The Missouri Zen Center
The Missouri Zen Center
220 Spring Avenue
Webster Groves, MO 63119
Rosan returns to St. Louis
Our teacher and abbot Rosan Daido has returned to St. Louis and will remain here until September 29. Please join us and sit with him and all beings in perfect peace at the Zen Center. On Sunday, September 28 we will enjoy a potluck together during tea and discussion; please bring a vegetarian dish to share.
Rosan extends a warm greeting to everyone who has sat with us in the past and encourages you to return to the Zen Center to sit anytime you are able to do so, and to share with us news about what and how you are doing.
Japanese class continues
The Japanese class is continuing on Thursday nights from 7:50-9:30 p.m. as a study group using a textbook
and study materials related to the MIT Open Course Ware website. We are practicing writing in hirigana and katakana as well as practicing in a conversational way. We also have a native speaking friend who is helping us with the spoken sounds. For more information please contact John at: email@example.com or call (314) 961-6138.
Dhammapada Study Group
By Gary Byrd
A Dhammapada Study Group began on July 9 at Missouri Zen Center. The group meets every Wednesday night from 7:50-9:30 p.m. Everyone with an interest in Buddhist principles is welcome to take part. As noted recently by our teacher, Rev. Rosan Daido: “I recommend the Dhammapada, Words or Path of Truth, considered to be one of the oldest collections of the Buddha’s teaching
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in verses. It gives the essence and beauty of his words. As there are many translations, you can compare them and even refer to the original Pali, which some translators present.” This group will give us an opportunity to dig deeper into the Buddha’s teachings and see more clearly what the path he provided means. Rev. Daido has been answering some of the group’s questions about terminology and concepts via email. Here are some of our questions thus far and Rev. Daido’s answers:
Q: The primary question we had from that first chapter appeared in the very first line. We began discussing what the Buddha meant by “mind” when he said: “Mind is the forerunner of all actions. All deeds are led by mind, created by mind.” Then he discussed what a corrupt mind would cause and what a serene mind would cause. We are curious about what you think the mind is that the Buddha spoke of?
A: I assure you that the Dhammapada is superb work. Mind (manas) is a general term for mind, including any mental activities, inclusive of perception/consciousness (vinnana, vijnana) and thought/will (sanna, citta, cetana) and often interchangeably used. Thus mind could be trained and cultivated, oriented for good (thought, speech, action).
Q: This time our question is regarding chapter 2. At the beginning of that chapter, the Buddha is quoted as saying: “Mindfulness is the path to immortality. Negligence is the path to death. The vigilant never die, whereas the negligent are the living dead.” What is the immortality that is spoken of here? Some thought that living mindfully was like living eternally in some way. Others thought that the Buddha may have believed in an immortal life. We were curious if you thought this was metaphor and, if so, what the Buddha meant?
A: That is a good point. Those views are both right. It is metaphor in the worldly sense (lokiya), (human) agreement (sammuti). It is reality in the supra-mundane sense (loka-uttara), ultimate sense (parama-artha). In the ultimate sense, all things are dependently originated, thus related and relative. So, there is no independent (self-sovereign), eternal (self-same) entity [substance, “self” (self-nature)]. All phenomena are impermanent, suffering (going against wish), and selfless. If one is awakened to this truth, there is no “self” to be born or die in reality, only dynamic processes in time and space. There is no substance to hold on to. The reality is limitless interplay (limitless life) of all, or limitless vacuity (shunya) to phenomenalize. This verse is on the kitchen door of MZC, which is usually unnoticed and unclarified. There are four right cultivations: stopping existing bads, checking potential bads, motivating potential goods, and promoting existing goods. Zazen is the best cultivation/verification of them.
For more information about the Dhammapada Study
Group you can reach Gary Byrd at 314-706-1653 and firstname.lastname@example.org or the Missouri Zen Center at 314-961-6138 and email@example.com.
Volunteers Needed Labor Day Weekend!
The Zen Center’s major fundraising event of the year will occur over the Labor Day weekend, Saturday through Monday, August 30 through September 1, when we run a food booth at the Japanese Festival, taking place at the Missouri Botanical Garden. We are very grateful to the Missouri Botanical Garden for making the booth available to us and to our sangha and friends for volunteering their time for all the different tasks involved in running a successful food booth.
This event is both a crucial fundraiser helping to keep the Zen Center in operation and an outreach opportunity to inform the wider community about our practice and invite them to join us. While many people now find us through the Internet, a significant number continue to make their first connection to Zen practice and/or the Zen Center through meeting us at our food booth or through Rosan’s talks at the Festival.
On August 3, Rosan reminded us that when Ananda announced that friendship is half of life, Buddha corrected him and said that friendship is all of life. Our sangha offers us friendship and support as we follow the Awakened Way together. Please join our sangha as we work together in friendship for the good of all beings on Labor Day weekend!
We need at least 8, and better yet 12, volunteers during each of the nine shifts to allow our food booth to run safely and in an enjoyable manner for all involved while producing high quality food for our customers. We ask that all members of the sangha who are able to do so commit to working a minimum of one, preferably two or more, shifts at the Festival in order to ensure that all shifts receive enough volunteers to allow for efficient, safe operation. These shifts can be on the same or different days. All volunteers will receive a free pass to the Festival and free parking for all three days. We welcome responsible family members and friends as volunteers also as long as volunteer and parking passes remain for them (sangha members will be given preference if we run short of passes).
The shifts are the same each day: 8 a.m. – noon, 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., and 3-8 p.m. The half-hour overlap allows for smooth transitions from one set of volunteers to the next. The Garden has asked all booths to remain open until 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, so we have lengthened the last shift accordingly. We expect that the final hour will have low traffic so this will not be an undue burden on those who work the final shift.
Sign-up sheets for each shift will be posted on the closet door of the Zen Center. Please put your name and phone number down for the shift(s) of your choice.
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If you are also signing up family members or friends, put their names and phone numbers down as well. If you prefer, you may contact the Zen Center by phone or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to sign up.
Volunteer passes (yellow cards with the word Participant on them) and parking passes (large orange cards with the words Volunteer/Staff on them) will be available at the Zen Center after August 18. Please take one volunteer pass for each volunteer and one parking pass for each car to be parked at the Festival. Please take only as many as you know you will need, as we receive a limited number of passes. If you can’t pick up your passes at the Zen Center, please contact the Zen Center to make other arrangements to receive them.
All food service personnel must wear hats (city Health Department regulations). If you don’t have a suitable hat, the Zen Center has hats with Rosan’s calligraphy available for purchase. We ask all sangha members to wear a Zen Center T-shirt if possible, which creates a unified appearance at our booth. These are also available at the Zen Center for purchase.
Be sure to enjoy the Japanese Festival’s many activities when you are not working at our booth! The Japanese Festival is one of St. Louis’ premier cultural events and is a great way to learn more about Japan and Japanese culture. To learn more about the Festival, check the Missouri Botanical Garden’s website, www.mobot.org.
Movie Night, September 6
6:00 p.m. dinner - RSVP by September 4 if you’d like dinner to 314-961-6138 or email@example.com
7:00 p.m. - The Eleventh Hour, run time 1 hour 35 min
The Eleventh Hour documents the grave problems facing the planet’s life systems. The film includes contributions from over 50 of the world’s most prominent thinkers and activists, including former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, physicist Stephen Hawking, Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, journalist Paul Hawken, and sustainable design experts William McDonough and Bruce Mau. Global warming, deforestation, mass species extinction, and depletion of the oceans’ habitats are all addressed. The film’s premise is that the future of humanity is in jeopardy. It offers hope and potential solutions to these problems by calling for the reshaping and rethinking of global human activity through technology, social responsibility, and conservation. Scientists and environmental advocates such as David Orr, David Suzuki, Paul Stamets, and Gloria Flora paint a portrait of a radically new and different future in which it is not humanity’s intent to dominate the planet’s life systems, but to mimic and coexist with them.
Special Beginners Nights in September
Each Monday evening (except for Labor Day), the Zen Center offers a Beginners Night program. The program includes instruction on how to sit from 6:30-7 p.m., a 20 minute meditation period from 7-7:20 p.m., and a question and answer period from 7:20-8 p.m. We encourage everyone who is new to Zen meditation or who wants to learn more about it to attend our Monday Beginners Night programs.
On September 8, 15, and 22, our teacher Rosan will offer instruction during the Monday Beginners Night periods. The instruction will be cumulative, so we encourage newcomers to attend all three of these Monday evenings. A requested donation of $25 for attendance on all three evenings will help the Zen Center to continue to offer Zen practice for the benefit of all beings. If this amount is a hardship, please offer what you can, and know that we are grateful for all donations. Please contact the Zen Center to register for this special series of Beginners Nights.
The usual Monday Beginners Night program will resume on September 29. Beginners Night will not be offered on September 1 because of our food booth work on that day.
Autumnal Equinox Sesshin, Sept. 19-21
On September 19-21 at the Zen Center, we will sit a sesshin with our teacher and abbot, Rev. Rosan Daido. Sesshin means “embracing the mind” or “touching the mind.” Sesshin is an opportunity for sustained and deepened zazen practice: a retreat from everyday activity for increased focus on practice. The sesshin will begin on the evening of Friday, September 19 and continue all day on Saturday, September 20 and through the usual
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Sunday schedule on Sunday, September 21.
This sesshin is coinciding with the autumnal equinox – “equanimity” as the common thread linking our zazen practice and this autumn celebration when the lengths of day and night are equal.
...the fourth stage of the four jhanas (meditations), where all previous characteristics such as deliberation and contemplation cease. This is the state of “the single-pointed mind illuminating in equanimity,”....
—Rev. Rosan Daido from his book No Self: New Systematic Interpretation of Buddhism
To register for the sesshin or for more information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (314) 961-6138.
Zuiko Redding at MZC, Oct. 24
Zuiko Redding, abbot of the Cedar Rapids Zen Center in Iowa and Dharma sister of Rosan, will be guest teacher at the Zen Center on Friday evening, October 24. Zazen will take place as usual from 7-7:40 p.m. Zuiko will give a Dharma talk and answer questions following zazen. She will also be the keynote speaker for Mindfulness Day on October 25; see the next article.
Mindfulness Day, Oct. 25
The Buddhist Council of Greater St. Louis will offer Mindfulness Day on Saturday, October 25. This event is free and open to the public. Zuiko Redding, abbot of Cedar Rapids Zen Center, will be the keynote speaker. Information on the schedule and location will be forthcoming on the Zen Center’s listserv and website. Please inform your friends, co-workers, and family members who wish to learn more about Buddhism and Buddhist practice about this event and encourage them to attend.
Subscribe to our e-mail list at: http://groups.google.com/group/mzclist
Once you are signed up, you can send messages to the list using this address: email@example.com
Regular Zendo Schedule
You are welcome to come throughout the morning, but please do not enter the zendo during zazen. Enter quietly at other times.
6:40-7:30 pm Yoga
Work periods may be scheduled following zazen.
A Publication of the Missouri Zen Center
The Ethical Lawn: About “Pests” & Leaves
We’re told that some of the animal life that exists in or under lawns, such as grubs or moles, damage the lawn and need to be killed. Let’s see if this makes sense from an ethical-lawn viewpoint.
It’s a given that wherever plants exist, animals do too. Many types of insects make their homes in grass or in the other plants found in lawns and gardens, or in the soil under lawns and gardens. The lawn chemical industry foments fear of these insects, claiming that they will kill or disfigure your lawn, and uses this fear as a basis to justify producing and selling insecticides (read poisons). Don’t use them on an ethical lawn; they will poison a lot more than just the insects they are purported to target. Let birds and other animals, including predator insects, keep the insects under control.
Other animals that are considered pests of lawns include moles. Moles eat grubs such as the ones that become Japanese beetles. Moles don’t eat grass roots, or any plant roots for that matter (they eat insects and other small animals) but their tunnels are considered unsightly and some people believe that is enough reason to poison the grubs that the moles eat, or to kill the moles with traps. Instead, try to look at mole tunnels as evidence that nature is controlling Japanese beetles and other insects without any work on your part. You can try one of the repellant devices that uses sound to keep moles and other rodents away from the lawn if you prefer to limit their numbers. I put one of these, a solar-powered device which sends out ultrasound waves about once every thirty seconds, in the center of my vegetable garden last year to reduce the vole population (another type of rodent that does eat plants). Although I had a few mole tunnels in the garden, there seemed to be many more in the rest of the yard. Perhaps it worked, but I didn’t have a control garden (one without a similar device) so I can’t say for sure. For larger digging animals like groundhogs, you can try live-trapping and relocating them, fencing them out, or finding and removing their food source. If your animal pests are dogs or cats, most likely you’ll have to learn to live with them, unless you know their owner and feel comfortable requesting their help in keeping their animals away from your lawn.
Raking leaves is a ritual for most lawn-tenders. The lawn care industry tells us that leaves will kill our lawn if they are allowed to remain on it. In sufficient quantity, leaves will shade sun-loving grasses to the point that the grass can no longer compete with other plants. That takes enough leaves to block the sun from the grass, which tends to happen only when a lawn is sited near tall trees with sturdy leaves such as oaks. A thinner layer of leaves may help a lawn more than it hurts it. Remember that decomposing leaves add humus to the soil, which is beneficial to the grass.
If you don’t have enough leaves to shade out the grass or you don’t care if it is shaded out in spots, you can forego leaf-raking entirely or simply mow over the leaves a few times to help them to break down faster. If your lawn is next to large trees that dump lots of leaves and you are concerned that they will shade out your lawn, you can remove the leaves. If raking is done with human-powered rakes, there is no ethical problem to doing so (plus it’s good exercise, and you can compost the leaves or use them as mulch to enrich your garden). However, many people use gasoline-powered leaf blowers to blow the leaves off their lawns, which may be even more harmful to the environment (and are noisier) than gasoline-powered lawnmowers. I suggest raking with a human-powered rake if the leaves are thick enough to damage your lawn or you want to compost the leaves or use them as mulch. Rakes designed according to ergonomic principles are available that may be easier to use than older designs. If leaf-raking is not compatible with your body, an alternative to a leaf blower is mowing the lawn and leaves several times during late fall, winter, and early spring with your lawn mower. The lawn mower will shred the leaves, which will then sift into the lawn and eventually decompose into good soil.
In the next issue, I will begin describing what you might have instead if you’ve decided you don’t want a lawn or you want to shrink your current lawn, and how you can transition from a lawn to a groundcover or garden.
A Publication of the Missouri Zen Center