Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center

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We don't think winter becomes spring, we don't say spring becomes summer

January 07, 2012 by Jokai

David Blackwell Rev. David Jokai Blackwell
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

We don't think winter becomes spring, we don't say spring becomes summer

2012 is upon us. Prepare to be bombarded with Mayan-end-of-the-epoch-themed movies and TV specials as we approach the fall. Here at Yokoji we brought in the New Year in our usual way, with a Sesshin and fire ceremonies. I say “usual” though of course each year has it’s unique qualities. Sesshin was pretty well attended, with the usual late rush of practitioners coming in on New Year’s Eve. After a Fusatsu (renewal of vows) ceremony in the late evening, we all gathered for zazen to mark the moments of transition from the old year to the new. Afterwards, we moved to the dining room for a toast and a chorus of Auld Lang Syne. For many of us this brought into sharp relief the memory of Kevin Rakusan Riley and how he would pour himself into that verse with nothing held back. We raised a glass for Rakusan. After the comparative high jinx of New Year we have now settled back into Interim Training Period. January is typically a quiet time here in the mountains, punctuated by there usually only being a skeleton crew of residents. However, 2012 seems off to an auspicious start with a few new faces around the Buddha Hall and grounds. The weather continues to be unseasonably warm. It feels wonderful if a little surreal to be working outside dragging brush in a t-shirt in January. The other side to this though is some concern for the ecology of the canyon and the level of the water table.

For myself, I have been noticing the desire to maintain the attention to practice that Sesshin stimulates. The schedule of Sesshin can be a firm and effective teacher. Once we re-enter the regular training weeks, that need for the taking of personal responsibility with the time we have certainly looms large for me. Transitions are often times of unease and yet great opportunities are there as well. Opportunities to ask myself “how do I want to live?” and then, to manifest those intentions. With the season of annual resolutions still upon us (just!) I invite you to join me in focusing in on clear intentions for this wonderful practice of our lives as we move forward into 2012. Please join us here at Yokoji whenever and however you can, and if circumstances currently do not allow that, please join us on the cushion in the practice of zazen.Blessings for 2012 and beyond.

It's still a dog's life


  • Doetsu:

    07 Jan 2012 23:10:55

    Happy New Year, Jokai, and to all of you. Thank you again for all the work you and the residents have done to make the Sesshin so memorable.
    “How do I want to live?” and how to manifest that intention has been foremost in my mind lately. I’m so glad that I am a part of Yokoji and your community.
    Ilene Doetsu Van Gossen

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