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Buddhadharma : Spring 2009
mahasangha news buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 09 86 the use of recycled and salvaged wood. Upaya Zen Center, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, hosted a five-day program in January focusing on the shared perspectives of Buddhism, neuroscience, and complexity theory. Roshi Joan Halifax, neurologist James Austin, science journalist Sandra Blakeslee, and neuroscientist Richard Davidson were among the instructors. Once a year, the Tibetan Buddhist monastic community at Gampo Abbey in Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia, buys the last catch of lobster for the year in order to release it back into the sea. The National Film Board of Canada documented this unusual shared ritual in a 19-minute film called The Trap (French with English subtitles) by Lina Verchery. In Novem- ber, a group from the Zen Center of Los Angeles traveled to various Chan sites in northern and southern China and participated in the annual ceremony commemorating Bodhidharma at the site where he was buried, Empty Form Temple. They were the first Western Buddhist students to attend the Bodhidharma ceremony and to visit the ancient dharma seat of Moshan Liaoran, the famous female Zen teacher who lived during THe GATHerING of AmerICA’S SoTo ZeN CLAN By Barry Boyce fifty-eight Soto zen teachers and thirty-five associate members—all zen priests—gathered for the third National Conference and Dharma Heritage Ceremony of the Soto zen Buddhist Association (SzBA) from October 1 to 5 at San Francisco zen Center. The members spent four days discussing the year’s key topic, evolution of the precepts, along with other key issues for zen teachers, including: women’s lineage issues, zen and authenticity, and discovering skillful means. The SzBA has sponsored a national meeting every two years to bring members together for mutual support, to develop the organization further, and to perform a dharma heritage ceremony, recognizing those members who recently completed dharma transmission. zoketsu Norman Fischer, a member of SzBA’s advisory board, feels that the dharma heritage ceremony is one of the association’s most important contributions to zen in the West. “The ceremony,” he says, “differs from the zuisse ceremony in Japan, in that it centers around the sangha of transmitted Soto zen priests, as a national dharma family, who honor and acknowledge the new members of the clan, number- ing thirteen this year. In Japan, the focus is entirely on the founders, Dogen and Keizan, and on the big headquarters monasteries, Eiheiji and Sojiji.” The dharma heritage ceremony, and all the regalia that goes with it, moves from temple to temple every two years, and SzBA hopes this ritual, and its unique sense of being distributed across the land, will continue to be an important part of North American Soto zen. For many years, Fischer says, senior zen teachers “tried to figure out how to have a good relationship with Soto headquarters in Japan, but it never quite worked out. Finally, with their help actually, we realized that the thing to do was to establish our own organization and ceremony. It’s not an attempt to withdraw from our relationship with Japan. Quite the contrary, it is an effort to establish a relationship based on mutual respect, and many priests have done both the zuisse in Japan and the dharma heritage ceremony in America.” prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, concluded a tour of the Far East in November with a visit to Indonesia’s Borobudur Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Java. The ninth-century Buddhist temple was buried for centuries under volcanic ash but was rediscovered in 1814 by a British colonial administrator. A nun from Gampo Abbey returns a trapped lobster to the ocean. Jetsunma Akhon Llamo ➤ SHUNDODAVIDHAYEANWARHUSSEIN/GETTYIMAGESCHRISTOPHERMAJKA,NATIONALFILMBOARDTEDKURKOWSKI