Friday, April 1, 2011

Resident Update

by David Price

The generous spirit of the “Wisteria Wind Sangha” is once again energizing and rearranging the resident line up on Sonoma Mountain. There are many comings and goings among the increasingly intertwining branches of our larger community. Revitalized, we vow to care for the land of this Temple and ensure that it will be passed on for many generations to come.

Three “Kannon” Sangha members are returning to Poland this spring: Wojciech “Jacob” Jankowski will be leaving on the 7th of March and will be unable to come back soon. He has made a vow to help in any way he can to get the Polish Sangha’s new Zendo and Center under way---Banzai! Jacek Sikora has practiced here for six months as our Shika (guest person) and Jikido (care of the Zendo). He is going back to Poland on the 21st of March and will try to return in the fall. Jakub “Kuba” Golebiewski spent a year here in 2002 and has been with us on this current visit since October. He will be here working to help jump start the garden until the beginning of April and then will be returning to Poland to be with his fiancé and daughter. We will greatly miss their practice and support of Genjo-ji. It has been a great injection of energy having them here if only for six months. Their continued efforts to benefit and strengthen our greater Sangha are genuinely appreciated --please wish them peace and wellness.

Additions to our residents in March and April are: Sally Scoville, back from India to look over the garden and see that the spring planting goes smoothly. She will be staying from March 3rd until the end of May or longer. Her experience and dedication in the garden are indispensable here on the mountain. Also coming this spring from our Polish Sangha are two more long-time students of Roshi: Piotr Jaholkowski will be here on March 15th and Dorota Majcherowicz, is arriving on April 14. Please help welcome them to Genjo-ji and revel in this flourishing of the “Wisteria Wind.”


Sangha News

by Sid Simpson and Ray Estabrook

The New year at SMZC has gotten off to an exciting start beginning January 8 with our traditional New Year’s One-Day Sitting followed by a visit from the Sonoma Academy January 13 in which 18 students attended an all day Introduction to Zen program led by Shinko. January 15-21 we hosted the Annual Hollow Bones Retreat which is always a pleasure and provides exposures us to a somewhat different spiritual tradition.

The month of February was taken up by our Winter Practice Period known as Ango. The 27-day period included six daily sittings, 108 prostrations, formal oryoki meals, study, chanting and work practice to enhance mindfulness. Our Shuso, or Head Student, for the month was Joe Jogan Richards. His theme was “If we don’t find Nirvana within Samsara there is nowhere we can find Nirvana” taken from Shohaku Okumura’s new book, Realizing Genjokoan. It was a very inspiring experience due in large part to Joe’s insightful, quiet and gentle guidance.

Winter Ango participants after Ango sesshin – Feb. 20, 2011

Included within Ango was a seven-day sesshin of intensive sitting involving 10 periods of zazen a day and interviews, or dokusan, with Kwong-roshi. It all concluded on Saturday, February 26 with the traditional mondo, or Revealing the Self Ceremony. in which the participants had the opportunity to ask dharma questions of Shuso Joe designed to reveal the truth of practice.
One of the “extras” that emerged from this year’s Winter Ango was a series of meetings in which Roshi met with his disciples and senior students to discuss and prepare the groundwork for the continuance of Zen practice in all three of our Sanghas - not just on Sonoma Mountain but in Poland and Iceland as well - assuring the perpetuation of the “Everyday Zen” taught by Kwong-roshi and his teacher Suzuki-roshi.

On March 4-5, we had an overnight visit by 18 students of Professor John Nelson from the University of San Francisco who participated in our Saturday program. That turned out to be a very busy weekend as we also hosted an all day Introduction to Zen Workshop led by Nyoze Kwong. It provided an introduction to Zen teachings, forms, ritual, instruction on zazen and basic Zen concepts as a foundation for Zen practice.
On the heels of that came the Spring Study Group for six weeks commencing March 8. Kwong-roshi and Shinko headed the Tuesday evening discussions of Suzuki-roshi’s Branching Streams Flow In The Darkness.

Another One-day Sitting, focusing on “Actualizing Now-Moment,” occurred on Saturday, March 12, followed by our Annual Spring Workfest on March 26. If you have never participated, your missing out on a wonderful experience as Sangha members, families and friends come together in a traditional “Barn-Raising” effort which provides, not only a wonderful opportunity to put your Zen in gear but, lots of fun together with lots of good food and snacks!

We recently began a series of monthly discussion groups. On March 10th Mark “Seiyu” Adams led us in a spirited session of sharing about our practice and how we came to Zen. We brainstormed ideas for future meetings, including oryoki, form in the zendo, maintaining your practice at home and in your daily life, and sharing videos and information about our Zen history and practice. We hope to make these meetings responsive to the needs and interests of the participants as we encourage each other to continue and deepen our practice. These meetings are not dharma talks or study groups; they are more an opportunity to engage in discussion and ask questions of each other. The next two meetings are scheduled for April 14th and May 12th.
Please join us!

Still to come at this writing, Buddha’s Birthday Sesshin, April 6-9, culminating with our big Buddha’s Birthday Celebration on Sunday, April 10, from 1-4 p.m. The ceremony takes place from 1-1:45 p.m., and will be followed by an Outdoor Reception from 2-4 p.m. You will want to bring prepared food ready to serve and flowers for offering.

April 15-17 we will again be hosting the Shambhala Drala weekend which will bring us to Saturday, April 23 and our Sangha Day Potluck. There will be a short period of zazen followed by an opportunity for not only new members but everyone to renew their vows and to offer incense in the zendo. We hope everyone will be able to join us for the Sangha meeting and potluck. This will be an important meeting. At the last meeting, we discussed some of the impact that roshi’s decreased presence has had on the Zen Center. There have been several very positive moves that the Zen Center has made to support the dharma on the mountain since then. We will report on some of those, such as the Wisteria Wind meeting, the developing mentor program, and the monthly discussion group. The question we want to work with at the meeting is, “What can we at SMZC do to more fully support you in your practice?” Please come and engage in the ongoing dialogue with your sangha and share your thoughts and suggestions.


Winter Ango

Group photo following the Dharma Encounter at the close of Winter Ango – Feb. 26, 2011

Winter Ango Theme

Shuso Joe “Jogan” “Pure Vow” Richards

“If we don’t find Nirvana within Samsara
there is nowhere we can find Nirvana”

"Personally, I didn’t have any idea that this would involve engaging and receiving the presence of each and every person so intimately. For 20 years I have faced the wall with others; to now be facing them and seeing their dedication and commitment is only heart-breaking. I would have each and every one of us open the mind flower together-in just one sitting! Then, we could place this sacred bouquet upon the altar itself: fresh living flowers gently swaying in the wisteria wind for every person to enjoy when entering this place of training at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center."
~ Shuso Joe “Jogan” Richards


excerpt, Winter Ango Shuso Interview: Joe “Jogan” Richards

Mountain Wind News

by Chris Katsuzen King, Editor

The newsletter staff wishes to thank those who returned completed surveys which were sent out in January. The majority of those who responded have chosen to receive the newsletter online. Some preferred the hard copy version while a few preferred to receive the newsletter via internet and hard copy. We were extremely heartened to receive very positive feedback on the newsletter and response to the new format.

After considering the survey results and our membership offerings, we have decided to send the current newsletter only to sangha members, Zen Centers and to special friends of SMZC. The current issue will only be available to those parties and we will archive past issues of Mountain Wind on the SMZC website.

Thank you for your patience during this time of transition. If there have been problems in receiving your newsletter or you wish to receive it in a different format, please contact us by phone at 707-545-8105 or email at