Saturday, May 26, 2012

Felicidades to Susan Feeny

I’m delighted to announce that our Sangha member Susan Feeny will be receiving Jukai-─taking the vows, the recognition of her practice-─from Sydney Musai Walter Roshi of the Prajna Zendo outside Santa Fe. To take the vows she must first sew her black rakusu, following the ancient pattern diagrammed above. She’s an artist. It will be a snap! The ceremony will probably be in September, although the date is not finalized. Susan will keep us posted.

Susan is a long-time practitioner of the Dharma, having studied with Genpo and others from the Maesumi Lineage. Since I’ve known her,she has regularly attended sesshins and events with us and the Order of Clear Mind Zen, but the bulk of her practice has been with other sanghas. She became attending our services when we were at the Unitarian Center, and she has been a regular ever since. She didn’t want to become a “member” of our Sangha. She just wanted to come sit with us. She loves sitting and practicing with others who are committed to the dharma. That was fine. We should be so lucky to have three or four more such “non-members” be such good members.

Susan is a steady presence in our Sangha. She adds by her quiet and steady presence, she adds with her thoughtful discussion, and she adds by her balanced nature. Once before services (we were still at the UU Community), I asked her if she could gather some flowers for the altar. The desert garden out front was filled with flowering Texas Ranger sage and desert willows. She did so with such delight, I asked if she would bring flowers on a regular basis. That’s been well over a year now, and when she’s in town, she never forgets the flowers. They are always beautiful and thoughtfully arranged.

I wish to congratulate Susan now for her decision and for her practice, and we look forward to celebrate her Jukai when she returns with her rakusu hanging around her neck. We’ll di the Both Sides / No Sides Sangha usual. A vegetarian potluck!

Friday, May 18, 2012


Last Sunday I attended services at the Village Zendo. In her teisho Pat Enkyo O’Hara Roshi talked about how we can help one another in our practice, how we can honor one another and practice compassion. She told a story that went something like this: an old monk lived in the mountains doing zazen, gardening and all the other chores of being alive. He had one student, a young man who had come to live with him. One morning, after zazen and breakfast, they were working in the garden. They saw two birds fighting over a frog. The frog was wounded and suffering, but the birds kept fighting. The old man did nothing. He just watched. The young man, anguished, turned to the old monk.

He asked, “Why does this have to happen?”

The monk said, “It happens only for you.”  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Eating Dinner Alone in New York City

Glenn Powers prepared this veggie paella for a sangha potluck in February. Good stuff.

I’m in New York City for a month, lucky to have some time to read and write. The dilemma is that, without Lee here, I need to pay attention to all the food I eat. The responsibility is mine. Needless to say. I miss Lee. The habits of our 40 something years together. At home, although many times I cook, she's usually the cook, and I'm the cleaner-upper. Besides, the conversation is fun, the food delicious. All the ingredients of our lives together. A true well-seasoned feast. The practice here, though, is good, although monkish in a way. I remind myself each meal to give thanks for the food. I use the prayer that I've pasted below, and it reminds me that the food comes to my table through the lives and the hands of many beings. In fact, the more I understand it, I’m beginning to understand that it’s the whole universe collaborating to feed me. To feed each of us. And so I’m learning to give true heartfelt thanks. It’s taken 70 years.

A note on the prayer. It’s an adaptation of a meal prayer my friend Rob Dowtin sent me (see the second rendition). Rob found the prayer in one of Brad Warner’s books, so its probably a translation of something from his teacher Nishijima. Private practice is just that: private. And I'm always fiddling with words. So I reworked the prayer to fit my own understanding, sense of language and needs.
--Bobby Kankin

This food nourishes our lives and our practice,
A gift from the universe, arriving at our table
From the efforts of all sentient beings past and present.
We offer this meal to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha,
And to all life in every realm of existence.
With this food we pray that all sentient beings
Be sufficiently nourished in their body, mind and spirit.

And the prayer from Rob via Brad.

This food comes from the efforts of all sentient beings past and present,
And is medicine for nourishment of our Practice.
We offer this meal of many virtues and tastes to the Buddha,
Dharma, and Sangha, and to all life in every realm of existence.
May all sentient beings in the universe be sufficiently nourished.