Monday, June 25, 2012

Celebration, Dedication and Zazenkai

 The southern end of the island as seen from a kayaker’s perspective.

Tenth Anniversary Celebration (Part Two)

Mark your Calendars for August 25th & 26th

This Friday, June 29th, marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Order of the Boundless Way. In ten short years we have grown from our modest garage Zendo beginnings into an international clerical order with members and students spanning six states and five continents. On Saturday, August 25th we will be celebrating this momentous occasion on a small island in the South Puget Sound of Washington State. 

The two day celebration will include the dedication of our Island Retreat Center, an ordination ceremony and special seminars on the philosophy, history and practices of Boundless Mind Zen and the Order of the Boundless Way. All members of the Order and sangha are hereby openly invited and encouraged to attend.

Work on the island property will be ongoing right up to the day of dedication. So regardless of what stage of completion the buildings and grounds are in at that time, we will dust ourselves off, don our robes and proceed with the celebration.  Saturday’s celebration will be governed by the ferry schedule and will only include what can be completed in that seven hour window, but should include time for hiking around the island. On Sunday, August 26th, we will have a modified Zazenkai (座禅会) practice schedule at Open Gate Zendo.  

Those wishing to spend a night camping on the island should plan to do so Friday evening, so that everyone can be in attendance at Open Gate on Saturday evening.  All guests are welcome to come to the island on Friday, but be advised that there are no services or utilities on the island, so staying overnight will be a camping trip. Anyone wishing to camp on the island must be prepared for primitive accommodations – tents will be allowed but no campers or trailers.  There is overnight parking at the mainland ferry dock and it is preferred that we take as few vehicles as possible to the island.  We will have a vehicle to shuttle camping supplies both Friday evening and Saturday morning. 

First island hut near completion at Open Gate
As the date grows closer we will be able to firm up the exact schedule of events and place the specific activities at the appropriate venues, but until then the only firm plan is day one on the island and day two at Open Gate. Additionally, there will be work parties planned to take place in July and August including the days just before the big event, so if you wish to volunteer your time be sure to let us know.

This is an RSVP invitation, so if you plan to attend please let us know as soon as possible. We will need an accurate head count for both meal planning and carpooling to the ferry dock.  This will be unlike any previous OBW gathering, so be prepared for a new and different experience.

Hope to see you then!

Anyone interested in contributing to the construction fund can contact Miles at or send donations by check payable to Open Gate Zendo:

Open Gate Zendo
4123 Biscay Street NW

Olympia, WA 98502

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Travels of a Tenzo


Plum Mountain preceptors and OBW members- Jeff Miles, Lenny Reed and Jean-Luc Devis with Kobai Scott Whitney at Open Gate
Jean-Luc (Jisen Seido) Devis, a long time practitioner at Open Gate Zendo is preparing to move to New Zealand. His evolving profession has opened unexpected doors and in true Zen fashion, he has chosen to enter where the opportunity shows the most challenges.  Jean-Luc has been acting as the back-up Tenzo (cook) for Open Gate for many years and more recently has been the Tenzo for the Plum Mountain Buddhist Community's Retreats.  Jean-Luc’s Dharma path has lead him to study the Buddhist precepts under the guidance of Kobai Scott Whitney, the guiding teacher of Plum Mountain and long time mentor and Dharma Brother to the OBW community.

Below, Jean-Luc shares with us the highlights of his precepts practice and precepts ceremony, and reminds us that taking the precepts is not just an academic exercise, but a way of life to be used as a compass to help guide us through life’s challenges.

My Path to Deeper Understanding

Trout Lake Abbey is a 23 acre certified organic farm, located in Trout Lake, Washington.   The Abbey was the location of a recent retreat for the Plum Mountain sangha. The farm is located in a highland valley at the base of Mount Adams - not far from the mid-section of the Columbia Gorge.  Our host was Kozen, abbot at Trout Lake and Kobai conducted our weekend retreat.  During the retreat, there was a ceremony marking my study completion of the precepts.

The taking of the precepts this spring at Trout Lake Abbey has resulted in a deeper and more refined perspective on their meaning. It offered an opportunity to carefully rewrite them as proactive actions instead of “thou shalt not” statements. This enhancement felt empowering and in line with my pursuit of “Right Intention”.

 As an example I was able to dig deeper into several of the precepts. Instead of focusing on “refraining from killing” I realized I must be keenly aware that all life is interconnected and that to support life one must take life. Knowing that my life on earth must cause some death and suffering of other creatures I must resolve to relieve what cruelty and suffering I can. As a Tenzo I must be mindful of this at all times.

With regards to “taking what is not freely given” I must ask myself: Do I use the world’s resources unnecessarily? Could I walk instead of drive? Do I need all this food? Have I left the lights on unnecessarily? Can I lower the heat and conserve? How can my daily actions support this precept?

At the taking of the precepts ceremony Kobai presented me with a Wagessa. I took the dharma name of Ikusei Kando (nourishing life in a simple way) because of my love of meal preparation and serving. In the past I prepared complex intricate showpiece meals that embraced my growing ego. I now find that the preparation of simple whole foods with seasonings that enhance the foods natural taste to be my preferred style. Perfecting the practice of simplicity is an honorable and worthy approach to the dining experience.

Saturday evening a Vietnamese family of 8 arrived unexpectedly and I was asked if we could accommodate them for dinner at the last moment. The answer is always yes when it comes to feeding the hungry so I set about adjusting the menu and quantities accordingly. It did require some internal adjustment as I had painstakingly planned the meal a week in advance so it was “just so” but I reflected upon the precepts I just took and welcomed the challenge.

The peaceful nature of the Trout Lake Abbey can be summed up by the nightly visits to the chicken coop with 140 organically raised chickens. We joined Kozen to sing several choruses of “Amitaba” to chase the nightmares away and give the chickens a restful night of slumber.

Jean-Luc Devis
June 18, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Meet Pablo Catalan

Hi everyone!
       My name is Pablo Catalan, and I live in Madrid (Spain). I am 24 years old. I have been meditating since 2006, when my would-be girlfriend said to me: “You could use some meditation”. She taught me a technique that I didn’t really understand, so I ended up surfing the Internet looking for more detailed instructions. I came upon Buddhist meditation and philosophy, and I became immediately interested. I found an Internet forum where people discussed the teachings of the Theravada Thai Forest Tradition. There I started to read and talk about the Buddha, the teachings of Thai masters -which, I realize now, share many things with Zen- and the Pali Canon. It was in this forum where I met David (Daishin Insho), and we became close dharma-buddies.

At the same time, I found a vipassana meditation group here in Madrid, which I keep visiting frequently. My solo practice was already well established, and I soon settled in a 1-2 hours a day sitting routine.  I try to do weeklong meditation retreats once a year. Besides all that, I practice Goju-Ryu Karate-Do. 

A couple of years ago, my friend David told me about this Zen teacher he had met through the Internet, someone with a cool long beard called Koro Kaisan Miles. He seemed a nice guy, so I decided to write him. After some time of online correspondence, I thought it was time to make things official, and join the club. He accepted me as his student, and here I am! It is my intention to travel to Washington and ordain as a member of the Order of the Boundless Way in the near future.

In the meanwhile, I’ll keep sitting every day and trying to live better.
Gassho to everyone,