Newsletter of the Chogye International Zen Center of New York • 400 E. 14th St., Apt. 2E • New York, NY 10009 (212) 353 - 0461 • www.cizny.org Winter 2010-2011
WOODFISH Pointing to the Moon: Instructions for Hwadu Practice Adapted from a talk given by Zen Master Wu Kwang at The Tibet Center, Brooklyn, New York, on March 20, 2008
n Korean Zen the technique of don’t-know meditation is referred to as Hwadu practice. Hwadu, in Sino-Korean, literally translates as “word head.” This meditation technique uses a question, usually one of an existential nature, like “What is this?” or “What am I?” The words of the question are called “the tail of the question.” Like a dog’s tail, they Zen Master Wu Kwang are something that trails behind. Where the words point your mind to is the “word head,” or the moment before words and speech. “Word head” could be translated as ante-word: before words, before speech. Often, we explain it more descriptively, saying, “The words of the question are like a finger pointing at the moon.” But if you clearly see the moon, you don’t then keep looking at the finger. So the words of the question are like a tuning device that points you to a particular state of mind—or a particular state of no-mind. This is because, at least for a second or two, it cuts off the stream of conceptual thinking—there’s a moment of just “Don’t know!” At that moment there are no words and no speech, just the sense of openness. Hwadu technique is like that: it cultivates this complete questioning. At the moment the question becomes complete—100%—the words of the question aren’t there anymore. There’s only a feeling like a question mark, a very subtle sense of curiosity, of perplexity, of pondering something—what is it? To support this kind of practice, the basics of meditation first cover how to keep your body, breath, and mind and then how to use the question itself. The Korean word for the
Editors: Guillermo Echanique M.K. Babcock Clare Ellis Paul Majchrzyk Zsuzsanna Sidlo Calligraphy: Sung Hae Sunim Layout: James Gouijn-Stook Printing: Printing Spectrum
device that is typically used in Zen halls to signal the start and end of meditation is the chugpi. The meditation session begins when the head monk hits the chugpi three times, making a sharp wooden sound. At the end of meditation, he or she will again hit the chugpi three times. You can see this is not something that’s going to lull you into a dreamy reverie. Its message is “Wake up! Stay awake!” In the Zen tradition, the most important aspect of sitting posture is keeping your body erect. Whether you’re on the floor in a cross-legged position or in a chair, the vertical axis of your torso should be straight and your belly should be open. You should relax your shoulders and feel like your ears are more or less in line with them. Your nose should be more or less aligned with the center of the chest and your navel. The hands are usually put in the cosmic mudra; to form it, place the left hand on top of the right, and lightly join the thumbs. Your hands should touch your belly just a little bit below the navel. One final note about the body—Zen meditation is never done with the eyes fully closed. The eyes are kept about half-open—or half-closed—so that you are gently looking down at the floor about a foot or two in front of you. That way there is still a sense of alertness. The second element of meditation is your breathing. You should pay attention to your abdomen and breathe in a relaxed way down into your belly. Often when someone starts a meditation session they will take a few slow, deep breaths, letting the belly expand like a balloon, then very gently let the air out so the abdomen flattens slightly. Do that three or four times so that you settle down into your body and into your belly. Then give up controlling the breathing, and let it flow on its own. Observe it for a moment or two. A long breath is just a long breath. A short breath is just a short breath. Let the breath be as it is. The third element is the basic attitude of mind. Keep an attitude of non-interference. Don’t try to get rid of any particular thoughts or any particular feelings. Likewise don’t try to forcefully hold on to any particular state of mind or any particular feeling. Just let everything come and go like clouds floating freely in the sky. Don’t be bothered by your thinking. Thinking appears; thinking disappears. Feelings appear; feelings disappear. No problem. The idea of “no mind” or “no thought” is not to get rid of thought. It’s not to be bothcontinued on page 2
ered by thought. Sounds appear from outside and you hear them. Then they disappear. Sensations appear in the body and pass away. Just gently perceive whatever is occurring moment by moment by moment. Now, keeping your mind relaxed, pick up this question: “What am I?” Ask yourself this question several times with sincerity. At first you may have several different answers, but you’ll realize very soon that none of the
answers that you supply really suffice and satisfy the feeling of the question. Even if you give some philosophical answer, you then have to ask yourself, “Do I really, really know what that means? Do I really have the experience of that?” You’ll come to a sense sooner or later, where you feel that all opinions, all ideas, all concepts do not really satisfy the essential feeling of the question: “What am I?” “What
is this that we call ‘I’?” “What?” You will be left with a feeling like this . . . “Don’t know!” Now, be very careful not to take don’t-know as if it were the answer to the question. Don’tknow is not the answer to the question. Don’t-know is the state that arises from sincere questioning. So keep returning to that don’t-know state which is before ideas, before concepts. And, if you lose it, again bring up the question: “What am I?”
The Fierce Teaching of Paul Majchrzyk, JDPSN by Guillermo Echanique We are exceedingly pleased to celebrate Paul Majchrzyk’s becoming a Ji Do Poep Sa Nim on April 2, 2009, by featuring a closer look at Paul’s practice—viewed from his perspective during a solo retreat as well as from that of long time sangha member, Guillermo Echanique.
feeling and points me to the essential aspect of our practice: “Try, try, for ten thousand years straight.” The next kalpa begins right now so don’t waste time, yours or his! His methods have evolved in the combat zone that is New York City. Once, when we were walking together past Union Square on Fourteenth Street, he almost got run over by a taxi. He glared at the disappearing vehicle then told me, “sometimes F✫✫✫ You is the true way.” I agreed, of course. Paul’s teaching is gritty, strong, direct and clear, but humor is another important part of the equation. One of his most endearing qualities is humility. When the announcement of his being granted inka was posted, he drew the international “do not enter” sign over his picture, then hung it over the main door. Several times people removed the picture, but Paul kept on putting it back! Lastly, he is completely dedicated to the practice and to the Sangha. Day after day, month after month, year after year, the reliability of his presence is a pillar of the center. Paul is someone deserving of praise (much as he may hate it) and gratitude for all he does for the students, the center, the school, and the world, indeed. Paul, our newest teacher, is the embodiment of the Bodhisattva imperative to help. But, watch out, he will put you on the spot—on the hot mat of the interview room. Good luck!
have known Paul for twenty years, and for twenty years I have regarded the rigor of his practice with great admiration. I often criticize my own efforts, but find it a source of continuous encouragement that Paul, who has confessed to never being “happy” with his practice either, does not allow me off the hook of commitment because of my perpetual lamentations. Whenever I have complained about the weaknesses of my practice, Paul has helped me by pointing out his own struggles at overcoming obstacles and how I need to accept that practice is challenging to any student. Essentially, he helps me to ask myself, “Who are you to believe that you should have it easy or comfortable?” In my experience of his teaching, Paul has little patience with self-pity, advising me to stop complaining and just do it. That direct approach always fills my heart with a peaceful
Attacking Self-Nature: Paul Majchrzyk’s Solo Retreat Diary, September 20th-29th 2007 Diarist’s note: The first time I sat a solo retreat, I forgot much of what happened after a few months, and I decided to keep a diary this time to help me recall more details of the experience. There is very little free time on a solo retreat, and the “diary” is a couple sheets of hastily-scribbled notes describing whatever
seemed important to me in the rare instances when I could find a few minutes of spare time for writing. The diary portrays how a solo retreat is experienced—as a series of short vivid images, impressions and insights that are complete in themselves, if not related to each other in a linear way. 2
Thursday 9/20: As I do last-minute packing for the retreat, I find myself agonizing about little things - what clothes to bring, how much food, which books, clocks, medicines, etc. I’m reminded that our founding teacher compared entering and leaving a retreat to an airplane taking off or landing. There’s extra stress on the plane’s structure at those times, so lots of creaking and rumbling.
with the energy and optimism of springtime courtship and mating. But now the daytime sounds are full of territoriality and aggression as the animals get ready to hunker down for the winter—like one big continuous fight. I can hear and feel the aggression in their tone, and it puts me in the same frame of mind. I want to run out and tell them to shut up and cut the crap (which would undoubtedly be very effective).
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ When boarding the train for Providence, I have to use every ounce of self-control to restrain myself from trampling my fellow passengers in that compulsory stampede for better seats. What is that? Why not wait for everyone else to board the train and then take the worst seat? After so many years of practice, why is it still so hard to resist the herd mentality?
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Saturday, 9/22 There were football games all day at the nearby highschool stadium. I can hear the play-by-play on the PA system as if I were watching TV in the hut. Not the retreat atmosphere I had envisioned, and it’s so hard to stop myself from following along and visualizing the game. I decide to become another forest animal with no idea of what those words mean—just a constant droning in the background.
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ I begin the retreat with evening chanting and everything seems fine. But when I begin sitting meditation, I realize that my energy is terrible: I feel weak, cold, nauseous, feverish, exhausted. If it’s already this bad after a few hours, I certainly won’t be able to last for ten days, and I immediately start planning to give up (which mostly means inventing the most heroic-sounding justifications for quitting.) I know on some level that this urge to quit is my “opposites mind” reversing the direction of my meditation ardor— “I can’t wait to be on retreat!” morphs into “I have to escape this retreat now!” —but the desire to flee is genuine and overpowering.
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ My chipmunk pal: He lives under the hut, or in a hole nearby. The first day I came out, he darted away and watched from afar. Now he brings acorns to a rock about three feet from the porch, and sits there calmly eating while he watches me do walking meditation. He must know I’m on silent retreat, or he surely would have struck up a conversation by now. ✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Overall, this has been a low-key retreat for me. No mood swings, highs or lows, no trying to hold the question. There’s nothing I want to do or accomplish. But something in me is not quite OK with that, and feels that I’m wasting the retreat. So I’m trying to at least “be present” as much as possible. Which is correct? Just letting it be, or making an intentional effort to stay alert?
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Midnight bows outdoors in the cool moonlight with the crickets invigorate me, and give me energy to get through the first late-night sitting session. I guess I’ll put aside those quitting plans . . . for now.
Sunday, 9/23 I’ve never had a retreat that went the way I wanted it to go, or the way I planned (even when my plan was to have no plan). Yet I’m never sorry. This is retreat’s great value. It helps us see these deeply-embedded ideas we measure ourselves against, and that continuously color our experience. Someone is never quite happy or satisfied? Who is that?
Friday, 9/21 When preparing breakfast I realize that the fridge doesn’t work (although the motor is running), and all my perishable food has spoiled. I feel angry and ready to give up again. I spend the entire morning meditation session grumbling about “what a dump this place is.” ✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ During afternoon sitting, things suddenly become very quiet and ordinary. All that stress, anger and grumbling has settled down by itself.
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ You’ll never see things clearly until you see through your expectations, and since expectations are numberless, the process is endless. The Four Great Vows are in this sense just a realistic reminder that practice never ends. It takes away our idea and love of an endgame.
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ When I did a solo retreat in April, the bird songs and animal sounds were beautiful, melodious, and brimming over
Cricket sounds - nature’s “white noise.” It’s such a soothing sound. Even better than New York’s traffic sounds.
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Our Temple Rules for retreats say “Do not think you are a great and free person . . .” There were a few times during this retreat when I almost believed I was one. But when gardening time rolls around and I try to set up that lawn sprinkler from hell, I invariably end up in a water-soaked wrestling match with that infernal piece of plastic that reduces me to a cursing, drooling idiot in mere seconds. So thank you for your teaching . . . you $1.29 WalMart piece of shit!
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ A large grey spider (at least 3 inches in diameter) uses the retreat hut as his hunting ground. At night he’s usually perched on the wall a foot or two above my head, his many eyes glistening in the moonlight. His body turns each time I pass under him during walking meditation, like a tennis spectator following the ball in slow motion. I try to control that tinge of fear I feel when I’m directly beneath him. On occasion I imagine him pouncing on my neck, sinking his fangs into my jugular, and bleeding me to death.
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Tuesday, 9/25 Today the chipmunk warriors are chirping at the right speed for daily chanting, so I use their chirps to keep the beat for the Heart Sutra and the Great Dharani. They chirp somewhat irregularly, so I have to be totally alert and react instantaneously to stay in sync with them. An interesting exercise in reflexive concentration.
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Monday, 9/24 The re-usable Reynolds wrap skillet—my great bodhisattva: I’ve been eating only raw food until now—cereal, crackers, nuts, fruits—because I forgot to bring a pan, and I’m too noble to snatch one of the temple’s two small pans. But today I realized that I can sculpt a little skillet from several layers of aluminum foil, and it works like a charm. My first warm meal (reheated potato omelet from the temple kitchen) is indescribably wonderful—better than enlightenment. It even surpasses the Buddhas and patriarchs.
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Today I noticed that during meditation, I often drift off within a few minutes of sitting down. My body lists slightly to the left, and my field of vision glazes over, allowing internal meanderings. By setting visual cues on the floor and keeping a perfectly straight back, I was able to “return to now” much more effectively.
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ I thought chipmunks were nature’s ultimate cute shy little creatures. But today I discovered that they’re the ones making that continuous ear-splitting territorial chirping. They actually stand nose to nose about six inches apart and chirp rhythmically at each other for hours on end, leaning forward to deliver a chirp attack, and backward when receiving . . . until one of them finally gives in. But it never comes to violence.
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ When getting ready for sitting meditation this evening, I heard myself say “Sitting!! Whup dee doo!! Just what I need some more of!” Then I laughed uncontrollably for about three minutes. ✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ The Fifth Great Vow: “Allergy medicines are numberless. I vow to take them all.”
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Today my body finally went bad on me. Back, shoulders, and that ever reliable left knee are painful, throbbing, and raw. After my knees buckle during walking, I give in and use a chair for a few periods. This activates my inner Zen critic and my ideas about what a sucky practitioner I am (“Can’t even sit cross-legged for more than three days, you wimp?”). I try my “don’t judge your practice” lecture on myself, but am not impressed.
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Sometimes I think today’s Zen students know too much about Zen. For example, when I’m feeling unmotivated or having some kind of resistance to Zen practice, I think “Oh, that’s just great doubt. That’s one of the Three Essential Elements of Zen. My practice is fine.” Has the effectiveness of these methods been diluted by us knowing about them? I wonder if I will ever experience authentic great doubt. ✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ As usual, I am not happy or satisfied with my experience, especially during sitting meditation. I feel like I’m wasting time, or I’m not intense enough, or I try to generate states of mind like “being present”, “before words and speech,” “just being,” etc. I always feel some level of dissatisfaction during a retreat, and only afterwards do I fully realize the value of what has happened and feel gratitude.
Wednesday, 9/26 Today I got so sick of listening to animal fighting sounds—chipmunks, squirrels, blue jays (nature’s Dick Cheneys) that I turned on the fan to drown them out. What a welcome relief, and a good lesson for those of us who tend to romanticize nature.
all boundaries had dissolved between me and the world, between inside and outside, between “this” and “that.” Things looked and sounded as they always do, but everything—form, light, color, sound, thought—was made of the same energy, which I saw visually as very thin glowing lines or grains of light flowing between things. Another aspect of this experience was a subtle sense of warmth, calmness, well-being, and of belonging. I felt comfortable and at home. And finally, there was an awareness that my small self and its needs had fallen away, so it seemed natural to devote more time to others (not so much a feeling of proactive altruism, but more like “what else is there to do?”) Now that the world looks “normal” again, and the feeling of euphoria is receding, I think there may have been a mild hallucinogenic component to this experience, perhaps induced by all the endorphins released into my bloodstream after two days of self-mortification. However, I was here in the hut the whole time, following the schedule, sitting, walking, and so forth—so I wasn’t out of control either. I know I shouldn’t ascribe undue importance to this experience because of its “specialness.” But I don’t want to completely discount its meaning either. Perhaps this was a window on an equally valid way of experiencing the world when the conceptual mind is cut off. At minimum, it reminds me that the world is not quite the way it seems, and this somehow energizes my practice, and reinforces my belief in the Zen view of the underlying unity of all things.
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ What am I? I look and look, but have never found any “self.” Only everything else reflected without a subject/ object interface. But I still feel like a self, I still get angry (even at stupid things), and my habit energies do not abate or weaken. Why doesn’t the realization penetrate? Why does pure clear original nature take on so many bad habits when it assumes human form? ✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Thoughts appearing in the mind during meditation is “natural process.” Struggling with the thoughts that appear during meditation (instead of letting them play out) is also “natural process.” That’s how we eventually learn to stop struggling and just let them play out. ✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Sometimes when I’m stumbling bleary-eyed through the woods at 3:00 AM, I imagine how convenient it would be to have a bathroom in the hut. But actually, these unscripted excursions into nature at all hours of the day and night are a unique and valuable part of the retreat experience. The demise of the outhouse has separated us from nature, and contributed a bit to the dulling of human experience. ✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Friday, 9/28 Yesterday morning, my frustration at my inability to stop thinking and “stay present” came to a head, and I began hitting myself with the chukpi on the thigh every time I caught myself drifting off. This went on for nearly two days as my anger mounted to a fever pitch, and the selfdiscipline intensified until I had welts on both thighs. And then it happened! My cherished state of one-pointed concentration appeared. I was totally alert and present—when thoughts appeared I was not pulled off center and they dissipated almost immediately. This continued for several sitting periods, until I noticed that there was an emotionless quality to this alertness, and it dawned on me that my inner disciplinarian had simply beaten all the other components of my personality into submission. I had conducted a kind of Pavlovian Zen experiment on myself, and the resulting state was clear and alert, but also cold and lifeless. It was not anyplace worth staying. Seeing this was like having a great weight lifted from my shoulders, and in the relaxed state that spontaneously ensued, I picked up and bored into the question of selfnature. “What am I?” “Who was so angry just before?” “How is it just now?” “At this very moment, what is it that sees and hears?” And within a short time I was immersed in a new and very different state of consciousness that lasted for most of the evening sitting session. There were several distinguishing aspects about this experience. One was that
✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ Saturday, 9/29 My retreat ends after this morning’s meditation session. I had hoped to finish on a peaceful, reflective note, and the world seemed to be cooperating. But then the sun rose and the animals began fighting even more noisily than usual. They were going to give me a rousing send-off. ✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ When I sat down for the final meditation period while the din of animal fighting continued, something in me decided it was time to take action. I felt some energy rise up in me that wasn’t exactly anger, but more like tough love parenting energy (“So you like fighting? I’ll show you fighting!”) And next thing I knew I was charging into the woods swinging the broom wildly and yelling war hoops, driving a small wave of squirrels, chipmunks and birds before me. That only bought me a few minutes of peace, but undaunted I charged a second time, clearing a wider area on all sides of the hut—and this time it worked. The woods were peaceful for almost twenty minutes—just a few plaintive bird calls in the distance. Perhaps not the clearest way to mark the end of a retreat, but I finally got to hear nature at rest in the daytime, and the peace and quiet were so beautiful. ✫✫✫✫✫✫✫✫ 5
Windows onto the Sangha On Sunday, January 10, 2010, at 11:06 a.m. I asked anyone in the sangha who was interested to write a poem that was a window, to let us see what they had seen. Here are eight clear windows for you to look through. –M.K. Babcock, Poetry Editor
Sunday, January 10, 4:14 p.m.
Monday, January 11, 12:23p.m.
Blue sky, winter wind howls Squirrels dig for food in the snow Bright red Cardinals shine in the leafless trees A black cat wonders where to take a nap In the winter sun, in the winter sun!
Same man walking his dog in front of the house same dog, getting his business done in our driveway flower box same man walks back home -I know what building you live in now, buddy.
Sunday, January 10, 4:42 p.m.
Monday, January 11, 2:30p.m.
orange clouds and blue streaks explode behind the triangled roof top of the house across the street and to the right a tree’s dark silhouette of branches little lines in black ink go in every direction
Stark wintry scene in my nyc backyard Flash of red—look closer Robin in tree Are you here for you or for me? -Trish O’Sullivan
Tuesday, January 12
What do I see? MU! What do I hear? MU! Snow butterfly floating in the sky.
Sunday, January 10, 5:32 p.m. An orange tree makes its entrance out of pitch, stage left, just as the silhouette of the lemon tree dances up against an endless indigo sky. Dog bowl shimmers in the mud. Ah, the drama of bathroom light.
Every Day Joyful Day!
Wednesday, January 20, 7:29p.m. Char Restaurant, Brooklyn NY My birthday, 35, I sit at the bar by myself eating a sandwich, Idle chit-chat on all sides. Out the window, a covered dumpster, Met supermarket, “Fresh Fish, Meat & Produce” -Alan Katz
Sunday, January 10, 10:22 p.m. Glittering light Past the Christmas tree Only that One of these days New glasses -Ken Kessel
Poems for the Poet
Poem for Buddha’s Enlightenment Day 2009 Becoming acquainted with old age, sickness and death, Shakyamuni jumped over the palace wall, leaving behind family, wealth, comfort, and power.
In December, Ken Kessel JDPSN celebrated a birthday. We celebrated with him, in a style befitting the poetry editor of Primary Point—by writing poems for him, a selection of which follows.
Sometimes a good situation is a bad situation. Comment: Gold dust in the eye hinders vision and gold chains still confine.
Roses are red violets are blue Since you are a poet here is some Haiku some borrowed and some new—just for you.
For several years he practiced like a Fierce lion following the style of the teachers of the time. Torturing and starving the body didn’t produce much merit or wisdom, only exhaustion and despair.
Pond. Frog jumps in. Plop.
Sometimes a bad situation is just a bad situation. Comment: Trying to reach the south by heading north, you never arrive.
Poet. Words leap out. Ahhhhhhhhh. -Trish O’Sullivan
The Ten Thousand (for Ken)
A young cowherd girl offering milk and rice pointed him toward the middle way. How embarrassing, the Great Ascetic is defeated by the milkmaid.
Ten thousand poems are written when you exhale. Ten thousand more poems are written when you inhale. When your pen writes a poem, ten thousand more poems are written an inch above your pen.
Sometimes a bad situation is a good situation. Comment: The Bodhisattva of compassion reveals herself in many forms.
When you were born ten thousand poems flew through the air snapping ten thousand flags of ten thousand nations. In the morning
Resolutely sitting under the Bodhi tree Enlightenment appeared. Did Gotama put out the light of a distant star, or did the star extinguish Gotama? What kind of experience did Shakyamuni get? AH! Wonderful star?... I and all beings are already awakened From the Start?... The net of interconnection is wide and vast?... Tell me Tell me!
when you take a shower ten thousand poems sprinkle your skin and at night when you snore ten thousand poems joyride through ten thousand capillaries popping ten thousand birthday balloons filled with ten thousand poems. Today, all the ten thousand poems salute you. Tomorrow the ten thousand poems will go out to the park with you and toss a baseball. You think back on yesterday and yesterday’s
Man Gong Zen Master said: “Buddha saw a star got enlightenment. Man Gong saw a star and lost enlightenment.” Got and lost, Good situation and bad situation, Enlightened and unenlightened all come from where?
ten thousand poems. Take a deep bow. The ten thousand poems make a spring board of your back and leap and land in a pool made up of ten thousand poems.
Today is Saturday December 5, 2009. The leaves have already fallen from the trees, Golden wind fills the air. -Zen Master Wu Kwang
Zen Master Wu Kwangâ€™s new book, entitled Elegant Failure: A Guide to Zen Koans, was published on May 25th, 2010. He selected 22 cases from The Blue Cliff Record and Wu-men-kuan that he finds deeply meaningful and helpful for meditation practice. In Elegant Failure, he provides a wealth of background information and personal anecdotes for each of the koans that helps to illuminate their meaning without detracting from their paradoxical nature. Available from Publishers Group West, by calling: 1-800788-3123; from Rodmell Press by calling 1-800-841-3123; and from Amazon.com.
Dharma Teacher Jess Row, his wife Sonya Posmentier, and their daughter Mina welcomed Asa Cushman Posmentier Row into their family on Monday, March 29th. We celebrated baby Asaâ€™s 100-day Baby Ceremony on July 14th.
Several members of our sangha, pictured here, were present for Vesak Day and the International Lotus Lantern Parade, which were celebrated in Union Square on May 1, 2010. The Buddhist Council also participated in the Lotus Lantern Parade, making it truly international. Two important petitions were circulated: the Arms Down petition for nuclear disarmament from the World Conference of Religions for Peace, as well as a petition for the city of New York to recognize Vesak Day as a holiday. Union Square passersby and onlookers were respectful and quiet. (photo by Arunas Kulikauskas)
Woodfish-layout editor James Gouijn-Stook and his wife Susan Gouijn-Stook welcomed Deven Kunchandy Gouijn-Stook to their family on March 3rd. Deven just turned 10 months old, and is doing great! He just learned to walk.