Monday, February 1, 2016

Meet Ashwin Bhatt




My name is Ashwin, and I live on the Central Coast of New South Wales, in Australia. I am a proud father of 5 fantastic children, and have 3 beautiful grandchildren.

I have been fortunate enough to have jobs that have taken me to many places, including most central Asian, European and SEA countries as well as North America and Canada, before we settled in Australia. In our future travel plans are South America, Burma, Cambodia, Nepal and Japan.
 
In the course of my working life, I have been involved in a range of companies and roles, primarily in the technical fields of electronics, communications and IT. I have most enjoyed work when the roles have converged with extremely challenging rugged or remote environments, rather than the large corporate environments I have also worked within. Coming from a mixed race background and having travelled widely, I have experienced a wide range of cultures and religions. I particularly enjoy places such as Papua New Guinea, where people live simple and happy lives, close to nature, and where nature often remains untouched by modern progress.What little spare time I have, I like to spend outside. I spent a reasonable amount of time renovating our house inside and outside, in the past I have done lots of scuba diving and surfing, and enjoy spending time near or in the ocean.

Meditation was suggested to me as a way of assisting with particularly stressful challenges I faced. After investigating the health benefits, I decided to start practicing meditation on a regular basis. Through my reading, I inevitably encountered Zen. I was found that Zen closely aligned with my own life approach, with no religious aspects or dogmas, and with a focus on a life philosophy I believe I should strive to uphold. I spent some time researching Zen, and as a result I discovered Silky Oak Zen on the Central Coast of NSW, close to my home. 

At first I was reticent to visit the Zendo, being unsure of what to expect. After overcoming my initial apprehension, I found the community at Silky Oak Zen to be extremely friendly and welcoming. I enjoy sitting with the group at Silky Oak Zen, and have learnt a lot from the teacher, Hoka Matt. While I travel often with work, I always enjoy sitting while away, and preferably outdoors. While in PNG, I became a good morning food source for the insects while I meditated outside! At home, I much prefer to sit outside, something about being closer to nature and all its activities is extremely relaxing.

I am now looking forward to taking the next step and further progressing with my knowledge and practice of Zen.

 

Ashwin Bhatt

January 2016

Summer Retreat - Silky Oak Zen - February 2016



 
Theme: Facing Fear through Loving Compassion

Hi Everyone,

We will be holding a weekend retreat at "Silky Oak Zendo" 26th, 27th and 28th of February, 2016.

This retreat is for all of our regulars and friends and so all are welcome to attend.

The retreat is being held at Silky Oak Zen's new Zendo:
3/63 Webb St
East Gosford NSW.
Please park on the Street.

About our Theme

Loving-kindness (Metta/Maitri) is the experience of having friendly and loving relationship towards ourselves and others. It’s also the practice of loving experience without the suffering that arises from attachment.

In truth, many of us harbour harsh thoughts and feelings about ourselves. We experience these feelings to a greater or lesser degree and sometimes they are greatly amplified. These negative thoughts and feelings can be so overwhelming, that it can be difficult to see where there is even a skilful way out.

In practice, ‘all troubled doors’ can be closed with the practice of Zen. In our daily lives, we use the fruits of Zen practice to not harshly judge ourselves - to be gentle and kind - as we are - here and now.

We can remember one of Buddha’s teachings that we can search the whole tenfold Universe, but we will still not find a single Being more deserving of our Loving-kindness than the one right here.

“Searching all directions with your awareness, you find no one dearer than yourself. In the same way, others are dear to themselves. So you shouldn't hurt others if you love yourself”……………………………The Rājan Sutta

The regular practice of loving-kindness and right speech, lifts our self-esteem and promotes our well-being, and this in turn lifts the well-being of all those around us.

In this retreat we have the aspiration to apply loving kindness to our own daily lives, as we interrelate with all beings.

Ordinations

We will also be celebrating some ordinations during the retreat. Some of our regular members are stepping up to enhance their own journey of practice. Our aspirants: Ashwin Bhatt, Steve Allan and Don Anderson will be ordained into The Mugendo Zen Kai (The Order of the Boundless Way).

This will be a very special and welcoming experience, so please come along and celebrate with our wonderful friends, who are taking this next step on their path. The ordination ceremony is also a meditative and contemplative experience and a benefit to all in practice on retreat.

Any family, friends etc, please arrive around 9.30am.

Also please bring your phone/camera or video camera if you wish to take photos and record the event.

Retreat Schedule

Friday Evening Session

6.30pm Formal Opening of the Retreat
6:45pm One Period of Zazen
7.15 Kinhin walk
7.50 Meditation – Metta/Maitri – Self Care
8.30 Tea/Teisho (DharmaTalk-Steve)
9.00 Close and return home for a peaceful sleep

Saturday Schedule:
Morning Session

7:00 Arrive (Chosho -morning bell tolled 9 times)
7:15-Call to Zazen - (Moktok)
7:30-8:00 One period of Zazen (Chosan- first morning meditation)
8.00-8.30 Chanting and Recitation Service
8:30- Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for breakfast- bring out trays and toaster :-)
8:30-9:15 Breakfast ceremony “Mindful Eating - Silence for the first 30 minutes”
9:15-9:30 Break and kitchen clean up.

Second Morning Session

9.30 am Bells, Drums and Procession to the Zendo
9.45 am Traditional wooden tapping (Moktok) and Bell

10.00 am "Ordination Ceremony" All Welcome

11.30 am Closing Mantra and photos
12.00 Noon: Lunch and Photos East Gosford Japanese Gardens. (Table is booked)

Afternoon Session

1:30 to 2.30 Anya walk – Takuhatsu hats –optional (Bush Walk)

Return to Zendo

3.00-3.30 One period of Zazen
3.30-4:00 Tea/Teisho (Don- Dharma Talk)
4:15-Closing - Konsho (striking the evening bell) tolled 9 times _/|\_
4.30 Close and return home for a peaceful sleep

Sunday Morning Session

7.00 Metta/Maitri Practice
7.30 Kinhin walk
8.00 One period of Zazen
8.30 Tea/ Teisho (Ashwin-Dharma Talk)
8.45 Informal breakfast and Discussion
10:00 Samu (work period)
10:30 One Period of Zazen
11.00 Metta/Maitri Closing Meditation

Notes:

The retreat is about practice and friendship. You are welcome to come along to some or all of the retreat. The Friday night session would be helpful if you are new to practice and are wishing to participate in Saturday or Sunday. Friday night also sets the theme for the weekend. Gentle guidance will also be ongoing throughout the retreat.

There are no dues or fees for the retreat, but any small donation to keep our centre running would be gratefully accepted. The donation box is in the Zendo (meditation hall).

Please wear blacks or dark colours to limit distraction. OBW clergy please wear full robes and Rakusu. Members please wear your mala.

Please do not wear perfumes or colognes. We also don’t use incense at Silky Oak and our candles are made from natural products.

Please bring a plate to share for breakfast on the Saturday.

Lunch will be at the Japanese Gardens (East Gosford) on Saturday so please bring a little money for that.

We will do the Anya (Bush Walk) straight after at "Rumbalara Reserve" (It's the "Grass Tree Walk" this time), so please bring walking shoes and a hat. There are only limited Takuhatsu (hats) available, so anyone wishing to purchase their own ahead of time, please contact Hoka Matt at mlawther@hotmail.com. Otherwise any hat will do.

If you have any questions about the retreat, please contact Hoka Matt on 0401 231 251 or Seido Merelyn on 0414 819 136

Everything has been pre-planned, so please just come along and enjoy. We would be grateful if you could RSVP when possible, just so we can work out space and numbers.

Please forward this email to all friends or practitioners who may be interested.

In Loving Kindness
Jishin Hoka (Matt)
Silky Oak Zen

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Open Gate Winter Sesshin




Open Gate Zendo Rohatsu/Winter Sesshin

This years Open GateWinter Sesshin starts at 7:30 Saturday January 16th and runs through Monday, January 18th. Our three day practice schedule will include the 9th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Silent Peace Walk around Olympia’s Capitol Lake (beginning at Marathon Park at noon on Sunday).
 
Anyone wanting to arrive early is welcome to come Friday evening and spend the night in the Zendo. Attendees arriving in the morning should try to arrive by 7:00.  There will be an informal breakfast with social time Saturday morning and a Precepts Ceremony in the afternoon, but otherwise we will be following our traditional silent sesshin schedule and etiquette.

There is no fee for attending, however these events do cost us money and we have continuing overhead costs, so contributions for food and to help pay for supplies and heating costs would be greatly appreciated. Mattresses will be provided for those who wish to remain in residence for their duration at sesshin and showers will be made available.
    
Please e-mail; opengatezendo@msn.com with any questions and/or to confirm your plans to attend, we need an accurate head count for buying food stuffs.

2016 Winter Sesshin

Saturday Schedule

First Morning Session
6:30 Wake-up bell
7:00 Non-residents Arrive (Chosho -morning bell tolled 9 times)
7:15-Call to Zazen (Plank drum (Han) roll)
7:30-8:00 One period of Zazen (Chosan- first morning meditation)
8:00-8:05 Incense Ceremony
8:05-9:00 Informal Breakfast and kitchen cleanup (in Hojo)
9:00-9:15 Sesshin Introduction and Instructions

Second Morning Session
9:15- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
9:30-10:45 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
9:30-10:45 Dokusan (one on one meeting with the teacher) by rotation.
10:45-12:30 Samu (work and/or exercise/rest period)
12:30- Call to Lunch (Han roll)
12:15- Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for lunch- bring out trays
12:45-1:45 Lunch ceremony (Oryoki)
1:45-2:15 Break and kitchen cleanup

Afternoon Session
2:00- Call to Ceremony (Large Bell)
2:15-3:00  Precepts Ceremony
3:00-3:30 One periods of Zazen (may be shortened by ceremony)
3:30-4:30 Angya practice. (monk procession walk)
4:30- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
4:45-5:15 One period Zazen
5:15- Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for Dinner- bring out trays
5:30-6:15 Dinner ceremony (Oryoki)
6:15-6:30 Break and kitchen cleanup

Evening Session
6:30- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
6:45-8:00 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
8:00-8:10- Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for tea, bring out trays
8:10 -8:50 Tea ceremony & Teisho (teaching) and/or Dharma Discussion.
8:55- Closing ceremony
9:00- Daily Closing- Konsho (striking the evening bell) tolled 9 times
9:00- Prepare for bed or non-residents leave for the night.

Sunday Schedule

First Morning Session
6:30 Wake-up bell
7:00 Non-residents Arrive (Chosho -morning bell tolled 9 times)
7:15-Call to Zazen (Plank drum (Han) roll)
7:30-8:00 One period of Zazen (Chosan- first morning meditation)
8:00-8:05 Incense Ceremony
8:05- Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for breakfast - bring out trays
8:15-9:00 Breakfast ceremony (Oryoki)
9:00-9:25 Break and kitchen cleanup

Second Morning Session
9:15- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
9:30-10:45 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
9:30-10:45 Dokusan (one on one meeting with the teacher) by rotation.
11:15-1:15 Angya practice. (MLK Silent procession walk Capitol Lake)
1:15-2:30  Hosted Sangha Lunch in Olympia.

Afternoon Session
2:30- Call to Zazen (time adjusted to return time)
2:45-4:00 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
4:00- 4:30 Work and/or exercise/rest period (may be adjusted for schedule)
4:30- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
4:45-5:15 One period Zazen
5:15- Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for Dinner- bring out trays
5:30-6:15 Dinner ceremony (Oryoki)
6:15-6:40 Break and kitchen cleanup

Evening Session
6:30- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
6:45-8:00 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
8:00-8:10- Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for tea, bring out trays
8:10 -8:50 Tea ceremony & Teisho (teaching) and/or Dharma Discussion.
8:55- Closing ceremony
9:00- Daily Closing- Konsho (striking the evening bell) tolled 9 times
9:00- Prepare for bed or non-residents leave for the night.

Monday Schedule

Morning Session
6:30 Wake-up bell
7:00 Non-residents Arrive (Chosho -morning bell tolled 9 times)
7:15-Call to Zazen (Plank drum (Han) roll)
7:30-8:00 One period of Zazen (Chosan- first morning meditation)
8:00-8:05 Incense Ceremony
8:05- Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for breakfast - bring out trays
8:15-9:00 Breakfast ceremony (Oryoki)
9:00-9:15 Break and kitchen cleanup

Second Morning Session
9:15- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
9:30-10:45 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
9:30-10:45 Dokusan (one on one meeting with the teacher) by rotation.
10:45-11:45 Samu (work and/or exercise/rest period)
11:45 Han Roll
12:00-12:30 One Period Zazen
12:30- 12:40 Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for lunch- bring out trays
12:40-1:30 Lunch ceremony (Oryoki)

Afternoon Session
1:30-2:00 Break and kitchen cleanup
1:45- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
2:00-3:15 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
3:15-3:30 Short Break
3:30-4:30 Tea ceremony, Teisho/Group Discussion
4:30-Closing - Konsho (striking the evening bell) tolled 9 times

Happy New Year!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fall Retreat at Mount Adams Zen Temple




This year’s Fall Sesshin (retreat) will be conducted on the weekend of October 23rd-25th at the beautiful Mount Adams Zen Temple.  We will be combining efforts with the Mount Adams Zen community in conducting blended retreat format that combines the Mount Adams Zen Temple practices with our own traditional Open Gate style sesshin. 

Many members of our extended sangha have had the opportunity to practice at Mount Adams and are aware of the subtle differences in style, while for others this will be a new experience.  Mount Adams Zen Temple is in the Vietnamese Zen tradition and carries many of the nuances of this heritage, just as our practice carries the nuances of the Japanese tradition. 

Since both our communities are modern Western descendants of Zen, neither Japanese or Vietnamese, we are not bound to any specific ethnic style of practice.  The combination of old traditions holds many promises in the development of a “Contemporary  Zen” form that is not of any specific tradition, other than the tradition of Zen itself. 

Due to the logistics of conducting this sesshin away from home, we are limiting attendance to twenty, so please remember to “register” by sending an e-mail to: opengatezendo@msn.com to confirm your attendance.  Even though overnight accommodations will be indoors, please prepare yourself as if you were going on a camping trip, with sleeping bags and personal items.  For the most part we will be sleeping barracks style and meals will be provided within the retreat schedule.

It is recommended that you arrive Friday night to take full advantage of the full day schedule on Saturday.  
 
For more information about Mount Adams Zen Center go to:  http://www.mtadamszen.org/

Friday Evening Schedule 
6:30 Evening Service.
7:30 Walking Meditation (outside)
8:30 Free time

Saturday Schedule
5:45  Metta Practice
6:15 One period of seated meditation 
6:45 Informal Breakfast
7:30 Clean up break period
8:00 Orientation for Retreat
9:00 Morning Service
10:00  Samu (work period)
11:45  Two periods of meditation divided by walking meditation  
1:00 Lunch- Soto style Oryoki
2:00 Clean up and Break
3:45 Two periods of meditation w/walking meditation & private meeting with teacher
5:00 Half hour of walking meditation (outside)
5:30 Dinner-Soto style Oryoki
6:30 Clean up and break
7:00 Metta Practice
7:30 One period of seated meditation 
8:00 Tea and Dharma talk
9:00 Time for Bed

Sunday Schedule 
5:45  Metta Practice
6:15 Two periods of seated meditation divided by walking meditation
7:30 Informal Breakfast
8:30 Clean up
9:00 Morning Service
10:00 Samu (work period)
11:30 Two periods of meditation w/walking meditation  & private meeting with teacher
12:45 Lunch-Soto style Oryoki
1:45 Clean up and Break
2:45 One period seated meditation
3:15 Tea and Group discussion
4:15 Retreat Ends

Monday, July 6, 2015

2015 Summer Sesshin


The time is here for the Open Gate 2015 Summer Sesshin and Ordination Ceremony. The Sesshin will held on Saturday and Sunday August 8th & 9th with the Ordination ceremony beginning Saturday at 11:00 am (followed by a pot luck lunch and social period). Attendees are welcome to come Friday evening and spend the night in the Zendo as well.

Attendees arriving in the morning should arrive by 7:00. Below is the two day schedule. Guests coming only to the Ordination and potluck social should arrive between 10:30 and 11:00. 
  

Ordination Ceremony
  
This Summer we will be welcoming two new members into the Order of the Boudnless Way; local sangha member Joe Gledhill and long distance student R.T. Good, who visits regularly from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, both have spent the last two years preparing for their ordination.

Everyone is encouraged to come for the ordination ceremony to meet our new members to the order, even if you are unable to attend the full Sesshin. (Small gifts and/or cards from sangha members to the new initiates are always welcome). Please send an e-mail opengatezendo@msn.com in order to confirm your intentions in attending. As usual we need an accurate head count for planning and buying food stuffs.

If you would like more information about this sesshin or the ordination, please feel free to contact to contact Miles at- opengatezendo@msn.com
 
Saturday Schedule
 
Morning Session
6:30 Wake-up bell
7:00 Non-residents Arrive (Chosho -morning bell tolled 9 times)
7:15-Call to Zazen (Plank drum (Han) roll)
7:30-8:00 One period of Zazen
8:00-8:05 Incense Ceremony (Remain standing to exit Zendo)
8:05-9:00 Casual breakfast and social time (in Hojo)
9:00-9:15 Break and kitchen cleanup

Second Morning Session
9:00- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
9:15-9:45 One periods of Zazen
9:45-10:45 Samu (Arrange Zendo for Ordination Ceremony)
10:45 Han Roll (Call to Ordination ceremony)
11:00-12:00 Ordination Ceremony
12:00-1:30 Potluck Lunch and Social Time (Cards and Gifts)
1:30 Han roll (announcing end of lunch and social time)
1:30 – 2:00 Samu (Clean up and return Zendo to original configuration)

Afternoon Session
2:00- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
2:15-3:30 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
3:30-4:30 Angya practice. (Monk procession walk)
4:30- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
4:45-5:15 One period Zazen
5:15- Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for Dinner- bring out trays
5:30-6:15 Dinner ceremony (Oryoki)
6:15-6:40 Break and kitchen cleanup

Evening Session
6:30- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
6:45-8:00 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
8:00-8:10- Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for tea, bring out trays
8:10-8:50 Tea ceremony& Dharma talk
8:55- Closing ceremony
9:00- Daily Closing- Konsho (striking the evening bell) tolled 9 times
9:00- Prepare for bed or non-residents leave for the night.

Sunday Schedule

Morning Session
6:30 Wake-up bell
7:00 Non-residents Arrive (Chosho -morning bell tolled 9 times)
7:15-Call to Zazen (Plank drum (Han) roll)
7:30-8:00 One period of Zazen (Chosan- first morning meditation)
8:00-8:05 Incense Ceremony
8:05- Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for lunch- bring out trays
8:15-9:00 Breakfast ceremony (Oryoki)
9:00-9:15 Break and kitchen cleanup

Second Morning Session
9:15- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
9:30-10:45 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
9:30-10:45 Dokusan (one on one meeting with the teacher) by rotation.
10:45-11:45 Samu (work and/or exercise/rest period)
11:45 Han Roll
12:00-12:30 One Period Zazen
12:30- 12:40 Kitchen aids prepare Genkan for lunch- bring out trays
12:40-1:30 Lunch ceremony (Oryoki)

Afternoon Session
1:30-2:00 Break and kitchen cleanup
1:45- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
2:00-3:15 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
3:15-3:30 Short Break
3:30-4:30 Tea ceremony, Teisho/Group Discussion
4:30-Closing - Konsho (striking the evening bell) tolled 9 times

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Meet Don Anderson


 Greetings to Everyone,
My name is Don Anderson and now Live on the Central Coast, NSW, Australia where I moved in 1995 after I returned to Australia having lived and worked overseas for over twenty years. I became interested in Zen originally in the 1970’s while studying karate in the UK with a traditional teacher who emphasised meditation as a key factor in the training. I then read books by Allan Watts and Christmas Humphreys which cultivated my interest in Buddhism further.

A busy time with a family and career which included time in the military, motorsport and later the directorship of several companies meant I lost touch with my studies and it was only my continued participation in martial arts that drew me back to meditation from time to time.

After I returned to Australia I became CEO of a large firm but always felt that there was something missing from my life. The corporate world was stressed and I always felt uncomfortable with the pressure and the effect on myself and my colleagues. Deciding to work overseas again I then spent two years working in the Middle East and Africa in many interesting but often dangerous places but that along with overwork left me more stressed and generally unhappy with life.

Luckily I found a local meditation group and started regular meditation which turned things around for me in a very short time and soon I was happy and enjoying life again. I began attending other schools of Buddhism and their classes and after a time was asked to teach meditation to beginners and courses on using Buddhist practice to deal with stress, anxiety and depression. I also taught general subjects relating to Buddhism as I had taken the precepts and further vows. I am thankful that the teaching made me understand so much about myself and Buddhism in general and helped others but I still felt that something was missing for me personally and I also struggled to accept some of the more traditional teachings and philosophy I heard.

I then heard of and attended the Silky Oak Zendo and met our teacher Hoka Matt Lawther and felt at home and among friends immediately. To me Zen is about the experience and not just the philosophy and I soon realised that Silky Oak Community provided me with the spiritual path I was seeking and I soon committed myself to further practice as a student.

I am very happy to have finally found the type of teachings I was seeking and needed and to be part of the Boundless Mind Zen School.

Yours in Dharma

Don Anderson     

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ordination Ceremony Silky Oak Zen


In the still of the morning and to the sound of the beating drum …….the silence was broken. The call of compassion alerted two Aspirants:  Merelyn Tripolone and Patrick Hughes to formally walk to their ordination.  Preliminary drums and Buddhist medicine chanting, celebrated this special event until the steps toward ordination had begun.
The Aspirants were poised to walk. The Dojin slapped the staff to the earth, to instill silence and began the call of compassion.
Namu Butsu
Yo Butsu u in
Yo Butsu u en
Bup po so in
Jo raku ga jo
Cho nen kanzeon
Bo nen kanzeon
Nen nen ju shin ki
Nen nen fu ri shin
Then silence……..

A clap of sticks produced the first steps.
The steps they took passed numerous shop fronts and stairwells to the entrance that leads up to Silky Oak Zendo.

 In procession style, our Sangha stood either side of the path to chant the universal “Om Nam” as a sign of recognition and support.

Our procession then ascended the stairs into the prepared Zendo, where we  all sat for one period of Zazen.
 

What followed was a chanting of the “Heart Sutra” and the reciting of “Hakuin’s Song of Zazen”, ending in silence.
The ordination table was then placed in position and the ordination items for each Aspirant were retrieved.
An opening address by the Dojin was followed by a description of each Aspirants journey.
Both willing and compassionate Aspirants were then formally ordained into The “Order of The Boundless Way” – “Mugendo Zen Kai”
They were given their Dharma names and ordination items: The Ordination Certificate, The Rakusu, The Staff and The Orioki Set.


 
To close the ceremony, the Sangha performed a “Mantra to Music” as a gift to the newly ordained.
Gate Gate Paragate Parasum Gate Bodhisvaha

Om Paragate Parasum Gate Om Paragate Bodhisvaha.
We now welcome….
Keishin Seido (Merelyn Tripolone)

Taizen Esho (Patrick Hughes)

 In Kindness and Compassion
Jishin Hoka (Matt Lawther) and the
Silky Oak Sangha – Aus.

 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Meet Steve Allan



 

My name is Steve Allan, almost as far back as I can remember, even in high school in Sydney Australia back in the 60’s, when ever there was a ‘what is your religion?’ question , as a semi serious, semi rebellious joke, I always said I was a ‘Backyard Buddhist’ – I don’t know why! However it never got me out of Christian Fellowship 1st period every Friday morning.

In the 70’s we were all getting in to TM, The Beatles and the Marharishi and then life kicked in, career, family, stress, the time when we really need some meditation but are too busy and too stressed with life to fit it in.

For me , 25 years later the circle closed and my meditation practice started again and then I began to look behind the meditation to the to the concepts, the teachings and its origins, the more I looked the more rational the whole thing became.

10 years ago, living in a rural tourist town in Australia I began the practice of the ‘Trilogy of Hearing’ studying via book and internet and travelling throughout Australia, Asia and India for teachings, so instead of a backyard Buddhist I became a mobile Buddhist.

In a question and answer session after a teaching with the Dali Lama, he was asked,”what is the meaning of life” – his answer,”I don’t know the meaning of life but I know the purpose of life – to be of benefit to others, do no harm and be happy”. On the surface this seemed a simple little sentence, so why did it affect me so much? So I delved into it – Be of benefit; the practice of compassion and generosity. Do no harm; take up the practice of The 5 Precepts. Be happy; end suffering via ‘The 4 Noble Truths’ and the ‘8 Fold Path’, mixed with ‘The 5 Hindrances’ and a dab of ‘Dependant Rising’ and a whole lot of ‘Karma’ What a simple little sentence!!

In an effort to be of benefit I instigated Buddhist teachings in my Australian home town of Airlie Beach, bringing Tibetan Geshi’s and a teaching nun to town and I built, open and ran ‘The Whitsunday Meditation Society‘for 5 years until I retired.

But something in the Mahayana system was not quite right for me. I think it was the ancient Tibetan traditions that permeate their practice. I found them colourful, dramatic, awe inspiring and full of pageantry, but I kept coming back to just the Buddha’s words, maybe I was a fundamental mobile Buddhist!

It was these thoughts that reignited my search in Buddhism and after a couple of years I came to Zen due to its simplicity, honesty of practice and its focus on meditation.

Now retired and living in Bali I looked around Australia and S.E. Asia for a Sangha, I knew it was time for this mobile Buddhist to settle down.

After looking at a wide variety of Zen centres I settled on a small and very personal Zen centre on the central coast of NSW Australia, Silky Oak Zen, where I have now formally taken the precepts and found a home sangha.

In my desire to continue to be of benefit to others I am now seeking ordination and hopefully the opportunity to open a Zen centre in the mountains of North Bali in association with OBW.

With Metta, 3 bows.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Open Gate Zendo Spring Sesshin



It’s Spring again and time for the Open Gate Zendo 2015 Spring Sesshin. This year’s retreat will be held on Saturday May 2nd and Sunday 3rd. Spring sesshin is a wonderful opportunity for those of us who may not attend regular group practice sessions to enliven and rejuvenate our personal practice. The intensive weekend provides a venue for refining techniques that may have lost clear definition over the course of time. Sesshin allows us to refocus and renew our commitment to a strong and regular personal practice, which is the very foundation of the Zen tradition.
 
The Sesshin begins officially on Saturday morning, however anyone attending is welcome to come Friday evening and spend the night in the zendo, otherwise non-resident attendees should try to arrive around 7:00 am on Saturday.

As usual, there will be an informal breakfast with social time Saturday morning, but otherwise we will be following our traditional sesshin schedule and etiquette. There is no fee for attending sesshin, but donations to help pay for food and heating costs are greatly appreciated. Mattresses will be provided for those who wish to remain in residence for the duration of the sesshin, but if you plan to stay you should bring your own additional bedding.

Please e-mail opengatezendo@msn.com to confirm your plans to attend, as we need an accurate head count for buying food stuffs.

2015 Spring Sesshin

Saturday Schedule

7:00-7:15 Arrive for Sesshin
7:15-Call to Zazen (Plank drum (Han) roll)
7:30-8:00 One period of Zazen
8:00-8:05 Incense Ceremony
8:05-9:00 Informal Breakfast in Hojo
9:00-9:30 Break and kitchen cleanup
9:15- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
9:30-10:45 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
9:30-10:45 Dokusan (one on one meeting with the teacher) by rotation.
10:45-12:30 Samu (work period- clean up, yard work, meal preparation)
12:30- Call to Lunch (Han roll)
12:45-1:45 Lunch ceremony (Oryoki)
1:45-2:15 Break and kitchen cleanup
2:00- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
2:15-3:30 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
3:30-4:30 Angya practice. (monk procession walk)
4:30- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
4:45-5:15 One period Zazen
5:15-6:15 Dinner ceremony (Oryoki)
6:15-6:45 Break and kitchen cleanup
6:30- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
6:45-8:00 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
8:00 -8:50 Tea ceremony & Teisho (teaching)
8:50- Closing ceremony
9:00- Prepare for bed or leave for the night.
9:00 Konsho (striking the evening bell)

Sunday Schedule

7:00-7:15 Arrive for Sesshin
7:15-Call to Zazen (Plank drum (Han) roll)
7:30-8:00 One period of Zazen
8:00-8:05 Incense Ceremony
8:05-9:00 Breakfast ceremony (Oryoki)
9:00-9:30 Break and kitchen cleanup
9:15- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
9:30-10:45 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
9:30-10:45 Dokusan (one on one meeting with the teacher) by rotation.
10:45-11:45 Samu (work period), meal preparation and/or exercise.
11:45- Call to Lunch (Han roll)
12:00-1:00 Lunch ceremony (Oryoki)
1:00-1:30 Break and kitchen cleanup
1:15- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
1:30-2:45 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
2:45-3:00 Short Break
3:00-3:55 Tea Ceremony, Teisho/Group Discussion
3:55 Closing ceremony
4:00 Konsho (striking the evening bell)