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Newsletter January 2016

Smoke
Draws at this moment
The first sky of the year.
Kobayashi Issa (1763 – 1825 )

On this New Year’s Day we placed a stick of incense whose smoke has spread its perfume throughout the sky of the dojo. We open our heart to this totally new year, to love, to share, to explore and to light the way that offers itself to us.

It is the moment when each one takes on resolutions for change, to transform what hasn’t been achieved or hasn’t worked in the past. That’s great! But all of these wishes are, for the most part, based on the idea of happiness which we would like in the future for ourselves or others. We would like our difficulties to lighten. We conceive the hope of being this or that, to obtain more than we have up to now. And these hopes, very often, are written into an outcome which attaches us more to results, to performance, to possessions and our imagined projections. All of this keeps us in the state of forgetting what is alive in our heart at each moment.

We cannot, therefore, rely on what has given birth in us to the dissatisfaction which is in charge of formulating these wishes. We can’t believe any longer in these dreams of happiness which are imaginary constructions of thought. Nor any longer take as our reference point habits, prejudices or notions which have made our life a series of failures or deceptions,a long battle with ourselves, with others and with circumstances.

At this beginning of a new year, we really need to get back on track and to accept that the base of our future actions arises from ‘That’ which is eternal in us, not affected by the constantly moving conditions of phenomena. “That’ reveals itself in the silence of our heart by an opening and an availability which is sincere and spontaneous. This is what we call Sho Shin, ‘beginner’s mind’ so fundamental in our Zen school.

Using and preserving beginner’s mind is just as much a practice for new and for ‘ancients.’ It’s a mind which is open, curious, astonished, attentive, adventurous, which ‘doesn’t know’ . A beginner accepts detaching from negative habits in order to engage with a path of inner transformation. He freely consents to accept the teachings of Buddha and to follow the recommendations of the ‘ancients’ for he is ‘greedy’ for truth, for awakening. He wants to learn to see further, to understand more, to come out of the limits of worldly ignorance by joining joyously and sincerely the ancient transmission in the dojo. He often experiences the joy of ‘having arrived’ of having found the way home without really knowing at the time what that really means.

The beginner doesn’t always know what he is doing, but has an innate intuition. As soon as he sits in the dojo, this place where differences are rubbed out, where effort is immediately repayed, he knows that he has got back the balance which ignorance , greed and aversion had deprived him of. He becomes capable of spontaneous determination , the desire to serve, to accept differences, to forget himself. He learns to become clear, to conform to rules without being shut up, to root himself in the values taught by the Buddha, as he understands they are already inside him, and the ‘work’ is to let them appear.

The true beginner doesn’t see the defects of others, as he is turned towards perfecting himself. He learns to accept differences. He learns bit by bit that it is not external circumstances that should influence the surges of his heart , and it is not judgements on others that will bring him the serenity he needs. He is capable of effort, of giving things up, humility, perseverance and that is what makes him an example for the ‘ancients.’

These are all the qualities of a beginner that I wish us to find in the intentions and actions that we bring to our practice this year.

Let the words mushotoku ( without hope of profit) paramitas ( giving, patience, discipline, determination, opening ..) san pai ( surrendering in prostration) shin jin datsu raku ( rejecting and forgetting body and mind) mu shin ( the naked mind, without intention) and all the aphorisms that are so direct and essential to the Zen tradition, be for us in this year 2016 , the lights which we allow to establish themselves and remain in our hearts to illuminate our daily path.

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In 2016 the Tenborin Association will continue its acitivity of promoting the practice of the Way of Buddha. Sesshin, Summer Camps, and other activities at the Zen Centre of Lanau and all the information for coming to practise at Lanau are already on the website (www.tenborin.org or www.centrezenlanau.org ) We all hope to see you at Lanau, where the sangha meets as a calm and joyful fellowship.

  • Think about keeping the first days of May free (1st –5th) for a new seminar on the Shobogenzo, the essential work of Master Dogen. The theme will be ‘temporality’ and a leaflet will be available soon.
  • Two summer camps, the first from the 8-17th July and the second from the 13th – 21st August., which welcomes children.
  • Another seminar at the end of October, which doesn’t yet have a theme.

At every new year in the Zen tradition, we seal our our wishes with a gift.

All that is received is put back into activities which spread the practice.

Thank you for your generosity. We need it due to the scale of our project at Lanau. Your gifts help practitioners who need it to come to sesshin ( the DANA fund has been created for this) to consolidate the foundations of the Zen Centre of Lanau, to make it more visible in the world, and to continue to respond to the priorities of the building and to improve the lodgings.
It’s also time to renew your subscription of 20 € . You can use PayPal from the Tenborin website.

To you all, I hope this truth of Being will reveal itself in the simplicity and humility of beginner’s mind : Soku shin ze Butsu : ‘Your own heart is Buddha’

With all my best wishes for a good and happy new year .

Guy Mokuho.

For all your gifts you can make a donation by transfer, or make a monthly payment of a few euros, or send a cheque to to Association Tenborin, at Zen Centre of Lanau, 15260 Neuveglise.