Dawning of a New Year

“The preparation of a monastery for winter may seem unremarkable. Everything that needs to be attended to is done, yet no trace of effort is apparent.  This expresses the spirit of my teacher, Gempo Yamamoto Roshi, who spent most of his time doing zazen, and who was often completely absorbed in studying the Diamond Sutra. He would say that you are not yet mature if you are seen as great or wise by others. It is not good to be absentminded, but you should be unpretentious while being aware of all necessary matters. This is important!”

Sōen Nakagawa, Endless Vow: The Zen Path of Soen Nakagawa, p. 116

As the activity from Rohatsu fades away and the solstice has marked the start of winter I often think of these words from Sōen Nakagawa. The days are surely getting longer but these are the cold, hard times. Especially right now where there is so much suffering that often has to be endured on ones own. It is vital to remember what is important. Today, December 24th, we held a memorial for Mumon Roshi and read these words from him:

All who promise to seek the wisdom of awakening and to serve all human beings are without exceptions Bodhisattvas. Those laymen and women who join our zazen are also Bodhisattvas–Bodhisattvas who study prajña-wisdom.

In the Buddha mind there are two aspects; wisdom and compassion, just as the sun shines making light and heat. To seek for wisdom or “Bodhi” is to train oneself in the practice of awareness. Compassion is the practical manifestation of wisdom. To attempt to save sentient beings is to practice Buddha’s wisdom, even if we are not awakened to it ourselves. “Compassion is not far from us. It is here in our hands whenever we practice.”

Mumon Yamada Roshi, from Lectures on the Zazen Gi in How to Practice Zazen, p. 6

In this time around the solstice people everywhere practice compassion through acts of charity, kindness, helping out others as they can. Likewise when we attend to that which needs attending, preparing the monastery, our homes, our lives for winter, we are manifesting this wisdom, this practice of compassion. At this time, when staying away from others is the most compassionate action we can take, prajna-wisdom is essential.

These times too will pass and we will again gather together to laugh, hug, share a meal, sit together. As the New Year dawns may we all deepen in our maturity, renewing our vows to practice for all beings and with no trace of effort manifest this wisdom.

On New Years Eve we will ring the Kansho Bell 108 times, dispelling all delusions for a moment. Join us if you will. There will be no formal activities beforehand but the zendo will be open for unstructured sitting throughout the evening. Masks and Social Distancing required.

Winter Solstice 2020 Observance

On Saturday December 19th, we will observe the shortest day of the year and the conclusion of the Autumn Training Period with extended practice. There will be several periods of zazen throughout the day and a dharma talk along with the regular monastery schedule.

The Dharma Talk will be from Torei Enji’s Discourse on the Inexhaustible Lamp of the Zen School. Download a free PDF of it here (45MB pdf). An archive of previous talks can be found here: Torei zenji’s Discourse talks.

Join Zoom Meeting: [event has passed]

Event Schedule

Saturday, December 19th

5am-7amChoka; Sampai; Kinhin; Zazen
10am-NoonUninterrupted Zazen; Kinhin; Zazen; Zazen
2pm-4pmDharma Talk; Kinhin; Zazen; Zazen
6:30pm8:30pmUninterrupted Zazen; Kinhin; Zazen; Zazen
All times Pacific Time. Please tune in five minutes before scheduled events.
All Events will be streamed. Blocks in Bold can be attended in-person (masks required).

Download Sutra book: Virtual Sutra book
To receive the links for the Virtual Events by email: Tahoma Virtual Events mailing list.

There is no fee for participating in this event but do be mindful that virtual events also utilize resources and the monastery does have regular expenses in order to keep open. We wish to facilitate the practice and promote the dharma as widely as possible, thus our practice of putting on these events without cost. This is especially important in these times with so many out of work and confined to home. For those who are able to offer support, we appreciate your including us in your consideration. Thank your for your continuing support and please email us with any questions: Contact Information.

Winter Solstice Sit 2019

In celebration of the Winter Solstice we will have our quarterly day of extended sitting. On Saturday December 21st, we will add several periods of uninterrupted zazen throughout the day. The regular daily schedule will be followed as normal and drop in attendance for any or all activities is encouraged. As always feel free to email us at tahoma@tahaomazenmonastery.org with any questions.

As always practitioners are welcome to come for Friday evening zazen and stay through Sunday zazenkai. Those planning on attending all day, or desiring an extended weekend of practice at Tahoma are requested to contact us to make any needed arraignments.

December 21st Solstice sit schedule

4:50am Choka; Kinhin
6:00am Zazen; Zazen;
7:00am Breakfast (formal)
8:30am Samu
11:00am Zazen; Zazen
12:00pm Lunch (formal)
1:30pm Dharma Talk; Zazen; Kinhin*
2:30pm Zazen*
3:00pm Individual practice*
4:00pm Supper (informal, optional)*

5:20pm Uninterrupted zazen; Kinhin
6:30pm Zazen; Zazen; Kinhin
7:30 Zazen; Zazen
8:25 Kaichin

* In the case that there are no signs up for the entire day we will shorten the schedule to allow for the monastery staff to not be overburdened. In that case the starred events will not be held. Do contact us us if you wish to drop-in for those events to make sure they are being held..