May 5, 2009 Update

Mt Baldy Zen Center Newsletter

May 18, 2009

Hello friends,

We find ourselves, here at MBZC, in the thick of our spring Seikan practice. We’ve hosted several workshops (Unfettered Mind, Bodymind Institute, and Enlightenment Intensive), hiked Mt Baldy (ok, only halfway), hosted a work party (where we dai-cleaned the Zendo, sutra hall and dining hall), removed the carpet from cabin 4 (and with it, the ungodly stench afflicting that cabin) and sent a couple staff members to a Dai-Sesshin at Bodhi Manda.

Some of you have inquired into Roshi’s health following his flu-induced hospital stay in Los Angeles. After scaling back his participation in a Sesshin at Rinzai-Ji and a Dai-Sesshin at Bodhi Manda, Roshi gained much of his energy back as he participated fully (four sanzens a day, and teisho) in the following Bodhi Dai-Sesshin. Two of our staff members, Jim Detweiler and Bindu Dan Dexter, attended the retreat and reported back positively on Roshi’s vitality and overall health.

MBZC’s fulltime staff members are Gento (Shika), Daijo (Jikijitsu), Jim Detweiler (Shoji), Kumiko Yasukawa (currently at Bodhi serving as Roshi’s Inji) and Bindu Dan Dexter (Tenzo). Daijo, formerly a fulltime monk at Bodhi Manda and a student of Roshi’s for over a decade, joined us a little after spring semi-formal training began. Aside from being an all-around nice guy and a sincere Zen practitioner, Daijo plays a mean mandolin. (No word if he’s learned the Heart Sutra on it yet.) We’re delighted to have him as a fulltime MBZC monk.

As for staff, we can’t forget the center’s mascot, Kara. Dizzy with what must be spring fever (and, apparently, an identity crisis), our cat has taken to fetching and retrieving her mouse toy as though she’s a dog. This is what happens when you spend your entire life indoors. Outdoors, we’ve caught an incredibly ornery rattlesnake and have had to slalom around coyote droppings on the kinhin path. There are lizards, finches, squirrels, ants, flies, hornets and crickets aplenty. The air is scented with the opening of flowers that are coloring the rocky hillsides yellow and blue.

Much of this vibrant spring life will be dried up and dead, of course, by the time you arrive here in July for our summer Seichu practice — but we extend the invitation nonetheless. MBZC is fortunate to have a busy Seichu cued up, with Roshi scheduled to participate fully for two plus months. The slots are filling up fast, however, and so we urge you to (a) send us a $200 non-refundable check to secure your place in any of our summer Dai Sesshins, (b) buy your plane ticket and forward us the info and (c) join us for the increasingly rare and precious privilege of practicing with a 102 year old Zen master.


Gento, Shika

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