Tuesday, November 16, 2010

recent activity

here is what's been up the past few months

my newest grandchild, Phoenix Don Agenbroad, arrived on Oct. 22

path to zendo I recently participated in "SELF SETTLING into the SELF" One Day Sitting at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center.
An opportunity for beginners as well as experienced sitters to plunge into the heart of Zen practice, the retreat included Friday night dinner, evening meditation and overnight stay; 8 periods of meditation, bowing, formal meals, chanting, work practice, and dokusan (a private interview with Kwong-Roshi).
禅/禪 The Japanese word Zen is derived from the Chinese word Chán, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which means "meditation" or "meditative state." I have added a bit about Zen and Buddhism to my page "Master of the Sakuhachi," and also below in the ango section of this post.
I have also been attending the Fall Study Group at SMZC. The group was led by Shinko Kwong, and focused on Jakusho Kwong-roshi's book "No Beginning, No End"

हिन्दुस्तानी शास्त्रीय संगीत

Pandit Laxmi Ganesh Tewari, a renowned Hindustani vocalist from India, and dear teacher of mine from "back in the day," performed at SSU. It was great to see him after a long time. (The video is just one that i found on youtube) ... I added some info on North Indian Classical Music to the page that i created abut this.

Pani Bina (Kabir Bhajan) - (bhajans are devotional songs; Pandit Tewari sings this in light classical style)

Click for a video of him performing in the Classical Style several years ago - a really nice intro to the depth of his practice >> Rāga Bilaskhani Todi

~ read more

Dharma Wheel artwork update;
plus I have added a bit about Dharma to the page.

~ visit page

Rinzai Zen monk Ejun Iechika, a Master of the Shakuhachi and certified teacher of the Komuso lineage, performed on shakuhachi for the sangha at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center; I have added a bit on Zen & Buddhism to this page.


• Suizen: A Zen practice consisting of playing the shakuhachi bamboo flute as a means of attaining self-realization. The monks from the Fuke sect of Zen who practiced suizen using the shakuhachi as a spiritual tool are called Komusō (literally "emptiness monks").

~ read more

Gauri artwork update
- contains some text from the Kali & Raktabija story.

"...This forced her to shed her fierce form; Kali became Gauri,
the radiant mother, bestower of life, golden."

~ visit page

I attended a talk by Rev. Juko Nakano, Sotoshu Specially Dispatched Teacher, Head Priest of Chorakuji Temple, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center. The page I created about this, Dharma talk - What is “kind speech?", contains an excellent message from Head Priest of the Sotoshu, Omichi Kosen Zenji. I also include a bit about zen on the page.

Dogen Zenji taught,
“While we are living our present life, we should happily practice kind speech.”

~ read more

(Also: I have added a bit about Dharma to my Dharma Wheel artwork page)

Latest photo posted to what it is photo blog

~ visit page

I attended Sonoma Mountain Zen Center First Annual Mandala Bazaar 2010, a benefit for the Center's Mandala Project.

Kyudo "The Way of the Bow" demonstraion

Tea Ceremony demonstraion

~ visit page

Click here for or more information on MANDALA PROJECT

Kwong-Roshi has long envisioned creating a Mandala of buildings on Sonoma Mountain to continue Suzuki-roshi’s lineage and support authentic practice, dedicated to the protection and awakening of all beings, for the next three hundred years.

I was privileged to attend mid-morning zazen for the last three days of Sonoma Mountain Zen Center Summer Ango, and to participate in the closing ceremony. Demian Nyoze Kwong (center) served as shuso (head monk) during the time I attended.


Ango is a Japanese term for a period of intense training for students of Zen Buddhism, lasting anywhere from {30} to 100 days. The practice during ango consists of meditation (zazen), study, and work (samu).


Zazen is at the heart of Zen Buddhist practice. The aim of zazen is just sitting, "opening the hand of thought." Once the mind is able to be unhindered by its many layers, one will then be able to realize one's true Buddha nature. In Zen Buddhism, zazen (literally "seated meditation") is a meditative discipline practitioners perform to calm the body and the mind and experience insight into the nature of existence and thereby gain enlightenment.

Satori is a Japanese Buddhist term for enlightenment that literally means "understanding". In the Zen Buddhist tradition, satori refers to a flash of sudden awareness, or individual enlightenment, and is considered a "first step" or embarkation toward nirvana. Satori is typically juxtaposed with the related term kensho, which translates as "seeing one's nature". Kensho experiences tend to be briefer glimpses, while satori is considered to be a deeper spiritual experience.


Nirvāna is a central concept in Indian religions - the state of being free from suffering. The word literally means "blowing out" — referring, in the Buddhist context, to the blowing out of the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion.


Kenshō is a Japanese term for enlightenment experiences. It is most commonly used within the confines of Zen Buddhism.
Literally it means "seeing one's nature" or "true self." It generally "refers to the realization of nonduality of subject and object." Frequently used in juxtaposition with satori (or, "catching on"), there is sometimes a distinction made between the two in that some consider satori to be qualitatively deeper. Kenshō itself has been said to be "...a blissful realization where a person's inner nature, the originally pure mind, is directly known as an illuminating emptiness, a thusness which is dynamic and immanent in the world." Kenshō experiences are tiered, in that they escalate from initial glimpses into the nature of mind, on to an experience of emptiness, and then perhaps on to Buddhahood.


Shikantaza is a Japanese term for zazen introduced by Rujing and associated most with the Soto school of Zen Buddhism, but which also is "the base of all Zen disciplines." According to Dōgen Zenji, shikantaza i.e. resting in a state of brightly alert attention that is free of thoughts, directed to no object, and attached to no particular content—is the highest or purest form of Zazen, zazen as it was practiced by all the buddhas of the past.

My Buddha artwork from April

The posture of zazen is seated, with folded legs and hands, and an erect but settled spine. The legs are folded in one of the standard sitting styles. The hands are folded together into a simple mudra over the belly. In many practices, one breathes from the hara (the center of gravity in the belly) and the eyelids are half-lowered, the eyes being neither fully open nor shut so that the practitioner is not distracted by outside objects but at the same time is kept awake. Long periods of zazen, usually performed in groups at a zendo (meditation hall), may alternate with periods of kinhin (walking meditation). The beginning of a zazen period is traditionally announced by ringing a bell three times, and the end of a round by ringing the bell once. Before and after sitting, Zen practitioners perform a gassho bow to their seat, to fellow practitioners and to the teacher/guru.

Samu: Work service, meditation in work; refers to work that is done to promote mindfulness, such as chopping wood or sweeping floors. Samu is popular in Zen monasteries. Mindfulness means accepting reality just as it is. Samu is a means of finding Buddha-nature in everyday life, that reality has ever been pure from the very beginning, which was the central idea behind a popular movement in Japan, where Zen is commonly practiced today, called, 'Primordial Enlightenment'*

Samu, the cultivation of work as spiritual practice, is one of the four principal components of Zen practice along with zazen, teisho, and dokusan. It is essential that we learn to enter into work as an act of self-purification and realization. Samu includes the practice of dana (giving or generosity), mindfulness, and devotion - training sessions are crucial as they provide a way of taking one's practice off the mat into one's daily life. Samu practice is not a substitute for sitting meditation but is rather the extension of meditation to its function. Samu and sitting meditation are therefore highly interrelated and interdependent - (from Zen Center of Denver website page on training).

*(the enlightened state, i.e. the Sugatagarbha all sentient beings already possess - the way things really are, the way things really exist from the very beginning - called primordial enlightenment, because this state is always there and never was not, (and) as we, sentient beings, have apparently wandered from the knowledge, which is already there as our true mode of existence; (and) therefore, we have to be re-enlightened, i.e. come to recognize the primordial enlightened state already present in us, and through practice become established in it - from Byoma Kusuma Buddhadharma Sangh, Enlightenment: Buddhism Vis-à-Vis Hinduism")


I have also added a bit more about Zen and Buddhism to my page "Master of the Sakuhachi."


Sonoma Mountain Zen Center
Jakusho Kwong-Roshi | Suzuki-roshi | Dogen Zenji
Sonoma Mountain Zen Center Mandala Project
Ango | Zazen | Satori | Nirvāna | Kenshō | Samu

Pandit Laxmi Ganesh Tewari & a bit about North Indian Classical Music

My "Dharma Wheel" artwork page and a bit about Dharma

Master of the Shakuhachi
and about Zen & Buddhism

Gauri artwork update

Dharma talk - What is “kind speech?"

what it is photo blog

SMZC Mandala Benefit

My Buddha artwork from April

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