May at Red Cedar Zen Community
What follows is a photo essay from the Guiding Teacher Installation Ceremony on Sunday April 30th. The text is the formal statements I made during the ceremony. I am deeply grateful to be your Guiding Teacher and want to thank everyone deeply for your support. We had a wonderful sangha celebration on Sunday. So many helped and were a part of it. The feeling was of deep connection, healing, and love. And I could feel deeply the many many other people who were there in spirit.
With a bow,
Nomon Tim Burnett
Guiding Teacher, Red Cedar Zen Community
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Mountain Gate Statement – Beauty and peace arises in unexpected places: a downtown alley, the hearts of these unlikely characters. May this gate be welcoming to all beings, always.
Kaisando Statement (ancestor’s “hall” set up in corner of library):
I’ve carried your teachings in my backpack, in a Ziploc bag, all of these years great grandfather Shogaku Shunryu, dai osho. And somehow this wandering life led all of us, together with you, to this moment and this place. Today I offer my beginner’s mind to you and humbly request your teachings. I don’t know how to do this role and probably that’s for the best. Please help me to unfold your dharma wisdom together with all beings who walk through these doors. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Receiving the Robe (Dennei):
This great robe of liberation – field far beyond form and emptiness – made of nine panels, each panel made of two long and one short piece - is a wonderful symbol of our growing up together as a sangha. When I wear it we all wear our open hearts, our deep beauty, our wisdom and our compassion. As you’ll see it’s quite beautiful and fabulous, but it’s also very heavy. Please help me carry the weight and obligation to be open-hearted and loving. Should I ever forget the deep inter-being that is it expressed by this robe I humbly ask you to remind me. I vow to wear this robe of Buddha with the mind and body of its sacred meaning.
World Peace Statement
Invoking the presence and support of Shakyamuni Buddha, Bodhidharma, Eihei Dogen, Shogaku Shunryu – Suzuki Roshi - and all Buddha ancestors on this joyful day, let’s make an offering for peace, harmony and understanding in this world.
The world needs us to show up and help. And if we can show up deeply grounded in wisdom and compassion we will make a real contribution.
For peace is the true aim of our practice and real peace is the fruit of waking up to our true nature – waking up to love. May we remember the presence of our ancestors and help each other to practice peace together wholeheartedly, lifetime after lifetime.
This offering is in gratitude to All Ancestors – women and men – known to us and unknown who’ve carried the lamp through 2,500 years. At first this looks like a line or a chain going back into the past but Dogen reminds us of the deeper meaning: “On the great road of Buddha Ancestors there is always unsurpassable practice, continuous and sustained. This forms a circle of the Way and is never cut off. Between aspiration, practice, enlightenment and nirvana there is not a moment’s gap. Continuous practice is the circle of the Way.”
Today we remember that we’re doing our part of continue this journey around the sun of the Dharma and remember, deeply with our hearts cracked open, that we are not here on our own, that this moment isn’t about a few friends in Bellingham, Washington, carrying doggedly on!
Today we remember that we’ve been accompanied and helped and supported and encouraged every single step of the way and that only becomes more so as we take this step together.
I am so grateful for this lineage of devotion.
May I, may all of us together, prove worthy of the endless support we’ve received.
May I, may all of us together, make this dharma manifest as our lifetime’s expression of gratitude.
Thank you to Shakyamuni Buddha, to the seven Buddha’s before Buddha, to the devoted practitioners of India, China, Tibet, Korea, Japan, America, and all over the world and beyond this obvious physical world. You carry us now and we carry you in our hearts. Thank you so much.
Members and Donors Statement
This offering is for all sangha members, to all supporters, and to all donors and their families.
If I’ve learned anything about Dharma, heart, and presence over these 25 years of practice together it’s through your generosity.
I want to name and remember a few we have lost over the years: to Mark Livingston – you lovely bear of a man so devoted to your children and to the dharma – we walked into the building today on the concrete ramp you made for us; to Barb Crowley – your wisdom and sense of humor, honesty and liveliness sustains us today; to Gene Reeves – the cheerful and humble one armed painter of many pieces of trim around us; to Avonne McLaughlin who was also so positive and graceful, a regal person – Avonne we’ve planted your pine tree in our garden, to Marge Moench – wondrous living treasure of dharma understanding – every encounter with you filled our hearts with delight; and also to my own grandmother Fran Burnett and stepmother Joan Burnett both of whom inspired and supported my practice and Red Cedar.
And to the many, many practitioners, supporters, donors, members who have practiced here. Even coming here one time is deeply important to this unfolding. We all contribute and we are all together in this.
May we remember our endless circle of support. May we remember that our practice and our generosity is affecting the entire earth and the entire sky in the ten directions endlessly. It is the life force of this place of practice.
Root Teacher (Honshi) Statement:
This offering is for my root-heart teacher Zoketsu Rinsho Norman Fischer. It’s now been 30 years since a 21-year-old new Zen student and a 41-year-old new Zen teacher first sat together to explore this way of practice. In every one of those 30 years, I have been deeply supported by this good fortune to practice and study with you. My gratitude can’t really be expressed, but the ceremony says I need to try.
Thank you for sharing with me your deep faith in people’s natural ability to heal and grow.
Thank you for sharing with me your deep faith in our Zen way of practice and our family style – that it’s enough to practice together, steadily, devotedly, over time. That this is enough.
Thank you also for sharing with me your confidence in offering our practice in other forms. Watching you teach lawyers and executives about mindfulness and renunciation and even help to create an emotional intelligence program at Google with units like “mindful emailing” has led to me teaching physicians and community groups about this deep way of practice without all of these fancy threads.
I would never have had the confidence in any of this – formal Zen or everyday Mindfulness - without your example and support. This is nice for me to get to do such satisfying work but more importantly the practice has flown out in wider circles than it ever would have otherwise.
Thank you for your sense of humor. Thank you for modelling that it’s okay to be just be myself.
Thank you for being you.
REQUESTING DHARMA QUESTIONS: “Dharma brothers and sisters, please bring me your questions, let us bring up the dharma together.”
Backbone Statement (Teiko)
This offering is to the essence. To the mystery. To the question. To not knowing. To beginner’s mind. Beyond any idea of right or wrong or success of failure there is an empty field. Let’s meet there. Let awaken to the reality that we are always meeting there, meeting here, we are only meeting. To the essence.
Appreciation Statement (Jago Byakutsui)
This offering is in appreciation of the many, many teachers who have helped me along the way.
To Gary Bacon the, deepest high school teacher on the planet, who introduced me to transpersonal and eastern psychologies.
To Keido Les Kaye who first showed me the Zen practice environment in 1983 and showed me something of the importance of the practice of humility.
To Dainin Katagiri Roshi for sharing his powerful practice of presence and encouraging me when I was so completely overwhelmed.
To Sojun Mel Weitsman for showing me that our way is about kindness.
To Zenkei Blanche Hartman for bowing to me with such sincerity, sharing with me her love of mechanical repair, her humility as a teacher, and her fierceness when that’s what’s needed.
To Jan Chozen Bays for challenging me like a bolt of lightning.
To Kyogen Carlson for honoring me as a colleague. You left us too soon.
To Jon Kabat-Zinn for showing me that the Dharma is wider than any frame we can put around it.
To so many teachers, more than I can name and many are in this room, I am deeply, deeply grateful.
Personal Statement (Jiio)
This offering is for the numberless people who have helped me in this life. I have been so incredibly fortunate, although I didn’t always understand that at the time and I doubt I fully appreciated this yet. My intention is to continue discovering how supported and fortunate I am in order to encourage me to keep offering all I can to help others remember this for themselves in their lives.
Deep gratitude to my four parents: Toby, Neta, Joan, and Ed.
Deep gratitude to my four siblings: Brad, Karla, Jeff, and Mark.
To my amazing life partner/spouse/endlessly best friend Janet – it’s now 35 years since a certain fateful party!
To my unbelievably smart and so-himself son, Walker. I don’t know where you came from but I am so happy that you came into our lives.
Deep gratitude to friends far and wide.
Deep gratitude to the earliest members of Red Cedar Zen, among them: Bob Penny, Florence Caplow, John Wright, Nancy Welch, Dylan Schneider, John Wiley, Connie Martin.
Deep gratitude to each single person crossing my path and to life in all its manifestations for continuously expounding the dharma and for teaching me the Truth of all Being.
Understanding of a Koan Statement (Nensoku)
This offering is for our ancestral teaching stories.
I offer one now that we can pick up like a stone along the beach and turn over in our open hands.
A monk, newly arrived at the temple, asked master Zhaozhou, “For a long time, I’ve heard of the stone bridge of Zhaozhou, but now that I’ve come here I just see a simple log bridge.”
The teacher Zhaozhou said, “Ahh, you just see the log bridge; you don’t see the stone bridge.”
The monk asked, “What is the strone bridge, then?”
Zhaozhou replied, “It lets donkeys cross, it lets horses cross.”
Our way is a log bridge way. Is it enough for you? Is it enough for me? We realized in retreat the other day that we are all of us part of an epidemic of dis-ease feeling that we are never good enough. Why do we keep trying to be a stone bridge? Perhaps now, right now, we can set that down and appreciate the strong log bridge. It let’s donkeys and horses cross. All beings cross.
And yet renouncing the stone bridge doesn’t mean we don’t practice with strength and skill. I vow to be the best log bridge for you that I can be. Will you please be a log bridge for me? Our bridges will meet in emptiness and all will be whole.
Concluding Statement (Ketsuza)
Cold Mountain is a house
Without beams or walls.
The six doors left and right are open
The hall is the blue sky.
The rooms are all vacant and serene
The east wall beats on the west wall
At the center: nothing.
Our culture is so good at creating places that are full. Full of all kinds of things. Some quite important. And yet, and yet, we need empty too. I am deeply happy that today we come together to commit to openness, to emptiness. To the blue sky and a quiet room. Into this open, empty space like the mist of a Bellingham Spring morning, flows nothing but compassion, wisdom, and love. Nothing and everything are here. The six doors are open. All doors are open. Please, dear friends and comrades, let’s leave them open and let everyone in. Horses and donkeys and all beings. Open the door and let them in.
With gratitude to the photographers: Ken Oates, Amy Darling, Desiree Webster, and Janet Martinson.
Sangha Events for May
Saturday, May 13: Contemplating Nature Workshop. This day will be devoted to engaging the senses and slowing down together in the rich, natural area around Hawk Meadow Farm. The theme for this day will be "Awareness of Diversity". Our day will be divided between silent meditation practice in the farm's twenty-four-foot yurt, the Hidden Mountain Zendo, and time spent in explorations and discoveries in the surrounding fields and woods. This is a very accessible experience that does not involve too much walking or any need to carry a pack. At the same time, this is a meditation retreat that does not involve too much seated meditation! We will explore the changes of spring, the life in the wetlands, and hopefully have a chance to check in on Hawk Meadows' gregarious pair of resident ravens who should be rearing nestlings at this time about a hundred yards from the yurt. We will conclude the day with a closing ritual in the Cedar Grove.
Saturday & Sunday, May 20-21: Awakening in Everyday Life: A Zen Studies Retreat with Nomon Tim Burnett. This year's topic for our annual Zen Studies Retreat is Eihei Dogen's teachings on awakening in everyday life as expressed in his famous essay Instructions for the Cook (Tenzo Kyokun). Combining the traditional and the contemporary, Nomon Tim Burnett will lead our annual Zen Studies retreat this year in spring, instead of fall. Far from just an academic inquiry, the weekend will involve a series of meditations and experiential exercises along with ample discussion to help us explore the text and Dogen's thought from the inside out. Our Zen Studies retreats combine meditation, lecture, discussion, private interviews with the teacher, and innovative experiential education to explore the contemporary meaning of ancient Buddhist texts.
June 16-24: Samish Island Sesshin 2017. Our annual silent Zen sesshin with Zoketsu Norman Fischer includes seven days and eight nights of silent practice of sitting and walking meditation in a beautiful church camp on the water on Samish Island in the Skagit Valley. Retreat includes dharma talks by Norman and other Northwest teachers, dokusan and practice discussion, sitting and walking meditation, and delicious vegetarian meals. This is a deep time for practice and reflection with the support of sangha and teachers.
Board Meeting minutes:
May 2017 Board Minutes
About this newsletter: Red Cedar Zen Community sends out a monthly newsletter to highlight upcoming Sangha activities, member news, and other noteworthy events. If you would like to feature something in an upcoming newsletter, please email Johnathan Riopelle ten days prior to end of the month for submission in the upcoming newsletter. We welcome all kinds of offerings: event listings,