TEMPLE-NEWS: DATES FOR THE LAST TIME PUBLIC
Dates until 31.12.2021 still here.
Such an incredibly rich year is behind me, behind you as well.. Yes, why shouldn’t we begin to look back and wonder, already in November?
The (almost) daily zazen offerings in the mornings, the weekly zazen intensive seminars that were still regular in the first months of the year, with koan councils and “cappuccino” (drinking) meditation have carried us through the recent lockdowns and melted away the corresponding grief that came with those restrictions. The metta-pratice-workshop, so coveted at first, became less important, almost all of the small group eventually engaged in their own programs involving healing of divisive pain in relationships (especially toward ourselves). Exams were taken and passed, small and large moves were in the offing, a baby was born, and the continuity of our group began to falter. There was the unmistakable joy of cohesion and of having a place for honest, deep sharing. The desire of group members to meditate for themseves at appropriate times, to offer meditative workshops, yoga, coaching, grew and manifested.
I am in the last days of my third fall-practice-period, called “Ango”, which goes from about mid-September to the end of November and includes a 5-day sesshin, begins and ends with an All-Day Sit each, and wants to lead us to a ‘more and deeper’ of study and practice. As you know, I sit with Zoketsu Norman Fischer and the Sangha www.everdayzen.org. Anybody can attend our daily thirty- minute-sit, which takes place at 4:30 MET, without registration. This group, led by three elders (priestesses, aspiring priests) is a miracle of continuity, of stability, for which, among many other things, I am very grateful. I felt during the sesshin that it is time for me to deepen the practice.I would like to use, practice, memorize the chants used in that sangha at appropriate points in the sequence myself. (Some of them, like the Heart Sutra, the Four Great Vows, more rarely: ‘Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo’ we were already practicing).
There will be a significant change, as from January 2022. I am thinking of three morning zazen days a week, twice for a short time (60 min) and one with service. Service means: remembering the sick and the dead by name-chanting. (I might also do this on my own). To what extent we will continue to work with the koans from the book “The Hidden Light” is not yet clear to me. Since I don’t want to have so many short appointments anymore, all of which want to be communicated and kept, I’m thinking about Zen-days that might include the koan group work. It is not that Dharma workshops with interaction, circle work should NOT be offered anymore. What is new is that I personally will seriously practice and deepen my Soto Zen path, regardless of whether companions will come along. I see the Every-Day-Zen Foundation (everydayzen.org) as my main sangha and Norman Fischer as my main teacher. A list of offerings will be sent out in the future only upon request (informal, please).
An important sangha for me is also the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fa with Abbess Jiko Joan Halifax. For years I have been listening to as many lectures as I could, following the pilgrimages of Roshi, which belong to the topic: Socially Engaged Buddhism (To Nepal: Nomads-Clinic-Project; to New York: Climate-Project around Jane Fonda). I have been participating in the training “Socially Engaged Buddhism” (SEBT) since February this year, it lasts exactly one year, ends with a final thesis and a certificate.
In August, I took a very spontaneous decision to participate in a training for hospice helpers in the Christian run Haus Rosental. When I called the contact person, social worker and hospice coordinator Tabita Urdze, enthusiastic about the offer, I was invited to a longer talk. At that time it almost looked as if it might hardly or not at all come about. In short: it came about, and how! We started with twelve highly motivated women and many more appointments than originally schedules, some of which I was not able to keep.
The practice period “Ango” developed into a constant struggle for balance and appropriateness, for learning to say “no” in an obligatory way, for flexible recognition and carrying through of what was most important in each case and for as zero sloppiness as possible in the Zen exercise. (Then it just looked sloppy somewhere else!). The strict form of Zen helped me to straighten up in what pressed me down, to relax in the tense program, to pay attention to posture and form where I felt like slacking off, and to let go where I felt like holding on. And all this without becoming haughty, rigid and dogged, harsh and grandiose, or dejected and fainthearted!
In this period of almost three months I scheduled one month, October, in which I wanted to do a single retreat. That meant no professional appointments, little or no distraction by relationships. Instead: gathering the mind, retreat, sitting more or longer than usual, studying, being outside and walking mindfully, writing. Originally I wanted to nestle in a construction trailer at To Gen Ji in Lower Saxony, and participate in the Sangha meditations. This was granted to me.
I am interested in supporting the Choka Sangha and the temple To Gen Ji, in Lebensgarten Steyerberg near Bremen, under the guidance of Zen Master Christoph Hatlapa. Christoph Hatlapa has been teaching mediation and non-violent communication for many years, both in training courses, both indispensable for peace and understanding in our world. Furthermore, permaculture is firmly anchored and is also taught and lived. Shorter and longer stays in the temple are possible, healing, instructive. Young and old Zen enthusiasts are very welcome, the silence of nature on the grounds is soothing and healing. Zen meditation groups can be found in several cities, also in Bonn. Zen Master Katharina Weber plans to offer more sesshins for women. This too: A plus that speaks for the center.
We sat in a small group consisting of the Katharina Weber and her partner, also a Zen Master, eating and working (a lot of work: permaculture, cooking, building small houses…) and one or two residing four times a day, before and after always changing clothes. Putting on the Japanese suit of pants and jacket had to be learned, that is, a total of 3-4 hours/day went for this procedure plus Dokusan. However, it gave me great pleasure. Unfortunately, it was quickly too cold everywhere and I got a bladder irritation. The oven heating in the construction trailer delighted me, but had, as you know, its pitfalls: either too hot or too cold, on a few square meters, a center neither I, nor the oven have found. During nights I peed in the small forest. Romantic, impressive, wonderful, quiet, unforgettable. Completely unsuitable for writing. After four days of being treated warmly, and I was often delighting a peaceful silence, I took my leave: standing endlessly at bus stops, at the beginning of the trip. The good thing was, I drove back via Hannover, locked my backpack and sleeping bag in the locker, participated in the All-day-Sit with Norman Fischer, from the hotel, and visited my mother in Bad Nenndorf. This, I felt, SHOULD be. Back home – my dear young neighbor put mail in my apartment and looked after it – I saw a graveyard under the three windows of my only room: the graveyard of wasps. For two weeks I left the room, the windows to the perishing wasps that touched me. Then I had the nest tracked down and removed by an exterminator. The peaceful coexistence had reached a limit of my nerves. New wasps kept hatching and trying their luck. I was somehow proud that most of them could die a death befitting them – unthreatened by me or by pesticides. A day after that, the only wasp that survived stung me, perhaps in a potted plant. I can understand it.
I just remembered: Wasn’t I in Bosnia, already in the practice period?
I talked to the hotel owner in Sanski Most that I was looking for a quiet room on Saturday evening to attend the All-day-Sit with Norman. I got the quiet room, but WLAN did not reach there. (No comment!). The Bosnia trip, which I like to call “a modern pilgrimage,” was enlightening and thought-provoking in every way, with stirring human encounters, great hospitality, tender interactions thanks to Vahidin and Timka Omanovic, and a great project: the “Garden of Possibilities.
The ‘Center for Peacebuilding’ in Sanski Most with the “Garden of Possibilities”, a large plot of land where vegetables are grown according to the teachings of permaculture and fruit trees have recently been planted, where peace work is taught, trained and practically lived, is definitely worth supporting. The few accommodation facilities are to be expanded or winterized and a seminar center is planned. The founder and director of the center, Vahidin Omanovic, has received an important award from the German Foreign Office for this project. We can support him and the young women and men from Bosnia, but also from Croatia and Serbia, to continue to build healthy and long-term perspectives in the very demanding peace work in their battered and still politically fragile country. If you like, get in touch, go there, the hospitality and curiosity is staggering, and DONATE!
As I sit here, in my tiny, warm kitchen overlooking the beautiful Elizabeth Church behind naked trees, I feel this blessing of contemplative, intuitive writing. Looking is different from seeing is different from staring and holding. There is, as I have often said and written, the art of a letting-go writing, out of the whole body. Not a casual writing, but a serene one, for which I needed a lot of practice, because after all I change almost nothing afterwards (which is often a disadvantage, but my risk). I stand for improvisation, also in writing, especially in writing, the most censored art of the arts of expression in Germany.
I AM LOOKING FOR SERIOUS PEOPLE INTERESTED IN PRACTICING ZEN WITH ME. Please ask what offers there are. I will no longer, at least for a time, put them on my website. (0163/2695423)
THE SAME GOES FOR THE ZEN PEACEMAKER ACTIVITIES. Since we will have completed SEBT training in February, you can expect that we will be inviting you to be with us soon. ALL NEXT NEWS ON REQUEST ONLY. (0163/2695423)
WE ARE CALLING YOU AND HUNGRY HEARTS!