February - March 2015

FEBRUARY –MARCH 2015
ISSUE 2, VOL. 2
NEWSLETTER
www.szc.org.au
Encouraging Words from the Teacher
Gillian Coote
No end of toku
In
our
tradition,
incense ash represents
toku (Japanese) or te
(Chinese), a word
meaning power or
virtue, as well as the
strength of character
arising from virtue
and service.
The
practice of virtue,
Aitken Roshi says in
his essay The Way
and It Virtue, 'is set
forth in the Tao Te Ching, the central text of
Taoism, which could also be called Te-ism, for Te
receives as much attention as Tao:
To obtain trust, put your trust in others.
Take care! Speak only when it is essential.
Then when your work is done and the job is
finished,
Everyone will say that it happened naturally (1)
It was Yamada Koun Roshi who declared: 'The
purpose of Zen practice is the perfection of
character", on which Aitken Roshi expanded in his
essay. 'Many people shy away from the idea of
'perfection'. They know that 'nobody is perfect' and
so they neglect their own characters and don't try to
correct themselves. Other people tend to be
perfectionistic and are reinforced in their neuroses
by moral teaching. 'The word 'perfection', Roshi
acknowledges, 'seems to open a can of worms.' (2)
Indeed, perfection is a process. Each of us is a work
in progress - forever coming together and falling
away. There will always be mistakes - one thousand
mistakes, ten thousand mistakes! (3) Artists often
leave a tiny blemish in their work to acknowledge
their humanity. It is said that Islamic artists, for
example, make deliberate mistakes in their work on
the grounds that 'only God is perfect'.
I first encountered Aitken Roshi standing at the
back of John and Shirley Cooper's little dojo, a thin,
elderly gentleman in a check shirt and baggy jeans.
He was reticent, even self-effacing and his glasses
were dirty. Where was the great Zen Master John
Cooper had promised us? Perhaps because he did
not fit some notion I might have had of the 'perfect
Zen Master', resplendent in swishing black gauze
robes, austere and powerful - well, not that day
anyway - this was the beginning of my long
relationship as Roshi's student, of placing my trust
in him.
For Chinese artist, Zhang Huan, blemishes are
integral to his work, of things coming together
falling away, in this case, Sydney Buddha. For five
days in early January, 20 tonnes of wet 'incense ash'
was packed into a 5.3-metre aluminium mould of a
Reports
Coming Events
News From the Board
Rohatsu Sesshin
Art sale
Samu at Kodoji, Introduction to
SZC’s constitution, reminding
people to pay, donation for left-over
food, biscuits organize bu Glenys
Page 7-8
Jackson
Page 3-4-5
Zen Buddhist practice, Sacred
walking path practice,
Page 6-7
Trasmission Sesshin
FEBRUARY –MARCH 2015
Buddha figure for the Sydney Festival installation.
Sydney Buddha is a work intended to disintegrate,
slowly, over three months until March l5 when it
will have gradually fallen apart, its particles
disturbed by vibrations in the
air,
climate
and
other
environmental factors.
Zhang Huan spoke of the
power and strength - like
atomic bombs, he said - of the
compacted tonnes of incense
ash, which hold the hopes and
dreams of millions of Chinese
people. Only one day after the
aluminium
mould
was
removed at Carriageworks,
part of Sydney Buddha's nose
had fallen off, as well as his
left forearm and hand, which
the mould shows raised to
chest level, with the index and
thumb forming a circle, the
vitarka mudra. All this toku
had slid to the floor where
overnight it had become the
medium into which contemporary Sydney-siders
were placing incense to honour this great ash
Buddha, their incense in turn adding toku to the
existing hillocks of ash. Fortunately, even without
a nose, arm or hand, (or perhaps by the time you
visit Sydney Buddha, without a head or shoulders
either), Sakyamuni's teaching and practice
continues, with us, as us.
'The Buddha Way is unsurpassed, I vow to embody
it fully', we chant together. Well, we vow to
embody it as fully as we can, given that we are all
in the process of perfecting our characters. We even
say 'The Buddha is only half-way there' and,
indeed, no Zen teacher can ever perfect their
character, although students may have that
expectation - until the scales fall from their eyes and no Zen student can either.
Teachers vow to serve the Dharma, speak from
compassion, bow with humility, treat all beings
equally and commit to ongoing practice,
remembering Aitken Roshi's frequent admonition:
'Not enough, not yet enough!" Dharma teaching is
an intense practice, with the teacher-student
relationship intrinsic to our tradition and always a
work in progress. At its best, it is intimate,
compassionate and open, which is why dokusan is
such a powerful practice, mind-to-mind, heart-toheart and predicated on the
ground of trust. We learn from
each other. Honesty and
respect is essential and our
guidance, we hope, is a matter
of encouragement.
'When your practice is to
reveal the essence, you are
teaching
without
overtly
teaching. You forget yourself
and trust others, in effect
revealing to them their own
essence and they themselves
turn the Dharma wheel.' (4)
Students have responsibilities
too - to serve the Dharma,
speak from compassion, bow
with humility, treat all beings
equally and commit to ongoing
practice. Around the Full
Moon, we gather to remember that 'reflecting upon
the Precepts helps us to remember the dark side of
our own, personal, full being. Our dark side is hard
to see and acknowledge and yet it is wonderfully
rich and fertile. Let us acknowledge those parts of
ourselves that are not yet whole, as we extend to
each other our loving support and acceptance.' (5)
'Virtue, the six Paramitas and perfection of
character are simply labels for an organic
process. Breathing in and out, you let go of poisons
and establish the serene ground of the
Precepts. You release defences of the self and the
mind comes forth boldly with the count of one, two
and three. Focused and serene, you are ready for
instruction by the ten thousand things. '(6)
Thus, moment by moment, trust in the Way and
toku accumulates. I bow in gratitude.
Notes:
(1) Benjamin Lynn Olson, trans., Tao Te Chong, published ms,
section 17 (2) The Way and its Virtue, from The Mind of Clover,
Robert Aitken, (pub. North Point Press, l984) (3) Wu-men's verse
for Case 2 of The Gateless Barrier, transl. Robert Aitken, pub. North
Point Press, l990 (4) ibid, p.159 (5) SZC Full Moon Ceremony
(6) ibid.,p.158.
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FEBRUARY –MARCH 2015
ISSUE 2, VOL. 2
REPORT
Rohatsu sesshin
Our 2014 Rohatsu Sesshin ran from Thursday
December the 4th, till Monday December the 8th.
Some twenty bodhisattvas sat during this time, with
a good portion sitting full time. Among us were old
timers and new members, locals and some who
had come from interstate. Rohatsu is always a
special occasion, but this year was particularly
special as we were lead by Allan Marett who was
running his first solo sesshin.
Unlike our regular
autumn and spring
sesshin,
our
Rohatsu Sesshin
was
non
residential.
This
meant that while
we were never
astray, there was
coming and going,
with
people
arriving early in
the morning ready
for their tea, and
leaving
after
Allan’s
closing
words every night. There was a strong contingent
of full time sitters who created a solid container that
part timers slipped in and out of easily as they
made time for a few hours sitting while still being
able to deal with the necessaries at this busy time
of year.
On top of the availability of good coffee, thanks to
the Annandale Annex more commonly known as
Clover Cafe, there was another defining feature of
this sesshin: public dokusan. After the teisho every
day Allan would offer public dokusan, allowing
brave bodhisattvas to step up and ask questions
about the teisho or their practice. On one occasion
Allan’s teisho asked us about the morning star, and
one courageous student was up to the challenge,
bringing the morning star into the dojo, inspiring us
all to realise it for ourselves, and setting the tone
for the rest of rohatsu.
Our 2014 Rohatsu Sesshin ended in much the
same way it had started. Plumbers tending to a
broken toilet that began leaking with the Jiki’s first
hit of the han. Thankfully Allan was on hand to
clean up the mess, and aside from being limited to
one toilet for the rest of the retreat, there was little
interruption
after
the
plumbers initial
inspection
revealed there
was no easy
fix. Monday’s
investigations
weren’t
too
invasive, and
were finished
by the time
shosan
had
completed.
With
some
closing words
from Allan and
a beautiful dedication from our first time Ino Drew
Bourgeois we closed the sesshin, and gathered
around for a sharing.
On top of a tremendous amount of gratitude for our
dear teacher and the leaders and organisers of
sesshin, including Jill Steverson for buying all the
food, Jane Andino for organising everything, and
Harry Tamvakeras for taking on the tenzo roll like
only Harry could, many people shared deep and
touching experiences, and indescribable expressed
with silence and deep bows. Allan, the leaders and
organisers, and everyone who sat during rohatsu is
also greatly appreciative of the residents,
particularly Diego and Neryl, for their forbearance
and support, and for keeping Annandale spick and
span before, during, and after sesshin.
FEBRUARY –MARCH 2015
Annual ZEN Arts Sale 13-14 December
$1000 funds raised!
Many hours were spent in the lead up to our art
show and sale, with footwork the main expense
delivering the flyers to local shops, cafes and
neighbours.
All this effort brought few non-zen customers. And
although we raised a comparable amount of money
as the recent Concert, we have learnt a few
lessons for next time.
The items that sold the most were small and
cheerful gift ideas and cards, rather than the larger
artworks displayed as in a professional Art Gallery.
The dojo was transformed. It looked spectacular!
But no paintings were sold, except four small
colorful canvasses by Glenys.
Many thanks to the organizers and helpers, as well
as those generously donating their beautiful
creations.
Artists were Subhana, Glenys Jackson, Barbara
Wulff, Caroline Josephs, Yvonne De Haan, Janet
Selby, Colin Hopkins, with cards by Womens
Group, Glenys, Carl Hooper, Yvonne Hales tanka
postcards with Glenys and Janet.
Apologies if I have left anyone unmentioned.
Janet Selby
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FEBRUARY –MARCH 2015
5
FEBRUARY –MARCH 2015
COMING EVENTS
Samu at Kodoji 21-22 March
This is a wonderful opportunity for the whole family to spend the weekend at Kodoji joining with
others in caring for Kodoji and getting it ready for the Transmission Sesshin in April. There will
be lawn mowing, general cleaning, inventory, knife sharpening. There is also work to be done to
complete the cupboard under the stairs, and some guttering to replace. Not to mention weeding!
Plenty for everyone, and opportunities for sitting,and talking, and having fun together. Bring food
to share, and let Tony Coote, our veteran Samu Coordinator know you are coming:
[email protected] or 02 9817 3466
Introduction to Zen Buddhist practice
SATURDAY MARCH 28, 1-4pm.
PAUL MALONEY
This is a half-day course open to those people who wish to learn some basic elements of Zen
Buddhist theory and practice. The course will provide participants with the basics of sitting
meditation (zazen) and dojo procedures to enable them to begin practice with the Sydney Zen
Centre.
The cost will be $30.
It is expected that intermediate and advanced courses will be available later this year.
Enquiries: Paul Maloney [email protected] or phone:02 4784 2136
Sacred walking path practice
March 15 Meet at 9am
Join Subhana at the labyrinth in Centennial Park for ‘sacred walking path practice ‘ on the
labyrinth followed by zazen on the grass and sharing.
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FEBRUARY –MARCH 2015
Transmission Sesshin April 3-12 at Kodoji
Led by Subhana Barzaghi and Maggie Gluek ,with the Dharma Transmission Ceremony for Maggie on
Saturday April 11.
This is a very special sesshin leading up to the Ceremony for Maggie Gluek to make her a Full Teacher in
the Diamond Sangha after all her years of dedicated work for us all as an Apprentice Teacher. There will
be much more information about this in the future, but please note the dates.
Easter Sesshin and Transmission Ceremony Organisers:
Contact Jillian Ball for Easter Transmission Sesshin : Kerry Stewart for the Transmission Ceremony:
Diana Levy is helping both Jillian and Kerry. Please don’t hesitate to use the telephone. It’s a wonderful
invention that enables a conversation, and that sometimes prevents muddles.
Jill – Phone: 02 9665 0172 Mobile: 0407 400 126 Email: [email protected]
Diana - Phone: 02 4751 3935 Mobile: 0432 619 305 Email: [email protected]
Kerry – Phone 02 9879 7290 Mobile: 0449 707 792 Email: [email protected]
There is a Googledoc for the Transmission Ceremony Pot Luck Lunch that will be sent out again nearer
the time. People can email Kerry if they have lost the address.
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FEBRUARY –MARCH 2015
NEWS FROM THE BOARD
Jason Koh and Yvonne Hales have been preparing the
necessary documents to change the SZC’s constitution from
a Company Limited by Guarantee to an Incorporated
Association. The board informed the Sangha community of
this intention at the recent AGM. Our purpose in doing
this is to reduce the annual auditing fees as part of our
review of SZC costs.
Jason has contacted the Department of Fair Trading and
registered our name: The Sydney Zen Centre. We now have
only 7 weeks to finalise the paper work which, at the
moment is in the hands of Yvonne. Last night the board
decided to call an extraordinary general meeting hopefully
on 3rd. March at 6pm where we will require a majority of
Sangha members to support this change.
This note in the current newsletter is fore warning. The old
constitution requires the board to notify members of an
extraordinary general meeting 14 days beforehand and
provide all of the necessary documents. When we get all of
the paper work complete and the teachers have agreed on a
number of matters concerning their role and a straightforward statement as to what our Association does we will
then send this out to the Sangha.
As this is a fairly tight schedule with a short meeting
planned before the monthly board meeting we will include
a proxy voting option so everyone can participate without
necessarily having to come to Annandale. A very generous
donation of money has been recently given to our Sangha
which is greatly appreciated.
The membership secretary Kerry Stewart has taken on the
role of reminding people to pay their membership before the
end of each financial year, and follow up those who may
have forgotten to do so. Some long inactive members choose
to make a donation each year.
Asking for a donation for left-over food after Rohatsu
sesshin proved very successful and it is suggested that this
practice be followed after each sesshin.
Glenys Jackson has undertaken to organize our biscuits
and teas for Monday and Wednesday evenings.
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FEBRUARY –MARCH 2015
Notice Board
Dokusan
MONDAYS:
Subhana
Board Meetings
Feb 9, 16, 23
Mar 9,16,23,30
Feb 11, 18, 25
Mar 11,18,25
February 10 & March 3rd Meeting at 6pm for zazen, start
6.30. All members welcome.
WEDNESDAYS:
Gillian Coote
April 1
Women’s Group
February 13 Helen’s
March 7-8 Women’s retreat at Kodoji
Dharma Café
Early Morning Zazen
February 2+4
Full Moon Ceremony
March 2+4 (Not discussing the faults of others)
Zazenkai
February 15
8.30-12 Gillian Coote- Talk and dokusan
Ashfield SZC members are interested in zazen and dokusan
are invited to join in a small group that sits regularly on
Tuesday (6-7:30 am) and Thursday (6:30-8:30pm). Contact either
Allan Marett [email protected] 04097127767
or Kim Bagot [email protected] 0402321277.
Regular Notices
Gift recipient status for SZC Building Fund
The Australian Tax Office has confirmed that we are a
DGR, or Deductible Gift Recipient for a fund (the Sydney
Zen Centre Building Fund). This restores the status of
gifts to the building fund as tax deductible for the
donor. If you would like to make a donation to the
building fund, simply flag it as such and we will issue
a receipt against which you can claim a tax deduction
from your income.
Books for sale
The Roaring Stream. A New Zen Reader, ed. Nelson Foster
and Jack Shoemaker is on sale at Annandale, along with
Robert Aitken's books: Taking the Path of Zen, Mind of
Clover, The Dragon that Never Sleeps, Encouraging Words,
The Morning Star, Vegetable Roots Discourse, Zen Master
Raven and The Gateless Barrier, plus new titles.
Use of Kodoji
Kodoji is available for use by members of the SZC and
guests (if accompanied by a member). It can also be hired
by other groups if approved by the Board. Fees are $20 per
night for members and $30 for non-members. There is a
$100 booking fee for
non-member groups. Booking of Kodoji is essential and it
is also essential to receive instructions about use of the
facility before going there. Please note that the local Fire
Brigade has advised restrictions during Summer.
Try giving the family a wonderful weekend, or yourself a
few days of private retreat. Enquiries to Brendon Stewart,
phone 9879 7290, email stewa[email protected]
Blue Mountains Zen
The Blue Mountains Zen Group meets on the second and
fourth Sunday of each month, from
3-5 p.m., at Paul
Maloney’s home, 19 Russell Road, Leura. Phone 4784 2136. The
meeting is occasionally held at another venue, so it is best
to check some days before.
Canberra Zen Group
Meets on Wednesday evenings.
Please contact Gary for more details: 0429 635 412 email
[email protected]
Contact Information
Brendon Stewart (chair) [email protected], Sue Bidwell (secretary) [email protected], Jason Koh (Treasurer)
[email protected], Michael Tierney (publications) [email protected], Glenys Jackson, Larry Agriesti, Helen
Sanderson. Newsletter Editor: Janet Selby [email protected], Kerry Stewart [email protected] and Yvonne Hales
[email protected]
Sydney Zen Centre, 251 Young Street Annandale NSW 2038 [email protected]
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FEBRUARY –MARCH 2015
SZC Calendar February-March 2015
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
1 Feb
2
3
dharma café 79 pm
4
dharma café
7-9 pm
5
6
7
8
9
Zazen
7-9 pm
11
Zazen
7-9 pm
12
13
Women’s
Group
Helen’s
14
15
16
Zazen
7-9 pm
10
Board
meeting
6 zazen 6:30
start
17
18
Zazen
7-9 pm
19
20
21
Zazenkai 8:30-12
Gillian Coote
talk, dokusan
22
23
Zazen
7-9 pm
24
25
Zazen
7-9 pm
26
27
28
1 March
2 Full Moon
Ceremony Not
discussing
Faults of others
3
4 Full Moon
Ceremony Not
discussing
Faults of
others
5
6
7
Women’s
Retreat at
Kodoji
8
9
Zazen
7-9 pm
11
Zazen
7-9 pm
12
13
14
15
16
Zazen
7-9 pm
10
Board
meeting
6 zazen 6:30
start
17
18
Zazen
7-9 pm
19
20
Sesshin
payments
due
21
meet Subhana
at the
Labyrinth in
Centennial Park
9am
22
23
Zazen
7-9 pm
24
25
Zazen
7-9 pm
26
27
28
29
30
Zazen
7-9 pm
31
1
Zazen
7-9 pm
2
3
Trasmission
sesshin
4
10