Often there are terms used in the practice of Zen that need some defining. Here at Sweetwater Zen Center you’ll often hear us say:
Council - a group practice of listening and speaking from the heart. We generally practice council each Wednesday evening, and during Sesshin. You can learn more about Council and how we practice it at: http://swzc.org/pages/council.html
Jikido is the timekeeper for Zen practice.
Ever missed one of Seisen Roshi’s dharma talks, or one by Eko? How about a special event like a talk by Bernie Glassman or Genro Roshi?
There is a good selection of talks on Youtube, as the one below demonstrates:
Just go to Youtube.com and in the search box, type: sweetwater zen center
You can choose from there.
Also, just in case you missed it, there are podcasts or audio recordings of many of the dharma talks on our SWZC.org website.
From the home page choose: Resources
Then choose Dharma talks and you’ll be presented with a selection.
Or use this link: http://swzc.org/pages/dharma_streaming.html
Generally speaking just click on the link you want, and assuming your speakers are on, you’ll hear the talk.
Amazing what we can do with tech these days.
Tina “Jitsujo” Gauthier, shown here to the left of Sesien Roshi, was ordained as a priest at SWZC. Her ordination took place in SWZC’s Zendo.
SWZC celebrated Kokyo’s (Sara Wildi) Transmission at a robe changing ceremony (Dene) on Sunday, July 29, 2012. The actual Transmission ceremony (Denbo) was held in private, as is the custom, at the beginning of the weekend on Friday.
Seisen, decked out in what she called her ‘party robes,’ conducted the ceremony; the love between teacher and student was obvious.
Among the guests was Elder Bob “Sokan” Lee,who served Precepter for Kokyo’s transmission. Sokan is a Sensei as well as a retired pediatrician and family therapist. He reminisced about meeting Kokyo years ago when she picked him up at an airport and drove him to the Mountain Center Zen Center.
Following the ceremony the community joined in the Meal Gatha…
… then enjoyed a luncheon celebration.
Congratulations to both Kokyo and to Seisen!
Photos by Kristin Gorenflo of Serotonin Photography
This October, I participated in a street retreat with Genro Roshi and three practitioners. The four-day bearing witness practice had us walking all throughout downtown San Diego from park canyons to trolley side soup kitchens. Equipped with less than minimal supplies, my perception of my hometown was changed drastically.
Genro Roshi, an international street retreat veteran from Hudson River Zen Center, led our street sangha (Herb, Ando, Melissa and I). This group became vital for my own sanity. It was a delight diving into bearing witness to homelessness and still crack jokes with my friends every step of the way.
The meal servings became our retreat schedule. I remember marching up and down, hill after hill to sit in line for an hour. This was followed by an hour to an hour and a half of Christian services and then the meal. The group whose company I enjoyed the most was the City of Refuge. We first spotted them on the MLKjr Park Promenade simply offering snacks and coffee to anyone. The next day we hiked up to their communal house in Logan Heights where we were welcomed and fed. Much to my surprise, I did not go hungry while on the streets. Even during hours when no meals were served, food was available. Vans and trucks routinely pulled up to 17th and Island who passed out fried chicken, clam chowder (delicious by the way), ham sandwiches, juice, water, rice and beans, and fruit.
Sleeping in downtown was quite a challenge. My first night was just short of horrible. We settled on a spot in the Redwood Circle of Balboa Park along 6th Ave. While at first I thought it was well hidden away, many people walked by all through the evening…one person even woke us up to have a conversation. An hour later, the sprinklers doused me head to toe in one fell swoop. I had left my blanket at home thinking the night wouldn’t be cold. The constant breeze took all my body heat away and along with my wet clothes and a jacket I found, I shivered almost the entire night. I’ve dubbed this the coldest night of my life.
Within two hours of getting up for breakfast, I was given a blanket. A store-house just around the corner from God’s Extended Hand takes requests for clothing and supplies then hands them out for free. All I did was simply ask and I was personally escorted. The homeless are more than willing to help and boy are they resourceful!
There are all kinds of people living on the streets. The very first woman I spoke with named Beth just happened to be a past resident of a Zen Center in Colorado. I met a disabled man named Anthony who knew the very best and the very worst places to sleep in all the city. There is no real majority of “type” or “kind.” Every person has a unique situation and an intriguing story. I even came across a woman who didn’t want ANYONE speaking to her at all.
On another side, there are many housed people who didn’t want anyone the streets speaking with them. This was painstakingly apparent during the begging portion of the retreat. Herb and Ando, Melissa and I paired up and set out to ask for money. The trickiest part was letting go of my ideas of who will and who won’t give. There is no way to know this. I held out my worn down cardboard coffee cup and asked for change. First sparingly and then faster as my ideas began to fade. I felt so embarrassed at first as I begged in front of a busy restaurant with patio seating. What soon hit me was my own invisibility. Most housed people forced themselves not to make eye contact. This stone-walling left me dejected and quite discouraged from wanting to make any communication. At the end of an hour, I had rounded up $2.54 and a couple of pears from a fruit booth. These small tokens yielded a huge amount of appreciation in myself.
A strong element that kept our group grounded was the meditation, council and Day of Reflection services each day. We were given the space to experience our hearts, share from the heart and vow to kept the practice alive throughout the entire journey downtown.
This path has shocked me out of my normal routine and lit up my sense of home to where ever I take myself. If I were to sum up the whole experience in one word, it would be: rich.
Here’s a video of Genro’s Dharma talk on Street Retreats
Sweetwater Zen Center is very happy to announce Herb’s transmission as Sensei Eko. His transmission name is Ein for Eternal Circle. Helping Seisen start SWZC back in 1999, Herb has been a long time driving force for our Zen Center and the greater community here in San Diego.
On October 9th, 2011 the official changing of the robes “dene” ceremony took place with great attendance. Even the Great Master Zoe made an appearance.
Congratulations to our newest Sensei Eko for the many years of practice and the more to come!
Sweetwater Zen Center 2011 Fundraising Letter
“Being One with All Buddhas in the Abundance spheres, extending generosity, perfection of both body and mind appears.”
At the Sweetwater Zen Center, we chant this Gata on Abundance every Sunday. We want the energy and power of such abundance to inspire this year’s fundraising. The universe is giving us everything we need, so please join us in celebrating our full life by donating to the Sweetwater Zen Center.
Since we depend upon your generosity to keep going and maintain our beautiful temple, we want to share some of the wonderful things that are happening due to your support.
While zazen is our main practice, the Sweetwater Zen Center has grown over the years into a diverse community, holding the space for many home-based programs as well as outreach opportunities for spiritual and personal growth. For instance we continue to focus on communication techniques through workshops on depression and weekly communication groups such as Non-Violent Communication and “Council Practice” (sharing from the heart). These are essential both for our intentional community and for our Zen practice and most of them are offered free of charge.
We offer a wonderful winter celebration as our annual New Years program at the end of the winter intensive period with a home-dyed sand Mandala in the yurt and fire ceremony.
We have also begun taking meditation to the streets of downtown San Diego each month for day-long sitting practices (or zazenkais) which includes offering meals to the homeless population. Also this October we are very excited to host and participate in a four-day Bearing Witness Street Retreat with Genro Roshi.
Sweetwater Zen Center carries your compassionate donations through volunteering efforts to prison meditation, children’s outreach and hospice work. Please participate by giving what you can to aid the center’s outreach services. For sustainability we keep visions of installing a second grey-water reuse system to maintain the beautiful garden to be as green as possible. Since our membership has grown in the past year, so too has the need to meet a larger capacity for a Zen student dormitory allowing overnight stays for sesshin.
Whether it’s just one of the $20 bills the bank teller just handed you or perhaps it’s the $300 rebate you received in the mail, your charity keeps our practice healthy and the legacy of our lineage thriving. For $500 donation we will be honored to display your name on a beautiful tile plaque at the entrance to the Zendo.
We rely on your compassionate giving to accomplish so many wonderful things for our community. All these practices, both traditional and new, have made our community one of the most harmonious practice spaces in Southern California.
We aim to raise $10,000 by the end of this year. Please give as soon as you can and you will see it come back ten fold.
Please use the paypal button below to donate. If you would like to send a check, please make it out to Sweetwater Zen Center and send to 2727 Highland Ave, National City, CA, 91950.
In Gratitude from,
The SWZC Annual Fundraising Team