• Saturday, May 04, 2024 12:25 PM | Program Administrator (Administrator)

    Nomon Tim has been asked by the RCZC Board of Directors to start exploring with the sangha how we will use the new Cedarwood building.

    Can you help us by filling out a survey on what practice times work for you, and future programs you are interested in?


  • Thursday, May 02, 2024 5:46 PM | Program Administrator (Administrator)

    Deep thanks to sangha member Neal Engledow for his fine woodworking. After retiring as a journalist Neal took up woodworking seriously as a hobby and we're so grateful he did. He has a special interest in "kumiko" the Japanese fine art of wood lattice work.

    Neal has made several things for the new zendo already, which have mostly been stored away until we get there.  However, at our Practice Period Closing Retreat, the big drum was called for in the closing Shuso's Dharma Inquiry Ceremony.

    And Neal had recently built us a wonderful drum stand. Look forward to seeing these and several other of Neal's pieces after Cedarwood opens.

    Thank you Neal!

    Neal Engledow with the drum stand he built based on traditional designs in collaboration with Nomon Tim. 

  • Thursday, May 02, 2024 5:34 PM | Program Administrator (Administrator)

    From the May 2024 Red Cedar Zen newsletter:

    From Nomon Tim

    We're just back from our two week sangha pilgrimage to Japan. I'm grateful especially to Kandō Rei Greene who dusted off her Japanese and teamed up with me to plan the trip. We based it on a combination of my memories having gone with Norman Fischer and a cohort of peers in 2010, contacts in Japan I've made in the ensuing years, and her interests. We also sought out opportunities to do hiking pilgrimage given our sangha's long time commitment to that practice.

    What came together was pretty wonderful. Sure: a few things didn't work out quite as planned, but most did, and the feeling of being in Japan, immersing ourselves in the culture, and also experiencing the overlaps between Japanese Sōtō Zen Buddhism and other Buddhisms (Rinzai Zen, Tendai, and Shingon) as well as the prevalence of the nature spirit based Shinto religion was deepening, informative, and clarifying. 

    I come back feeling mostly validated in our approach. We're in a very different situation here than the traditional shrines, temples, and training monasteries of Japan. And while Zen in the West is slowly growing, Zen in Japan is steadily shrinking. A Sōtō monk told us that while there are 14,000 Sōtō Temples, there are only 7,000 priests. And we saw that the grand Rinzai Zen training monasteries in Kyoto are mostly museums thronged by tourists enjoying their impressive buildings, statues, and art. A Rinzai monk told us that most of the Kyoto monasteries do have formal monastic training still happening, but the groups of trainees are down into the single digits. And I was surprised to learn that Red Cedar Zen in Bellingham offers more opportunities for weekly zazen practice open to anyone than just about any of the thousands of temples in Kyoto.

    A wonderful being-at-the-source moment for me was at our visit to Eiheiji - the central training monastery of Sōtō Zen established by Dōgen in the 1240's. We were assigned a monk in residence as tour guide who was joined by a teacher from a nearby temple who served as translator. We got to tour the buildings on the afternoon of our arrival, with the exception of the monk's hall (Sōdo) which is private. 

    And then on the next morning we rose early, had zazen with our monk hosts at the guest Zendo in the visitor's building and then we were on our way to be guests at Eiheij's morning service in the Hatto (Dharma Hall).

    Most of our group sat on benches at the edge of the tatami mat-covered ritual area and as we were leaving for the Dharma Hall, our hosts looked me over in my robes (and new okesa!) and decided to invite me to participate in the "guest monks" section. I had to be properly dressed (I must've just passed, whew) and able to sit in seiza on the tatami as there are no cushions used (I was just able to pull that off).

    I was a little nervous but, thankfully, one of our hosts came up to whisper in my ear whenever I had to do anything, helped me find my place in the chant book, and even adjusted my robes once when I was in a bit of a disarray. 

    It was so powerful and affirming to be a part of the morning service at Eiheji in this way. A service that has happened pretty much every day in that building since 1244 with Dōgen himself as the first doshi. (Or a previous version of that building - those wooden temple buildings tend to burn down and get rebuilt every few hundred years).

    One highlight: Daitetsu-san (my host) came to whisper in my ear, "Nomon-san: next chant is Dai Hi Shin Dharani" and handed me a chant book. "Ah, I know this one," I was able to reply. And how wonderful to chant from my heart this familiar sutra with 150 monks.

    But...back to the steady decline of Zen in Japan: our English speaking host shared that when he was there in training 10 years ago there were 250 monks and now there are 150. 

    The whole experience felt both validating to me and deepening of the joyful sense of obligation and responsibility I feel to keep this tradition alive. Thank you for being a part of that journey and "project" in whatever way you are!

    Nomon Tim

    p.s. I'll be including stories and pictures from our Japan trip in my Dharma talks on Thursday evenings and I've been posting about the trip on our Facebook page.

    The group below Mount Hiei on our way to meet Dai Ajari sama, a "marathon monk"

    Nomon Tim Burnett is Red Cedar Zen Community's Guiding Teacher

  • Sunday, April 28, 2024 5:40 PM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    There are still a couple of spots available full time and several available for the second half of Samish Sesshin in June. Remember that to attend for second half you must have been to Samish previously. 

    AND...we have an unlimited number of Zoom access spots. You must register to use Zoom to attend as much of the full zendo schedule as you have time for.

    You may also join the Dharma Talks on a drop-in basis online or in person.

    2024 looks like it will be our largest Samish Sesshin yet. Thank you for your devotion to the Dharma - it's very inspiring.

  • Sunday, April 28, 2024 5:18 PM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    After nearly 4 inspiring years of practice and Dharma discussion on Sundays over Zoom we're suspending the (now monthly) Sunday Zen Alive! program.

    We're now in the run-up to opening our new zendo on Cedarwood (early 2025 hopefully). Look for a weekly program on the weekends with the great qualities of Zen Alive! and more at Cedarwood (also to be broadcast over Zoom).

    For those who helped keep Zen Alive! vital and, well...alive! Our deepest gratitude. 

    And a deep bow of thanks to Zen Alive! coordinators Ikushun Desiree and Kanho Chris. 

  • Monday, April 22, 2024 4:50 PM | Program Administrator (Administrator)

    Next month Sokaku Kathie and Zoketsu Norman Fischer are leading a 5-day workshop/retreat - May 22nd - May 27th - at Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery that will be focused on 2500 years of Buddhist women teachers from the Therīgāthā, through China and Japan, to contemporary times.  The onsite retreat is full, but Tassajara is offering a unique opportunity for sangha members to attend the daily lectures via livestream.

    Please see the following link for additional information on how to attend the teachings with Sokaku Kathie and Zoketsu Norman Fischer, RCZC's founding teacher.

    Buddhist Women Teachers: 2500 Years

  • Saturday, April 06, 2024 3:12 PM | Program Administrator (Administrator)

    We apologize for the late notice, but the community has needed to cancel April's Monthly Zen Alive! program.  We look forward to practicing with you next month, if not sooner during our regular weekly schedule.

    Warm bows,


  • Monday, April 01, 2024 9:38 PM | Program Administrator (Administrator)

    From the April 2024 Red Cedar Zen newsletter:

    From Nomon Tim

    Dear Sangha,

    It's been so powerful for me lately to meet Dōgen with fresh eyes. He's our great founder and he deeply inspired Suzuki Roshi and also my teacher, Norman Fischer. It's not that I haven't studied Dōgen but there's always been some hesitation - a quality of holding him at arm's length. And with a bit of a "should" feeling. He can be so hard to understand and there are so many other interesting things to read!

    Between Raizelah's wonderfully immersive exploration of how Dōgen speaks to us in Genjo Koan,  to a scholarly books I've been reading,* and lately taking a fresh look at Dōgen's guide to meditation called Fukanzazengi (also with some extra support from a scholarly book**) it feels more like he's right here with us, encouraging us to show up, to be full present, to "investigate deeply."

    At Edie's memorial service yesterday I could really feel the immediacy and intimacy of Dōgen's way. Birth turns into death, death turns into birth, yes but also death is fully and completely death and birth is completely birth. The mystery of death, the incredible awesomeness of birth. Death is fully death, birth is fully birth. 

    Early in the ceremony I made this statement:

    Birth and death is the great matter, hard to understand, difficult to enact, impossible to avoid. From out of the empty sea of being-non being we emerge whole in this lifetime, for the journey onward.  Our goal and task is to understand this life and, understanding, to love, imitating the compassionate bodhisattva, saving all beings.  So we are born, so we die, so we help and are helped by others.

    And right at the moment Edie's son's wife's grandson - a sweet little baby right in the front row called out cheerfully in that way only babies can. With Edie's ashes on the altar in front of me a baby in her family calls out. Birth and death. Right here. And they are always right here.

    And then during the sharing part of the ceremony a sangha member reminded me of another member some years ago who was close to suicide. How Edie and I helped him. And that he's alive today and she's in touch with him. Birth and death all around us. Dōgen's teachings. Precious and deep.

    And this week 18 of us are off to Dōgen's temple in Japan. In Eiheiji we'll get to visit with some of the monks and participate in a bit of their practice there and feel 780 years of continuous practice. Meeting Dōgen in another way.

    Take care,

    Nomon Tim

    Books I mentioned above:

     * Steven Heine's Dōgen: Japan's Original Teacher

     ** Carl Bielefeldt, Dōgen's Manuals of Zen Meditation

    You can enjoy Nomon's recent talks on Fukanzazengi, review Raizelah's class on Genjo Koan as well as find the link to our weekly Reading Dogen group on the Dogen Studies section of the Dharma Talks library.

    Nomon Tim Burnett is Red Cedar Zen Community's Guiding Teacher

  • Monday, April 01, 2024 3:46 PM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    Every year or so we renew our Sangha Mentorship program. Interested in working one-on-one with a sangha practice leader discussing and exploring practice? Learn more or sign up here.

  • Monday, April 01, 2024 3:31 PM | Program Administrator (Administrator)

    Thanks to everyone who attended and supported Edie's memorial on Saturday. It was a beautiful time to connect and remember.

    If you haven't already, we thought you might like to see:

    • The Salish Current published a tribute to Edie titled "A Gentle Force in a Small Package". Read the article HERE
    • Myoshin Kate McCandless, guiding teacher at Mountain Rain Zen in Vancouver BC, honored Edie and all of our women ancestors in her dharma talk on March 10. You can listen HERE.
    • Nomon Tim Burnett, RCZC's guiding teacher, honored Edie in his dharma talk on March 14 during the community's Winter Practice Period closing sesshin.  You can listen HERE
    • Edie's obituary is HERE.
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