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Zen Blog

Senior Monastic Yukon Grody 5/15/49 – 2/28/24


It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Senior Monastic Michael Choke Yukon Grody. Our dear brother and friend slipped away peacefully in the midst of a formidable wind storm last night here on Tremper Mountain. (The storm temporarily took out the local electrical grid, brought down a mess of trees, and knocked the main Monastery sign off its hinges.) Yukon’s sister Kathryn, nephew Gideon, and Mn. Hokyu were at his bedside. His other nephew Isaac and his family had just departed after a warm visit.  The following morning, Yukon’s mon...

An update on Senior Monastic Yukon Grody


Since early September, we’ve been keeping the sangha informed through email of our dear brother Mn. Yukon’s health condition. In the interest of sharing this news more widely, we’re adding Mountain Notes to the means of communication. The following post does not add much substantive information to the email sent out in early December. All we can add at this point is that Yukon continues to teach us how to live in the present and practice the paramita of patience. We simply don’t know the timing or exactly how things will unfold from here, thoug...

Fall Training and Ango 2023


As summer colors held fast we began the Ango Training period in September, a three-month span of retreats, training and commitments to personal practice taken up by nearly 300 people. The Ango Opening Ceremony was held both upstate and downstate at the Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn for participants to cross the threshold into ango, and at the Monastery this included the installation of Chief Disciple for the ango, monastic Yusen Taikyo. September’s notable events included a Jukai—Buddhist Precepts Ceremony, a taking of the bodhisattva vows by f...

Illustrating the Lojong—Slogans of Atisha


By Eliza Nappi Former ZMM resident and MRO student Eliza is an artist who, during the Fall Ango 2023 art practice, combined two of her favorite things: illustration and “Inktober” She writes: First started in 2009 by Jake Parker, Inktober is a set of daily prompts that challenge artists. Ink is the traditional medium used, hence the name “Inktober”, but among the thousands of artists around the world who participate and share their works each year, some use different mediums too. This ango I thought, “Is it possible to also incorporate the Slog...

Busy Bees and the Zen Tweens


In early June, Monastery Apiary beekeeper Sansho Benton engaged ten Zen tweens and teens in a program introducing the youth to Monastery beehives. With some caution due to participants wearing shorts, the youth suited up in sangha-borrowed protective gear and ascended the hill behind the garden. The intention was to discover how the worker bees and queen engage in building and maintaining the hives that produce 350-600 pounds of honey per season! We split into two groups to accommodate everyone in protective gear. One of the groups had the oppo...

The Great Bodhisattva Vows


In the Lotus Sutra the Buddha said:  At all times, for all beings I teach the Dharma equally, never growing weary or disheartened.  To those in low positions, in high positions, to those of great wealth, to those in poverty, to those who have many blessings in their life, to those who live within great adversity, to those who follow the Precepts and live good lives, to those who don’t.  I cause the Dharma to rain on all of them equally. This is the essence of the heart of the bodhisattva—to endeavor to be committed to bringing all that is good ...

Rudy P. Tutti (2015 – 2023)


Rudy, the Monastery’s beloved, orange tabby, left his body on Thursday, May 31st, following a brief illness. He had undergone a number of tests over the past several months to determine what might have caused an increasing drop in energy, focus and acuity. Following an MRI exam at the Brewster Veterinary Hospital, it was determined that a sizable brain tumor had been causing various neurological impairments that were increasingly diminishing Rudy’s quality of life. As surgery was deemed too risky, Rudy’s transition was aided by the caring staff...

Installation of Heat Pumps in the Zendo: A Milestone in the MRO’s ‘Fossil Fuel Phaseout’ Plan


by Steve Seigan Miron In speaking of our relationship with the Earth as Zen practitioners, Shugen Roshi observed, “We trace our heritage back to the early days of Chan Buddhism in China, where work, dharma practice, and intimacy with nature intertwined to enliven the religious life.” Our teachings are steeped in reverence for the natural world. Our practice includes caring for sentient and insentient beings, those seen and unseen, in our homes, at our formal places of training, and far beyond. This ancient practice is extremely relevant today, ...

Being Held By Refuge


By Sandy Joshin Del Valle When the situation seems to be permanent, overwhelming, and full of suffering, you have to practice taking refuge in the Buddha—the Buddha in ourselves. —Thich Nhat Hanh To take refuge has a quality of despair to it. It feels like someone is pursuing me or there is a danger somewhere that is so large, I cannot handle it alone. I need a place of safety and security. A place where I am no longer pursued but can find succor and maybe even ease. Minimally, “refuge” implies a respite from danger, possibly from suffering. Jo...

Solar Power in Han Shan Meadow


By Sandy Joshin Del Valle Solar energy isn’t anything new anymore, yet the recent additions to the Monastery’s solar array at the Han Shan meadow still bring a spark of excitement: we are doing it!  We are continuing to lessen our attachments to non renewable energy sources. This vow is renewed every day whether it be through extensive composting, recycling, repurposing and reusing of just about everything, or growing food and flowers. We also know that whatever we do ripples outward and can have beneficial effects on others. The newest solar a...

Spring Ango 2022


At the conclusion of Ango. traditionally the sangha members who are in attendance that day gather on the back stairs for a group photo. This one was no exception. And while there was no Chief Disciple chosen for this training period, Shugen Roshi invited each of the fully transmitted Dharma teachers to lead one of the three sesshins. Ron Hogen Green led us in March, Jody Hojin Kimmel led in April, and Shugen Roshi led the closing sesshin in May. Each week of practice had a unique resonance brought about by each of these teachers, while keeping ...

Book review > Butoh: Cradling Empty Space


Reviewed by Hokyu JL Aronson The lights dim in a black box theater while the stage remains illuminated at opposing angles. Right away nothing happens. You become aware of your own expectations, the state of your digestion, the other audience members. Perhaps they know something you don’t. And then, slowly, a powdery white figure begins to move. Crouched low, barely covered in ragged, stained garments. Have they been there the whole time, even when you entered the room? Or did they slip in while you and your friend sat down, checking your phones...

Trash is Only A Perspective

Updates from Jusan Chen: Just wanted to shine a light on our special recycling program at the Monastery through TerraCycle.  We collect used plastic toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, razors, used pens… and their packaging… (see below). New research shows that in the U.S. recycles only 7% of its recyclable waste. Not to mention that these items, like toothbrushes, are consumed by the billions and many get dumped in the oceans, rivers and elsewhere. The recycling programs that we participating in now at the Monastery through TerraCycle are small bu...

Jizo in the Monastery Garden


by Linda Shinji Hoffman Orchardist and Sculptor, Shinji shared on her blog, Apples, Art, and Spirit, about creating a Jizo Bodhisattva for the Monastery garden. Ancient people made stone piles to mark a site as sacred, while today we use stone cairns to indicate the direction on a wilderness trail. For over a year I had a small pile of stones on one of my work tables. It just sat there and didn’t draw attention from visitors to the studio. It didn’t point me in any direction. When I begin a sculpture, I sometimes don’t know where I’m going. I w...

Shuso Hossen Fall 2021


On 11/21/21, the Monastery held a Shuso Hossen ceremony that capped our fall ango training period. During the ango, Degna Chikei Levister held the position of chief disciple acting as a model of practice for the sangha. What does ‘a model of practice’ look like? It looks like a true person bringing their whole self and dedicated commitment to every task set before them. The ceremony and Chikei’s exchanges with the sangha are a testament to that.  Click here to watch the proceedings unfold all over again or here for an audio-only version.

Zen Tweens In-person Programs


The Zen Tweens program has been offering in-person programs monthly on the 2nd Sunday of the month since restarting in June, and will continue with outdoor programsOctober 10 and November 14, 9am-noon.  We focus on Zazen, concentration practices, and exploring perception through caretaking activities and creative games. We maintain Covid precautions, and hold space for the tweens to share their feelings and opinions on what we study and how it relates to what is going on in their lives. In September we made autumnal offerings to the chipmunks, ...

Orchard Grasses


by Linda Shinji Hoffman Orchardist and Sculptor, Linda Shinji Hoffman shared on her blog, Apples, Art, and Spirit, about her experience being Shuso during the Spring 2021 Ango. The following is a slightly edited version. As spring slides into summer, I wanted to share about the last three months. I’ve been on an intense retreat—some of it quarantined in my studio, some of it at Zen Mountain Monastery, and some of it following our spring schedule at Old Frog Pond Farm & Studio in Harvard, Massachusetts. Last winter I was asked by my teacher,...

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