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Entries in EHZC (27)


Great Spirit Manifesting Dharma

Offered incense - and took pictures - last Sunday in the 49th day Memorial Service for the American Zen teacher and Soto priest, Surei Kenpo Darlene Cohen. Her Dharma name, Surei Kenpo, means Great Spirit Manifesting Dharma. And this she was. Completely.

The side altar had a wonderful brush painting by Darlene's teacher, Dairyu Michael Wenger (see Sumi-e). It shows Darlene making her way with her robes, traditional monk's traveling hat and staff - and brightly painted toenails.

The main altar had a lovely picture of Darlene taken by Susan Ji-on Postal at an EHZC sesshin.  Darlene's big smile is at least partially related to the altar flowers from this sesshin that she has stuck in her hair.  I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to practice with this extraordinary teacher. [NOTE: More pictures from Darlene's Memorial Service are here].




Row of rakusu hanging up during work practice at the Empty Hand Zen Center. I think I was cleaning the bathrooms the day I took this photo. [NOTE: Although they look quite simple, the instructions for sewing a rakusu extend over 13 pages. Mine is hanging face out from the middle peg; the white, inscribed panel with the student's Dharma name, the Robe Verse, and the teacher's seal is on the back].



Spent a lot of time this weekend taking photos at the Empty Hand Zen Center to document the dharma transmission of Dennis Shofu Myozan Keegan.  Dennis is shown above giving his first dharma talk as a newly-transmitted teacher. Deep bows of gratitude to this fine teacher and delightful human being. [NOTE: Dennis received dharma transmission in the Soto Lineage of Suzuki Roshi from Susan Ji-on Postal]


Sweetcake Ensō

In Zen Buddhist painting, the ensō, or brushed ink circle, symbolizes a moment when the mind is completely unfettered and true reality is allowed to manifest itself.  There are a lot of different types of ensōs, e.g. mirror ensō, moon ensō, universe ensō, each type expressing a subtly different meaning. These calligraphic circles are profound but they are not abstract, and when enlightenment and the acts of daily life-"sipping tea and eating rice cakes"- are one, there is true Buddhism.  The sweetcake ensō expresses this realization.

A unique traveling exhibit of sweetcake ensōs, including works from traditional calligraphers as well as more contemporary renderings, will be inaugurated at the Empty Hand Zen Center on October 2 and 3.  One of the pieces from the exhibit, Life and Death by Zen Master Nonin Chowaney, is shown above. Additional information about the exhibit, as well as artwork and writings from prominent scholars and American Zen teachers can be found here


Life Slips Quickly By

The sound of the han opens the period of seated meditation, or zazen, in a zendo. The slow, methodical cadence gets progressively faster and faster and faster. And then stops. A forceful reminder that the clock is ticking and that there is work to be done. The inscription on the han reads:

Great is the matter of birth and death
Life slips quickly by
Time waits for no one
Wake up, wake up
Don't waste a moment 

[NOTE: The han shown in the clip is in the Empty Hand Zen Center (EHZC); the hand on the striker is that of Susan Jion Postal, main teacher and founder of the EHZC (gassho)].


Still Blooming

The days are getting grey and the temperatures are dropping in New York, but the planters in the parking lot of the Empty Hand Zen Center are still producing a profusion of colorful blossoms. [NOTE: I shot this two days ago].

"Yet, though all of this is so, flowers fall when we cling to them and weeds grow whether we like it or not"

-Dogen Zenji (1200-1235)


Watering the Zendo Garden

Just got back from watering the garden at the Empty Hand Zen Center.  Not sure how useful it was given that it's supposed to rain this evening, but I very much enjoyed it and all the flowers and bodhisattvas looked so beautiful with their drops of water. 

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