Our Abbot, Setsuan Gaelyn Roshi has been involved and active as usual, both inside the temple and in outside activities.
Some of those recent activities include:
Hosting for a second time the annual meeting of the American Zen Teachers Association, which met at our temple July 18-22. Zen teachers from all over the United States meet to discuss ideas and issues important to American Zen Buddhist teachers from the Soto, Rinzai, Korean, Diamond, and Harada-Yasutani lineages of Zen.
She just completed leading Sangha week at Tassajara. Participants included six practitioners from our Sangha as well as eight practitioners from other Sanghas around the country. It was such a wonderful experience for everyone that she plans to do it again next summer. The dates will be June 9-14, 2019.
Along with Tim Schorre, Gaelyn Roshi continues her work of sharing the Dharma at one of the prisons in Huntsville. At the last meeting 54 prisoners attended, learning about meditation and Buddhist principals.
Our Abbot has been asked to speak on behalf of the North American Soto Zen Buddhist Association at two Zen centers in New York: Village Zendo, led by Enkyo O’Hara Roshi in Manhattan; and Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn, led by Shugen Arnold Roshi.
Thank you for all of your efforts on behalf of Auspicious Cloud Temple and all sentient beings.
Check out the new volunteer board on the kitchen wall! See if you have room for taking on one of the many delightful volunteer tasks of our thriving practice place. The procedure is simple: choose a task, find a time when the temple is open (weekday times: Monday through Thursday 9:30 to 11:30 or make arrangements for other times once you understand the task), and check with Joy, our Volunteer Coordinator, if you need guidance.
For some volunteer tasks, we’ll provide a brief orientation. Once you complete a task, move the tab to the bottom of the board.When people come to our temple, they often comment on how clean and orderly it is. At HZC, all but a few of the roles in the temple and grounds are done by volunteers. This work is done moment by moment by many different people, sometimes during Sunday soji practice (temple cleaning) and sometimes at other times when someone comes and turns the compost, another bodhisattva picks up and delivers the mulch needed for our seasonal garden care, and someone else straightens the brochures on the foyer table.
The process of working together and caring for the temple is an intimate part of our practice. Yes, we take care of tasks, we get things done, but the practice-mind of noticing what arises in each action, noticing our habit energy related to work, and bringing our mind back again and again to the exquisite moment of the very present task before us—this training helps us carry our Zen practice into the world.
Gayle Klaybor is the new co-Tanto (Head of Practice) at Zen Center! Gayle's deep and dedicated Zen practice will benefit everyone. She and Louise Dreyfus are the co-Tantos, co Heads of Practice. You are encouraged to meet with either of them to discuss practice.
Welcome to Gayle!
Glen Duval, our long-time co-Tanto is stepping down from the position and will relocate to Santa Fe, NM for most of each year. He will remain available for Practice Discussion when he is in Houston, and also by remote communication means (phone, video). Thank you Glen!
Louise continues as co-Tanto and, along with Gayle, the Abbot, and the Practice Committee, will provide steady guidance for the practice of Zen Center friends and members.
Hearing a bell ring each morning, we got up, put on our zendo clothes, and walked in the chilly dawn to the zendo. Designed by Paul Discoe and built as a temporary zendo after a fire many years ago, this zendo couldn't be more of a sanctuary for the ceremony of zazen followed by service. We formed an instant sangha, six of us from the Houston Zen Center, six more from various California sanghas, one from Austin, and one from Puerto Vallarta. With the guidance of our Abbot Gaelyn Godwin Roshi, we coalesced into a loving and supportive sangha, sitting, working, hiking, and enjoying the pleasures of camaraderie.
Sangha Week is intended as a time to deepen practice, form connections, and enjoy the rejuvenation that comes with connection to nature. After breakfast each morning, we stood in a work circle with sixty or more other people, received tasks in the kitchen, the garden, the cabin crew, or other areas. In each of these work areas, we began with a short service and then mid-morning, we would stop, gather in a circle, and read and discuss Zen texts, in the kitchen reading from Dogen's Advice to the Cook, for example.
Work ended at lunch each day for those of us in Sangha Week. After a refreshing nap or a plunge in the hot springs, our little group would meet for a hike, zazen and dokusan, or we would join other groups to hear lectures on subjects such as the six realms and ritual in everyday life. On one evening, we heard a poetry reading from Jane Hirshfield. Afternoons always gave us plenty of leisure time for a swim in the pool, a hike along the creek, more napping, or another plunge in the hot springs.
For dinner, we ate exquisitely prepared dishes, marveling at the skill of the tenzo who could cook for so many without losing the sense of caring for each guest personally. On the last full day there, a group of us walked along the beautiful winding creek to the Narrows and plunged into the icy water before lying on warm rocks to soak in the afternoon sunlight. We ended our time together astonished at the quick bonds we had formed. Those of us from the Houston contingent urged our new friends to come and visit our temple. We stood in a circle and shared our gratitude to our teacher for her generosity and to one another for our warm kindness.
The June sesshin focused on the teachings of Training in Compassion. Here are the folks who stayed and cleaned up the zendo afterwards -- enlightened Bodhisattvas one and all!
Zen Center is pleased to announce the ordination of Rev. Zengetsu Vicki Glenn and Rev. Sengetsu Tricia McFarlin by Abbot Gaelyn Godwin on Sunday, June 10. Many friends and family members celebrated this auspicious event. The new priests will continue to serve the sangha in countless ways.
The new refrigerator has arrived: it's spacious and fabulous! It is a commercial refrigerator, perfect for retreats (and everyday use, also). The new freezer will arrive a little later. These are made possible by all your generous donations to the appeal last year. Zen Center requested funds to repair the roof after Hurricane Harvey (accomplished: less costly than expected) and to replace the aged temple refrigerator with a new commercial one. This has now been accomplished. The total cost of the refrigerator and new freezer is just on target, at the low end of our estimate. Thanks to all who worked to research options (Joy T), inspect possibilities (Tim and Abbot Gaelyn), and then upgrade the wiring (Jose), build new shelves (Robert) move all the pots & pans (Jim and Tom), and move the unit into place (Brandon). But mostly, thanks to all of you for your ongoing generosity and love. The refrigerator is open for inspection anytime.
Abbot Gaelyn led the monthly meditation at the beautiful Rothko Chapel in April, surrounded by Mark Rothko's powerful art and a crowd of meditators. Here is an audio recording -- it includes meditation instructions along with a lot of meditative quiet! David Leslie, the newish director of the Rothko provides introductory remarks.
Audrey was one of the retreatants who chose to camp during the retreat -- while it was cold, it was also quiet and beautiful.
The Retreat was a beautiful, quiet, nature-filled, meditation sesshin. Buddha traveled to the rustic retreat area in safety with Audrey.
HZC Zen Priest Yazan Dave Johnson (left) welcomes our new Shuso Hondo Dave Rutschman (right) after the ceremony March 17. Hondo will serve for a full year as the Shuso/Head Student.
Mary Carol and Daniel installed the new garden altar, built by Robert, designed by Mary Carol. Soon we will have a ceremony to open the new bodhisattva in the altar. You can find it in the sitting area near the vegetable garden.
Sesshin/Retreat at HZC February 13-18 came to an end Sunday afternoon. The teachings were excellent; what a great way to deepen practice, in a few days!
New Orleans visitors from Mid City Zen arrived this weekend! Zen Priest Michaela Bono (center) gave a wonderful dharma talk Sunday! Shōhō Sam Hager (left) from Mid City Zen visited HZC as well. New Orleans visitors are always warmly welcomed at Houston Zen Center.
Rev. Royce Johnson came for a visit! Now living in Monterey, CA, Royce (ordained by the Abbot in 2014) was at Houston Zen Center to attend the One-Day Sitting and Precepts Receiving Ceremony. What a joy to see our long time friend and former resident of HZC!
The New Year arrived after 108 bows in the Center, a warm fire outside where we burned slips of paper with karmic hindrances written on them, and a toast to welcome the new opportunities. May the New Year bring us all together in peace. The Year of the Dog arrives -- and it's the year of the Earth Dog, communicative, sincere and reliable. This watercolor is a gift from Densho Quintero from the Zen group in Bogotá, Colombia.
Abby made a clear and strong presentation to the sangha on Sunday in support of her efforts to raise awareness and funds for WildAid, a group that protects animals from harmful poaching. Abby's project is for her Bat Mitzvah preparations. She offered beautiful soaps for sale that she'd made herself! The sangha asked many questions about the animals - and bought more than $400 worth of soap!
Zen Priests Linda Galijan and Greg Fain will be here this weekend! From Friday, December 22 until next week. Linda is the President of San Francisco Zen Center; Greg is the Tanto/Head of Practice of Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in California (the largest Zen monastery in the West). Both are very dear friends of Houston Zen Center and will be here for several days. Please come visit them and ask any questions you would like about Zen practice and training.
Rohatsu Sesshin (intensive meditation for December 7th Buddha's Enlightenment Day) included snow for outdoor walking meditation. Sesshin ended on Sunday with a celebration honoring all the Buddhas.