The Quarterly Newsletter of the North Carolina Zen Center

Spring 2005

I awaken
As usual I start thinking and try to orient myself in time
Is it morning or afternoon?
If I realize it is morning, I do some opinion forming
mostly on the negative side
But this time it is afternoon
the usual opinion is that afternoons are good
no responsibilities,
no believed thoughts about what I am supposed to do
I look over the books lying on the floor
read a few pages of Chogyam Trungpa
what a clear writer
then a few pages of Everett Ruess
A Vagabond for Beauty & Wilderness Journals
another clear writer
a teenager in 1934 traveling alone
in Southwest wilderness and Indian country
his thoughts seem quite uncontaminated by adult notions

I rise from the bed
wander to the computer room
I notice B has tried to call from Turkey
I call back and we talk for an hour
it is a very good free connection using Skype software on the internet

I decide to take a swim
I pull on my hooded neoprene vest
struggle into the wetsuit
can’t get the zipper pulled up
I get very hot and give up
I’ll resume the struggle at waters edge
I grab swim fins and gloves
have a short conversation with Henry on the street
walk down to the beach
easily get the wetsuit zipped up
slowly walk into the surf
the waves are mild
I am able to walk out beyond them and put the fins on
I hug my upper body, lie on my back and kick gently
not quite ready for that 60 degree water that gradually enters the suit
eventually I welcome the water and do some paddling with my arms
I move slowly south parallel to the shore
there are two seagulls floating in the water side by side
the thought forms that I could see how close I could get
maybe make something happen that I could write about
and appear to be really cool
other thoughts come and go as I continue moving
I stop a few times and just lie on my back
look at the sky and bob with the waves
and THINK about random things
a new wetsuit with the zipper on front
new boots — remember to take fins for fit
should I go to Southern Dharma for the retreat?
what is this continuous thinking business anyway?
In this manner I make my way to the south end of the hotel
turn around and head back to my starting point
I try and fail to ride few waves
remove the fins and walk toward shore
I see a towheaded 2 year old intently exploring the shoreline
occasionally he assumes that characteristic toddler posture
legs straight, body bent double, nose almost touching the sand

I continue toward the shore
in calf deep water, a wave washes past me
for an timeless instant I somehow deeply experience THIS wave
a simple experience that seems to include everything
its flow, bubbles, translucency, sunlight, temperature, its effect on this body

then the thoughts, the judgments return
the remnants of the wave approach the toddler
he is about to experience the wave also
but no
a vigilant adult races to the scene, grabs the child
lifts him high above the one inch deep water
the horror! he almost got his feet wet
will he have to wait until he is 68 to experience a wave?

Contributed by John Fitzgerald

Upcoming Schedule

Sandy will be away Memorial Day weekend until Monday, May 30.
Friday, June 17 — Sunday, June 19 Work Weekend at the Center. Major work planned is a big effort to get the tiling of the shower house as far along as possible, in addition to other general construction and maintenance stuff. All skill levels are welcomed!
June 29 — July 5 Southern Dharma weeklong retreat. To register, contact Southern Dharma Retreat Center, (828) 622-7112, 1661 West Road, Hot Springs NC 28743, or email at
September 1 — 5 Sandy will be at Mountain Cloud Zen Center in Santa Fe. For more information contact the Center at (505) 988-4396 or visit their website at
September 15 — 18 Sandy will be in Nashville. Contact Nat Brown at
September 29 — October 2 Sandy will be at Flattop for a retreat weekend. Contact Bill Stevens at
Sandy will be speaking at Change Your Mind Day at Pullen Park in Raleigh from 10:30 to 10:55 on June 4, part of a series of persentations by area Buddhist centers and teachers. Change Your Mind Day was started by Tricycle Magazine as a way to introduce the general public to Buddhist thought and teachings. It has grown to be an international event. Please come and Join Sandy and friends and help promote the voice of peace and compassion in our community. For more information on Change Your Mind Day visit

We are occasionally scheduling impromptu work days at the Center. Also, Matt Young is routinely working at the Center and can often use a hand. Please call or email to let us know if you have time available to help out with the building or maintenance projects.

Construction Update:

The multi-use building is finished! This completes the third of the six main buildings envisioned for the Center, and represents the time, labor and donations of many people, too many to list here. Many thanks to you all for your generosity and committment to creating a first class place to practice and attend retreats. Special thanks go to Matt Young, our resident monk, who has guided the construction through its many phases, and provided a substantial amount of labor on an almost daily basis.

The shower house has been coming along through the efforts of many people. Right now the greatest need is to complete the tile-laying. Joe Kenlan, Janice Rieves, Bill Durham, Sandy, Lyn Soder and John Iller all contributed substantially to getting the tile work as far as it is. We hope that by the fall retreat we will have this building finished and in service, which will really increase the quality of accommodations for retreats. All contributions of any sort are welcomed. Imagine taking a nice hot shower after sitting all day. Hmmmm....

On April 8th, we were given access to dismantle and remove items from a dining hall at UNC that was scheduled for demolition. Most of these items will be used to finish out the shower house, while others will likely be used during group events here at the Center. We spent the morning salvaging the following items out of the building: 6 folding banquet tables, 30 chairs, toilet stall partitions, bathroom mirrors and paper towel dispensers, shelving, misc. kitchen items, among other things. Joe Kenlan provided himself along with three of his stonemason crew. Drew, Jennifer Armstrong, Michael Brown, Matt and Janice were also there. As a non-profit, we were charged $1 per item for a total of $82.

Others who gave of their time and labor over the last few months include Beth Hoffman, Lyn Hoffman, Alan Haskins, Pam Berger, Christel Greiner Drew Dunn, Jennifer Armstrong, Vishnu Gangadharan, and Helena Williams. Thanks to you all. and apologies if we have neglected to mention you by name.

General Notes:

From April 14 — 17 the Center hosted its first Zazenkai since the completion of the multi-use building. This building includes six dormatory rooms with three beds per room. The rooms are heated, have windows, and are finished out quite attractively in white with natural wood accents. Several participants at the retreat availed themselves of the new sleeping facilities, and all had good things to say about how helpful it was to have comfortable sleeping quarters. And Kim Young commented on how pleasant it was to finally see shoes outside the doors to the rooms.

At this retreat Lyn Soeder received the precepts, and took the Dharma name Ai Kai, which translates as “Ocean of True Love.” Congratulations!

Participants at the Spring Zazenkai were Brad Page, Be Gardiner, Roxanne Henderson, Sandy Stewart, Bill Durham, Lyn Soeder, Matt Young, Jason Dowdle, Anna Madden, Barbara Gordon, John Iler, Linda Campany, and Tim Holmes.

We would also like to thank Pam Berger for generously volunteering to take over handling the Center’s bookkeeping - an otherwise thankless but essential and much appreciated task. Thanks also to Vishnu Gandadharan for providing engineering consulting services for the shower house. And the tool shed now has electricity (it’s the little things, after all.)

Recently the North Carolina Zen Center pledged to “Adopt-a-Highway” for the 2-mile stretch of Russels Chapel Road. Justin Peele, who spearheaded the adoption with the NC Department of Transportation, felt it was one way the Center could contribute to the neighboring community in a way that everyone could relate to. The program asks for four clean-ups a year, and the Center will announce the dates when they become available.

Many of you already know that one of the Center’s longtime members, Be Gardiner, will be moving to the west coast this summer. Be has been a student of Sandy’s for over 10 years, and a participant in virtually all events and construction at the Center during that time, even though he has lived in the mountains of North Carolina. He and his wife Amelia will be moving to the Seattle area to be closer to Amelia’s children. We wish Be and his wife the best of luck and send with them our wishes for their continued peace and happiness, and look forward to those times when they will return to spend time with us.

Over the last three months we have gratefully received monetary contributions from Paul and Susan Humphreys, Be Gardiner, Pam Berger, C.T .Mansfield and C. Davis, Melody Ivins, Jennifer Armstrong, Jason Dowdle, Ellen Mortenson, Tim Sussman, Linda Campany, Roxanne Henderson, Brad Page, Lyn Soeder, Dennis Lennox, Barbara Stenross, Anna and Shawn Madden, John Iler, Barbara Gordon, and Bill Durham. Thank you all.

The North Carolina Zen Center is a nonprofit organization funded by your donations. Please make your contributions to:

The North Carolina Zen Center
390 Ironwood Road
Pittsboro, North Carolina 27312
(919) 542-7411

to clear the drain
and everything
water, soap, mind

warm spray
new face

Roxanne Henderson

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