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.
The years and weather have taken their toll, and without major work, this beautiful house will be lost to the next generation of students and Open Space participants.
As we undertake this important capital campaign to save the Beecher House, please accept our profound gratitude for your past support and your current contributions. In Buddhism, dana – generosity – is the first of the Six Perfections. From the beginning, Buddhist temples and centers have relied on donations from members of the Sangha and the wider community in order to offer the Dharma.
We invite you to join our campaign and participate in the reciprocal relationship of mutual giving and gratitude that has existed since the time of the Buddha.