Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category

Charles River Zen moves

Charles River Zen, which is the name that we gave our group that meets in Watertown, has moved again – but not far from where the first meeting place used to be. The new location is in the Watertown Center for Healing Arts, 17 Spring Street, Watertown, Ma 02472. The schedule for the remainder of 2013, starting with September, has also changed and is Monday and Wednesday, 7:30 pm – 9 pm. Please visit the Charles River Zen website for the schedule and for directions.

November 2011 Update

Since mid-September we have been meeting in the new location at 118 Main Street, in Watertown Square. We have not started to make our presence there known around town and the area, but we are working on it!

In the week of November 7th the Vice Abbess and the Abbot attended a 5-day Dai-sesshin with Sasaki Roshi at Bodhi Manda Zen Center in Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Roshi was in excellent spirits and good health, however, he contracted some kind of infection that completely took his energy away and he is currently resting – it is still amazing to see him during teisho and sanzen but it also lets most people forget that he is almost 105 years old and dealing with the issues coming with that age.

Clear skies at night let the temperatures fall into the low 20s in the morning, accompanied by some bone-chilling wind gusts. Bodhi Manda is a great place to practice and an interesting crowd assembled for the Fall kesseizen students from Austria, Norway, a monk from Germany, and many American students and ordained people.

The schedule followed the traditional Rinzai-ji style Dai-sesshin with a 3 am wakeup, three formal meals, twice a day chanting and closing at 9 pm; personal time was as usual limited to 20 minutes after each of the meals. Shuko served as the densu and took care of the Buddha hall, Dining hall, and the arriving guests and Dokuro served as the jikijitsu in the zendo.

Dharma Cloud Hermitage is about to unveil its newly branded practice offering as “Charles River Zen”. We will use CRZ to make our presence in Watertown and the Boston area better known and to start a campaign to acquire property for a dedicated practice center in the area.

All of this would not be possible without the teaching brought here by Sasaki Roshi, for which we all are deeply grateful. The future of Dharma Cloud Hermitage and Charles River Zen depends also on your interest and dedication, for which we thank you very much.

We’ve started…

Our first evening in the new location went well – new surroundings, a somewhat demanding setup since the zabutons and zafus are stored on the top shelf and require one of us to climb up a ladder and hand them down one by one. The whole process happens in reverse at the end of the program.
Otherwise the place is quiet, spacious, and a few improvements such as the lighting are still underway. Kinhin (walking meditation) without the creaking floor boards is different, and the room allows for a more speedy movement.
We are in the market for a uniform set of tea cups for the sittings and will replace the full sutra books with laminated sheets that have the Heart Sutra on one side and Kozen Daito on the other. Every setup item, every optimization helps. We’ll also purchase a chest that is lockable to store some of the heavier items that we cannot carry in and out constantly.
Thanks to Shuko, Myoki, Jodo, Jamie, and Eldon who participated in our inaugural sitting. We hope the rest of the Sangha will have a chance to join us soon at this new location.

Update and New Beginning

On Thursday, September 15, we will stealthily start sitting in the new location. The first few times of the sittings will allow us to get used to the new place, develop the best way to accommodate the learning curve for setting up and breaking down the zendo. Once we have all the details worked out and established a schedule of responsibilities with our sangha members we will move forward with an advertising campaign that will introduce a new name for our endeavor in Watertown and make our presence known.

The vice-abbess and abbot just returned from a Dai-sesshin with Sasaki Roshi at Mt. Baldy Zen Center. Roshi was in good health, although it was clear that his energy at the end of the 3 months of Seichu and four Dai-sesshin was requiring a lot of rest. Nonetheless, it is still amazing with what vigor and dedication the 104 year-old master teaches. Four Sanzen and a Teisho everyday, seven days, with 38 participants in the retreat. The weather was mostly cooperative, although we had a few days in the upper 90ies, an early morning thunderstorm with lightning bolts hitting left and right, and the clear and definitive arrival of autumn after the last day of sesshin. Summer Seichu has ended and a full schedule of Roshi’s activities for the coming months is posted on the Mt. Baldy Zen Center site.

We look forward to seeing you at the new location!

Summer Break


The sale of the house at 75 Sparks Street has given us our first ever Summer Break. The activities are suspended until they resume in mid-September at our new location in Watertown. We will be meeting at the Body Mind Integration Center, 118 Main Street, in Watertown. Shuko, the vice-abbess, has arranged for this location and we are glad to have found such a convenient and appropriate venue for the continuation of our group practice.

After the last sit everyone pitched in to remove the remaining cushions and Zen paraphernalia from the house – cars loaded up to the roof with zabutons, zafus, support cushions, candles and so were the temporary storage for the items before we moved them into the new space. It will be quite different: there is the need to setup every time and completely dismantle the setup. A true expression of the floating nature of existence is manifest! The room will transform into a Zendo and back into a room, used by Yoga practitioners, Feldenkrais students, and other groups. Sangha member wearing robes are going to have to assemble their formal travelling kit and bring it back and forth. These are great lessons to learn.

We left after the last official meeting at the CBA without leaving traces. Following that very guideline we will come into the new space and leave it in better condition than we found it, yet without leaving any traces. This was one of the things that my first Zen teacher, Genro, was very fond of. His three practical instructions were: 1. Do not waste anything. 2. Do not leave traces. 3. Support harmony where harmony is manifest, create harmony where it is absent. Many dharma talks can be given on these three apparently simple instructions, yet a whole universe and depth of exploration is contained in the simplicity.

We will operate in Watertown under a new name, which we will publish here. will remain, Dharma Cloud Hermitage also. Please take good care over the summer and we hope to see you all back in the Zendo at the new location in September.

Nine bows,

Final Meeting: You are invited

On Wednesday, July 27, 2011, a tradition of over 50 years will come to an end with the last and final meeting of the Cambridge Buddhist Association’s Zazen-kai. It is also your very last chance to sit at 75 Sparks Street, the place that had been the home of the CBA since 1979.
Everyone is welcome to participate. At the end of the night we will have a formal sarei (tea), chant the Heart Sutra, and the last abbot of the CBA, Dokuro, will move the Manjushri statue from the Zendo’s altar into a box for storage. That will also mark the end of the house functioning as a Buddhist temple.
Please come and join us for this significant event.

Dai-sesshin Report

The vice-abbess Shūkō and abbot Dokurō participated in a Dai-sesshin with Jōshū Rōshi at Bodhi Manda Zen Center in Jemez Springs, New Mexico.
Rōshi, who is walking his 105th year, was in good health and gave four sanzen daily plus a teishō in the morning. It is amazing how clear his mind is and how much he is determined to teach up to his last breath. It was a great privilege to be there and spend some time with the master.
Shūkō served as shōten in the kitchen and helped prepare three meals daily for the about thirty-five participants. Little time for rest and zazen makes a position in the kitchen even more challenging than being immersed in the seated meditation as a zendō student. Zen manifested in the activities of the kitchen work provides not only sustenance to those who eat the food but also strong and clear practice for the tenzo staff.
Dokurō once again was asked to lead the zendō as the jikijitsu, helped by Kyonen from the Roxbury Zen Center (NY), Hōgen from Augsburg (Germany), and Genshin from Colorado.
Dai-sesshin is a great practice opportunity and both the vice-abbess and the abbot were glad to be able to participate.

Bodhi Manda features a great main hall (hondō) which won an architectural award and also has natural hot pools that help relieve the stress that the strenuous practice puts on our bodies. Nature offers many opportunities to observe the beauty of New Mexico including many birds, flowers, and a wonderfully clear start-lit sky at night.

Please check out the BMZC web site.

All-Sangha Lunch and Meeting: June 5, 2011

Dear friends,

Please join us for an end-of-season informal lunch and gathering on Sunday June 5 at 12:30 pm at 75 Sparks Street.The imminent sale of the CBA gives us much to reflect upon as we simultaneously look forward to a new beginning. Our meeting will bring you up-to-date on the latest developments regarding our physical space and will offer an opportunity for you to share ideas with one another and the Board, as we formulate goals and strategies for the year to come.

The informal lunch will begin at 12:30 pm, following the Sunday morning schedule. Please feel free to join and bring friends and family. If you plan to attend please RSVP via email or by calling 617-491-8857. This will help us plan accordingly for the lunch.

If you are unable to attend and would like to learn more about our future direction or ways that you can contribute, please contact us. We hope you see you soon!

Shuko M. Rubin, Vice-abbess
Kyo-on Dokuro, Abbott

CBA to sell 75 Sparks Street

Dear Dharma friends,

As some of you may be aware, the Board of the Cambridge Buddhist Association has decided to sell the house at 75 Sparks Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The CBA, as we have known it, will no longer exist as a place for Buddhist study and practice. The current plan is to continue our activities at 75 Sparks Street until the end of July 2011, at which time we will need to relocate our sangha.

The Cambridge Buddhist Association has a very rich history in terms of both study and practice. The Zazen-kai dates back to 1957, even before the CBA was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization (1959). Many prominent scholars and religious leaders have been affiliated with the CBA over the years including Mrs. Mitchell, Dr. D.T. Suzuki, the Japanese Zen Philosopher Dr. Shinichi Hisamatsu, Shunryu Suzuki, and Dr. Huston Smith.

The dwelling at 75 Sparks Street was purchased with the help of Mrs. Elsie Mitchell in 1979 in order to house the Zazen-kai. Maurine Stuart, Myoon Chiko, led the Zazen-kai beginning in the early seventies and continued as the Spiritual Director at Sparks Street until her untimely passing in 1990. Subsequently George Bowman led the Zazen-kai from 1991 until 1999 followed by a succession of resident monks (Dharman Stortz, Bhante Pannyaloka). From 2004 until the present time Dharma Cloud Hermitage has had the privilege of being responsible for the Zazen-kai with Dokuro at the helm as the Spiritual Director and Abbot of the CBA.

For all of you who have meditated at 75 Sparks Street over the years, there is still an opportunity to visit and participate for a few months. Please feel welcome to join us and to help keep alive the spirit and 54-year tradition of the Zazen-kai. The Board of Directors of the CBA has requested our help in conducting a Closing Ceremony which transitions the use of the space from one as a Buddhist temple to a place of secular use. Details will be forthcoming. We, Dharma Cloud Hermitage, will continue our practice in the Boston area in an effort to carry on the history and mission of the Zazen-kai. This Zen community will survive with your commitment and generous support.


Shuko and Dokuro

Important: Sangha Meeting April 3, 12:00 pm

We are faced with an important challenge of having to find a new home for our temple, although we are not able to speak further about the details at this time. Therefore we are calling an all sangha meeting for Sunday, April 3, at 12:00 pm, directly following the Hanamatsuri ceremony. The meeting is called by the Board of Houn-an, Dharma Cloud Hermitage, and will be chaired by Peter Crawley, the President of the Board.

We invite you to attend this meeting to learn more about these impending  and significant developments regarding Dharma Cloud Hermitage and the future of Zen practice offered by our temple. Your participation is vital and will offer an opportunity to help steward us through a very important transition. We realize that this is a last minute announcement and that everyone may not be able to attend this first meeting. There will be additional meetings open to the wider sangha and public at a later date. However, if possible we urge those who are able to attend.