Dear Dharma Friend,
Another year nears its end in this constantly changing world. Together, we face greater challenges than any of us individually could surmount, and many of us are keenly aware that we must take action. We have been witnessing ever-intensifying wildfires, storms, floods, and, even worse, the unfolding of unimaginable atrocities and suffering caused by warfare. Extreme polarization in political and societal discourse makes this world seem more and more troubled. Nonetheless, many sincere human beings, often less prominent and visible, have dedicated their lives to addressing these many challenges.
This year has also brought change to the Zen Studies Society, specifically, a transition in spiritual leadership. With a retirement ceremony on October 1, the day before her 80th birthday, we celebrated Shinge Roshi’s more than twelve years of leadership as Abbot. We continue to express our deep gratitude for her invaluable and dedicated service.
All Buddhist traditions hold the Three Treasures in high esteem: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Often, interpretations of these treasures are based on the historical sequence in which they have appeared. First, when Siddartha Gautama awakened, the Buddha came into this world. After this initial awakening, the Buddha formulated his teaching: Dharma. The third treasure appeared when disciples began to follow these teachings, and Sangha came to life. Each of us must develop our own understanding of the Three Treasures, and I would like to share mine with you.
In Buddha rests the potential for all that has existed, exists, or will come into being. Buddha contains the “Ten Thousand Things,” manifest or not, timeless and spaceless. This aspect of potentiality leads to the Zen wisdom that while “originally not a single thing exists,” at the same time the splendor of the “Ten Thousand Things” is manifest.
Dharma is the activity that transforms non-being into being, which expresses and manifests time and space. Dharma, as an activity, transforms potential into presence, and the tides of time and space emerge and disappear. Our ancestors' teachings are expressions of their contemplation of this activity.
Sentient and insentient beings, mountains, rivers, grasses, trees, and living beings are the offspring of Buddha and Dharma, embodying the dynamic relationship of a naturally working system: Sangha. In the world of human beings, we find ourselves in a significant place: bearing responsibility for conscious, compassionate, and intentional manifestation through action in relationship with all beings.
While Buddha and Dharma are the underlying principles of this world, Sangha is the one treasure we create. Sangha encompasses the space in which we live and where we can impact the world's development. We have the ability to choose how we treat one another, create and nurture relationships, and address challenges. Clear-minded, open-hearted, and awakened human beings are essential to help move society towards greater maturity.
The Zen Studies Society offers unique opportunities to encounter age-old wisdom, training, and practice under the guidance of teachers, and supported by seasoned practitioners. New York Zendo in Manhattan serves as an oasis and gateway for those entering this practice. Dai Bosatsu Zendo, in the Catskill Mountains, offers extended and intensive residential practice opportunities in an inimitable setting.
Please support the Zen Studies Society in co-creating this actualization of Sangha with your participation, volunteer efforts, and donations.
We rely on your contributions to maintain our temples and continue our offerings. Whatever you can afford to give is greatly appreciated.
In togetherness lie the seeds for liberation, compassion, and awakening. Only with our combined effort and support can this Sangha flourish, grow, and benefit practitioners and society alike.