• Sunday, January 21, 2024 9:30 AM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    Due to Raizelah's illness the Shuso's Class: Discovering Your Genjo Koan will start (and end) a week later than originally planned.

  • Thursday, January 04, 2024 7:27 AM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    Nomon Tim has been sharing this wonderful poem from Katagiri Roshi at the weekday morning sits:

    Katagiri Roshi - This Peaceful Life

    Being told that it is impossible
    One believes, in despair, "Is that so?"
    Being told that it is possible,
    One believes, in excitement, "That's right."

    But, whichever is chosen,
    It does not fit one's heart neatly.
    Being asked, "What is unfitting?"
    I don't know what it is.

    But my heart knows somehow.
    I feel irresistible desire to know.
    What a mystery a "human" is!

    As to this mystery:
    Knowing how to live,
    Knowing how to walk with people,
    Demonstrating and teaching,
    This is the Buddha.

    From my human eyes,
    I feel it's really impossible to become Buddha.
    But this "I", regarding what the Buddha does,
    Vows to practice,
    To aspire,
    To be resolute,
    And tells myself, "Yes, I will."
    Just practice right here now,
    And achieve continuity,

    This is living in vow.
    Herein is one's peaceful life found.

    SOURCE:  MZMC News, Spring 1991, Vol 16 no.1,  pp.3
    NOTES: A poem by Dainin KATAGIRI Roshi published posthumously, on the first
    anniversary of his death, by the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center News.

  • Tuesday, January 02, 2024 2:51 PM | Program Administrator (Administrator)

    Red Cedar Zen Member Michael Kelberer passed away peacefully at home on December 28th in the presence of his wife, Dawn Moon. 

    Michael discovered the benefits of the practice after moving to Bellingham about 10 years ago. First studying mindfulness with Nomon Tim at Mindfulness Northwest, where he went on the MNW staff and Board. Later he discovered the power of Buddhadharma and joined the sangha where he also served as our first Program Administrator with great gusto and energy.

    He received the precepts in a jukai ceremony November with Nomon Tim and Kanhō Chris. There he also received the name Shūhō Hōken meaning "Studying the Dharma, Phoenix Revealed." 

    A perennial student, Michael approached living with cancer with great curiosity, peppering his doctors with questions. His studies in the sangha with mentor Joden Bob Rose, and teachers Kanhō Chris and Nomon Tim were done with much the same enthusiasm and delight.

    Michael will be missed. 

    Memorial services for Michael will be announced once they are scheduled.

  • Tuesday, January 02, 2024 2:49 PM | Program Administrator (Administrator)

    Weekly Schedule Change

    Our weekly Saturday Morning zazen is now a sangha-led event on Zoom at 7am with a single 30-minute period of zazen. Deep gratitude to Dave, Neal, Caitlin, Rei and others for keeping this practice time alive. 

    Sangha-led practice times are just that: times to sit hosted by sangha members. Teachers and priests might not be present. They are simpler ritually and do not include private interview times. 

    Gratitude to the many, many practitioners who participated so fully in the original Saturday morning practice over the last ten years with our two periods of zazen, the full morning service, and often a wonderful sangha breakfast together. We look forward to new programming in the Cedarwood building and bringing these elements back to our weekly schedule in future!

  • Tuesday, January 02, 2024 2:47 PM | Program Administrator (Administrator)

    From Nomon Tim

    Dear Sangha,

    A wonderful, and sometimes challenging, aspect of our practice is how open ended it is. There's a formless spirit to it even though there are some forms it takes.

    We aren't trying to "do" something special or accomplish something in our practice. Rather, our effort is to deeply engage with our life. To sit and study and be in sangha not as a means to some ends, not to improve ourselves or solve our problems, but as an expression of our engagement and love for this gift of being. 

    In a way there's literally nothing to it. And yet it's unfathomably deep and meaningful to live a life in, with, and through, the practice. I'm sure you've tasted the feeling of this. It's hard to put words to isn't it? I don't know anything else quite like it.

    This open-ended quality serves as a wonderful antidote to our tendencies to try to fix ourselves (and everyone around us) and the underlying negativity and fear that emerges from. We practice just to practice, not because we are lacking or broken in some way, but to discover (and rediscover!) the wonder of being wholly and exactly who and what we are. Our way of practice is an expression of wholeness.

    The challenge here is how easy it is to lose the thread of a formless practice!

    Practice can fade away, we lose focus - even if we continue doing the activities of practice like regular zazen in community with the sangha.

    And so our practice benefits from regular renewal and periods of a focus and intentionality. 

    Here is where our annual Winter Practice Period is such a treasure and opportunity.

    Coming together as a community we reinvigorate our engagement. We turn towards our lives as they are with the power and curiosity with the support of Dharma teachings, studies and looking at our lives together as Sangha. Buddha is right at hand.

    Practice Period is a translation of the term ango (安居) meaning "abiding in peace." The active verb abiding meets the wide open field of peacefulness when we practice together in this way. Discoveries are many and can be both quiet and remarkable.

    I hope you'll sign up for Practice Period this week whether you're in Bellingham or further afield. The logistics are:

    1. Sign up for the overall Practice Period. Set intentions for which Practice Period events you'll come to and explore your deeper aspirations during this period. There are no right answers but reflecting on the question is helpful.

      Note the invitation in this sign up to have a Practice Period Partner: someone you're touch in with regularly during these 8 weeks. A huge support. You can arrange your own partner or you can invite me to pair you with someone. I urge you not to let barriers to this opportunity (social anxiety, feeling too busy, whatever they may be) get in your way. Open to having a practice period partner if you can.

    2. Next, sign up for the retreats and classes you plan to attend. It's a bit of clicking and form filling I know. Our system doesn't allow registering for several events at one go. In this group we have the Opening Sesshin, the Shuso's Class, the Introduction to Zen class, and the Closing Sesshin. If you can't do the Closing Sesshin there's an RSVP for the important Shuso's Dharma Inquiry Ceremony which completes Practice Period.

    3. Attend the Opening Ceremony if you possibly can. It's also available online over Zoom if you can't make it to Bellingham in person.

    4. Engage as fully as you can in the many opportunities of Practice Period. Both events with the sangha (sitting more zazen is a traditional part of this!) but even more importantly: in each moment of your life. What's arising now? How am I meeting it? How can I feel into this? Yes. Yes. Yes.

    For myself I want to especially focus during Practice Period this year on noticing the inner tug of fear and anxiety in it's many forms. I hope to breathe with those feelings; honor and explore them; speak up about my needs as appropriate; gently challenge some of my habits and assumptions; and move forward into the engaged choices and connections that nurture me and this world. 

    I look forward to hearing a little about your intentions and the honor of practicing with you in this year's Winter Practice Period.

    Nomon Tim

  • Thursday, December 07, 2023 6:43 AM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    Here is the early Zen poem Xin Xin Ming (信心銘) that Nomon Tim has been reading excerpts of in our Weekday Morning Sit. This translation is from the Chan teacher Shenyeng. His commentary is here: Master Sheng Yen - Faith in Mind, Xinxinming Commentary.pdf

    Faith In Mind

    The Supreme Way is not difficult
    If only you do not pick and choose.
    Neither love nor hate,
    And you will clearly understand.
    Be off by a hair,
    And you are as far from it as heaven from earth.
    If you want the Way to appear,
    Be neither for nor against.
    For and against opposing each other
    This is the mind's disease.
    Without recognizing the mysterious principle
    It is useless to practice quietude.

    The Way is perfect like great space,
    Without lack, without excess.
    Because of grasping and rejecting,
    You cannot attain it.
    Do not pursue conditioned existence;
    Do not abide in acceptance of emptiness.
    In oneness and equality,
    Confusion vanishes of itself.
    Stop activity and return to stillness,
    And that stillness will be even more active.
    If it were merely stagnating in duality,
    How would you recognize oneness?

    If you fail to penetrate oneness,
    Both places lose their function.
    Banish existence and you fall into existence;
    Follow emptiness and you turn your back on it.
    Excessive talking and thinking
    Turn you from harmony with the Way.
    Cut off talking and thinking,
    And there is nowhere you cannot penetrate.
    Return to the root and attain the principle;
    Pursue illumination and you lose it.
    One moment of reversing the light
    Is greater than the previous emptiness.
    The previous emptiness is transformed;
    It was all a product of deluded views.
    No need to seek the real;
    Just extinguish your views.

    Do not abide in dualistic views;
    Take care not to seek after them.
    As soon as there is right and wrong
    The mind is scattered and lost.
    Two comes from one,
    Yet do not even keep the one.
    When one mind does not arise,
    Myriad dharmas are without defect.
    Without defect, without dharmas,
    No arising, no mind.

    The subject is extinguished with the object.
    The object sinks away with the subject.
    Object is object because of the subject;
    Subject is subject because of the object.
    Know that the two
    Are originally one emptiness.
    In one emptiness the two are the same,
    Containing all phenomena.
    Not seeing fine or coarse,
    How can there be any bias?

    The Great Way is broad,
    Neither easy nor difficult.
    With narrow views and doubts,
    Haste will slow you down.
    Attach to it and you lose the measure;
    The mind will enter a deviant path.
    Let it go and be spontaneous,
    Experience no going or staying.

    Accord with your nature, unite with the Way,
    Wander at ease, without vexation.
    Bound by thoughts, you depart from the real;
    And sinking into a stupor is as bad.
    It is not good to weary the spirit.
    Why alternate between aversion and affection?

    If you wish to enter the one vehicle,
    Do not be repelled by the sense realm.
    With no aversion to the sense realm,
    You become one with true enlightenment.
    The wise have no motives;
    Fools put themselves in bondage.
    One dharma is not different from another.
    The deluded mind clings to whatever it desires.
    Using mind to cultivate mind
    Is this not a great mistake?

    The erring mind begets tranquillity and confusion;
    In enlightenment there are no likes or dislikes.
    The duality of all things
    Issues from false discriminations.
    A dream, an illusion, a flower in the sky
    How could they be worth grasping?
    Gain and loss, right and wrong
    Discard them all at once.

    If the eyes do not close in sleep,
    All dreams will cease of themselves.
    If the mind does not discriminate,
    All dharmas are of one suchness.
    The essence of one suchness is profound;
    Unmoving, conditioned things are forgotten.
    Contemplate all dharmas as equal,
    And you return to things as they are.
    When the subject disappears,
    There can be no measuring or comparing.

    Stop activity and there is no activity;
    When activity stops, there is no rest.
    Since two cannot be established,
    How can there be one?
    In the very ultimate,
    Rules and standards do not exist.

    Develop a mind of equanimity,
    And all deeds are put to rest.
    Anxious doubts are completely cleared.
    Right faith is made upright.
    Nothing lingers behind,
    Nothing can be remembered.
    Bright and empty, functioning naturally,
    The mind does not exert itself.
    It is not a place of thinking,
    Difficult for reason and emotion to fathom.
    In the Dharma Realm of true suchness,
    There is no other, no self.

    To accord with it is vitally important;
    Only refer to not-two.
    In not-two all things are in unity;
    Nothing is excluded.
    The wise throughout the ten directions
    All enter this principle.
    This principle is neither hurried nor slow
    One thought for ten thousand years.

    Abiding nowhere yet everywhere,
    The ten directions are right before you.
    The smallest is the same as the largest
    In the realm where delusion is cut off.
    The largest is the same as the smallest;
    No boundaries are visible.
    Existence is precisely emptiness;
    Emptiness is precisely existence.
    If it is not like this,
    Then you must not preserve it.

    One is everything;
    Everything is one.
    If you can be like this,
    Why worry about not finishing?
    Faith and mind are not two;
    Non-duality is faith in mind.

    The path of words is cut off;
    There is no past, no future, no present.

  • Tuesday, December 05, 2023 5:19 PM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    Member Katarina Gombocz is a part of the group putting this social justice event together. You can reach her at katarina.gombocz@gmail.com. You can also sign a petition the group put together in support of a City of Bellingham resolution.

    Please join us from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 10 for our second interfaith kids action, celebrating Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. We can and must create a miraculous world that is just, starting with ceasefire in Palestine.

    Activities will include postcard making and writing to elected officials, children's literature readings, card-making for Palestinian community members, and children's art projects. There will be an outdoor march to close the event.

    Snacks provided. Masks encouraged to help protect and welcome vulnerable community members.

    First floor lecture room (across from the Children's Library) of the Bellingham Public Library's Central Branch. This program is not sponsored or endorsed by the Bellingham Public Library.

  • Tuesday, December 05, 2023 3:35 PM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    Featured News: Ordinations - Jukai and

    Lay Entrustment!


    What a joyous November day--3 sangha members received the precepts in our wonderful Jukai ceremony:

    Peter Pretkel (on left): "Ryudo Gyosan" Ryu Do--Dragon Way, Gyo San--Mountain Walking

    Toi Geil (in middle): "Renho Sho-e"; Ren Ho--Practice Dharma, Sho-E--Bright Wisdom

    Michael Kelberer (right) "Shuho Hoken"; Shu Ho--Study Dharma, Ho Ken--Phoenix Revealed


    Warm hearted congratulations to all!!


    Lay Teacher Entrustment

    ...and then! ...our dear Hannah Sullivan: SeiU HeiAn--"Quiet Rain, Stable Abobe", received Lay Entrustment as a teacher in our lineage.  In her own words:

    "...that night [Saturday], I was humbled to receive lay entrustment from Kathie Fischer, and we then celebrated with a public ceremony on Sunday.  This culminates years of study and practice both within the Red Cedar group and ongoing study with Kathie. I'm honored to join the long and auspicious line of teachers in our lineage, and to recognize the teacher in all of us."

    Afterwards--what a warm reception!--a dear community of friends and followers!

    Great Congratulations,  Hannah!

  • Tuesday, December 05, 2023 3:33 PM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    Winter Practice Period 2024

    January 18 - March 16 with Shuso Myoki Raizelah Bayen, Guiding Teacher Nomon Tim Burnett, and Visiting Teacher Hoka Chris Fortin

    Our annual 8-week period of more intensive practice is scheduled, on the website and ready for registration! The overview and intentions registration is available here.  Please note that the two sesshin and classes do require a separate registration. 

    Look forward to more study, more sitting, more time together in sangha.


  • Tuesday, December 05, 2023 3:32 PM | Nomon Tim Burnett (Administrator)

    An article from the December 2023 Red Cedar Zen newsletter:

    From Nomon Tim

    Dear Sangha,

    I have to admit something.

    I've been feeling distracted and unfocussed in zazen lately: catching myself idly planning and thinking about this or that, and wondering just how long I'd been mind wandering. I suspect I've been spending more time than I care to admit sitting around and not really sitting.

    Actually I'm not so ashamed or embarrassed. In any long relationship there are ups and downs. Engaged, strongly connected times - wonderful - and also dry spells. It's how it goes.

    But having noticed the pattern I've been renewing my energy and intention. Staying closer to the breath at the start of the period. And trying to hold this awareness very lightly - gently releasing into the deep stillness. When I am more deliberate and engaged in this way zazen feels different. More settled. Deeper.

    An additional challenge is about half of my sitting's in front of a computer screen in our Zoom zendo. The deep associations I have with this gadget pull at me! The busy-ness, all of my work, the little dopamine hits of finding out new things and being up-to-date with the latest news are right in front of me. I need to be a bit response to chat requests for dokusan so I'm going to stay facing the machine but I've been working on casting my gaze just beyond it which helps. If you're in the Zoom zendo you might turn sideways from the screen. We'll still feeling connected enough.

    Here are a few more suggestions for your zazen.

    The first is trying (or returning to) breath counting. I did this powerful practice for almost a decade and nothing else when I started (I didn't know about other options back then!). And I'm grateful for this. The trick is to hold the numbers very lightly as you tune into the feeling of each exhale. Just the softest touch with "one"…"two"...

    Breath counting holds us wonderfully accountable too! The answer to, "hmm, am I on four or five?" is always: "one!". If you go onto autopilot - counting away, kind of aware of breath sort of, and simultaneously planning your day, just refocus on the rich subtle sensations of the breath. There's so much so explore in breath.

    Sometimes counting feels extraneous. Then try inviting a very grounded, right there, following of the breath cycle. All the way in, all the way out, and everything in between. Getting so interested in every sensation as the breath sweeps in and out. Each breath a new breath.

    And sometimes any kind of directedness in your awareness isn’t so needed and you can invite an open, settled feeling of just sitting. Just being. 

    There is some creativity here. Being responsive to what's needed is helpful. And at the same time there can be a deep value to sticking gently but firmly to a single chosen technique. Zoom out from time to time to consider how it's going in zazen. 

    There are several other options and ways to focus in zazen practice, some of which I've found are wiser to explore one-on-one to feel into whether they are a good fit for you. I warmly invite you to come to dokusan or practice discussion with me or the other teachers to explore zazen. This quiet life partner right in the middle of all of our lives can be easy to take for granted sometimes. Other concerns seem more pressing.

    And so important from time to time to deeply renew this central relationship in Zen practice to just sitting.

    Yours with breathing out,


    (and now breathing in!)

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

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