Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July is Busy!

Hello and gassho: June travel time is finished, and I am glad to return to the zafu this weekend!

Open Palm Zendo is going to be a busy place for the month of July. In addition to resuming our regular sitting schedule, I'm happy to announce a special movie presentation and a day of extended sitting, all to commemorate the life and teaching of Kobun Chino Otogawa, Roshi.

Kobun, as he preferred to be called, was among the first teachers who came to the United States at the request of Suzuki Roshi, the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center. Sensei helped American students learn such arts as kyudo and oryoki and in time, developed his own centers in California, New Mexico and Switzerland. You can learn more about Kobun's life by following the link to his website below.

It is a tradition in Soto Zen to hold a memorial sit to honor teachers who have passed from this world, and I am happy to be able to do the same this year! The movie I'll show on Friday night will put us in the right mood. I saw Amongst White Clouds at an independent film festival in Denver a few years ago, and found it very inspiring to my own practice. It certainly answered a lot of questions I had about the root of Japanese Zen, which is Chinese Ch'an Buddhsim and Taoism... not to mention successfully parting me with any romantic illusions I had about the hermetic lifestyle!! Saturday, we'll follow a traditional sesshin retreat schedule, albeit on a small scale. (I know many of us have kids to get home to, so I hope this works the best for all of us!) If you've got any questions, feel free to email me: pilar at

Descriptions and details from the Joy Lane website follow. I look forward to seeing you!

Movie presentation: Amongst White Clouds

Fourth Friday Movie Night at Joy Lane
July 24, Friday at 7 pm to 9 pm

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to live the life of a religious hermit, sequestered away from the world on an isolated mountaintop, devoted to a life of contemplation and religious practice? Nothing captures the imagination quite like the life of the iconic hermit-monk, and until now not many of us could ever dream of seeing

what that kind of life might really be like. The movie Amongst White Clouds provides us with just that glimpse.

“An unforgettable journey into the hidden tradition of China's Buddhist hermit monks, the film is an intimate insider's look at students and masters living in scattered retreats dotting China's Zhongnan Mountain range. These peaks have reputedly been home to recluses for some five thousand years. One of only a few foreigners to have lived and studied with these elusive practitioners, American director Edward Burger is able, with humor and compassion, to present their tradition, their wisdom, and the hardship and joy of their everyday lives among the clouds." Filmed on location in China.

A discussion will follow the film with our presenter, Zen priest and Open Palm Zendo facilitator Pilar Teishin G. Dea.

Open Palm Zendo Extended Day of Meditation

July 25, Saturday at 9:30 am to 2 pm

In conjunction with the film, Amongst White Clouds, Soto Zen priest Pilar Teishin G. Dea is offering a day of extended sitting to honor the life of her teacher, Kobun Chino Ottogawa Roshi, who died on July 26, 2002. Zazen--zen meditation--will begin as usual at 9:30 am, and continue in 30-minute periods with kinhin--walking meditation-- in between each. We will break for tea, discussion and a simple lunch (to be provided), experience an hour of samu--work service-- for Joy Lane Healing Center and then resume sitting for one final zazen period. We will end the day at 2 pm with a simple ceremony and offering of gratitude for our teachers in life. All are welcome for the entire day or just part; no prior Zen Buddhist experience is necessary. As this is an offering of simple meditation and gratitude, all backgrounds are welcome!

Feel free to visit for more about the life of Kobun-sama.

To register for the day-long sit or to RSVP for the movie night, please contact the Center, Marin Goldstein at 301-373-2522 or email, for additional information. These events are entirely free; donations for the Center are gratefully appreciated.

No comments: