Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Zen Studies Society has had to cancel all public activities at New York Zendo and Dai Bosatsu Zendo, but it is more important than ever to continue our practice. We may be kept apart physically, but when we sit, when we chant, we are together in this One Mind. We may also remember that over the centuries, Buddhists have undertaken solitary practice, in caves, under trees, in simple huts. Let us see the mandate for social distancing as an opportunity to do this kind of intensive zazen.
Still, I know we miss seeing each other, talking with each other. So through the wonders of modern technology, we are arranging to make our teachings and practice available digitally on a regular basis (via the Zoom platform) to the Three-fold Sanghas at the Zen Center of Syracuse Hoen-ji, New York Zendo Shobo-ji, and Dai Bosatsu Kongo-ji: Digital reality meets Dharma reality. Technologically astute students at ZCS, DBZ, and NYZ are setting this up.
Using Zoom, we will hold 90-minute Dharma Discussions every Thursday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern.
- We will start with a 15-minute period of zazen, each of us sitting in our own homes, visible to each other;
- I’ll then give a brief talk, and will invite you all to speak about what you are finding helpful, and to raise questions and concerns about difficulties you may be experiencing;
- We will then experiment with breaking out into small groups to allow for even more personal, interactive experience among sangha members (a function the Zoom platform facilitates);
- And we will come back together for a final session, hearing some reflections from the small groups before we close.
In addition, Sangha Meetups (peer discussions without me) will be held on Zoom every Tuesday at 7 p.m. for the sanghas at NYZ and ZCS. DBZ residents will meet in person and through a conference call with those at the Gatehouse.
Adding the Zoom app to your computer, iPhone, or Android is a simple matter, and if you don’t already have it, please set it up; you can begin that free process at zoom.us/signup. You will receive emails with the call-in Zoom information before each virtual session. Additionally, we will make some time available prior to the first few Zoom meetings to provide some guidance on navigating the platform for first-time users.
Also, from time to time Dokuro Osho and I will post new talks online through the ZCS and ZSS Facebook pages. Masaki Matsubara Osho will be holding his Hakuin seminars through Zoom as well; more information will be forthcoming.
With a spirit of compassionate inquiry and creativity, let’s move our Zen practice and sangha interactions into these new digital spaces, so that we can continue to support each other. I look forward to seeing you and hearing from you with all my heart.
Be sure to let us know of anyone who is ill so that our Three-fold Sanghas can offer Kanzeon chanting. Please take good care; be well and be safe.