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Looking Ahead: 2017 Practice Offerings
2017 marks a unique and pivotal year in the life of Buddha Eye Temple. In late June, we will conduct our Mountain Seat Ceremony, inviting a number of guests from both the United States and Japan to attend Ejo’s formal installation as our abbot. Prior to the ceremonies, we will conduct a three month ango or special training period. Normally, we would conduct a Spring Practice Term beginning in late February, but our ango will instead begin around April 15, continuing through approximately July 15. This period will include several retreats and sesshin, ongoing classes, a training program, and numerous one-time dharma offerings on various aspects of practice and practice life. The intention will be to involve our whole community in the life of the temple, gathering our sangha’s energy leading up to the Mountain Seat, scheduled for Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25. More information will be available in the next several months.
Throughout the first three-and-a-half months of 2017, we will continue to offer our normal dharma programs, including Tuesday and Thursday evening classes and other activities. We will also begin preparations for the Mountain Seat Ceremony in earnest, with numerous opportunities to volunteer. Stay tuned for announcements or contact Yushin, the head of the Mountain Seat Planning Committee if you’d like to be of help.
Thursday Evening Classes
Thursday evening classes on the Lotus Sutra continue January 5, 19, and 26. We begin with 30 minutes of zazen at 7 p.m., with class continuing until a bit after 9. Copies of Gene Reeves’ translation are available in the temple store. A reminder: if possible, please read the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings and first five chapters prior to class on the 5th.
Four Tuesdays in January: Profound Mutuality, Racial Justice, Radical Dharma
The election is behind us. A new administration is fast upon us. How as a sangha may we meet our world as it flows and unfolds around and through us? With kindness and wisdom, let's plunge into these seas together -- beginning this January.
At its origin, the word "radical" means "root" and we begin the new year with a Tuesday night series designed to help us get to the root of social action via the Buddha's core teaching of the profound mutuality -- the dependent co-arising -- of all things.
Our January series begins on January 10th as we prepare for Fusatsu (Thursday 1/12) with a period of zazen followed by a Sangha Circle at 7:45. Sangha Circle is a chance to come together without cross-talk or instruction, simply to share and witness the arising patterns of our practice. A wonderful prelude to the full-moon ceremony of atonement and vow, Sangha Circle allows participants to bring forward the questing and curious heart in a context of mutuality and love.
On the third and fourth Tuesdays of the month (1/17 and 1/24), Myobun Freinkel will facilitate a book group discussion of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation by Jasmine Syedullah, PhD., Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, and Lama Rod Owens. As the publisher explains: "this urgent call to action outlines a new dharma that takes into account the ways that racism and privilege prevent our collective awakening." A few copies of the book are available for us at a discounted rate at Tsunami Books (2585 Willamette). Even if you are unable to read the entire book, please join us for one or both nights of this discussion.
Finally, join us for a dialogue on "Profound Mutuality and Social Justice": on the last Tuesday of the month (1/31). Ejo and a special guest or two will help us explore activism and the Buddha Way.
Post-Election Sangha Meeting
The concept for this gathering comes straight from the heart of our community. A number of people have been thirsting for a communal space to process, share, and connect around the charged emotions and insights that are appearing in light of the recent election. Further, this election has spawned more discussion than ever about how our temple community could and should respond to the many injustices we perceive in the world. So on the 18th, around fifteen people came together for our initial meeting, which was mostly designed to create a space for us to listen deeply to each other; every participant took the opportunity to share how they are being pushed, pulled, shaped, and moved by this event. The space was raw and intimate; the only goal to see and be seen.
Towards the end of our time together, the quality of our discourse shifted, dipping its toe into the realm of practicality. We asked, on the broadest terms: in what ways could and should our temple organization respond? What avenues of action are feasible and useful for our temple to undertake? What kinds of responses align or conflict with our mission as a temple? In tandem with this brainstorming of possibility, there was discussion that reflected on what it means to employ the eye which knows our temple activities as rooted in awakening, as completely invested in liberation from the start. How do we, as Buddha Eye Temple, let our collective vow emerge in this world as Avalokiteshvara's many arms? It is the question we as practitioners meet daily.
Stay tuned for our next meeting as we continue this discourse. Anyone is welcome to attend. The next meeting will likely have a greater focus in the practical realm, rather than individual sharing. We'll continue to explore questions surrounding how our temple community can best respond to the fear and uncertainty that lays heavy in people's hearts.
The Practice Life
"The whole world is in flames, the whole world is burning, the whole world is blazing, the whole world is shaking."
So said Sisupachala, one of the Buddhist therīs, or "senior ones," at the time of her enlightenment. In the previous moment Mara had tried to tempt her, regaling her with stories of heavenly realms: "Turn your mind to the pleasures of those places," he had urged.
When I read poems written by Sisupachala and other early Buddhist women, I know that I, too, am a daughter of the Buddha. I discovered Buddhism at a time when the suffering of the world was most apparent to me, and I saw in its path a life that was more awake. Now, more than a decade later, it is still the urgency of suffering and the clarity that comes from seeing into its causes that binds me to a Buddhist way of being. Renunciation is the beginning of the path; it is also the middle of the path and--as Sisupachala teaches me--it is its end.
The first time I came to the Eugene Zendo I felt an uncanny connection to the place, the people, and to Ejo. I was living in Florida at the time, and I traveled to Oregon to visit a friend I had met at Tassajara. A year later I returned to take precepts, and several years after that I moved to Eugene to live and train at the temple. There are times when I do not feel like a model Zen student--when I spend the day with my head buried in books rather than on my cushion, when I relate more easily to Shinran's teaching of shinjin than to Dogen's 'practice-enlightenment.' Yet even now as I once again live thousands of miles away, I cannot doubt that this community, this path, is my home.
Compared to life at the temple, I would say that studying Buddhism in academia is faith in a different register. When we sit down on zafu, we meet the Buddha's awakening from a place of mysterious intimacy that does not know "here" or "there." While my life in academia is certainly informed by this practice, it is preoccupied with a different kind of intimacy--love, devotion. In this setting, the Buddha appears to me more like a beloved friend. Through my studies I also become connected to practitioners of the past like Sisupachala, who then become part of my extended sangha.
There was a time when I hung on to my Buddhist identity in this academic setting like a person clinging to a raft who cannot swim. While I am certainly constituted by my Buddhist training, one of the more precious gifts that divinity school has given me is to see what in my experience points to a common humanity that is not particularly Buddhist at all. I hope to be able to speak to this humanity, in the key of Buddhism, as a scholar of religion.
Winter Craft Sale 2016
The Buddha Eye Temple Annual Winter Craft Sale was spiced with wonderful homemade items from mustard and malas to African Violets and Ejo’s deodorant cream, all of which made for a successful and colorful December. If you were exceptionally lucky, you may have taken home a piece of calligraphy, something sweet, hand knit, sewn, or folded, a fig leaf hat, a zafu or zabuton. Doubtless, your piece was one of a kind. My deepest gratitude for all of your sharing and generosity in making gifts, shopping, sharing, giving, and receiving in the great creativity we hold here at Buddha Eye. It is my great pleasure to curate this opportunity to practice the three wheels, giver, receiver, and gift; thank you all for making it possible. I am collecting feedback on this year's sale in order to make our craft sale even more successful next year, please place your ideas and suggestions in the store Dana bowl.