Dharma Rain Zen Center - News
Zen Center News
March 2010 issue
Saturday, January 9, marked our annual Kanzeon Festival. Designed to generate
great compassionate vigor and determination, it was a morning of chanting
and bowing. We did 108 bows, three full recitations of the “Universal
Gateway Chapter” of the Lotus Sutra, 108 recitations of the Kanzeon
dharani, and 108 recitations of the Enmei Jukko Kannon Gyo.
After raising all that energy, we had lunch, and upwards of 15 people participated
in getting the January newsletter ready for mailing in record time. A nice
tea with homemade brownies, followed by zazen and the Founders Ceremony rounded
out the day.
Kakumyo Lowe-Charde finished his year as Shuso on January 31, in the Shuso
Hossen ceremony (see cover photo). He presented a verse and was questioned
by all attending, including visiting teachers. Kakumyo’s verse comes
from a section of the Shushogi, a compilation of Dogen’s writings, about
From these precepts come forth such a wind and fire, that all are driven
into enlightenment, when the flames are fanned by the Buddha’s influence.
After poking and prodding from all assembled, his teacher, Gyokuko Carlson,
announced that he had done well, and teachers offered congratulatory statements.
We add our congratulations to theirs.
Kakumyo Lowe-Charde answers questions during the Hossen ceremony (left). At
right, Gyokuko hands him the shipei to let him know he had done well.
On February 7, Mike Gyoshi Kaplan was installed as the new Shuso. Best wishes
to Gyoshi as he takes on this new role.
February 5-7 marked a Zen Meditation Retreat for Beginners. About 25
people participated. The retreat gave people who are relatively new to retreat
practice an opportunity to participate with extra support and explanation.
More experienced practitioners were able to model and support the container
while also getting to do a weekend retreat. Dharma Rain Zen Center offers these
retreats a couple of times each year.
Lay Teachers Conference
On the weekend of Feb. 19-21, Dharma Rain was host to a historic meeting
of 22 lay teachers and leaders from American Soto Zen sanghas. (At least eleven
more people had hoped to attend, but were unable to do so.) The meeting was
sponsored by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and intended to allow lay teachers
and leaders to meet each other and consider their role in American Zen in both
informal and institutional terms. Many of us knew each other by name or by
email address, but had never met face to face.
We represented several different lineages and teachers. A
great variety of paths had led us to this meeting and to our shared responsibility
lay members of our communities. Fellowship was an important part of this
meeting. We shared stories and enjoyed Portland’s lovely early spring
sunshine. Over the course of the weekend, we decided to form a loose association
lay leaders, and are already planning to meet again. A fair amount of our
time was spent discussing the relationship between lay and ordained Buddhists
the meaning of the transmission of the teaching to the next generation.
We could not have met with such ease or in such numbers without help from
many people. Gratitude to all who supported us, including (but not limited
and Gyokuko Carlson for their support; Anthony Fujaku Stevens and Todd Josan
Fifield, who cooked for us; Jeanna Annen Moyer, who took copious notes; Polly
Lauser, Cindy McKinley, Diana Vitells, Troy Dillard, Jeff Stookey, Logan
Forehand, Genko Rainwater, Kyri Kengan Trieman, Domyo Burk, Maya Williams,
Dorney, for helping with transportation, housing and cleaning.
Andy Ferguson Public Talks
Andy Ferguson, Chinese scholar and tour guide, offered two public talks in
February. On Thursday night, February 25th, during Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple’s
regular program, he presented a slide show about his recent research into Bodhidharma,
who we venerate as the founder of Chinese Zen. On Friday night the 26th his
slide show explored Zen temple cosmology, why they are laid out as they are
and their significance. Both talks were peppered with references to and photos
of places we will visit during the China tour planned for Dharma Rain October
28-November 12, 2010. Andy will be leading that tour, and several people have
already indicated an interest in participating. If you are interested in that
trip, please contact the Center.
Silent Auction Success
Jeanna Annen Moyer (center), board chair,
co-abbots Kyogen and Gyokuko Carlson
The third annual Silent Auction held March 6, 2010, raised a record $28,000
to support DharmaGarden programs at Dharma Rain Zen Center. Held in the Treasury
Ballroom downtown for the first time, it featured wonderful food from Vibrant
Table, live music by the Northwest Jazz Project, and many high-quality items
to bid on, as well as a fantastic video about DharmaGarden, created by sangha
member Emily Vidal. Another first was an opportunity for people to donate cash
on the spot in various amounts without having to take an item home. Thomas
Bruner (pictured below with co-abbot Gyokuko Carlson) flew to Portland from Vermont
to serve as MC.
This year we took advantage of an online software package specifically made
for working with auctions, that greatly smoothed the processes of check-in
and checkout. It also gave us a lot of information and accounting about how
things went. The online package made it easy for people to purchase tickets
online, helped us to put the catalog online and made items available for bidding
on in advance of the live auction. Brian Magill set up the computers on site
so they would all work properly at the auction.
Kakumyo Lowe-Charde hands a receipt to an auction guest, while Jyoshin
enters information for another. Brian Magill (standing) oversees the
the auction required a lot of work by staff, especially by overall coordinator,
possible, coming in before the event to help with prep, setting up the day
of, staffing the event, and cleaning up. We may miss a few names (so sorry!)
but thanks to: Tsarra Berger, Emilie Teiko Cartoun, Jyoshin Clay, Kevin Dorney,
Todd Josan Fifield, Kip Frey, Deborah Gant, Mary Raika Garrard, Colin Haney,
Rob Ki’an Holt, Kate and Apollo Jensen, Zach Knight, Rob Lecrone, Yoan
Lowe-Charde, Jeanna Annen Moyer, Carlene Zoki Orman, Jamie Parsons, Ole Riise,
Marty Genso Skinner, Jeff Stookey, Kyri Kengan Trieman, Rich Koken Vail-Mackin,
Diana Vitells and Kathy Whitehead. It wouldn’t have worked without you!
From left: Emily Teiko Cartoun, Dr. Martin Genso Skinner, Dr. Troy Dillard,
Terry Carnahan, Ginnie Churchill
by Heidi Enji Hoogstra
The theme for Dharmagarden this year is Bodhisattvas. I asked Dharmagarden
teachers if there were any lessons or moments that stood out for them so far,
and if a specific Bodhisattva particularly resonated with their classes.
Kogetsu said, “One of my high-schoolers at the end of last class said
something like, “that’s going to stick with me for the rest of
the day until my head explodes.” I replied, “Then my job here is
done.” It was almost mondo-esque, and I found it delightful. It’s
rare to get any kind of affirmative feedback from that age group, so that felt
While the aim with the teen group is about unearthing those connections,
the method with the little ones is more directive, steering their energies
the simple lesson. With her preschoolers, Gyokuko has been concentrating on
just one Bodhisattva, Kanzeon.
Gyokuko said, “In one class, I introduced Kanzeon, the statue, as someone
who was kind and gentle and loved little children, then had them put both hands
on the floor. I asked them to stroke one hand and think about doing so gently.
Then I had them stroke someone else’s hand gently. Then I gave them each
a plush toy to hold kindly and gently. When they were starting to get restless,
I had them put their ‘babies’ on the couch to sleep and we played ‘ring
around the rosie’ in whispers so as not to disturb the ‘babies’.”
I have been teaching the kindergarteners about various Bodhisattvas, but
with each I have been emphasizing one basic trait. For me, a moment that always
stands out is when I bring out the picture book for the story part of the lesson.
I introduce the Bodhisattva of the day, briefly, and then share a picture book
which demonstrates the quality of that Bodhisattva. All of the kids gather
in eagerly; they are at an age where they love story times.
When I first introduced the idea of Bodhisattvas, two of my kindergarteners
already emphatically knew about the one with many arms and heads. The Kinder
kids have learned about the protectiveness of Jizo through the story of “The
Little Stone Buddha,” by K.T. Hao. Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The
Coconut Monk” amply demonstrates the wisdom of Manjusri. Going with the
generosity of Hotei in the marketplace, I compared him to Santa, as well as
the clever generosity of “The Beckoning Cat,” by Koko Nishizuka.
Most recently, we all lost track of time when the kids helped me define compassion,
and then we looked for instances when each character was being compassionate,
or being Kanzeon, in Jon J. Muth’s “Zen Ties.”
With the grade-school boys, Fred and Gabe have “been making the analogy
with super-heroes, and plan to have the boys develop their own bodhisattva
super-heroes. A lesson that stood out for Gabe: “We had the boys try
to transmit a picture by drawing it on each other’s backs — one
by one taking turns receiving and then passing it on to the next person by
drawing the shape on their back. Good concentration, connection, and working
together. We turned it into a slightly competitive game with teams, which,
for the boys, got them engaged and motivated. Focused and fun.”
Sangha Support Net (SSN)
As part of our Bhodisattva vow, the Sangha Support Net is a group of Dharma
Rain Zen Center Sangha members who are dedicated to coordinating services and
assistance to other Sangha members in times of personal difficulty. We are
able to provide various kinds of temporary, non-financial assistance such as
transportation, hospital or sick-bed visits, help in accessing the larger community’s
social service system, and so forth.
We are not alone in this world, this community, or this Sangha. If you or
some member you know of is experiencing difficulty beyond your immediate capabilities,
please contact the SSN Director (JD Onryu Devros; 503-319-1472; [deafrose58 at hotmail.com])
or call the center, and see if we
can assist you.
Prison Sangha News
TRCI sangha has blossomed into a determined group of sitters.
Through the holidays, we watched the DVDs Amongst White Clouds and Why
Has Bodhidharma Left for the East? These deserve another viewing after we have
gone through the Ten Ox herding Pictures. We offer our gratitude to Chaplains
Cardona and Hodney for quickly certifying these DVDs for our continued use.
One of the men will be taking the Precepts from Getsushin in February.
EOCI sangha also enjoyed same DVDs over the holidays. We look forward to
another look into the lives of hermit monks in China and Korea, both beautiful
Yet another sangha member will be taking the Precepts from Getsushin in February.
We have a new member from Snake River who practiced with Getsushin for several
years at OSP. He is truly inspirational to us all. A very strong practice emanates
Our group of half-dozen has looked into many things together, most recently
The Ten Ox Herding Pictures, copied and drawn by hand from a text
read by a young member of our group.
Oregon State Penitentiary
The OSP group has been studying the Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts for several
weeks. At the end of this series of classes in early March, we are planning
a Jukai ceremony. Three of our sangha members have indicated an interest in
taking the precepts at that time. Several of the old-timers in the group already
took the precepts in a ceremony we did at OSP in November 2007.
Gyoshi has joined our group at OSP as a volunteer. He adds a valuable perspective
to our classes, and we are very happy to have him.
Eric Daitoku Curtis has stepped in for Yuetsu Wolf as Yuetsu begins his world
travels. We are continuing a long study on the Precepts, one at a time, and
will be finishing up this month. Next we will move on to cover some of the
Both Medium and Minimum groups have been studying the Six Realms. This teaching
is especially appropriate to a prison environment, and the women can see daily
evidence of the mind states described by it. We used Domyo’s booklet
describing the Six Realms, and found it helpful, as it describes the significance
of each realm and then also how to practice with it.
Prison Transition Support Group Beginning
A new monthly support group is planned
to meet at Dharma Rain Zen Center beginning April 4.
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: Koken Vail-Mackin for cheese
and muffins; Chuck Powers for cookies; Jomon and Bansho for pears; Elaine Ota
for 67 lbs of tofu and three pounds of age; Kozen Sampson for 1 dozen pullet
eggs and a bag of organic dried pears. Special thanks are due to Zen Community
of Oregon for a generous donation to the Zendo carpet fund.
The Center could use a handheld mixer, a ceramic knife sharpener, and a front-loading
The newsletter is assembled and edited during the first week of every other
month. Submissions are welcome and necessary. Articles can be long or short,
and they can focus on any point of practice, with an emphasis on personal experience
preferred (i.e. not highly theoretical). Descriptions of events at
the Center and the occasional poem or drawing are also welcome. We do not print
anonymously-submitted articles, but we can publish anonymously. Submissions
sent by mail should be typed. E-mail attachments sent to [newsletter at dharma-rain.org]
are preferred. If you have questions or ideas for an article, contact
- May issue: deadline March 21
- July issue: deadline May 21
- September issue: deadline July 21
If you have information about upcoming events (published on alternate months
from StillPoint news), remember to get them in early.
Deadlines are similar: April 21 for the
June-July flyer, June 21 for
the August-September flyer, August 21 for the October-November flyer.