Thursday, March 30, 2017

Rev. David Ryudo Shunyo Caruso joins the sangha of Boundless Way Zen priests

On Sunday, March 26, I welcomed Rev. David Ryudo Shunyo Caruso into the sangha of Boundless Way Zen priests, in a ceremony called a "Rite of Reception."  David was ordained by his first teacher, Kobun Chino, Roshi, 42 years ago.  When he asked me to be his teacher, the Guiding Teachers of Boundless Way came up with the idea of receiving him into our priest sangha through this formal ceremony, which resembles an ordination ceremony, but eliminates some elements (like head-shaving) and includes others (like taking the precepts and re-receiving his priestly garments, which had belonged to Kobun's father.)  In this photo, taken by David's daughter Lily, are some of the people who participated in this welcoming rite:  David Dae An Rynick, Roshi, Rev. Paul Galvin, me, Rev. Michael Fieleke, Rev. Ray Demers, and Rev. Aaron Caruso, David Caruso's son.  The ceremony was attended by members of the Boundless Way Zen Sangha, David Caruso's wife, another son, and Lily.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rev. Diane Shoshin Fitzgerald receives Denbo Transmission

It is with great pleasure that I announce that, late in the night of March 17, 2017,  I gave Dharma Transmission to Rev. Diane Shoshin Fitzgerald, at a secret ceremony at Boundless Way Temple, witnessed by other transmitted teachers of Boundless Way Zen.  Diane Sensei was voted in by the Boundless Way Zen Leadership Council as a Guiding Teacher of  Boundless Way Zen.  Also an ordained Soto Zen priest, Diane is resident teacher at Boundless Way Temple, and at Boundless Way Zen DownEast in Pembroke, Maine.  She is one of the leaders of the Boundless Way Zen and Boundless Way Zen DownEast EcoSattva action groups and is a volunteer with DownEast Maine Hospice Services.

Photo of Melissa Roshi and Diane Sensei by Boundless Way Zen Guiding Teacher Kate Hartland, Sensei

Monday, March 20, 2017

Boundless Way Zen March 2017 Sesshin recordings

Thanks to Steve Wallace, the talks from our March sesshin, held at Boundless Way Tmeple in Worcester, are now available at the following link:

The talks feature our two newest teachers, Kate Hartland, Sensei and Diane Fitzgerald, Sensei, as well as Dharma Holders Mike Fieleke and Steve Wallace, and Josh Bartok, Roshi and yours truly, Melissa Blacker, Roshi.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Self-remembering and Self-forgetting

Buddha, Yale University Art Museum, photo by Melissa Blacker

I was recently asked to write a blog post for the Centre for Mindfulness in North Wales, UK.  Here is a link to the post:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Coming and Going Sesshin talks

Our Coming and Going Sesshin has started, and talks are available for listening so that, even if you are far away, you can participate.  Steve Wallace has provided the following link and information:

Audio recordings from our 2017 Coming and Going sesshin are now available online at:

More talks are added each day as we proceed.  The inspiration for this year's talks comes from the book Zen Mind Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Community Voices for Peace

Mona Ives (Islamic Society), Laurie Ross (Clark University), Rev. Daniel Gregoire (UU Society of Grafton and Upton), Rabbi Valerie Cohen (Temple Emmanuel Sinai, me, Predrag Cicovacki (Holy Cross), Frank Kartheiser (Worcester Interfaith), Michael True and Paul Ropp (Center for Nonviolent Solutions)
Last night I was part of an event called "Community Voices for Peace" at the First Unitarian Church in Worcester, co-sponsored by the Islamic Society of Worcester and The Center for Nonviolent Solutions.  Here's a version of what I said:

I recently received a card from a friend with a poem by the Utah poet Jody Richards:

In a torn world,
may we know new hope
and be transformed –
winter into spring,
hurt into whole,
strife into peace.

As a Zen Buddhist teacher and priest, my vow is to save all beings from suffering.  We say in Zen that the world is full of suffering, and that suffering comes in all shapes and sizes, and it’s unavoidable.  And we also say that human beings are naturally prone to what we call the three poisons:  anger and ill-will, greed and delusive certainty.  That’s the bad news.
The good news is that human beings are capable of great love, wisdom and balance.  And we can realize these wonderful qualities through the practice of opening and embracing what is difficult – as Jody Richards says, we can transform hurt into whole, strife into peace – and that this is as natural as winter turning into spring. 
The key to this process of transformation is acceptance and connection.  We can embrace our fear, anger and sadness, and then watch how the simple act of being willing to allow ourselves to have these feelings allows them to change on their own – and shows us a path of action that comes from love, wisdom and balance rather than anger, greed and delusion. 
I continue to be encouraged, even in these difficult times, by an experience I had while driving into Boston many years ago, when there were tolls on the Mass Turnpike.  This is real news, not fake – I actually experienced it myself!  I drove through  the toll that would take me to route 128, and encountered a complete standstill.  Hundreds of cars stuck, unable to move – classic gridlock, with honking and swearing and frustration.  I was headed in to teach a meditation class, and I figured that I could try living what I taught.  I turned off the car, and began to meditate.  At one point I looked up, and saw someone watching me.  We smiled at each other, and then started laughing.  Someone in another car saw us and started laughing too.  And so it went, from one car to another, until everyone around was laughing – so hard that tears were pouring from our eyes.  And then, the miracle of transformation happened – one person waved to another to let a car go by, and then another and another.  In just a few moments, we were all headed where we wanted to go. 
Don’t turn away from people you don’t agree with – people who seem greedy, angry and deluded.  Stay present with what is true for you, and then look around.  Make connections.  Find a way, even in this time of great darkness, to stay connected with yourself and with others, and then, with all of your being, work actively and positively for peace and justice. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2016 Autumn Sesshin at Boundless Way Temple: talks and a special announcement

At our most recent sesshin, in private ceremonies attended by Boundless Way Zen teachers, two of our senior dharma teachers received Denkai transmission, the first step in full transmission as a Zen teacher. On the night of October 8, I gave Denkai transmission to Robert Ryudo Tetsumu Waldinger, and on the night of October 9th, Josh Bartok gave Denkai transmission to Steve Tetsuen Wallace. 

Bob and Steve can now give the precepts and accept personal students. Steve will continue to be the co-head of practice at the Greater Boston Zen Center in Cambridge. Bob, who has been the practice leader at the Henry David Thoreau Sangha (Hank) in Newton, will now be Hank's guiding teacher. Alan Richardson, a BoWZ senior dharma teacher, will step into the role of practice leader at Hank. 

And thanks to Dharma Holder Steve Wallace, here is the link to talks from sesshin, given by Josh Bartok, David Rynick, Bob Waldinger, Steve Wallace and myself: