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Service & Engagement

Update on activities for 2019

Sangha & Inclusion, Service & Engagement, Sitting & Ritual, Study & ArtsGuiding TeacherComment

Dear Students of the Way,

For many of you, it has been a while since we have practiced face-to-face, whether virtually or in person. Know that I think of you often, and send kindness.

Since we have entered a new year and the Spanish online course is completed, I am settling down to prepare the curriculum for the 2019 online offerings. I am hoping to offer one class in the spring and in the fall, as well as a summer book club again this year.

I would like the Spring 2019 class to begin in late April or early May. It will be based on Dogen's "Guidelines for the Practice of the Way," originally titled "Gakudo Yojinshu" in the Chinese. It is Dogen's top ten list of important points for Zen practitioners to keep in mind, and it touches on topics such as effort, student-teacher relationships, compassion, and the koan "mu." Of course, there will be some supplemental materials as well. I expect the course will involve a pre-recorded talk and a group discussion meeting each week. Once the class dates are set, I will post them to this website and to Twitter. For now, if there are other folks you know who may be interested, please feel free to pass this page along to them.

It's not too early to make suggestions for the summer book club, also. It will be a bit short this year, starting in mid- or late July and ending by October 1st.

In the more immediate time frame, I am going to be offering practice discussion online. If you would like to connect for a practice discussion, please write to {hey.konin@gmail.com} to request one of these times. Also, please specify whether you prefer Zoom or Skype video chat, or a phone call and to what number.

And I have added some more “Study & Arts” posts to the home page, including recent poetry and watercolor paintings from my solitary retreat.

Lastly, my next retreat offering is to co-lead a 5 day sit in early May at Spirit Rock in Northern California. It's wait listed, so mention this post if you decide to sign up. We'll try to get you in.

I look forward to seeing you soon. In the meantime, let's keep sitting!

Yours in the Dharma,

Dhammadīpā Kōnin Cardenas

In response to the border crisis

Sangha & Inclusion, Service & EngagementGuiding TeacherComment

In memory of 7 year-old Jakelin Caal Maquín,

and all who have been or will be affected by her death

Jakelin Caal Maquín

Jakelin Caal Maquín

In these times,

 When those who come to the US southern border seeking safety are attacked with tear gas

 When children far from home sit in cells awaiting reunions with parents they may never see again

 And when the fear of too few resources and the feelings of overwhelm,

lead those who work and live at the border to harden their hearts and act with aggression

I am saddened and concerned

In these times,

 When the needs and desires of human beings are far out of balance with nature’s ability to provide

 When the pressure to create and hoard wealth leads to corruption, oppression, and violence around the world

 And when the concept of territory is harmful,

increasing divisiveness and the sense of separation in a world engulfed in climate crisis

I am saddened and concerned

Hearing the cries of the world, I offer this blessing:

 May we all be touched by these forms of suffering, and find loving kindness and compassion in our hearts

 May we all care for those who seek peace and safety for themselves and their children

 May we all share in the joy of those who have been able to create a better life for themselves

 May we all open our arms

 And may we receive all beings with eyes of equanimity

 May we all find balance within ourselves as beings supported by and made of Earth

 May we all realize that greed is a delusion that never leads to fulfillment, and find a boundless flow of generosity

 May we all quench the fires of violence, embracing those who are friendly, indifferent, or hostile, sharing the blessings of our lives

 And may we all cultivate minds as vast as the sky, relinquishing all that separates us and dwelling in peace together


En memoria de Jakelin Caal Maquín quien tenía 7 años de edad,

y todos los que han sido o serán afectados por su muerte

En esta época,

 Cuando los que vienen a la frontera del sur de los Estados Unidos en busca de seguridad son atacados con gas lacrimógeno

 Cuando los niños lejos de casa se sienten en las celdas esperando reuniones con padres que quizá nunca volverán a ver

 Y cuando el temor de la falta de recursos y el sentido de estar abrumado

conduce a los que trabajan y viven en la frontera a endurecer sus corazones y actuar con agresión

Estoy entristecida y preocupada

En esta época,

 Cuando las necesidades y deseos de los seres humanos están fuera de equilibrio con lo que la naturaleza puede proporcionar

 Cuando la presión para crear y acaparar la riqueza conduce a la corrupción, la opresión y la violencia en todo el mundo

 Y cuando el concepto del territorio es perjudicial

aumentando la división y el sentido de la separación en medio de un mundo envuelto en crisis climática

Estoy entristecida y preocupada

Escuchando los llantos del mundo, ofrezco esta bendición:

 Que todos nos sentiremos afectados por estas formas de sufrimiento, y conseguiremos el amor bondadoso y la compasión en nuestros corazones

 Que todos ofreceremos cuidado para aquellos que buscan la paz y la seguridad para sí mismos y sus hijos

 Que todos compartiremos en la alegría de los que hayan podido crear una vida mejor por sí mismos

 Que todos abriremos nuestros brazos

 Y recibiremos todos los seres con ojos de ecuanimidad

 Que todos encontremos el equilibrio en nosotros mismos como seres apoyados por y hecho de la Tierra

 Que todos nos demos cuenta de que la codicia es un engaño que nunca resultará en satisfacción, y encontraremos el flujo de generosidad ilimitado

 Que todos extinguiremos los fuegos de la violencia, abrazando a los que son amables, indiferentes, o hostiles, compartiendo las bendiciones de nuestras vidas

 Y que todos cultivaremos mentes tan vastas como el cielo, renunciando todo lo que nos separa y viviendo en paz juntos

Resources for those who want to respond

Border crisis 

Sacramento Immigration Coalition

https://www.facebook.com/SacImmigrantCoalition2015/

California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance

https://www.facebook.com/ciyja/?eid=ARC81ax56kwroER8eozVr49Ud0EUT3YGdfLGWyY7S5sVE-S8uGM0kQ030pO3ZRrz7VxydyYxYdjZplqY

East Bay Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights

https://icir-clue.blogspot.com/p/action.html?fbclid=IwAR27605rWp_LwpBNmgjuioNr22yvRnsU3lmkZI3CKwXAGSHDGC_8ZMRrvGc

WOLA Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

https://www.wola.org/programs/beyond-wall-resources-tools/

Climate crisis 

Extinction Rebellion

https://rebellion.earth/

Drawdown: Summary of Solutions

https://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank


Ekan Zen Study Center is in Transition

Sangha & Inclusion, Service & Engagement, Sitting & Ritual, Study & ArtsGuiding Teacher

Dear Dharma Friend,

The path of practice can be one of broad personal discovery and inner transformation. This has certainly been true for our Guiding Teacher who, as you may already know, has reached back to the roots of Zen tradition to embrace early Buddhist monasticism and the practice of the Vinaya. Now Reverend Konin Cardenas is also known as Venerable Dhammadipa. She has committed to long-term residential training at Aloka Vihara, a women's monastery in California, practicing the Theravada Forest Tradition of the West.

These changes are reflected in Ven. Dhammadipa’s practice, in the breadth of her teachings, and in the precepts she is now following. While she continues to offer teachings primarily focused on the Zen tradition, she is also teaching early Buddhism together with her Dhamma Sisters at Aloka Vihara.

Ven. Dhammadipa is now largely supported by the Saranaloka Foundation, which is financially responsible for all of the nuns at the vihara. Her basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, and dental care are provided for by donors to the monastery. Her personal needs for travel and other minor expenses are provided for by her family. These changes are in accord with the Vinaya training precept of not handling money, which Ven. Dhammadipa has taken.

To reflect these changes, over the next few months, the EkanZenStudyCenter.org site will change to Dhamma-Dipa.com, a site that will be Ven. Dhammadipa's personal online presence. Her audio and video archives, blog posts, and personal teaching calendar will be available there. Ekan Zen Study Center will no longer exist as a 501(c)3 non-profit, and the corporation will be dissolved at the end of 2018. The donation page on the Dhamma-Dipa.com site will reflect new information about how to contribute a tax-deductible donation to the Saranaloka Foundation, for Venerable Dhammadipa or for the monastery in general.

The Ekan Zen Study Center Board of Directors fully supports Ven. Dhammadipa’s current path of practice, and your continued relationship with her and her teachings. We encourage you to grow your relationship with her. Should you have any questions or concerns our contact information is below, and we welcome hearing from you.

Together we affirm the mutual support that arises when practicing the Way together, intimately. May it continue, for the benefit of all beings!

With abiding support for your awakening life,

Norma Fogelberg, President

Rev. Choro Antonaccio, Treasurer

Rev. Konin Cardenas, Guiding Teacher/Secretary

Going Forth and Reaching Back

Sangha & Inclusion, Service & Engagement, Sitting & RitualGuiding TeacherComment
Ven. Dhammadipa (also known as Konin) kneeling on left, Ven. Cittananda kneeling on right

Ven. Dhammadipa (also known as Konin) kneeling on left, Ven. Cittananda kneeling on right

On May 11th, I formally took the eight precepts of an Anagarika in the Theravada tradition. Though I have been practicing eight precepts for some time now, wearing the white robes felt very light. It also made for a clear and appropriate transition from my black attire as a Zen priest. This step marked my intention to wholeheartedly take up the Theravada way, and during the ceremony I took dependence on Ayyas Santacitta and Anadabodhi as my teachers in this tradition. I can honestly and joyfully say that it is their commitment to demonstrating the path of practice of the early Buddhist teachings that enabled me to aspire to this practice myself.

Then, on Saturday, May 12th at Buddhi Vihara in Santa Clara, California, I went forth in the Theravada tradition, after many years of practice in the Soto Zen tradition. Going forth is an outward, conventional expression of an enigmatic evolution that is happening within. Having known the Ayyas for six years, and having visited Aloka Vihara a few times in the past, I came to live here in October of 2017. At that time, I was in search of a place where the practice would support turning inward, where practice would support a transformation of mind, heart, and body toward its natural clarity and peace. For me, the practice of monastic renunciation, the practice of Vinaya, is just such a support. It allows me to set down, again and again, those things that are unessential. It allows me to commit my entire life’s effort to the activity of being an instrument of Dhamma. And, it is like reaching back all the way to the beginning of the Zen lineage in which I was ordained 11 years ago, integrating the practice of the Original Teacher Gotama Buddha and the earliest disciples. I received the name “Dhammadīpā,” which means light or lamp or island of Dhamma.

The day of the Pabbajja was a shining example of blending like milk and water, as the more than eight sanghas that were involved joined together to make the day’s events both memorable and easeful. In particular, Ayya Sudinna, the Pavatinī (Preceptor) who came all the way from Carolina Buddhist Vihara in Greenville, South Carolina was so joyful. It was a day full of mudita (empathetic joy), not just for me, but also for Ayya Cittananda who received her bhikkhuni (higher) ordination. It seemed to me that everyone shared such heartfelt caring for each other. The beautiful sunny weather was reflected in our hearts, and the great generosity of the dana revealed how deeply sangha members are moved by the Triple Gem of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. My heart is full of gratitude and joy for everyone who is playing some part in making it possible for nuns to go forth into this life. Anumodana! I rejoice in your good works!
 

The 11th Year of Not Knowing

Sangha & Inclusion, Service & Engagement, Sitting & RitualGuiding TeacherComment
Zen ordination photo 2007 03 22.jpg

The above photo was taken in a small fishing town in Japan called Obama, at a training monastery known as Hosshinji. It was taken on this day in 2007. It is a photo of my ordination into the Zen priesthood, the day on which I became a nun after some 20 years of lay Zen practice. I can hardly believe that it has been 11 years since that day.

The teacher in the huge, fancy hat is Sekkei Harada Roshi, the Abbot of Hosshinji and a well respected, high ranking member of the Soto Zen establishment in Japan. I knew nothing about any of that, however. At that time, I only knew that I had met a person whose practice was so deep and so vast that it changed my life. His practice and teaching gave the Dharma a whole new dimension. As I said to my Zen friends in the US after my first five day sitting (sesshin) with Roshi, it was like realizing that my practice had been exploring the four corners of the earth for many years, but now I had been shot off in a rocket. I was exploring something much greater. The vastness was daunting and inspiring all at once. Practice with Harada Roshi surprised me in many ways.

Perhaps more importantly, I saw in Roshi's practice the reality that it is possible to awaken to the inner meaning of the Dharma, to the true nature of all being. Over the course of a very short period of time, the Dharma went from theories and concepts to a lived activity framed by the inquiry, "What is this moment?"

So what does it mean to be ordained into Soto Zen, particularly when lay practitioners and priests all take the same 16 bodhisattva precepts? When asked by Sojun Mel Weitsman the meaning of being a Zen priest, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi of San Francisco Zen Center famously replied, "I don't know," a reply echoed by his then assistant Katagiri Sensei, who later become the Roshi at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. I understand this reply to be an elegant pointer toward the basic paradox of Zen - the mind and heart of abiding in and responsiveness in the moment, and the timelessness of a practice that points to the personal discovery of suchness. In later writings about the meaning of priesthood, Sojun Roshi would point to "...the fundamental intuitive quality that is the basis of our practice." Yes, being a Zen priest is a life committed to "don't know" mind.

Sekkei Harada Roshi too would exhort us, the Hosshinji residents, "You are not from families that expected you to become a Zen priest. Why did you ordain? Don't forget the reason." The reason was to be fully immersed in a life of waking up.

And in the course of waking up every day to the world of suffering and freedom, there are many aspects to being a Zen priest. In large part, we are role models, whether we know it or not. We are a visible example of the path of committed practice. We model sitting, model ceremonies, model wisdom and compassion, model ethics, model humility, model friendliness and inclusiveness, and so much more.  Of course, sometimes we also model making mistakes and finding ways to correct them or atone for them. This too is the very public practice of a priest. Once, when I told Zenkei Blanche Hartman Roshi that I was planning to sit more often in my room in the evenings, she said, "Don't be so selfish. If you're going to sit, do it in the zendo." Sharing our practice with others, being an upstanding role model for their practice, is an important part of being a Zen priest.

Many expressions of Zen priest - Zenju Manuel, Shosan Austin, Konin Cardenas, Kiku Lehnherr, Josho Phelan, Keiryu Shutt

Many expressions of Zen priest - Zenju Manuel, Shosan Austin, Konin Cardenas, Kiku Lehnherr, Josho Phelan, Keiryu Shutt

Because we have this commitment to living fully in the Dharma and to being a role model, priests also take on the responsibility of serving the sangha. Like being a role model, being of service takes many forms, from the mundane tasks like cleaning toilets and cooking, to the most exalted functions like leading complex ceremonies or teaching from the platform. Often we are of the greatest service to our sangha when sitting quietly over a cup of tea, listening to the heartfelt to and fro of a human life. Shosan Victoria Austin has been my Teacher for 13 years, and it is her practice of service to sangha that inspired me to become a resident at San Francisco Zen Center, and to continue as a priest when I returned from Japan. To be of service is to embrace the fullness of a human life, and without Shosan's shining example, I don't know whether I would have ever found the generosity in my heart.

These days, the big questions for me as a priest are about how to best serve the sangha and the tradition. How can the practice of Zen be true to its full lineage, all the way back to the historical Buddha? How does one maintain the quite specific forms and teachings of this tradition, and pass them to future generations in ways that are suited to this culture and time? How does one do this delicate, intimate dance of practice together with people with all sorts of expectations and life experiences, and still show them the beauty of a way they have never imagined?

The life of this priest has been incredibly varied, and there have been times when the vow of service loomed large. One example is the time that I was in the hospital offering spiritual care on Ash Wednesday. I'd spoken to my supervisors quite a bit about the ritual of offering ashes on the forehead, its meaning, and whether I could actually do such a thing. Then one of my peers, an Episcopalian priest, shared the meaning to which he felt closest.  He said that Ash Wednesday is about the circle of life and the inevitability of death - ashes to ashes. This was something I could get behind. Still, I secretly hoped that I would not be called upon to do this little ceremony.

The day flew by, and I was about to settle in for the night, when my pager went off. I was asked to visit the acute care floor to offer the ashes to someone who had been asleep all day and missed the floor chaplain. I prepared myself on the way, recalling the words, the ceremony, and what I might say to the patient about its import. As usual, when I arrived at the unit, I asked to see the patient's chart. To my consternation, the patient was a man with whom I had had a difficult interaction just days before. He was a large, older gentleman with debilitating, chronic back pain. When he arrived at my regular unit, I had gone to his room to introduce myself but, seeing my shaved head and Zen clothes, he dismissed me at the doorstep with a roar. Now I was the only person in the hospital who could give him what he wanted. Would he still want the ashes? Would I give them to him? 

A photo from my hospital chaplaincy days

A photo from my hospital chaplaincy days

I entered the room quietly, checking to see whether he was awake. It was fairly dark, but I could make out his face as he lay in bed. He turned and saw me, and gently acknowledged his recognition of me from the day of his arrival. I asked whether he wanted to received the ash ritual. He said he did. I placed the ashes on his forehead, in the shape of the cross, speaking the words, "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." At that point I expected him to ask me to leave but, instead, he asked me to stay. In the softest of voices we spoke for some time of the wonder of life, encounters with people and things that are unexpected, and the beauty and mystery of simply being a human being. This man's don't know mind was so present and so gentle. I was deeply moved. A Zen priest never knows where don't know mind will appear.

So how does the ancient way become embodied in me and in the sangha, honoring the uniqueness of each person, while engaging the one who can see the emptiness of body and mind? These are the questions of a Zen priest in 21st century America. The answers? Well, I don't know, and I vow to continue not knowing so that, step by step, we practice together and discover the way in each moment.

 

 

 

Our Sangha's Contribution to Dharma

Sangha & Inclusion, Service & Engagement, Sitting & Ritual, Study & ArtsGuiding TeacherComment

To all of the Ekan Zen Study Center sangha, a review of 2017...

Norma Fogelberg, Board President with Guiding Teacher and Secretary Rev. Konin Cardenas

Norma Fogelberg, Board President with Guiding Teacher and Secretary Rev. Konin Cardenas

Dear Dharma Friend:

Thank you for your involvement with EZSC during 2017,

Ekan Zen Study Center continued to be a vibrant presence in the Dharma during the past year, both here in the United States and abroad. Our Guiding Teacher Konin Cardenas traveled to Japan for ceremonies at Eiheiji and Sojiji, acknowledging her as a Dharma Heir in the Soto Zen lineage. This enables her students to practice in Japan as well, and to feel confident in the training that she is passing on to her heirs. On that trip Konin also visited Thailand, and taught at the Little Bangkok Sangha. Later, in the fall, she visited eight Dharma centers, Zen, Theravada and pan-Buddhist, around the US and Canada. Online classes continued, with Konin leading the study of “Dogen: On Personal Transformation” and “Meeting the Self: Here, There and Everywhere.” The year also saw her teachings reach much broader audiences, as she wrote for the Buddhist magazines “Lion’s Roar” and “Buddhadharma.” Finally, and most importantly, it was a year of deep personal connection as Konin offered the bodhisattva precepts in jukai ceremonies with two wonderful women practitioners. In 2017 Ekan Zen Study Center created profound practice encounters with a broad, diverse Buddhist sangha.

All this was made possible because of your participation and donations to Ekan Zen Study Center. Every sangha member makes a significant difference, and we work hard to ensure that funds are put to the best possible use for everyone's benefit.

There is much more work to do in 2018. Curriculum planning is underway for our first offerings in Spanish, new podcasts and, of course, more online classes. Konin continues her writings with a contribution to an upcoming book by American Zen women teachers, blogging, and more magazine articles. Also, Konin was invited back to teach at many Dharma centers, including her upcoming workshop in Atlanta and possible return visits to Japan and Thailand. With continued support, we at EZSC can keep sharing the Dharma with the world.

Eihei Dogen Zenji taught, “Whether it is of teaching or of material [things], each gift has its value and is worth giving.” Your gifts to Ekan Zen Study Center are immeasurably valuable. We deeply appreciate the gifts of your presence and generosity, and we hope you are deeply nourished by what we share with you.

With a bow and appreciation from the Board of Directors,

Norma Fogelberg, President ~ Choro Carla Antonaccio, Treasurer ~ Konin Melissa Cardenas, Secretary and Guiding Teacher