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October, November Update, 2010

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Mt Baldy Zen Center Newsletter
Update: 10/29/10

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Hello friends,

It’s hard to believe that summer’s over, and fall is here — hard to believe but impossible to deny, as the temperature edges downward, the fog sets in, animals become more scarce, football-sized pinecones fall from trees and onto our bald heads, and we start preparing for our Winter Seichu training period.

Here’s our winter schedule:

Mt. Baldy Zen Center

Dec 8 Seichu Begins
Dec. 14 Hashinkyuji
Dec. 15 – 22 Rohatsu
Dec . 22 Jodo-e Ceremony

Rinzai-ji Zen Center (Part of MBZC Seichu)

Jan. 1 New Year’s Day Ceremony
Jan. 10 Rinzai-ki Ceremony/Hashinkyuji
Jan. 11-17 Dai-Sesshin

Mt. Baldy Zen Center

February 7 Hashinkyuji
February 8-14 Dai-Sesshin
February 15 Nirvana Day Ceremony

March 5 Hashinkyuji
March 6-12 Dai-Sesshin
March 15 Seichu ends

How many more Winter Seichu training periods will we have here at MBZC? One never knows, so take your boots out of storage, book your flight (and email us the info), send in your $200 non-refundable deposit to ensure your place, and come and practice here this winter!

Please be aware that the days after both Rohatsu and the February MBZC Dai-Sesshin retreats there are ceremonies, which means that the staff will be busy that morning. Please book your flights out of Ontario on those days for mid to late afternoon. And out of respect for the staff members who must pick you up, please book your arrival flights to come in no later than 7pm for all the retreats this winter.

We were fortunate to have a large crew practicing here this past summer. Our fulltime Seichu roster ran the gamut from brand new students to seasoned ones who have been training with Roshi for decades. The ages of the fulltime students ranged from 21 to 73. Fortunately, it was a talented group. We were able to get momentum on and complete several projects around camp: everything from sewing new robe collars to building firehose casings to replacing burned-out propane heaters and rebuilding a water-damaged and partially collapsed ceiling.

We also distributed 30 tons of gravel on the driveway:

One other notable event this past summer Seichu: Michael Moscoso — now Kendo — got ordained. Though a Mt. Cobb monk, the Tokudo Shiki ceremony took place at Mt. Baldy, with Gido Osho presiding, and Roshi overseeing. Kendo’s sister and two friends attended the ceremony, as did a number of Oshos, monks and students.

Seichu ended back in the middle of September, after which the Mt. Baldy staff attended a retreat at Rinzai-ji in Los Angeles, and then Roshi went to Mt. Cobb for a Dai-Sesshin there, followed by his return to Los Angeles for a few days, and then — off to Bodhi for the Fall Kessei training period! Easily the busiest 103 year-old Zen master in the business. When people ask after Roshi’s health, all one can do is point to his schedule. That said, minus the usual aches and pains, Roshi seemed to be in very good spirits and health when I saw him last, a little under a week ago in New Mexico. He had just taken a bath in a tub filled with hot-spring water, and was enjoying a fine cup of strong green tea prepared by the Inji.

Mt. Baldy’s fulltime staff right now is Daijo, Myoren, Bindu Dexter and myself. Though a Mt. Baldy scholarship nun, Myoren has been traveling with Roshi for the past couple years to Mt. Cobb, Bodhi, Puerto Rico, Arizona etc., serving in the officer position of Inji. She is currently training with Roshi and the New Mexico crew at Bodhi. She is planning on returning to Japan in a few weeks to visit her family in Tokyo. I will also be visiting my family in Wisconsin for one week over Thanksgiving.

Daijo is currently serving as Seikan Shoji, and has been compiling and working through a list of to-do projects around camp. All things considered, it’s a small plot of land that we live on here, but it’s amazing how much there is to keep us busy — let’s just start with the woodpecker holes we found pounded into the backside of the guest cabin this morning. Bindu is Seikan Tenzo, and has been flexing his cooking muscles in the kitchen. He’s taking his Benji or free days this weekend, and is spending them with his girlfriend Hannah, whom we’re all thinking of as the weather drops: she knitted the Mt. Baldy staff scarves last year.

We have two workshops this fall, a yoga group hosted by Jenn Santana and a meditation retreat given by Marvin Treiger and his wife Cathy. Marvin will be here November 4-7 if anyone living locally would like to volunteer to help.

Finally, on a sad note, one of MBZC’s most trusted and reliable Sangha members has gone on to greener pastures. This past Seichu, after fifteen years of dedicated and unflagging service, the Zen Center truck, a Toyota Tacoma, gave up the ghost. Cause of death: failure of transmission (and clutch [and, frankly, the body was pretty banged up]). Each new monk in turn put the truck to the test, especially during winter, where it functioned as a snow-plow, a bull-dozer, a four-wheeled sleigh, a towing vehicle etc. How many of us rode it roughshod over uneven land, backed it into a tree, or drove twenty feet before realizing that the parking brake was still on? (Maybe that was just me.)

The truck was an exemplary model of humble service that puts most of us Zen monks to shame, and proved that there is no shortage of teachers in this life, if you know which hoods to look under. The search begins for its reincarnation in the newer Tacoma models in the car lots down in the City of Claremont.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and we hope to see you soon,

Gento, Shika