Great Plains Zen attend part or all of it. In the traditional Mahayana Buddhist calendar, Bodhi Day

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  • Great Plains Zen Center Sangha Newsletter November, 2012 through January, 2013

    Zazenkai at Myoshinji – November 9-11 Our next retreat will be held November 9-11 at Myoshinji. The retreat begins on Friday evening, and runs through Sunday morning. The cost of this retreat is $75 and includes overnight lodging Friday and Saturday, as well as all meals. Rohatsu – December 6-9, 2012 (Sesshin Commemorating Buddha’s Enlightenment) This year, we will hold a Three Day Rohatsu (Sesshin) from Thursday, December 6 through Sunday, December 9. Our Bodhi Day Service will be on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30 AM during our usual morning service. This is the most important sesshin of the year and we encourage you to try to attend part or all of it. In the traditional Mahayana Buddhist calendar, Bodhi Day is December 8th, called Rohatsu in Japanese (literally, the 8th day of the 12th month). Bodhi Day is known as Shaka-Jodo-e (釈迦成道会?) in the Japanese Tendai sect. Mahayana Buddhists also recognize April 8 as the anniversary of Buddha’s birth (Hanamatsuri) and February 15th as Nirvana Day, commemorating the passing of the Buddha from this sphere of teaching. In the Zen tradition, Bodhi Day is often preceded by a rigorous seven-day sesshin (December 1-8), also referred to as Rohatsu. Participants come to this sesshin with a strong resolve to experience enlightenment first hand. They are even encouraged to sit all night (yaza) the last night. In the Denko Roku, Transmission of the Lamp, Keizan Zenji gives the following description of Buddha’s enlightenment: “Shakyamuni Buddha was of the Sun Race in India. At the age of nineteen he leaped over the palace walls in the dead of night, and at Mount Dantaloka, he cut off his hair. Subsequently, he practiced austerities for six years. Later, he sat on the Adamantine Seat, where spiders spun webs in his eyebrows and magpies built a nest on top of his head. Reeds grew up between his legs as he sat tranquilly and erect without movement for six years. At the age of thirty, on the eighth day of the twelfth month, as the morning star appeared, he was suddenly enlightened. These words –“I and the great earth and beings simultaneously achieve the Way” –were his very first lion’s roar. “ Keizan Zenji goes on to explain that from that day on, Shakyamuni Buddha “did not spend a day alone but preached the Dharma for the assembly constantly. He was never without a robe and begging bowl.”

    Shakyamuni Buddha’s complete and thorough-going investigation into the Great Matter is not something separate from our own resolve. We should encourage ourselves to plunge into practice with this intensity and determination at all times, but especially at this time of observance. Everyone is encouraged to participate in this important sesshin. Only through our sincere practice can we truly express appreciation to those who came before and our vows to practice endlessly for the sake of all beings. Please join us. Zazenkai at Myoshinji – January 11-13 The first retreat of 2013 will be a zazenkai, held January 11-13 at Myoshinji. The retreat begins on Friday evening, and runs through Sunday morning. The cost of this retreat is $75 and includes overnight lodging Friday and Saturday, as well as all meals. Registration for GPZC Events To register, for GPZC events, please register/pay online at Please register for any sesshin, zazenkai or workshop at least 1 week prior to the start. This allows us to assign positions and arrange other logistics for the event. If you are unable to meet this deadline, please contact us to make arrangements and check on availability of space. Late cancellations are subject to a $35 non-refundable fee.

    Jukai recipients Shōgaku, Ryūmon, Chikuin and Myōi . Congratulations to Jukai Recipients On Sunday, October 21, four members received the Lay Buddhist Precepts (Jukai) with family, friends and Sangha members in attendance. Each recipient received a Dharma name, a lineage chart (showing the succession of teachers back to Shakyamuni Buddha) and a rakusu, which they had made. This represents a very significant step in each person’s practice, affirming their determination to follow the Buddha Way and to uphold the sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts.


  • Sangha Newsletter November, 2012 through January, 2013 - 2 Jukai (continued) Following is a brief introduction of each jukai recipient and an explanation about their Dharma name. During Zen Center functions, we will now address these individuals by their Dharma names and they will wear their rakusu during most zazen periods. Anneliese Shōgaku Vandre “I've held a lifelong interest in Eastern forms of spirituality, inspired by my mother who was very eclectic, and have been a Zen practitioner for about three years. I'm a case manager for children with mental health issues and am employed by Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. I hold an MS in Psychology with a specialization in Child and Adolescent Development from Capella University as well as a BA in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I live in the country with my fiancé and two cats.” - Anneliese Anneliese received the name “Shōgaku.” (True Enlightenment). Shōgaku or Zhengjue is the name of the Fourth Chinese Ancestor’s temple at the foot of Broken Top Mountain in Yellow Plum province. It was the first successful monastic community established in connection with Bodhidharma’s Zen lineage and played an important role in the development of the Zen monastic tradition. At this monastery, work practice, including growing vegetables for the monks to eat, began to be seen as a vital part of the Zen tradition. Wanshi Shogaku (Hongzhi Zhengjue) was also the name of an important Chinese teacher who first coined the term “Silent Illumination.” The character “Shō” is the same as the one in the title of Dogen Zenji’s famous work, Shōbogenzo (True Dharma Eye Treasury). Dr. Dennis Lishka, a Buddhist scholar and Zen practitioner explains that in India, the Sanskrit equivalent of Shō meant “right” or “authentic” as in a fixed, immutable truth. However, in China, this character took on more the sense of “appropriate” or “right according to the situation,” reflecting the more fluid wisdom of the Book of Changes and Taoist thought and reflective of our Mahyana understanding of the precepts. Lorrie Chikuin Kountz “Gratefully joining the GPZC in May of 2011, I devote my passions between my partner Laura, my dog Will.I.Am, writing music, and Buddhism. Recently retired from teaching music after 30 years, I am now working for a behavioral health hospital here in the suburbs. My practice is of the utmost importance to me, and I look forward to continued focus and study.” – Lorrie Lorrie received the name “Chikuin” (Sound of Bamboo – literally Bamboo Sound). This name comes from the story of Zen Master Xiangyan (Kyōgen). Xiangyan studied with the great Baizhang (Hyakujo) and later with Guishan (Isan). However, he was not able to clearly open his eye of wisdom and stated, “A picture of a cake can’t satisfy hunger.” He sadly left Guishan’s monastery and resigned himself to taking care of the National Teacher Nanyang Huizhong’s gravesite.

    While scything grass one day, the sound of a piece of tile striking a bamboo stalk caused him to experience enlightenment. He immediately composed the following verse:

    “One strike and all knowledge is forgotten.

    No more the mere pretense of practice. Transformed to uphold the ancient path,

    Not sunk in idle devices.

    Far and wide, not a trace is left. The great purpose lies beyond sound and form.

    In every direction the realized Way, Beyond all speech, the ultimate principle.”

    Nataly Myōi Kercher Nataly was born in Ukraine, where she met her husband Dmitry while attending university. Together they left Ukraine at the age of 19 and for the next 7 years they lived, studied and worked in Israel. Nataly, Dmitry and their three children and two dogs now live in the Chicago area where Nataly is a software developer. She was introduced to Zen at an Integral Bodywork training in 2008 and gradually established daily Zen practice. Nataly joined the Great Plains Zen Center in 2010. She is also practitioner of Tai Chi and Reiki. Nataly received the name “Myōi” (Wondrous Healing). “Myō” is the same character as in “Myōshinji”, which can also mean subtle or mysterious. The second character, “I,” is also part of the posthumous name given to the fourth Chinese Ancestor, Dayi or Daii (Great Healer) by Emporer Dai Zong because of his special healing abilities. Nataly has a strong commitment to healing practice in its many forms. Healing in the context of Zen practice does indeed take on a wondrous or subtle meaning since our Zen practice reveals to us our own completeness and perfection even in the midst of struggles, pain and uncertainty. Tom Ryūmon Janiec Tom worked in the import/export business for 22 years before attending seminary to become an Episcopalian minister at age 43. He then served as a minister in a parish for 20 years. Tom has been doing chaplaincy work in hospitals for the past 25 years. He is the father of two daughters, Sara and Annie. Tom and his wife, Anne, have two cats and two dogs and enjoy travelling in the western part of the United States. Tom enjoys most any kind of music with a preference for classical music. He started practicing on his own and joined the Great Plain