KAIHAN                                    Winter 2005
North Carolina Zen Center                                             919-542-7411
390 Ironwood Road                                                         http://www.nczencenter.org/
Pittsboro, NC 27312-6754                                             info@nczencenter.org

Feb 17-21 Santa Fe -  Please contact Chris Worth cworth@zianet.com
Sandy will be away all of March
April 10 Buddhašs birthday celebration Sunday, at the morning zazen at Brooks Branch.
April 14 ­ 17 Zazen (Sitting) Weekend at Brooks Branch. Suggested donation to the center is $100. Teacher dana is up to the generosity of the participants. Please contact the center for more information. To confirm your participation please send a $50 deposit at least one week in advance.  
May 12-15 Flattop Sitting Weekend. The weekend is $60 and dana to the teacher. Contact Bill Stephens 434-973-5435, 4425 Advance Mill Rd., Earlysville, VA, 22936 or Blue Ridge Zen Group <brzen@adelphia.net>.
Sandy will be away Memorial Day weekend until Wednesday, June 1st.
June 29 - July 5 Southern Dharma  Week Long Retreat. To register contact Southern Dharma Retreat Center, 828-  622-7112, 1661 West Rd, Hot Springs, NC 28743; sdharma@main.nc.us
We have not scheduled a work weekend. If anyone has a suggestion for a date or would like to come work anytime please contact the Center. Occasionally there are improptu work days announced by e-mail. If you would like to be included on the list to be notified let us know.

From Sandy
When we stub a toe, we say "I hurt my toe!" We talk about our toe as an object.  If the toe is an object, how do we know it hurts? We know through the sensation in our body.  It is very customary for us to call the toe "my toe."  We think of it as part of our selves.
On the other hand, when we see a flower, we know, through the sensation of seeing, that it is a flower.  But we do not regularly say, "My flower is red!"  Typically, we do not think of the flower as part of our selves.
Why is this?  Just because the toe is part of the body realm and the flower is part of the visual realm, we take a different attitude towards them.  We tend to think of the body as "me" and the flower as "it."  But the toe and the flower have both entered our one consciousness through sensation, only through different doors - the body and the eyes.  Let's look to Hui-neng, who gives us a clue to recognizing the self that can say, "My flower is red!"
First, a word about chanting.  Some persons chant so softly it is hard for me to hear them, even if they are sitting nearby.  I encourage everyone to pull out the stops of your chanting organ!  Please chant so that not only I, but also your parents can hear you, wherever they may be.
Chanting in our practice is to manifest your complete self.  So you donšt have to worry that you will be loud, raucous, wrong, disruptive, dissonant or distracting.  Feel free, like a child using its full voice!
Of course, when you are still learning the chants (not an easy thing!), you may find it hard to give "your all."  In this case, simply keep chanting; "your all" will expand with practice and familiarity.  
It may be that some think the instruction in our tradition, which tells us to drop the sound into the lower abdomen, means to have the voice in the lowest possible register.  This is not so.   "Low in the body" entails opening up the posture so that the sound vibrates in the lower abdomen and through the whole body.  So please chant in the voice that most fully allows your sound to go into the abdomen and come out through the sternum, without regard to a low or high register/pitch.  Try the voice with which you would call someone far away.  Eventually you will find the chanting that collapses here and far away.
Our current case in the Mumonkan is "Not Thinking Good or Evil."  Hui Neng asks, "When you don't think good or evil, what is your original face?"
This question is a fine guide, something to put on the frige as a daily reminder.  It can be remembered and repeated through the day. It ever so kindly and clearly points to our fundamental self, the self that appears when we open our eyes and see the red flower.  When we open our eyes and a red flower is there, we donšt think of good or evil, self or other. A moment later we may think, "That's a red flower!" But even if we don't notice our original face, our fundamental nature, it is unavoidably present.  
Once we do notice and have become clear about this original face, then we can have the conviction to say "This is my flower!"

There were two ceremonies during the Winter Seven Day Zazenkai. The first was  a celebration of Lin-Chi (Rinzai) who was offered deep bows and breakfast on his memorial day. Second was the taking of the Five Precepts by Beth Hoffman who received the dharma name An Sen, Spring of Peace.
Part of that ceremony, joined in by all present, is the taking of refuge in the three treasures: buddha, dharma, and sangha. 

"We take refuge in the sangha."
An all inclusive view would be the sangha as all beings in the ten directions and three times.  So we take refuge and support from all that we are a part of stretching measurelessly into the past and future and present and encompassing all manifestations in those times. Another view is sangha as the unlimited aspect of our own nature.
A more immediate view would be to think in terms of the practice group that centers around Brooks Branch. This would include all the people who come to work days and construct and maintain buildings. Some live on site and work to ready materials and plans, some live close by and show up regularly to tend the paths, build a gate, paint: neighbors who offer a retreatant a place to sleep or frequently loan tools or materials. Some drive long distances willing when they arrive to spend days filling nail holes, or travel pulling trailers of tools and bringing the hands to use them. There are some who, week after week, come to babysit as a contribution to the work at the center. One who can't get there personally sends babysitting money. It would include those who bring meals for the construction workers; hot stews for those who have spent mornings in the cold, salads and rice for warmer days. There's one who keeps up the web site, another who manages the mailing lists. Some of us live very far away and must make do with monetary  contributions. Some have taken the precepts, some are ordained, some are married into the practice. It would include those who come to sit in formal practice, even if just once, as well as those who arrive even on the coldest mornings to take advantage of the daily zazen. There are those who work to organize retreat weekends; arranging accommodations, planning meals and gathering food, keeping schedules and serving tea; those who are on the board of directors.  One of us comes as the teacher, working his construction and office shifts as well as welcoming us to the interview room.
Sometimes we get together and there is great harmony and joyousness; chatty ikkyus on a sunny deck.  Some times are filled with quiet peace; people moving quietly through the kitchen while the tenzo cooks. Other times there are currents and undercurrents of dissatisfaction and disagreement, plans and counter plans, frustrations voiced and unvoiced.
New faces appear and with them new energy and new possibilities. Sometimes people "have enough" and we don't see them any more. Other times their lives of practice take them out of range.
But in all of this we are grateful for it is the community in which we take refuge, our sangha. It is the community whose members dedicate themselves to the practice of their own awakening and the awakening of all beings.

The New Year's Eve event managed by Roxanne Henderson was very successful. The contributions of $910 were sent to Sarvodaya, a Buddhist organization helping with tsunami relief in Sri Lanka.
A new feature of the Center is a long circular Kinhin path down through the woods and along the creek. Matt Young has managed to clear the way while staying within range of the baby monitor that alerts him to the ends of Samanašs naps. Recently a load of dirt has been brought in to fill some of the most uneven spots but it will need to be wheel barrowed from the dumping site. Check with Matt if you would like to help.
One of the topics the Board of Directors discussed at their most recent meeting concerned the parameters and benefits of membership in the NC Zen Center. The board decided to hold a membership meeting on April 17th. Pot luck lunch will follow the sitting. All are welcome.  The hope is to create a regular forum for more communication in our sangha about the activity of the Zen Center.  Currently, members are those who contribute at least $50 a year.  These contributions go into the general fund and are the main source of funding for the running and upkeep of the center.
Donors of money or time or both have been Mary Lee Adler, Alan & Mary Whitham, Heidimarie Weidner, Jacquelyne Stemmer, Lamar Proctor, Walter Pharr, Anna & Shawn Madden, David Dyer, Grace Huffman, Lisa Richey & Stefano Ponte, Bill Compton, Robert & Susan Simons, John Baugh, Bill Stephens, Carol Hewitt, Grace Penny, Richard Bradbury, Marilyn Mears, John Iler, Roxanne Henderson, Melody Ivins, Pam Berger, Be Gardiner, Joan Trimmer, Brad Page, Leila Webster, Kalo Baron, Jason & Laura Dowdle, Sean Rowe & Margaret Lundy, Barbara Gordon, Linda Campany, John Boston, Jennifer Armstrong, BJ & Dina O'Brien, Juanita Remien, Joe Kenlan, Matt Young, Julie Holmes, Beth and Lynn Hoffman, Catherine Boston, Michael Brown, Alan Haskins and Andrew Ekblad.

A dear old friend pens,

Cleaning the cat-boxes

slant sun on kitty-litter ­

Ryo-an-ji right here!

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