Hi everyone, I've worked with the Practice Leaders to come up with our 2024 Calendar Plan the "bones" of 2024 at Red Cedar with retreats, one day sits, work days at Cedarwood, and hikes.
Please take a look. As the event process rolls along they'll be added to the website and you can sign up and register. It's possible some small changes will happen from plan to reality but at the moment it's looking pretty good.
Interested in hosting or putting on a new event? I'll be excited to see the many ways we can open up our programming and include more community events once we get moved into to Cedarwood. Hopefully in September.
Please be in dialog with me or any Practice Leader if you have an idea simmering.
all best for a rich 2024,
Interested in Studying or Receiving the Precepts in 2024?
Every year we offer an 8-month process of precept study starting in March and concluding with a Jukai (receiving the precepts) Ceremony in November. Read more about how this forms the backbone of our practice on the website here.
The precepts study cohort meets monthly on Zoom with an additional monthly small group meeting.
This year's study group will be led by Kanho Chris Burkhart and Ikushun Desiree Webster.
Watch this space and the website for the schedule and sign up.
All are welcome to join our annual precepts study group!
To also formally receive the precepts requires permission from a teacher - don't hesitate to ask if you're interested.
Our annual period of more intensive practice and warm community effort to awaken is just around the corner. While not yet on the website, see the Save the Date announcement in this newsletter.
I'm happy to announce that this year's Shuso (head student) will be Myoki Raizelah Bayen and we'll also be joined by Raizelah's teacher Hoka Chris Fortin from California. Our Benji (Shuso's assistant) will be Junka Ken Oates.
I invite you to think about ways you might bring your practice more into the foreground this winter. Are there other activites you could pause to make more space? You might consider media intake and other entertainments: would it be wise to take a break or reduce?
You might also start thinking about intentions for a this time of more focussed practice. Are there personal qualities or Dharma materials you've been meaning to focus more on?
Whether you've formally taken the precepts or not they do offer such powerful guideposts for practice. Is there a precept, or two, that feels especially important in life lately? Practice Period could be a time to gently but firmly bring those precepts often to mind and explore your relationship with them.
I look forward to practicing with you during our annual 8-week deep dive into Buddha, Dharma, and especially Sangha!
Opening Ceremony Thursday January 18th
Opening Sesshin - Thursday January 18th - Saturday January 20th.
Regular Zazen Meetings - Weekday morning, Thursday evenings,1st Sunday mornings
Shuso's Class Monday evenings January 22 - March 4th.
Tea with the Shuso - by arrangement.
Closing Sesshin - Thursday March 14th - Saturday March 16th.
Shuso's Dharma Inquiry Ceremony - Saturday March 16th, 2pm.
SAVE THE DATES - events will be live on the website in a few weeks.
Alabama Pilgrimage; Civil Rights Journey by Bob Andrews
Justice as Dharma Practice. The group is facilitated by Chris Fortin of Everyday Zen and Dharma Heart Zen sanghas and Doralee Grindler Katonah, a priest with Valley Stream Zen in Sacramento. The group is committed to study, investigate, explore and embody bodhisattva practice. The seed for this Pilgrimage came from my participation in the group along with a conversation with Doralee in which we each expressed our desire to travel to the South to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement and the struggles of the African American people.
We spent five days in Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery. The journey was sometimes difficult, uncomfortable, raw, and definitely emotional. The emotions ran from deep sadness to anger. We were bearing witness to the history of evil and suffering. And we had each other, our little sangha, for support. Each day began with a sitting practice together as well as setting our intentions for the day. Most days ended with some reflection time together. The container we created as sangha, was filled with love and a shared respect for individual as well as collective experiences.
We began the Pilgrimage in Birmingham where we visited landmarks like the Bethel Baptist Church, where the civil rights movement took hold in the 1950’s and 60’s, and the 16th Street Baptist Church where four girls were murdered when a bomb exploded. That event brought national attention to Birmingham. Our journey continued to Selma, where we were led through the history by a local guide and activist, JoAnne Bland. JoAnne and her sister marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge as young girls, on Bloody Sunday. That was JoAnne’s first involvement with civil disobedience. (She was arrested 11 times by age 13). She marched across the bridge again on the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday holding the hand of President Obama on one side and Representative John Lewis on the other. JoAnne was and is an incredible person - and inspiration.
Our journey continued from Selma to Montgomery via a small bus. Our driver’s name was Jake Williams. He was part of the Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery with Dr. Martin Luther King that took place in the 1960s. It’s impossible to describe how incredible it was to re-live the march through Jake’s experience as a teenager during that time. We were really blessed to have JoAnne and Jake guide us through the civil rights movement history via their own personal life experience. They remain activists today.
In Montgomery, my emotions were pushed to the edge. The experience of bearing witness at the National Memorial for Peace & Justice, often referred to as The Lynching Memorial, was deep. The Memorial stands on a hilltop where iron slabs hang from the ceiling - each representing a County in the U.S where lynchings took place. Each slab had the name of who was lynched and the date the lynching took place. It became very personal as I found the iron slab for a lynching that happened in my mom’s hometown when she was a child. Every cell and bone in my body had a reaction. I was comforted by an African American man who came to me with the question, “as a White man, I’m curious what you hope to learn here today?”. We had a long and heart opening conversation.
Also in Montgomery, is The Legacy Museum. You must put this on your list to visit. It takes you through the history of African Americans from the time they were put on ships in Africa, to slavery in the U.S., to the modern-day struggles for freedom. The experience was profound. Imagine walking by a prison cell from the 1700s and having a hologram appear with a slave telling you their story. Then an hour later walking by another prison cell from the 2000’s where you pick up the phone as if you were visiting the prison - and hear an innocent man tell you his story. The museum was transformative.
When I came home, I wanted to re-live and remember the experience. That’s impossible. But I hope the attached slideshow provides a humble attempt to share this extraordinary experience with you.
[here is a link to the slideshow]
Bob Andrews is a regular supporter of our Red Cedar Community and served as Benji during our recent Winter Practice Period. He is devoted to his teacher, Zoketsu Norman Fischer and his root community--Everyday Zen--which he has practiced with for many years.
The following talks from late summer and early Fall are now online. Enjoy
Last night Nomon Tim shared his thoughts on the horrifying situation in Israel and Palestine and how we might employ the practices described in the Mindfulness Sutra (Satipatthana Sutta) in our work to become peacemakers in this world of samsara.
Some of our members are taking this action in response to the nightmare unfolding in the Middle East. Details below!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RALLY CALLING FOR AN IMMEDIATE CESSATION OF ISRAELI HOSTILITIES IN GAZA AND THE WEST BANK
[Bellingham, October 21st, 1PM] — In solidarity with the people of Gaza, and in pursuit of peace and justice for all victims of white supremacy and settler colonialism, we - the Whatcom Families for Justice in Palestine - announce a peaceful rally demanding a humanitarian ceasefire and an immediate halt to all Israeli aggression against Palestinian people, the denial of human rights and denial of basis subsistence means. This rally will be held at Maritime Heritage Park on Saturday, October 21st, at 1 PM.
We call for Whatcom residents to:
Contact your US government officials to end war crimes and call for a ceasefire NOW
Fight propaganda and misinformation in media coverage of the unfolding genocide
Resist dehumanization of Palestinian and Arab peoples and racial profiling of local Muslim community members
Amidst unprecedented suffering, and as Americans whose taxes fund Israeli militarism, we stand united in calling for an end to the violence that has taken a toll on the lives of scores of innocent civilians, mostly civilians; the elderly, women and children. Our rally will provide a platform for community members, activists, and advocates to join their voices in a collective call for peace and humanitarian cooperation.
Date: Saturday, October 21, 2023, Time: 1:00 PM Location:Maritime Heritage Park, Bellingham, WA.
At this rally, we aim to:
• Uphold Humanitarian Values: We demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, prioritizing the protection of innocent lives and providing time and space to deal with trauma.
• End Aggression: We call for the cessation of all forms of aggression against the Palestinian people, including the inhumane siege on Gaza, and the pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict.
• Promote Dialogue: We urge all stakeholders to engage in dialogue to free all civilian captives and rebuild Gaza.
• Community Solidarity: We encourage unity among community members and organizations to work towards a peaceful future for all oppressed people.
The rally will feature speakers, performances, and an open platform for those who wish to share their stories and perspectives. We invite all individuals who share our commitment to peace and justice to join us in this vital call for change.
For media inquiries, interviews, or additional information, please contact:
We are an interfaith and intergenerational community and come from all walks of life in Whatcom County. We are heartbroken over the violence occurring against people in Palestine and Israel, and refuse to be silent about the genocide of Palestinians. We are alarmed by the rising death toll of children in Palestine and mourn all lives lost. We challenge the status quo Israeli state, which violates Palestinian human rights, and is and has been breaking international law with its ongoing occupation and war crimes. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian and all people’s inherent dignity, and we oppose settler colonialism and white supremacy in all forms.
Connect with Us
Join the Conversation
Use the hashtag #BellinghamPeaceForPalestine to join the conversation and share your support for a humanitarian ceasefire and peace in Gaza and the West Bank.
Red Cedar Zen--October 2023 News!
From Nomon Tim
Buddhism and Zen are full of fantastic teachings, images, and ideas.. I'm looking forward to diving into the Lotus Sutra again later in the month and enjoying that enthusiastic depiction of the transformational power of our practice in a human life.
And yet the essence of Zen isn’t that.
It isn’t fancy, it's down to earth. It helps us stay deeply rooted in our lives. The core practice here, you know it, is zazen. To just sit.
But it's hard for us to sit with purpose and depth regularly in the way we deeply need. The mind is so conditioned to want to keep us busy. And there is much to do. It's hard to settle down.
That's were sangha comes in. This is one of the great supports we offer each other. Your practice supports my practice and mine supports you. And without sangha it's so much harder to sit regularly.
I include myself here. I'm a recovering workaholic and I'm a lot more attracted to doing one more thing than stopping, setting it all aside, and sitting down on the cushion. When I was first moving to Bellingham in 1990 actually, I went to see my teacher, Norman Fischer, and told him that I didn't think there were any Zen sanghas in Bellingham so I was probably done with Zen practice. I felt certain that without that support I just wouldn't keep it up without sangha.
(That ended up going another way as you know, but that's a story for another day!)
A great supports for daily practice that arose during the pandemic is our weekday morning sits over Zoom. I hope we'll be able to keep this going for many years.
Most weekday mornings at 7am I have the delight of sitting down on my cushion, opening the laptop, and there "ba-ding!" are a dozen and more wonderful sangha members at their sitting spots ready to start the day together. It's amazing.
I still need to make a little inner effort to take this half hour opportunity for deep setting seriously. The screen is a portal to sangha here but also a portal to a million distractions and work associations for me. But usually I pull this off pretty well. Sitting up straight, letting the body soften into the earth, allowing my breath drop into my belly, lowering my gaze. (Pro tip: you can also turn sideways to the laptop or sit further away from it).
As I write this I can feel my body respond to the years of zazen. That this deep settledness becomes available most of the time. Maybe eventually all of the time! What a gift from our ancestors. I know I never would have thought of all of this.
After 30 minutes of zazen we enjoy a brief service dedicating the merit of our practice and chant a verse setting intentions for the day. Sometimes a brief reading or someone has an announcement to share. We're off by 7:40 at the latest.
If it at all fits your schedule I encourage you to visit the weekday morning sit. What a wonderful gift we received from those traumatic years of the pandemic.
Change to the Board Structure frees up Nomon Tim: We’ve recently made a change to our Board structure. At Nomon Tim’s request, we have unanimously decided to eliminate the “Ex-Officio” board position that Nomon Tim has been occupying. In lieu of this structure, we’ve decided instead to form a regular communication link between Board administration and sangha practice; our “east/west” communication (A reference to a koan in which the administrative monks live in the east hall and the meditation monks in the west hall).
This allows Nomon Tim to ease out of routine board decisions and monthly meetings, freeing him up to devote more time to our sangha dharma practice itself, and ongoing programs within the zendo.
Our East/West communication group currently consists of Nomon Tim and Board President Bob Rose. Desiree Webster and Board Secretary Terrill Thompson will also be present to help ensure accuracy and transparency. We will have a short meeting prior to the Board meeting monthly with a “rolling agenda” throughout the month to contribute items to ensure continued two-way communication.
Gassho to Nomon Tim for your many years of service to the Board.
FALL DHARMA STUDIES CLASS: The Lotus Sutra
Mondays at 4pm starting October 16th; description and registration are here!
WILDERNESS DHARMA CONCLUDES FOR THE YEAR
Our series of hikes and walks each year runs across the seasons from April to October including rituals of carrying and exchanging the waters of our watershed.
The last event in the series Closing the Mountains / Returning Waters is on Saturday October 14th with a hike up to the Oyster Dome on Blanchard (by Chuckanut) mountain and a ceremony at Larabee State Park.
ONE DAY SITS
Our September one-day sit was lovely!
We had a full group and a quiet, enjoyable time together. These "mini-sesshin" days give us a chance to enjoy the routine of a sesshin with a fairly gentle schedule, Dharma talk, Dokusan (interview with our teacher/s) and the sharing of delicious meals. Thanks to all who participated.
The next One Day sit will be on December 2nd including the Rohatsu ceremony which celebrates Buddha's Enlightenment. Sign up here.
CEREMONIES IN NOVEMBER
During our Fall Sesshin at Samish (a few spots left if you can attend!) there will be two big ceremonies the sangha is warmly invited to attend in support of our sangha members who are taking big steps in their practice life.
JUKAI: RECEIVING THE PRECEPTS
Members Toi Geil, Peter Pretkel, and Michael Kelberer will receive the precepts from Nomon Tim Burnett and Hanho Chris Burkhart at a jukai ceremony on Saturday November 4th at 3:30pm. RSVP and info.
And Seiu Hannah Sullivan will receive Lay Entrustment from her teacher Sokaku Kathie Fischer on Sunday November 5th at 2:00pm. This ceremony empowers and acknowledges Hannah as a lay teacher of Zen. RSVP and info.
Both ceremonies are the large zendo building at Samish Island Campground and everyone is welcome. Leave some time to park and walk across the lawn.
October Feature: Branching Streams Conference
Branching Streams Conference Santa Cruz, CA Oct 18-21,2023
Branching Streams is an organization based out of San Francisco Zen Center to support groups who have formed following the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.
We at Red Cedar joined this group in 2021 and I was able to attend their conference last week. Over 60 sanghas are members of this worldwide group, and 31 sanghas were represented. It was a group of about 60 sangha leaders (teachers, both transmitted and lay, priests, board members and a few folks fairly new to the practice). A strong group of “under 50’s” was present, vocal, and vital.
Our topics (in four multi-roomed breakout sessions a day) were self-generated and consistently lively. Topics included Taking Bodhisattva Practice into the Community, Succession & Developing Leaders, Women In Zen, Understanding Lay Practice, Paying Teachers, Conflict, Future of Branching Streams; what can we do in the next 5 years? (and those are just the ones I attended!)
I came away feeling excited about the support, existent and offered, for isolated sanghas, groups currently functioning without guiding teachers, possibilities for trainings at Zen Center &/or Green Gulch, and the knowledge that we are part of a large community. Anyone interested in learning more, kindly contact me.
and/or, check out the Branching Streams "Newsette" !==##%$@_7_@$%##==!email@example.com
And...did you know...
...we have a wonderful section on Ethics and a process for difficult communications in our Ethics and Communication Guidelines on our website...find it here
...and--especially for those going on our Japan trip-- that we have a Japanese pronounciation guide here on our chanting page.
For our chanting it's helpful to focus especially the pronunciation of the vowels "o" and "i".
For example: on is like "own" and shin is like "sheen".
Cedarwood Zendo Update: No new news, but things will be happening very soon as we meet with our architect and get things rolling this month--stay tuned!
*We welcome your submissions--news, announcements, photos, poetry and art! Please send these to firstname.lastname@example.org by the 15th of the month prior--thanks!
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Our Summer 2023 series of talks around the teaching of the Eightfold Path continue through the end of August.
For the full list see the Dharma Talks Library (found under Teachings).
Red Cedar Zen Community is a 501(c) non-profit organization.