Finding the Way of Reality

Dear Friends of Great Wave Zen Sangha,

If you’re like me, you are probably both numbed and shocked by world events—from the breakdown of civility in our culture to the UN’s recent prediction of the extinction of one million plants and animals in the next twenty years.  On a more personal level, you may, like most Americans, feel overworked and stressed out.  These are uncertain, volatile times.

It was under similar conditions that Zen grew to ascendency in ancient China.  It presented a life-path originally formulated by Shakyamuni Buddha, a way of being at peace in an unstable world.  It is a path that does not depend on escapism or denial but penetrates into the enduring root, or the source, of reality.  Serenity with engagement, peace of mind within daily life—this is what the Zen tradition offers, and it is why I’m appealing to you to register today for Great Wave’s brand new Zen Fundamentals course.

Image of an enso, or Zen calligraphic circle.
The Zen Circle (Copyright © John Gendo Wolff, Roshi, 2015 Onwards).

The Zen Fundamentals course will take place at Kyoseikan Dojo, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on four consecutive Sundays, starting May 12,  2019.  (Details can be found here.) I and a senior student will provide instruction in breathing meditation, Buddhist scripture and ceremony, Zen ethical precepts, and the student-teacher relationship.  Discussion, refreshments, print materials, and a class certificate will be offered.  Once you have completed the course, you’ll be in a position to go deep with Zen practice and to settle for yourself the “great matter of life and death.”

Seating for the Zen Fundamentals course is becoming increasingly limited, so please complete the Event Registration Form as soon as possible, preferably today or tomorrow.

I look forward to practicing the Way of Reality with all of you.

In Gassho,
Gendo Roshi

 

 

 

Zen Fundamentals Course Offered in Grand Rapids

Image of the Buddha Family Mandala. (Image by Aloka. Originally published at The Buddhist Center.)
Buddha Family Mandala. (Image by Aloka. Originally published at The Buddhist Centre.)

What is Zen?  What is meditation all about?  The answers to these and other questions about the Zen Buddhist tradition will be answered in a four-part introductory course, which will take place at Kyoseikan Dojo, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on four consecutive Sundays, starting May 12, 2019, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

Participants will receive instruction in the fundamentals of Zen practice, including breathing meditation, an introduction to Buddhist scripture and ceremony, the central importance of the Buddhist precepts, and the student-teacher relationship. Discussion, refreshments, print materials, and a class certificate will be offered.  Most sessions will be led by Rev. John Gendo Wolff, Roshi, resident teacher at Great Wave Zen Sangha.

As a culminating event, a traditional zazenkai (one-day retreat) will be offered at Kyoseikan Dojo on Sunday, June 9. (Please register for the zazenkai separately by visiting our Events Calendar where you can find more information about this retreat.)

Seating for the Zen Fundamentals course is limited.  Please complete the online Event Registration Form by no later than May 8.

2019 March Winds Zazenkai

Image by Gendo Roshi

Great Wave is pleased to announce the  2019 March Winds Extended Zazenkai which will take place March 22-24.  This retreat will give participants an opportunity to deepen their practice of zazen, hear a teisho, receive private instruction from Gendo Roshi, and participate in service ceremonies. As always, everyone who has received an orientation, regardless of experience, is welcome to attend this retreat.

We ask that you complete the Event Registration Form as soon as possible as seating and accommodations are limited. Once you are registered, you will receive an email with further details about this retreat.

We look forward to practicing with you!

Dragon Howls and Tiger Roars


Eihei Dogen Zenji once said to his assembly:

A dragon howls in a dark cave; the whole universe quiets.  A tiger roars at the edge of a cliff; the cold valley becomes warm.  Kaa!”

Utagawa Yoshitsuya (1822-1866), Japanese.
Utagawa Yoshitsuya (1822-1866), Japanese.

This is what you have been hearing all along, even if you don’t realize it.  You hear it when the wind blows through the trees or when you set a spoon down on the table.  But to hear it right, you have to become a dragon or a tiger.

How do you do that?  How do you become a dragon or a tiger?  It’s all well and good to answer, “Let go!” or “Sit!” or “Practice zazen!”  But if you sit in zazen that is just the cave; if you let go, that is just the edge of a cliff.  Where is the dragon, where the tiger?  How do you hear the howl at the center of the universe, the roar beyond life and death?

Sometimes, as I take a step when walking in kinhin, I disappear.  But the stepping is still there.  Seated in zazen, the cushion is all by itself, but breathing still happens.  If you want to penetrate into this, you will have to be alone.  I do not mean that you need to be solitary.  To be alone means to apprise yourself of your immaculate nature.  To apprise yourself of your immaculate nature, leave off dragons and tigers entirely.  Do not make something up about sun-warmed valleys or the quiet of interstellar space.

Gendo Roshi
Gendo Roshi is Spiritual Director of Great Wave Zen Sangha.

Just go on toward it and, without howling or roaring, tell me: what is the sound of your whole life?

 

 

February 2019 Beginner’s Mind Zazenkai

Lost Lakes, Ludington, Michigan
“By the water, deep within the forest, you find the traces.” —The Oxherding Pictures

Great Wave Zen Sangha is pleased to announce its 2019 Beginner’s Mind Zazenkai.  This retreat will take place on Sunday, February 10, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.  Our time will be dedicated to introducing the fundamentals of Zen practice to those who are new to Zen—but practitioners of all levels of experience are encouraged to attend this day that will be rich with opportunities for meditation, scripture recitation, teisho, and dokusan with Gendo Roshi. A vegetarian lunch will be included.

Our retreat will take place at Great Wave’s new practice center, Myogenji Temple. (Please see our Location page for details.) To participate, please complete our Event Registration Form as soon as possible. Your timely registration and payment ($30) will allow us to plan a menu and make other arrangements.

We look forward to practicing with you!

Call to Join the 2018 Rohatsu Zazenkai

Dear friends of Great Wave Zen Sangha,

It is at this time of the year when the Zen tradition commemorates the enlightenment, 2500 years ago, of Shakyamuni Buddha.  It was at that moment that he is said to have uttered the words, “Wonder of wonders! I and all beings on Earth together attain enlightenment!”

Image of the Buddha depicted touching the earth at the moment of his awakening
The Buddha depicted touching the earth at the moment of his awakening.

In the aftermath of his awakening, the Buddha questioned whether he should even try to tell others how they too could awaken.  The path he had taken to emancipation had been difficult. But he soon decided that there would always be someone who was willing to do what has to be done to realize the truth of this life.  And so he began what would become a 50-year teaching career.

What will be your special connection to this story?  How will you realize, and then actualize, your Buddha-nature?  These are questions you can spend a lifetime exploring, and the best way to do that is by entering into a traditional retreat environment where each of us strives to awaken just as Shakyamuni Buddha did 2500 years ago.  I invite you, therefore, to attend the upcoming 2018 Rohatsu Zazenkai and to share in the spirit of gratitude for the Buddha’s extraordinary example.

You can find more information about this retreat and a link to the registration form by navigating to our events calendar.

I look forward to practicing with you.

Roshi