A Message From Shinge Roshi

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Dear Sangha Members and Dharma Friends,

This autumn marks the 24th year since the Zen Center of Syracuse Hoen-ji moved into its home at the intersection of Onondaga Creek and Seneca Turnpike. It’s the 47th year since the dedication of our first small zendo on the Syracuse University campus.

How will 2020 be remembered? Certainly for the disruption, heartache, and anxiety caused by the coronavirus pandemic, devastating economic losses, and political hate-mongering. Certainly for the passing of our dear Sangha members Jisho Judy Fancher, Chosei Heidi Mitrus, and Jeanette Helen Powell. But it will also be remembered for something transformational.

Right in the midst of this strange time, we have been experiencing the power of Zen practice as never before. Beset by stressful circumstances, it has never felt more urgent to realize our innate goodness and inner stability, so that we can respond to the complexity of our lives with clarity and compassion.

When we had to close all in-person meetings at Hoen-ji, we knew how important it would be to create an online home that would encourage and support our beloved community. This has turned out to be a great success, bringing together not only those who customarily would have joined us in the zendo, but people who, because of health conditions and geographical distance, had not been able to do so for many years, if at all.

As abbot of three temples—Hoen-ji, Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji, and New York Zendo Shobo-ji—I decided to call this home the Threefold Sangha (referring to the Threefold Refuge: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha). The program has grown to include weekly Dharma talks and discussion, dokusan, open sittings, sesshin, meetings, and courses, as well as an Introduction to Zen class every Wednesday at 7 p.m.

It is remarkable how strongly we feel each other’s caring presence and diligent zazen on Zoom. With our keen sense of interrelatedness, we know it is more than virtual; it is digital Dharma. The weekly talks and sesshin teisho are recorded and posted as videos on YouTube and Facebook, and podcasts on Soundcloud. Special ceremonies have been held at Hoen-ji and broadcast as webinars and films, from Jukai (taking the Buddhist precepts) and O-Bon (commemorating our deceased teachers, family members, and friends) to ordination for two long-time students, Kushu Damir Jamsek and Jishin Elizabeth Kuney.

The Zen Center of Syracuse has always shared the blessings of our practice with the surrounding community. During this time of Covid-19, we are offering online meditation classes sponsored by the Onondaga County Public Library, online meditation guidance for students on the SU campus, and online support for OGs Against Violence, walking for peaceful resolution amidst heightened tensions in the city.

We have had to make investments in our internet connectivity and technology in order to bring such offerings to everyone, near and far. We have been caring for our buildings and grounds, including creating a memorial garden in the Sangha Grove in Jisho’s honor. Even though we cannot hold income-producing programs, we have significant operating expenses that must be met.

Please help us continue our work with a generous gift, which is fully tax deductible. Your support has far-reaching consequences, and we bow in gratitude.

With palms together,

Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat

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Otherwise, please mail your contribution to:

  • Zen Center of Syracuse
  • 266 West Seneca Turnpike
  • Syracuse, NY 13207-2639
Thu, Dec 31, 2020 - 9:00pm
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