Just a note to say our Saturday zazen classes in Tokyo will be starting up again this Saturday, February 25. Click here for more information. Beginners are welcome. 🔰
A place I keep some notes about Buddhism and other things
We'll be holding a Zen meditation retreat at the Jampa Ling Buddhist Centre near Bawnboy village in County Cavan over the weekend of August 1-3. The retreat is suitable for anyone interested in Buddhism and/or meditation, and beginners are welcome.
The retreat will run from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon. At the retreat we'll be practicing sitting and walking meditation, and will hold some talks and discussions on Buddhism as well as some periods of light work in the gardens and around the Centre. There will also be free time for walks through the woodland and surrounding area, and to visit the Centre's beautiful walled garden. All meals during the retreat are based on a vegetarian menu.
The cost for the retreat is 80 euros. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to register. The closing date for registration is Monday, July 28.
A friend of mine has written a couple of essays relating to the present moment for a magazine called “Culture Counter”. The first one is called “Phenomenological eco-mysticism”, which is about some experiences he had in the US and Japan recently. The second one is called “Overcoming the cult of the present moment”, which compares what is sometimes meant when people talk about being here and now, and something the Buddhist monk Dogen wrote about the present moment in his book Shobogenzo.
My Buddhist teacher, Master Gudo Wafu Nishijima passed away on January 28 at the age of 94. I attended his wake tonight in snowy Tokyo. It was a very nice service with his family and friends and many of his students in attendance. We chanted Buddhist sutras and offered incense, and remembered his great life and kindness to us all. The photo above is of the altar with Master Nishijima’s framed picture.
Sensei, thank you for all your kindness and help, and please rest in peace.
I’ll be holding a Zazen meditation class in Tokyo this coming Saturday, May 25. Anyone interested is welcome to attend, and attendance is free. The first part of the class will be from 11 am to 12 noon, and the second part will be from 12.30 to 2 pm. You’re welcome to come to both the morning and afternoon parts, or to either one. The schedule is:
11.00 – 11.25 Zazen
11.25 – 11.35 Kinhin (this is a slow walking practice)
11.35 – 12.00 Zazen
12.00 – 12.30 Break (for lunch or a rest)
12.30 – 1.00 Zazen
1.00 – 2.00 Talk (optional)
If it’s your first time to do Zazen and you’d like some instructions, please come about 10 or 15 minutes before the start and I’ll show you what to do.
The class will be held at Tokyo University’s Young Buddhists Association. You can click here to download a map with directions to the Young Buddhists Association from the Marunouchi and Oedo subway lines. Both lines run through Shinjuku station. The stop on both lines is called "Hongo-Sanchome".
If you’re coming from Hongo-sanchome station on the Marunouchi line, turn right after passing through the ticket barrier and follow the alley out to the main street. The building where the meetings are held is across the street. You can cross at the traffic lights on the corner (see map). If you’re coming from Hongo-sanchome station on the Oedo line, take exit no. 5 and turn to the left after leaving the station. Follow the main street and then turn left again at the corner with the traffic lights (see map).
The entrance to the Young Buddhists Association is next to the Nicos travel agency (directly behind the bus stop). You'll see a "Zazen Practice" sign on the glass door at the entrance.
Here's a video showing how to get to the meetings from Hongo-sanchome station on the Marunouchi line.
Email me if you need more information, otherwise feel free to come along on the day and give it a try.
Just a note about an event called the “Really Really Free Market” that’ll be happening at the East Clare Community Co-op in Scariff, Co. Clare on Saturday (May 18). The idea behind it is to bring along stuff that you don’t mind giving away to anyone who needs it. There’s no money, trading, or bartering involved. It’s just free giving, sharing and maybe receiving too. Sounds like a nice event if you happen to be over that way, and there’s some live music and food lined up as well.
There’s more information on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Really-really-free-market-Scariff/336309306491942?ref
We held a retreat last month at the Jampa Ling Buddhist Centre in Bawnboy in County Cavan. It was our first time to hold a Zen retreat there, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But it turned out to be a real nice retreat with a real nice group of people. Some people were trying a Buddhist retreat and meditation for the first time, while other people had been at a retreat before and had been doing meditation for several years or more. The people who were trying it for the first time seemed to enjoy it overall, and no-one complained about sore legs or the bad jokes. The people who had been to retreats before seemed to enjoy the atmosphere and zazen at Jampa Ling as well. During the retreat we got a chance to meet the Tibetan monk who lives at the Jampa Ling Centre and some of his students. It was my first time to meet a Tibetan Buddhist teacher. After chatting to him and his students, I realized that even though there are differences between Zen Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism, there’s plenty of common ground as well.
Apart from meditation, one of the activities during the retreat was a work period each morning for about 40 minutes. During the work period we chopped veggies or worked in the garden or cleaned up around the Centre. I was in the garden crew for both days. Usually I work indoors, so it was great to get outside in the fine weather and do some weeding and mess around with the wheel-barrow, although the bit of weeding I did was nothing compared to some of the work that was done by other people in the gardening crew. The person in charge of the gardens at Jampa Ling told me afterwards he was delighted to get so much help. He didn’t expect people would get into it so much, and he told me to let everyone know they were welcome back anytime! I didn’t get a chance to chop any veggies during the retreat, but I appreciated all the work people did to help with the food prep and wash-up during the retreat.
The Jampa Ling Centre is in a great location surrounded by woodland and lakes. In one of the free periods during the retreat a few of us walked up to the nearby lake for a swim. I hadn’t brought my swimming togs so I just went in for a paddle, but the wise folks who had brought their swim gear really enjoyed the water. To get to the lake we had to walk through a field that had some cows and a bull. I grew up in the countryside and I’ve come across the odd bull that’d get very upset if you approached his field on the wrong day, so I was a bit worried when someone told me there was actually a bull there as we were walking through the field. I had visions of us being chased and attacked by the bull, and then having to cancel the retreat and it being all my fault. Luckily though, the bull must have picked up on the fact that the retreat was strictly vegetarian, and he and his herd let us pass in what I interpreted as a kind of mutual understanding of live and let live.
There were really friendly dogs and other animals around Jampa Ling as well. One of the dogs was the cute scotch terrier in the photo, and another was a very friendly border collie who was one of those dogs that loves to run after sticks and bring it back for you to throw again. If he saw you walking around, he’d run off and get a stick and bring it over and drop it down a few feet in front of you. Then he’d back off a few yards and crouch down and wait for you to throw it so he could run after it and bring it back to repeat the process over and over. If you walked past the stick without throwing it, he’d get it and drop it down in front of you again, and would keep doing that until you either gave in or went somewhere he couldn’t find you. Well he got plenty of throws out of me and lots of other people during the retreat. I’m sure he must have thought it was great to have the Zen folks around for the few days as well.
Anyway, I’d like to thank everyone who came to the retreat, as well as those who wanted to come but couldn’t make it this time. I know quite a people travelled a long distance to be there. Thanks also to everyone at Jampa Ling who made us feel so welcome. Hopefully, we’ll be able to organize another retreat there at some point.
(Ps. Many thanks to Michael for the photos.)