Past, Present and Future
Since its founding in 1956, the Zen Studies Society has played a major role in Zen training in the United States. Its urban temple, New York Zendo Shobo-ji, and its mountain monastery, International Dai Bosatsu Zendo (DBZ), have welcomed spiritual seekers from all over the world to engage in the life-transforming practice of Rinzai Zen Buddhism.
Each year, some 1,500 people leave the realm of digital screens and overflowing appointment calendars to travel up an unpaved mountain road deep in the Catskills. They arrive at DBZ to participate in week-long sesshin (intensive Zen retreats) or introductory weekends, or to attend ZSS Open Space programs with guest teachers offering yoga, shiatsu, reiki, environmental awareness, workshops in the Zen arts, 12-Step retreats, and healing and wellness weekends for those living with HIV/AIDS and their caregivers.
The unique setting, the compassionate Open Space offerings, and the rigorous practice offered at DBZ motivate newcomers and seasoned ZSS members alike to return season after season.
Everyone is struck by the beauty of DBZ’s traditional Japanese architecture, and by the rustic Americana of the historic Beecher House (built in 1875 by James Beecher, the brother of Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe), on the banks of the highest lake in the Catskills amid 1,400 acres of pristine forest.
The Beechers were ardent abolitionists, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s deeply affecting novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was instrumental in ending slavery in the United States. The Beecher House was where Dai Bosatsu Zendo’s first resident community lived after ZSS purchased the land in 1971 from the Rutherford family.
As we take the final steps to complete the renovation of the historic Beecher House, we bow in gratitude for your generosity in helping us to raise $1.1 million so far. We have continued our work through the winter despite the challenges presented by Covid-19. We fully restored the building foundation, installed a new roof, replaced the siding and windows, added insulation, put in new electric and heating systems — and we extended the dining room into a solarium facing the lake which opens out onto a large, new deck that can also be used for outdoor yoga.
Our reopening is almost here, and the hard work of this past year can be seen in the progress we’ve made. Now we just need to furnish the building and outfit its kitchen. We appeal to you again to help us raise a final $95,000 to complete the interior of this beautiful, lakeside retreat. The funds will allow us to purchase furniture for the living room, dining room and bedrooms, as well as commercial-grade appliances for the kitchen.
We look forward to welcoming you back this summer! Thanks to your continued support we will again be able to offer our unique Open Space program at the Beecher House. These retreats and programs are popular with those seeking a respite from their daily lives on the pristine shores of Beecher Lake. Events include yoga weekends, Zen arts workshops, HIV/AIDS healing and wellness retreats and 12-Step programs. We hope to see you soon at the newly restored Beecher House.