Page 1

Newsletter of the Chogye International Zen Center of New York 400 E. 14th St., Apt. 2E • New York, NY 10009 • (212) 353 - 0461 • Editors; Guillermo Echanique, John Holland, Paul Majchrzyk,

Issue No. 24 Winter/Spring 2005

Calligraphy: Sung Hae Sunim Design: James Gouijn-Stook


Printing: Marlboro Press

30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION A Dharma Speech Given by Zen Master Seung Sahn at the opening ceremony of the International Zen Center of New York on April 20, 1975. (Holding up his Zen stick and hitting the table, slowly, three times) Is this closed? Is this open? If you say “closed,” you fall into the hell without doors. If you say open, you are dancing with all the demons. Why? (Holding up his Zen Zen Master Seung Sahn stick and tracing a circle in the air; then holding the stick perpendicular to the table) One two three four; five six seven eight. (After a few moments) Thank you very much for coming to our ceremony even though you must be very busy. It is not an accident we are gathered here today. It is the result of our past karma. It is very good karma that has brought us to meet here in front of the Buddha’s altar. This karma means finding your true self and attaining the Absolute. It means leaving behind the world of desire and journeying to the land of true freedom and peace. That is why we founded Won Gak Sa* one year ago and are opening the International Zen Center today. But the Sutra says, “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.” So all names and all forms are emptiness. Won Gak Sa, the International Zen Center of New York, this opening ceremony - these are also emptiness. The Sutra says, “All beings are already Buddha.” So why is chanting or reading sutras or sitting Zen necessary? But we don’t know ourselves. Desire, anger, and ignorance cover up our clear mind. If we cut off all thinking and return to empty mind, then your mind, my mind, and all people’s minds are the same. We become one with the whole universe. Therefore, an eminent teacher said, “All things in the universe return to the One.”

True empty mind is before thinking. So thinking does not appear or disappear. In the realm where nothing appears or disappears, there is no life and no death, no suffering and no happiness, no good and no bad, no you and no I. So it is said that all things in the universe return to One. But where does this One return? Once somebody came up to the great Zen Master Mang Gong and asked him, “If all things return to the One, where does this One return?” Mang Gong said, “The spring geese are flying north.” What do you think this means, “The spring geese are flying north?” Even though you may understand enough to smash Mount Sumeru into a million pieces and swallow the ocean in one gulp, you will not understand this. Even though you may understand enough or kill or give life to all the Buddhas of the three time-worlds and all eminent teacher and all people, you will not begin to understand this. Then how can you understand the true meaning of “The spring geese are flying north?” Only keep don’t-know mind. This don’t-know mind is the mind that is stuck and cannot budge. It is like trying to break through a steel wall or trying to climb a silver mountain. All thinking is cut off. But as soon as you penetrate this condition, your mind will explode. Then you can see the stone lion run across the waves and devour the sun. But you will still be bewildered. Go one step further. Then you will arrive at your true home, where spring comes and the flowers are blossoming everywhere. If you arrive here, not only will sutras and bibles be true, but also the sound of water and wind, the color of the mountain, the barking of a dog in the St. - everything that you see or (continued on p. 2)


3 0 T H



(continued from p. 1)

sense, everything as it is, will be the truth. Therefore, Zen Master Mang Gong said, “The spring geese are flying north.” The truth is just like this. All things in the universe return to the One; where does the One return? Throw away Small I and enter Empty I. Then when you open your eyes, everything that you can see and hear will be like this. A little while ago I hit the table three times. Mang Gong said, “The spring geese are flying north.” The meaning of my action and the meaning of Mang Gong’s words–are these the same or different?

If you say the same, I will hit you thirty times. If you say different, I will still hit you thirty times. Why? KATZ!!! Open the door to Broadway. *Won Gak Sa was the temple founded at the 20th St. location by DSSN and Poep An Sunim. From Dropping Ashes on the Buddha. Reprinted by permission of the Providence Zen Center.

The Great Question for Thirty Years Zen Master Wu Kwang n March 1975, shortly before the official opening of the Chogye International Zen Center of New York, Zen Master Seung Sahn made a calligraphy that consisted of a brush stroke circle, a few Chinese characters, and the English words, “What is this?” Thirty years later, this calligraphy still graces a wall in the Zen Center.



The circle points us toward one of the central principles of Zen, empty/full. Clear mind is empty of preconceived ideas, constructs, opinions, and the notion of a self sufficient self, yet full of the infinite potentialities readily available through the direct perception of an interconnected universe where things are just as they are. The question, “What is this?” is one of the fundamental kong-ans of the Zen tradition having originated at the time of the Sixth Patriarch of Chinese Zen. A monk named Huai Jang came to call on the Sixth Patriarch. The Patriarch asked, “Where are you coming from?” Huai Jang replied “From Seung Sahn.” The Patriarch said, “What is this that has come from Seung Sahn?” Huai Jang couldn’t answer, and according to some versions of the story, he returned to Seung Sahn and practiced looking into this question continuously for eight years before he had an opening. “What is this?” and “What am I?” are two of the principal kong-ans used in the Korean Zen tradition. I recently asked one of our Sangha who knows some Chinese the literal meaning of the Chinese characters in Dae Soen Sa Nim’s calligraphy. He said it just means, “What is?” “What is?” is an invitation to look clearly and experience directly. Simultaneously it urges us to let go of what is hindering us from perceiving the world and ourselves

just as it is or as Dae Soen Sa Nim would often say “just like this.” Practicing with the great question, “What is this?” brings us face-to-face with the absolute mind before relative comparisons like self and other, inside or outside, same or different appear. At that moment, there is only Don’t know, only clarity and openness. The question also helps us look at each mind-state that arises moment to moment and cut through the myriad delusions. At the beginning of his Dharma speech at the opening ceremony of the Chogye International Zen Center of New York, April 20, 1975, Zen Master Seung Sahn held up his Zen stick, hit the table three times and asked, “Is this closed? Is this open? If you say closed, you fall into hell without doors. If you say open, you are dancing with all demons.” We need to recognize the difference between the concept of openness, which invariably leads to the opposite, unopeness, and the primary experience of openness that is not a concept at all. “What is this?” is itself already the experience of openness which is clear like space. In some classical Zen dialogues, the master admonishes the student with, “Keep the great question for 30 years.” The Chogye Zen Center has silently kept the question alive for us for 30 years through this calligraphy, by providing a place wherein we find like-minded people to practice with, and through the continuance of Zen Master Seung Sahn’s teaching and vision. Please open the door, come in, and lend support to this endeavor. When you leave, open the door to Fourteenth St. and connect practice with daily life.


3 0 T H



Looking Back, Looking Forward, Looking Here Ken Kessel, JDPSN

One moment is thirty years Thirty years is one moment Thirty years passes quickly One moment crawls along Blink your eyes They’re both gone One moment breathe in Thirty years breathe out hen Bodhidharma studied with Prajnatara, Prajnatara predicted the appearance of Zen Master Ma Jo in eighth century China. When Zen Master Seung Sahn came to New York, he only had two empty hands. How could he have known about 14th St.?


We each came to the Zen Center expecting something. We each found out in our own way that what we expected got in the way of seeing what we already have. A monk asked Joju, “For a long time, I’ve heard of the stone bridge of Chao Chou, but now that I’ve come here, I just see a simple log bridge.”

CIZCNY, 17th Street circa 1985

Joju said, “You just see the log bridge; you don’t see the stone bridge. The monk said, “What is the stone bridge?” Joju said, “Asses cross, horses cross.” Over 30 years many people have passed through these doors. Many of them have come and gone; some have stayed almost the whole time. But we owe all of them a debt of gratitude, for participating in the energy that has sustained our practice and this Center all these years. In the Zen Center, we use the Sangha to help us study the Dharma to see our Buddha nature. Outside the Zen Center, we practice the Dharma to use our Buddha-nature to relate to the world-sangha. When Zen Master Su Bong was doing a solo 100-day retreat, he had finished 50 days and felt that his energy was good. So he found his way to a telephone and called DSSN. He said, “This retreat is very easy, and I feel good. Why should I continue?” DSSN immediately, shouted, “Not for me!’” and hung up. As we celebrate the anniversary of our Zen Center, let us remember the air we all share.



3 0 T H



A Brief History of the CIZCNY Ken Kessel, JDPSN ➤ 1975-77: 40 East 20th St. We shared space with Won Gak Sa following Choi Bosal Nim’s encounter with Dae Soen Sa Nim and Poep An Su Nim in a coffee shop, when she prevailed upon them to open a temple in New York. ➤ 1977-78: 105 East 16th St. We used the dance studio space of Sun Ok Lee, a Korean traditional dancer, who was a student of Dae Soen Sa Nim’s. ➤ 1978-79: 11 East 7th St. We used Carole Marshall’s (then Korzeniowsky) apartment, located next to McSorley’s and above a Ukrainian gift shop. We did retreats in those days on Long Island, in the basement of Bob Orens’ house. He was a lawyer who lived in Long Beach. hirty years is so long ago, it’s ancient history. Let me see if I can get this right.... There was a time when the Zen Center was struggling to find a home. First we were on 20th St.? And then we were in a dance studio on 16th St.. But then we were homeless.



So I invited the Zen Center to my two-room apartment on East 7th St., up three narrow flights of stairs, over Surma’s Ukrainian shop and two doors down from McSorley’s Bar and Grill. My living-room was one of those railroad flat rooms: long and narrow. It was lined with

cushions down both sides and open for practice at seven o’clock every night. I don’t remember how long it went on but I really liked having the Sangha come to me. I have a beautiful photo someone took of DSSN sitting on a cushion in front of my old red secretary, with his wooden stick raised. “International Zen Center,” seemed a little grandiloquent for us in those days, but DSSN’s teaching certainly became international in the years after that. ■ – Carole Korzeniowsky


held interviews in one of the bedrooms upstairs. Actually, that was the first interview I had with him.

I remember a weekend-long retreat there when DSSN slept on the little loft bed in the small bedroom in back, which barely accommodated him. The rest of us squeezed onto the floor in the little living-room. The retreat happened to coincide with the opening ceremonies for the huge Ukrainian church directly opposite. I believe every Ukrainian in the world attended! Their celebration took place in the street. There were lots of off-key singing and loudspeaker speeches. On our part, I think there was a feeling of barely concealed sheepishness for somehow failing to provide DSSN with the proper atmosphere for a retreat. He, of course, treated it as the “ideal” atmosphere for a retreat. The retreat was very strong, deep, and spiced, as always, with his sense of humor.

The retreat would have been in 1978 or 1979. It was a full three-day retreat, which was rather difficult for the majority of us who were novices. Even robes were a novelty — and of course the rituals as well. Our chanting must not have been very good. Luckily, it was probably inaudible to all but us because of the church-opening ceremonies. There were never more than about six of us in attendance. Still, it was something of an accomplishment to prepare meals in the passageway that passed for Carole’s kitchen. Eating in silence seemed odd. DSSN sat the entire retreat with us. Each evening he gave a Dharma talk. I was already familiar with his style from having practiced some at the Cambridge Zen Center in 1972/73. I know that he charmed us all — even though that was not his primary intention — and that his manner made it possible for us to get through the retreat. His English was much less developed than it was later. His main teaching was same-or-different style — as a way of getting to now. He would point to a teacup and to his Zen stick and say, “This and this — same or different — if you say same I hit you 30 times. If you say different I hit you 30 times. So what can you do?” Then he’d usually laugh and with his big smile wait for someone to fall into a self-made trap. Another of his main teachings was, “The

’m quite sure the apartment was in the building east of McSorley’s. It was a tiny apartment. I used to go to McSorley’s for a couple of half-pints before practice. Those half-pints seemed to improve my ability to achieve some sort of a tranquil state — if not exactly the essential one. The owner of the apartment was a writer named Carole Korzeniowsky.

I sat another retreat on Long Island. Bob Orens had cleared everything out of his garage. The floor was cement. It was the hardest surface that I have ever sat on. It was excruciating to enunciate, “Don’t-know!” DSSN


3 0 T H


apple does not say ‘I am red.’” You can get an idea of his style at that time from Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, although even there the stories have been “normalized” and his style seems to have been trimmed a little. The


actual impression that he gave us at the time was of justoff-the-boat-Zen. Instinctively, each of us knew that there was nothing else like it. ■ – Alan Davies

➤ 1979-1984: 39 East 31st St.. We bought this building and shared it with the Korean Sangha for a few years. was going to grad school in Wisconsin and also studying tai chi. It was 1979 and I had read some books about Zen when I heard that my cousin Ken Kessel had been to Korea to pursue his interest in Zen. I attended an introduction to Zen session with a local group. I felt right away that the practice was for me, and began sitting regularly with the group. But I couldn’t really connect with their style.


That summer, on vacation, I visited Ken at the 31st. St. Zen Center, and met DSSN. I liked his sense of humor. I had bought a “Laughing Buddha” cookie in Chinatown and we ate it after Chinese food. “Good!” said DSSN when he saw what I had brought, “We eat the Buddha.” He was

came to New York in 1983 with the intention of establishing a meditation practice. I visited a number of places I found listed in the New-Age paper called Free Spirit. Since I was new to the city, I walked everywhere in an attempt to learn about its neighborhoods. When dusk fell one evening, I headed out to find Chogye at 31 East 39th. St., where a free dharma talk was listed. I passed one factory after another until I came to what should have been number 31 but was a vacant lot – Void! I stood there, creeped-out by the bleak buildings, tired, with no telephone in sight, rechecking the advertisement in the newspaper, hoping that 31 would morph. Then it occurred to me that maybe this is a Zen barrier gate and I was being scrutinized to see if I was “ready.” Maybe I should sit in the lotus position until the Zen master arrived. Or maybe this was some sort of Taoist magic: the Zen Center was cloaked in invisibility; only the True Student could see it. As I peered through sodium vapor yellow light, I tried to conjure up a floating Buddhist temple. No luck. I must be deficient. I was becoming giddy, checking the sky for The Mother Ship. Perhaps Chogye landed only long enough to pick up the initiated and was then pulled back to The Source on laser tractor beams. Or maybe, like the Tardis flying booth in “Dr. Who,” Chogye zoomed through the heavens at warp speed changing


there for a few days, wearing gray monk pants and a white T-shirt all the time while he answered letters and tried to fix something in the bathroom. One afternoon, he was holding a big hammer, and looked like he really was motivated to try to bang on something in there, but I decided I had to ask him right then about “joining.” I said to him, “That other group is too tight for me,” squeezing my fist. “Yeh, too tight!” he said, squeezing his face up. He gave me a little smile. We sat down on an old sofa for a little while and talked. That was that. Then he picked up the hammer and disappeared into the little bathroom. ■ – Jan Potemkin shape and size at will and might plop down at my feet at any moment. When my hysteria retreated, I felt very much alone. I found a telephone. A friendly voice – coming not, I judged, from The Mother Ship, told me to come to 39 East 31st. St., where a good talk was about to begin. As I walked to the new address, I still speculated that the misprint in Free Spirit was a Zen joke on me. Thus when Ken Kessel opened the Dharma-room door for me and gave me a little push inside, my mind took an indelible snapshot. I was in a large, low-ceilinged, carpeted room that appeared to be dark and bright at the same time. I saw two men facing a group seated on cushions. The locutors were Richard Shrobe and Linc Rhodes. Richard spoke about having a Great Question and fueling that question instead of looking for answers. He said that answers would always be unsatisfying. He said that in Zen the path is in the question, in grabbing hold of the Great Question in Not Knowing. This was an epiphany for me. I had been so haunted by questions that I couldn’t answer – and now they were gone. I didn’t have to worry any more about finding answers. I had to have trust in not-knowing. What a relief! I had such a sense of discovery that I knew (continued on p. 6)



3 0 T H


(continued from p. 5)

I would not search any further for a teacher or practice. Within a week I had moved into Chogye; within four weeks I was de facto Housemaster. For my first two weeks, I camped out in the Dharma room until I was permitted to move into a tiny adjacent room that was also the interview room. One evening when I returned to my room I opened the door to see an orangeknit hat sitting at the head of my bed. Then it moved, and a pair of eyebrows appeared and a pair of laughing eyes


as well as part of a nose. “Hello, sister,” came a voice from under the covers. That is how I first met the Supreme Patriarch of Cambodian Buddhism – and learned that my room was also the guest room. One Friday afternoon when I got home from work I put on some tea. Then I was in the process of sitting down on the couch when I peeked under an orange cloth thrown across it. There were those eyebrows again under the orange-knit cap. “Hello, sister!” ■ – Syndria Mecham

➤ 1984 – 1987: 42 West 17th St. (between 5th & 6th Avenues). After selling the building on East 31st St., we rented a large two-bedroom apartment with a very large living-room area. We continued to share it with the Korean Sangha. n 1983 I went to the temple located at 31st St. and Park Avenue South. Full of self-doubt, I hesitantly made my way there in search of the right teacher. When I knocked, a student named Steve opened the door. He asked why I was there, and then what kind of practice was I following. I explained that I was curious about Zen, and that I was practicing Soto Zen. “You are in luck,” said Steve, “because the Zen Master is here!”



With great trepidation I went in. My head was buzzing with questions. What would this exalted being, the Zen Master, look like? How would he behave toward me? I pictured encountering an ethereal person. I was also afraid that, not knowing the protocol, I would look foolish by doing something stupid. To my surprise, when I entered the room DSSN was sitting watching TV in the company of five or six students. Steve introduced me, “This is Willie who practices Soto Zen.” DSSN looked at me and asked, “What is your prac-

tice?” “I count my breaths,” I answered. Then, in a voice loud enough to make me jump, DSSN said, “JUST DO IT.” I’ve been trying ever since. After the Center moved to 17th St. in 1984, I attended a three-day sitting led by DSSN. I distinctly remember a certain degree of concern from other building tenants who apparently did not appreciate our early morning prostrations and chanting. DSSN then changed the schedule so the noisier aspects were reserved for later in the morning. Richard Shrobe, now Zen Master Wu Kwang, was a JDPSN at the time and listened as DSSN conducted the interviews. Other people I met in those days included Linc Rhodes, Syndria Mecham (now at the Providence Zen Center), and Kwang Myong Sunim, JDPSN (Nina Davis), the present guiding teacher at Queensland Zen Center in Brisbane, Australia. ■ – Guillermo (Willie) Echanique

➤ 1987- present: 400 East 14th St., Apt. 2E. The Korean Sangha moved to Woodside and subsequently, in 2005, to 42 West 96th St. he first time I visited, in 1991, CIZCNY was in its current location, but half its current size. Ruth Forero, Jan Potemkin, and Susan Baer were the regulars then, in addition to the Zen Master, so my Zen stem cells imprinted onto them, and they are therefore entirely culpable for whatever my Zen practice has become. My main memory is that there were many free spirits appearing and disappearing then, unlike today’s hard working


crew. (Have real estate values pushed the free spirits out of the vicinity?) My other memory is that coverage of weekday practice was a little iffy. When Ruth realized that I was a musician, she put me on her special intensive training course. I began covering weekday practice about three to four weeks after my initial visit. Ah, they don’t make Head Dharma Teachers like they did in the old days. ■ – Paul Majchrzyk


3 0 T H



I first arrived at the Center on a Sunday in August in 1994. I found an ad in the New York Spirit. The Center was already on 14th St., but half the size it is today. Inspired, as I was, after reading Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, the visit was supposed to be the first of many visits I would make to a variety of Zen centers that summer.

ing the Sunday evening introduction. I had been hoping to meet a short, Asian, teacher with a bad attitude, who would shout out commands, and take over my life. Instead, after being given a simple set of instructions and a short Dharma talk, I was sent home. I showed up again the following week, and again the one that followed.

I remember being mildly disappointed at being greeted by a couple of kind, middle-aged women, who were host-

I never made it to any other center that summer. ■ – Socrates Aguayo


a! What did I think the first time I trudged up the first set of stairs at 400 East 14th St., NYC, and entered the Dharma room?

path leading to higher consciousness or some such. I felt like an imposter, hoping they wouldn’t realize that I had hardly a clue about any of it.

That’s easy! Even though I’d been going to Kwan Um gatherings in Los Angeles for a few months before moving to the opposite end of the continent, I thought, cringing, that everyone here—c’mon, it’s New York, right?—must know what was going on—and why they were there. And that they, unlike me, already were climbing some secret

I still feel as though I am searching for that path...but now I think many of us are doing that. And that maybe we are among the lucky ones. ■

en years ago or so, I used to sit with the Kwan Um group at Brown University in Providence. There was always about half an hour of meat and potatoes—sitting— and then about an hour of dessert—Dharma talk and questions. I especially loved dessert!


Then I moved to New York and came to the Chogye International Zen Center on a Saturday morning. All that bowing. All that chanting. Lots of meat and potatoes and then…no Dharma talk, no dessert. Like and dislike mind appeared. Who needs bowing, who needs chanting, who needs Sangha, I asked myself? I drifted off and practiced by myself—or didn’t. Somehow, I found that without Sangha, I would sometimes “forget” my meditation for as long as six months.

– Liz McGuinness

help finding out what the back of Buddha’s eyes looked like. 7

So I came. Even though I didn’t like chanting and bowing, I stayed. Slowly, I learned to use the time to watch and learn about the mind that likes and dislikes rather than being attached to it. For example, I used to dislike the Homage to the Three Jewels. Now I like it. Likes, dislikes, coming, and going—clouds moving through the sky. I now realize why Sangha is so important to practice. How can I take up a teacher’s time in kong-an interviews if I don’t practice regularly? How can I help other students if I don’t? When I went on a solo retreat recently, I kept going sometimes because I didn’t want to have to tell Sangha members I couldn’t do it and other times because I wanted to inspire other Sangha members to try it themselves.

Buddha statue on altar at After a few years of occasionally drop400 E. 14th Street ping in at the CIZNY, Zen Master Seung Sahn came to me in a dream. In it, he was walking very fast towards me, and I was trying to get away from him. I I also really enjoy our teachers and learning from them knew he was going to ask me some question I could not that to be human is truth. I enjoy their different styles, answer. Finally, he caught up with me, and of course, he quirks, and dedication. Part of the reason I hit the cushion did have a question. every morning is because I know they do.

He held up the front of the Compass of Zen and said, “You can see from the picture on the cover what the front of Buddha’s eyes look like. But I ask you, what do the back of Buddha’s eyes look like?” Of course, I couldn’t answer, but the good news was, somehow, I took this dream as a sign that I really should come to the Zen Center regularly. I had better get some

What I’m trying to say is that now I love CIZNY. So thank you Zen Master Wu Kwang and everyone else who helped start it and everyone who keeps it going. And as for helping find out what the back of Buddha’s eyes look like, thanks for showing me it’s very simple: Put it all down! ■ – Colin Beavan


3 0 T H


he Zen Center was at its present location on 14th St. when I first visited in 1998. I was standing outside the building, not sure which apartment number to buzz, when lucky for me, Paul Majchrzyk appeared, asked if I was looking for the Zen Center, and led the way in.



Elizabeth DiSalvo led the Sunday intro night the first time I went in 2000. I remember it was summertime because during the sitting instruction Elizabeth reminded us to stay present, come back to the Dharma room, listen to the hum of the air conditioner. A Sangha member, whom I haven’t seen since, gave the Dharma talk that evening. I remember her hands, made strong, I think, from gardening. They made a sturdy mudra. I remember thinking, “Oh, this is just an apartment!”

This was my first one-day retreat, and although I had sat two-day retreats before, I didn’t realize what the one-day schedule would be, until sitting period followed sitting period, for six hours, with no breaks and two rounds of interviews with Ken Kessel, JDPSN. The number of students and the For a long time, in the beginning I intensity of practice that somehow fit natuwould be bothered, while sitting, by the rally into this small physical space hanging scrolls being blown by the ceilimpressed me. Since then, these first impresing fans so that their bottom wooden CIZCNY; 400 E. 14th Street sions have been confirmed many times over, parts would knock against the wall. Then by the sincerity and direction of our Sangha, the support one day I noticed that the wooden anchors had gone. I offered here for practice, and the clarity and kindness of guessed but was never sure until recently, that the framed both the senior students and our very generous Zen calligraphy from 1975 marked the Zen Center’s inauguraMaster and Ji Do Poep Sa Nims. ■ tion. We are almost the same age! ■


– Karen Spicher

– Eugene Lim

y first impression was “Wow, it’s a New York City apartment.” The floor reminded me of a friend’s house when I was a kid. But, still, it was exactly a Zen Center. It was very clean and smelled of incense.

the Cambridge Zen Center but I had not been there for a long time. When I moved back to New York, it turned out that a friend of a friend, Michael Batshaw, sat at this Center. I remember really loving the Zen Master’s Dharma talk. ■


Was it a coincidence that I was in another Kwan Um School of Zen Center? I had first learned to meditate at first visited CIZCNY in the mid-1980s when it was on 31st St. I was checking out various meditation centers, mostly from the Japanese tradition. I thought Chogye was a friendly, welcoming place. It was colorful, not just black-and-white. I liked the paper lanterns from the Buddha’s Birthday Celebration hanging from the ceiling.


My visits were intermittent over the next few years until the Center moved to 14th St. when I began attending more consistently. In 1990, I became a member and took

y first visit to Chogye was in January or February 1998 at its current location. I went to a Friday night practice but showed up late during chanting. I could hear the chanting in 2E, as I stood frozen in front of 2D. I didn’t want to interrupt, but I wanted to go in. Then I paced up and down the hall asking myself should I go in? Should I go home? What should I do? Will they get mad if I barge in? As I was about to leave, Steve Cohen passed me and was about to enter 2D. He smiled at me, cocked his head towards the door, and waved at me to


– Clare Ellis Five Precepts. I really don’t know what kept me returning except that don’t-know was very appealing, and I found the people to be friendly. My experience at the Center has had an enormous impact on my life for which I am very grateful. Thank you Zen Master Wu Kwang and thanks to all the sangha for your contribution of love, dedication, hard work, and year after year of strong practice. ■ - Susan Baer follow him in. I can’t remember if Steve said anything, or if it was just the motions, but he was clearly indicating, “Come on in! No problem!” So I followed him in, put on a robe, was handed a chanting book, and sat down. After practice, I chatted with others at Chogye, and found that, to a person, they were friendly and warm. This warmth, this “Come on in! No problem!” kept me going until my work took me abroad. After a hiatus of a couple of years, I was back in New York and decided to start going to Chogye again. I found a


3 0 T H


retreat on the calendar and decided to go. The week before, I worried about what would happen when I went back. What would they say? Should I go? Maybe I should start by going to Morning Practice. Maybe I should start next month.... When I woke up on the morning of the retreat, I wanted to return to sleep, but my legs


just took me to the Zen Center. I buzzed the door and went up to 2D. When I went in, everything was the same, except this time, all the people I’d missed practicing with had broad smiles as they hugged me. It was still the same, “Come on in! No problem!” ■ -– Larry Lee

t was early 2003, and I was still feeling the impact of 9/11. I left One World Trade Center only 6 1/2 hours before the first attack. I found myself in need of a meditation teacher and a Sangha. I couldn’t do it alone. My nighttime job made it impossible for me to go back to the Zen group I had attended many years ago, or to any other meditation group for that matter.


One day I noticed an ad, with a flower, in Tricycle that said, “An Introduction to Zen takes place at Chogye International Zen Center of New York every Sunday from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.” I attended the class and I continue to attend it most Sundays. It does not matter how many times I hear the introductory talk. I am just delighted to be there. I enjoy each Dharma Teacher’s take on the sub-

ill Love and Nina Crumm were the only early morning risers at the Zen Center in 1984 that I can recall. We practiced together over a period of three months. That was when Linc Rhodes was an intermittent emissary from the Providence Zen Center. And it was in that Fall that my health deteriorated rapidly because of a pelvic tumor. The tumor destroyed my right hip, putting me on crutches for nearly three years before I got a hip replacement.


When I found my way to First Avenue and 14th St. in 1998, I told my old friends, Richard Shrobe (whom I hardly knew as a Zen Master) and Ken Kessel (whom I did not know as a JDSPN), that I felt a calling to practice regularly again but, “Please NO Political Involvement!” At that time, Morning Practice ended with sitting meditation. When I was driven to start doing the Morning Bell Chant, followed by the other chants, and then conclude

ject. I have learned that the founding teacher was Zen Master Seung Sahn, whose books inspired me years ago. I have sat quite a few retreats. Finally, in April 2005, I took Five Precepts at the PZC when I received the Buddhist name Won Hwa (Original Flower). On the way home from Providence, I remembered that 49 years ago I took the Roman Catholic confirmation name of Therese (the French version of Theresa), in honor of a nun who made the whole unpleasant process more bearable. As some of you may know, St. Theresa is known as “the Little Flower.” Coming to CIZC has been a homecoming for me in many ways. My thanks go out to everyone. ■ – Kathy Weissman Morning Practice with a reading, it was fortunate for me that the residents, Socrates Aguayo and Matt Keeler, hungered for formal practice. In less than a year, what started as my “regular” practice morphed into the CIZCNY Abbotship, the penultimate political involvement, you might say. Not long thereafter, Zen Master Wu Kwang invited me to sit by his side in the Dharma room. His steadfast practice has served as a beacon for stability and dependability. Just as his example has given direction to my life, the Zen Center and our Sangha collectively are the safe harbor at its core. ■ Happy birth-day. Unhappy death-day. When happy and unhappy disappear; Twenty-nine plus one equals thirty. – Steve Cohen

Temple bell. Silence. Chugpi! – Bright faces at Neptune. Same or different? – John Holland



3 0 T H



The Sangha Zen Masters/JDPSN Teachers

ZM Soeng Hyang

Lincoln Rhodes, JDPSN

ZM Wu Kwang

Ken Kessel, JDPSN

ZM Bon Yeon

Myo Ji Sunim, JDPS

Steve Cohen, JDPSN

Dharma Teachers

Socrates Aguayo (Won Mun)

Russell EidmannHicks (Gong Hae)

Alyson Arnold (Do Myeong)

Susan Baer (Chong Haeng)

Elizabeth DiSalvo (Jeong Um)

Guillermo Echanique (Bul Soeng)

Ruth Forero (Seong Myeong)

John Holland (Dae Won)

Matt Keeler (Dae Sahn)

Jeff Kowatch (Man Jok)

Eugene Lim (Wu Bong)

Paul Majchrzyk (Ja Poep)

Jan Potemkin (Gak Poep)

Josh Race (Bul An)

Jess Row (Man Do)

Tony Scionti (Ji Myong)

Karen Spicher (Hae Um)

Carolyn Goodridge (Ji Hwa)

Frank Hartin (Mu An)

Michael O’Sullivan Trish O’Sullivan (Man An) (Man Ja)

David Spiher (Won Do)

Jeff Timmins (Hae Shim)



3 0 T H



Active Members

Michael Batshaw (Haeng Poep)

Irem Calikusu (Poep Jung)

Nick Gershberg (Do Am)

Glenn Godin (Kwan Haeng)

Lisa Malcolm (Ja Shim)

Myra Mniewski (Chong Haeng)

Chris Cheyney (Kwan Haeng)

James Gouijn-Stook

(Haeng Shim)

John Schneider (Poep Kwang)

Hyun Kyung Chung (Tae Kwang Nyung)

Alan Davies (Chong Am)

Mark Ekwall (Man Seong)

Mary Ekwall (Myo Sek)

Carl Fisher (Myo An)

Richard Kahn (Mu Haeng)

Ruth Klein (Jin Hyang)

Larry Lee (Mu Jeong)

Sookyoung Lee (Hae Shim)

Liz McGuinness (Jo Hwa)

Amy Trent (Dae Mi)

Pin-Pin Su (Jeong Haeng)

Ying Su (Chong Il)

Claudia Vieira (Hae Ja)

Kathy Weissman (Won Hwa)

Julia Wojcik (Won Hwa)

Cornelia Zelter (Ji Um)

Christine Lennon

Brian Morrisey

Practicing Nonmembers

Clare Ellis

Ken Arnold

Michael Holscher

Ikkyu Kim

Active Members, Nonmembers, and Friends not pictured Jane Borell (Won Hwa)

Fred Dunbar

Shirley Collins (Peop Mi)

Anthony Galbraith (Do An)

Jae Hoon Park

Sarah Leahy Cerami (Bul Kwang)

Francisco Irby (Ji Sahn)

Edward Rigney (Won Haeng)

James Crotty

Kieth Kwan (Poep Seong)

Carolyn Schroeder

Sonya Lazarevic (Kwang Seong)


3 0 T H



Closing Poem

Syndria Mecham (Ja Kwang)

The way from Union Square Is clearly marked But few can find it Out of ten million Not no one But only a few When you arrive Press 2E

Ralph Hendrix (Won Poep)

– Ken Kessel

The Chogye International Zen Center of New York is a non-profit Buddhist organization founded in 1975 in New York City. CIZCNY is part of the Kwan Um School of Zen following the teachings and guidance of Zen Master Seung Sahn, the first Korean Zen Master to teach in the West. Through our Zen practice and personal lives, we do our utmost to develop compassion and insight, and to save all beings from suffering. Teachers Zen Master Wu Kwang Ken Kessel, JDPSN Steve Cohen, JDPSN (Abbot)





5:20 AM to 7:00AM 108 Bows, Sitting and Chanting

6:30 PM to 7:40 PM Chanting and Sitting


5:20 AM to 7:00AM 108 Bows, Sitting and Chanting

6:30 PM to 7:40 PM Chanting and Sitting


5:20 AM to 7:00AM 108 Bows, Sitting and Chanting

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM 2 Sitting Periods, Chanting, Zen Interviews*


5:20 AM to 7:00AM 108 Bows, Sitting and Chanting

6:30 PM to 7:40 PM Chanting and Sitting


5:20 AM to 7:00AM 108 Bows, Sitting and Chanting

6:30 PM to 7:40 PM Chanting and Sitting


8:00 AM to 10:00 AM 108 Bows, Sitting and Chanting Zen Interviews*

No Formal Practice


No Formal Practice

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM Introduction to Zen Practice. Guided Sitting and Walking Meditation, Chanting. Question and Answer Period

* Zen Interviews are formal interactions with a Teacher who has the authority to teach Kong-ans. Either Ken Kessel, JDPSN or Steve Cohen, JDPSN attend on Thursdays. On Saturdays, Zen Master Wu Kwan and/or either of the above teachers attend. For information on the schedule of special events (Meditation Retreats, Dharma Talks, and Special Occasions) please call 212-353-0461 or visit or

Woodfish 30th Anniversary Edition  
Woodfish 30th Anniversary Edition  

Issue 24; Winter/Spring 2005; 30th Annversary Edition