November 2016: "They Should Know" (plus Kenya and a Jukai)

Tuesday, November 01, 2016 5:29 PM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

   November at Red Cedar Zen Community

Dear Sangha,

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how challenging it is that our practice encourages us to take such full responsibility for our own minds and hearts. By quieting the mind a little in zazen we see our own suffering more fully. And as we start to see and undertand our suffering we realize that we're creating so much of it through our expectations of others. What a strong and difficult habit of mind that can be!

We want others to befriend us. We want others to thank us. We want others to initiate projects that we think they should be doing. We want others to be tidier. We want others to think about things the way we do and organize things the way we do. We want others to do all kinds of things and be all kinds of ways.

And we expect all of this to By magic? Via mind reading? 

Sangha life is great. It can include a lot of wonderful and clearly felt support. I could never express fully how grateful I am to the sangha.

Sangha life can also be challenging. It can show us this powerful pattern of wanting others to do things for us; wanting others to be the way we want them to be. Somehow we think, "they should just know who I am and what I need!"

And when they don't we suffer. It hurts.

And yet through that hurt is a powerful path to freedom and joy: through understanding this dynamic more clearly, through learning to ask for what we need, and even more importantly through asking for help in working with this self-centered conditioning we all have.

We gradually learn the bizare truth that when we do the inner work of softening around our own pain, releasing our expectations, and accepting that others aren't going to give us everything we want, that they somehow then do give us more of what we need! And in fact they already were giving us so much more than we realized.

This is tricky territory in many ways. Zen is not about self-denial or shutting down our needs. It's not about toughing it out.

And Zen is not about self-indulgence either. 

But it is about finding the path to freedom, connection, and joy. And that path sometime goes down dark lanes. Lanes of clinging, lanes of fear, lanes of self-doubt. 

It's wonderful to have our needs met. It's even more wonderful to recognize that those needs are already being met. And have always been met. 

Letting go and softening around our own pain and and our own needs and understanding our own patterns is not only possible, it's neccessary. For our real happiness. For everyones happiness. For the survival of our species, and of our planet.

My dear sangha friends, let's keep working to help ourselves and help each other in the wisest ways we can. I'll keep exploring the dark pathways of need and desire in my heart and I'm sure you will too. With awareness of what motivates our needs we can help each so much more wisely, and little by little we will all awaken to the freedom and joy that benefits everyone.

with love,

Nomon Tim Burnett

Spiritual Director

Sangha Events for November:

Tuesday, November 8 and Wednesday, November 9: Election Day Sits 

Monday, November 14: Cultivating the Seven Factors of Enlightenment (this is a change of date from Nov. 17)

November 30 - December 4, 2016: Rohatsu 2016 - Buddha's Enlightenment retreat

Upcoming Red Cedar Zen Retreats:

November 30 - December 4, 2016: Rohatsu 2016 - Buddha's Enlightenment retreat

March 2-5, 2017: Three Day Sesshin with Zoketsu Norman Fischer & Nomon Tim Burnett

Events with Mountain Rain Zen Community:

Our sister sangha in Vancouver is having two milestone events in November, and their rohatsu is a week later than ours this year making it possible to have a double rohatsu December!

Sunday, November 13: Priest ordination for Nin-em Susan Elbe, at Loon Lake Camp, 10:00 am. Please RSVP to to get directions and the gate code for entry.

Friday, November 18: Shusu Jikai Vicki Turay Dharma Inquiry Ceremony, at Loon Lake Camp, 9:30 am. Please RSVP to to get directions and the gate code for entry.

December 10-11: Saturday-Sunday, December 10-11 Rohatsu (Buddha's Enlightenment) Retreat with Myoshin Kate McCandless and Shinmon Michael Newton. Details and registration online:

Let Love Be Our Legacy:

So happy that our sangha is participating the first inter-faith project of this effort to increase understanding, tolerance and love in the community. We're helping to host a full day of open public meditation on election day and the next morning. May a little peace and contemplation help in this difficult election.

Monday, November 7: Let Love Be Our Legacy Interfaith Banner Display and Community Gathering

Tuesday, November 8 and Wednesday, November 9: Election Day Sits

More info on the project is here:

SANGHA NEWS: JUKAI (receiving the precepts, "lay ordination")

On a beautiful day of practice and community sangha members Jaren Jaren Hoppe-Leonard, Ken Oates, and Anne Mikkelson received the precepts from Nomon Tim Burnett in the jukai (receiving the precepts) ceremony. This ceremony marks a commitment to living by the precepts and deepens each students connection to the lineage m the practice, and their teacher. Taking the precepts warms up and encourages the whole sangha too. A wonderful day!

Our sangha members new names are:

Jaren: Junryū Shinchi,  "Pure-hearted Willow, Wisdom in the Body"

Ken: Junka Shiri, "Pure-hearted Caregiver, Resting in the Forest"

Anne:  Tojun Kakuyō, "Pure-hearted Companion, Dancing Crane"

You can read Tim's notes about the selection of their names on the Dharma Talks page


We're made tremendous progress in this project to help the family of Mercy Akumu and their neighbors in Kagan Village in Western Kenya (Homa Bay County).  We're sent over $2000 already. Enough to meet our initial goals to fund both a small scale irrigation project (there is no irrigation or electricity available in the area where this village farms) and to subsidize Mercy's younger sister Doneter in beginning to study at university to become a special education teacher. Amazing.

See letters from Mercy's Uncle Charleton and Doneter, a few notes from Mercy, and pictures of the new pump in action in the Kagan Village Project page of our website (under Support). See the new Kagan Updates sub-page for the latest news.

Board of Directors News:

October 2016 Board minutes

October Dharma Talks:

October 29, 2016: Nomon Tim Burnett : FourFoundations of Mindfulness - Observation of Body 1

October 26, 2016: Nomon Tim Burnett : FourFoundations of Mindfulness - Introduction

October 19, 2016: Ryūshin Andrea Thach :To Forgive and Forget

October 12, 2016: Nomon Tim Burnett :Yogachara Love Seeds

October 2, 2016: Nomon Tim Burnett :Understanding Consciousness

About this newsletter: Red Cedar Zen Community will send 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 newletter.

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