. At the end of the ceremony, another person goes up and relights
the altar from that single, hidden source.
In the kids’ Nehan ceremony we focus on the natural sadness around,
and the importance of gently accepting death and loss. The kids gather in
the small zendo in the Zen Center house where the Parinirvana statue is sitting
on a low altar. The priest explains the scene depicted by the statue, asking
for help from the kids who know the story and prompting the younger ones to
imagine how the Buddha’s friends felt. The kids especially appreciate
naming all the animals around the Buddha — on our statue, created by
Gyokuko sensei, there are herons and wolves and elephants and all sorts of
creatures. From the story the priest transitions into asking whether any of
the kids have lost a person or animal or plant to death, or in some other way.
Many of the kids have lost a pet or a grandparent, and many tell of friends
that they lost touch with because of a move.
Everyone then spreads out and draws or writes down the thing they have lost,
or perhaps — for the older kids — something they want to let go
of, and offers it to the fire.
On February 3, Genko Rainwater finished her year of being Chief Junior, or
Shuso, with a Hossen ceremony, where she presented a verse from the Universal
Gateway Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, and was questioned about the dharma of
Processing in are (from left) Kakumyo Lowe-Charde,
precentor; Genko Rainwater, shuso; Kyogen Carlson, Abbot; Jyoshin Clay, jisha;
The verse Genko chose was the following:
If drifting in a vast sea,
Menaced by dragons, fish, and demons,
By mindfully invoking Kanzeon's power
The billowing waves cannot drown you.
Fujaku, incoming shuso, asked the first question.
Then visiting teachers as well as sangha members asked questions
Once everyone was satisfied, she presented a capping verse:
A thousand eyes to see the cries
a thousand hands and arms
clearly seeing, always wise
responding to the world's alarms.
She saw my dry and hidden tears
unlocked my fears, and I fell apart.
Amidst the rubble I could hear
the clear, true bell, her compassionate heart.
Now I wander freely on top of the waves
afloat in a sea of emptiness
like dragons, demons, and fish at play
I find joy in our togetherness.
You and she and I rejoice:
I speak at last in my own Buddha voice.
her teacher told her she had done well, there were more bows to teachers,
followed by congratulations.
Siskiyou Work Practice Days
We have had several work practice days at the new
property, and have several
more planned. This is a fun time, and has been connecting the Sangha with
the Siskiyou neighborhood.
A couple of pictures from the January practice. Setting up food during
the chilly morning — lunch and snacks,
coffee and hot water for tea, and water for drinking and hand-washing.
And a shot of the ravine in the afternoon sunlight.
A big project has been clearing blackberries. How have we done this? Let us
count the ways. Here are some pictures from the February 28 work practice.
Ki’an wields a machine with a motor, while Kevin
joyfully attacks with a hand tool.
Matt works with another machine, while children (and also
a lot of adults) use time-tested loppers.
Kakumyo and Yoan both work with trees in their own ways, along with several
other helpers. In February, we borrowed a chipper to turn the trimmings into
mulch for the
Standing among former blackberry brambles, Gyokuko points out future plans
to Travis and child.
Dharma Rain Zen Center is entirely supported by membership and donations.
We appreciate all the hard work volunteers put into keeping the Center running.
In addition, a “thank you” goes out to
- Jonathan Chrighton for eggs and potatoes
- Ota for tofu
- Oblique for a substantial discount on good coffee
- Debra Seido Martin for
produce — including potatoes, squash, leeks, chard
- Chuck Eishin Powers and Tao of Tea for tea
- Ken Barker and Jeff Stookey for milk, vegetables, cheese, hummus, salad
dressings, broom and dustpan, cookies, and oranges
Sangha Support Net (SSN)
As Dana (generosity) is one of the six perfections and the most important
of meritorious works enjoined on us through practice, it is the mission of
the Sangha Support
Network (SSN) to provide assistance in time of need to the members and associates
of Dharma Rain Zen Center. The SSN is a charitable non-profit support group
committed to helping individuals in the sangha in times of need
due to chronic illness, death, despair, and discouragement.
may be offered in the form of physical help such as moving, transportation,
or a visit to a hospital or sickbed. Assistance might also take the form
of counseling an individual to seek help, helping navigate through the larger
community social service system, or finding other sangha resources that address
their needs. The SSN provides an opportunity for cultivating compassion,
Please contact the SSN [ssn at dharma-rain.org]
if you or someone you know is in need of support.
As of March 8, we had the following residents. Full time: Kyogen, Gyokuko,
Kakumyo, Genko, Jyoshin, Fujaku, Shin’yu, Shin’ei, Doug, Sokai,
and Mia. Part-time: Gemmon, Bukkai, and Josei.
Katie left to go spend six months in South Africa. David Choten Robinson is
scheduled to move in March 12-15 to become a full-time resident.
Do You Have News to Share?
Let us know what’s going on with you, and we will share it with the
rest of the sangha. If you have photos of Center events, let us share them
Supplies for Dharma
School are always welcome.