April 2020 - Happy Spring
All meditation and services now being done via ZOOM
Spring is here in the northwest! Daffodils are in bloom, forsythia is golden and beautiful, once bare oak trees are bringing on tender new leaves. Let us all stop and look around; truly nature is a wonderful reminder of life and beauty. Please honor our planet as Earth Month begins April 1st and on Earth Day
Wednesday, 22 April.
Please look below for our ZOOM (on line) meetings, let's stay connected during social distancing.
The COVID virus effects our daily life with so many changes. I know people of all ages who have had the virus with no or minor cold symptoms. Others have had major bad cold symptoms, still others have been hospitalized or have died. As I do my morning meditations, I am reminded that I am an old man and as such, I may not survive a bad attack of the COVID virus. So what is an old monk to do? I could take on fear, anxiety, obliviousness, etc. Instead, I've chosen to meditate, follow my breath, practice metta, enjoy Spring and check in with loved ones. Most of all I am living in gratitude. As a wonderful old woman told me,
"My cup is so full I'm drinking from the saucer"!
Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for being a wonderful Sangha, sharing our historical teacher's great way of peace. Let us not limit our life with fear or anxiety, rather let us live each moment.
2 musical offerings to brighten our lives:
May all of us be well and happy. May all of us know love and peace. in metta, Thay Kozen
Bodhisattva Path of Practice
Shantideva was a Buddhist scholar in the eighth century from the monastic university Nalanda, one of the most celebrated centers of learning in ancient India. According to legend, Shantideva was greatly inspired by the celestial bodhisattva Manjushri, from whom he secretly received teachings and great insights.
"May I be a guard for those who need protection,
A guide for those on the path,
A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood.
May I be a lamp in the darkness,
A resting place for the weary,
A healing medicine for all who are sick,
A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles;
And for the boundless multitudes of living beings,
May I bring sustenance and awakening,
Enduring like the earth and sky
Until all beings are freed from sorrow,
And all are awakened".
From The Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra or Bodhicaryāvatāra sometimes translated into English as A Guide to the
Way of Life. Living in mindful gratitude and compassion is the life of choice for those who follow the Buddha's teachings.
Thich Minh Thien's Column
Thay Z, abbot of Budding Dharma, Arlington Texas
Observe vs. Absorb
This month finds us all in a state of physical, emotional and possibly spiritual unrest due to the pandemic affecting the world as a result of the COVID-19 virus. We are being asked to observe social distancing and sometimes self-quarantining if one has been infected by or in contact with others diagnosed with the virus.
One result of this distancing and quarantining is that our schedules and routines have been drastically changed. I do use Facebook and while perusing it, I found a reference to one, Anthony de Mello which caught my interest. Wikipedia had the following about Mr. de Mello: “Anthony de Mello, also known as Tony de Mello, was an Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist. A spiritual teacher, writer, and public speaker, de Mello wrote several books on spirituality and hosted numerous spiritual retreats and conferences.” Mr. de Mello died in 1987. As I began to read his treatise and listen to some of his lectures, it occurred to me that this man had definitely been affected by the teachings of our ancestral teacher, the Buddha. This may have been some of the reasons that the Catholic Church criticized what he espoused as a spiritual path. Though there were a number of things in Father de Mello’s teachings that I also questioned, he used the terms Observe vs. Absorb a number of times in one of his presentations.
As I continued my own practices, those two words - Observe and Absorb - began to gel for me. In an article written by Bhikkhu T. Seelananda, from the Bhavana Society Forest Monastery in High View, West Virginia, he wrote, “…In order to see things, one should have clear eyes and a clear mind. Only then can one see things as they really are, otherwise, one could see but have misperceptions or a misconception…”.
That is clearly what I do when I obsess over something rather than simply observe it. When the misperceptions or misconceptions my mind produces absorbs my thinking, the reality of what is, most likely is in jeopardy. I can tend to blame the circumstances, look for excuses, create scenarios, be overtly critical; in other words be absorbed rather than observing the situation in the most impartial way I am capable of. You may find this is true for you as well.
So in this time, where it is easy to be absorbed by fear, misinformation, uncertainty, loneliness, depression, etc. it will be most helpful to develop the skill of observing all as it really is. I have found no better way of doing this than through our practice of being quiet in a meditation practice and mindful in our moment to moment activities. May all be well and safe in this time of turmoil.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Simple Sangha Practice - a simple way to keep the group practice
going for an individual
I will miss our Sangha meditations. Let us hope the virus pandemic passes quickly and that we all remain healthy. Following Buddha’s teachings, please do not think of the virus as good or bad. Think rather that it is part of the great sufferings in life (Duhkha or Dukkha). Let us focus our thought on loving kindness and well wishing for ourselves and others
. Thay Kozen
I would encourage all of us to keep up our practice of meditation and mindful practices.
Below are our basic practices for our Trinity group practice:
Take a deep breath. What am I thinking right now? What is my fear? What is my hope?
Chant Of Compassion:
We surround all forms of life with infinite love and compassion.
Especially, do we send out compassionate thoughts to those in suffering and sorrow,
to those in doubt and ignorance,
to all who are striving to attain truth, and
to those whose feet stand close to the great change called death, we send forth all wisdom, mercy and love.
May the infinite light of wisdom and compassion so shine within us that the errors and vanities of self may be dispelled. So shall we understand the changing nature of existence and awaken into spiritual peace.
May I be Well, May I be Happy
May I know Love, May I know Peace
May you be Well, May you be Happy
May you know Love, May you know Peace
Start out by holding your right hand over the center of your chest, then place your left hand over your right one and gently hug your chest.
Then say the above sentences. Think of yourself as you say the “May I ...” Then think of a loved one (or one easy to love) as you say the “May you...” Next think of someone unknown to you and say “May you…” Then to cleanse your heart, think of someone who has caused you pain or distress and repeat the “May you...” Next think of all beings of fur, feather, scale and skin and say “May you…”Finally we return to ourselves and say “May I…”
The Buddha tells us - What we think we become.
Body, breath, and mind held in perfect oneness, I send my heart along with the sound of this bell. May the hearers awaken from forgetfulness and transcend the path of anxiety and sorrow
Listen, listen, this wonderful sound brings me back to my true home.
(Use The 3 Breaths To Start Your Meditation, then sit for 25 minutes)
Breathing In “I know I am breathing in”
Breathing Out “I know I am breathing out”
Breathing In “I am aware of the breath in my body”
Breathing Out “I am aware of the breath in my body”
Breathing In “I calm my body”
Breathing Out “I calm my body”
Meditate for 25 to 30 min.
Offering Of Merit
May the merit of this penetrate into each thing in all places,
so that we and every sentient being together, can realize the Buddha’s way. (3X)
All Buddhas throughout space and time, All Bodhisattvas
(one who is on the path of awakening or destined to become a Buddha
), Mahasattvas (
), wisdom beyond Wisdom, Maha Prajna Paramita (
perfected way of seeing the nature of realit
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammasambuddhassa
On Line ZOOM meetings from our Sangha
Monday Trinity Sangha "Meditation and Metta"
Online meeting (12 noon to 1 pm) can be accessed on Zoom at
Trinity Sangha Thich Nhat Hanh Study Group
meets on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings of each month(6:30 pm to 8:00 pm); to access the Zoom meeting, please contact Bonnie at
Weekly Saturday Morning Dharma Talk
at 9:00am. 5 different teachers will rotate talks with a Dharma talk, meditation, sutra and metta practices.
On Line RECOVERY USING BUDDHIST PRACTICES
Gorge Recovery Dharma "Inquiry Meeting"
(Trout Lake Abbey) is held on the second Saturday of each month at 11:00 am to 12:15 pm and can be accessed on Zoom at
The next Inquiry Meeting is scheduled for April 11.
If other Zoom access (cell phone or landline) contact
or (414) 587-4065 for further information.
Notes From Confinement
by Richard Withers
For the first time in my recent memory, the sword of stars hanging from Orion’s Belt was crystal clear in the night sky tonight. I had assumed that the fading blurriness of the constellation in recent years was due to aging eyes. But it seems that Mother Earth has taken a time-out, a deep breath. Perhaps a moment of clarity.
This is just one of several ironies that spring from our recent ‘confinement’.
Many will (and should) be happy to learn that the population at our regional jail - serving Washington as well as Oregon counties) has dropped to less than 50% of its average daily census. May those released, or allowed to remain free, find safe and healthful resources and housing in this COVID-19 pandemic.
Educational programs, and volunteer church, clergy, and recovery group activities at the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility have been sharply curtailed. The 61 men and 9 women housed at NORCOR at the time of this writing (March 29) are - like the rest of us - subject to a strict regimen of social distancing. As you may imagine, it’s pretty challenging.
Since last December, Thay Kozen and I have been visiting NORCOR twice weekly to provide training and opportunities for meditation. The program began as a meditation and mindfulness class for inmates in recovery from substance abuse in the spring of 2018 and has now expanded to the full population.
That is, until the jail went on coronavirus lockdown three weeks ago in early March.
Starting this past week, the first video-visitation meditation sessions were initiated. Though experimental…it appears that efforts will pay off, and we may be able to extend the practice to prisoner recovery meetings in the next few weeks. Both NORCOR Administration and Telmate - the company that provides video visits to prisoners through the website “
" - have been helpful in setting up this service. Telmate has waived all related fees.
How Video-Visit Meditation Works: Only one caller (visitor) can call in using the system at a time. There are 2 computer tablets in each unit (about 12 units are occupied at any given time).
The system was set up to facilitate visits by family, friends, lawyers and others. The video screen works when the tablet is in it’s charging dock by the entrance to the unit, but goes dark and into audio-phone mode when removed from the dock. As many as three or four inmates can gather while still maintaining ‘social distancing’ of about 6 feet. The outside caller must place the call to a known individual in the facility, who is then responsible for recruiting anyone else interested in participating. Calls are presently limited to 15 minutes, but we may be able to arrange longer visits in the future.
After a brief “check-in,” we share a gently guided meditation of about 10 minutes, and an assignment is established for next time (e.g., whenever there is an intercom announcement, stop and take three conscious breaths). An appointment is then confirmed for the following week’s call.
As we experiment with this technology, it may provide new tools for sharing the practices of meditation and mindfulness. This is an exciting way to extend loving kindness practice. The presence of the sangha within these walls is, indeed, liberating.
Venerable Jeff Miles
Fa Hsing 法 行 , Tâm Minh 心 明
*A Pi Day Prayer*
May reason and compassion prevail
In times of irrationality;
May we come full circle
And forgive those
To whom we find ourselves
May we be transcendent
In our capacity
To be helpful and of service
To our fellow beings;
And may our efforts to root out suffering
Be constant and without end.
What’s New (and What’s Ancient) with Your Mala?
Trying to get to the bottom of the ubiquitous beads, a practitioner interviews fellow Buddhists from a variety of traditions in the Pacific Northwest.
For thousands of years, Buddhist practitioners have used the strings of beads called
s to keep track of their practice. The origin of Buddhist
s––which is the Sanskrit word for “garland”––is attributed to the Mokugenji Sutra, in which King Virudhaka asks the Buddha to help ease his suffering. The Buddha recommends that the king recite the three jewels––the buddha, dharma, and sangha––using a mala made of the
seeds of a soapnut tree
. Since then, across Asia malas have been made of simple, organic materials, such as wood, stone, or bone. More lavish materials such as gemstones are not used, because the mala is considered a meditation tool, not a piece of jewelry.
Buddhist monks in many traditions are prohibited from wearing jewelry, and serious lay practitioners sometimes follow this rule as well. But the modern popularity of malas––as accessories, meditation tools, and
––has led to the manufacture of a wider variety of options, including malas of colorful polished stone beads.
To try to understand how American Buddhists are using their malas, I spoke with a handful of practitioners in the Pacific Northwest about the new and sometimes surprising ways they use these beads to enhance their practice. As I reached out and documented the responses, I was fascinated by the array of perspectives these Buddhists bring to their mala use.
River Sangha; Salem, Oregon: Vietnamese Zen
When I contacted Jerry Braza, facilitator of the
in Salem, Oregon, he mentioned he was ordering a couple of hundred malas from Catholic nuns in Vietnam.
“Really? For what purpose?” I asked him. Braza’s sangha practices in the Vietnamese Zen tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. “I met the nuns when visiting Vietnam with Thay [Thich Nhat Hanh], on his first trip back to Vietnam after forty years,” Braza said. “I have always been intrigued with malas from a practice standpoint and the value they have as a symbol. “Twenty-some years ago I stopped wearing a watch and replaced it with a mala, and have worn one ever since.”
Braza continues to purchase malas from the Catholic nuns in Vietnam, and gives them away whenever the opportunity arises. “I give the malas to anyone who says, ‘I like your bracelet,’” he explained. “I just ask ‘Would you like one?’ and give them a mala from my wrist. Now I meet people who ask if I have any more malas, since theirs broke. Another mala gift opportunity!”
As for practice, Braza says he uses his mala as a device when meditating, “whether focusing on simply the breath or on the guided meditation or both. It helps keep mindfulness alive.”
Salem Zen Center; Salem, Oregon; Japanese Zen
When I spoke with Roshi Lee Anne Nail, teacher at the
Salem Zen Center
in Oregon, she described her experience with malas as one that has evolved since she first encountered the Buddhist beads.
“I used to understand malas as a way to connect to breath, to count breath or in many traditions to count
or bows,” Nail said.
“Then, one winter during monastery training, I tuned into the sound that my teacher’s mala made. The zendo would get really quiet, and I noticed that every once in a while, my teacher would move his mala and make a clicking sound. Occasionally the head monk did the same.
“This made me wonder: ‘Were they making a sound on purpose? Did it have a meaning? Was it a reminder of the importance of breath? Or a way to let go?’” Nail shared, recalling the amazement she felt when her ideas began to shift.
“That winter this sound became so intimate that tears would come to my eyes each time it occurred. I had no idea why,” she said. “At some point this tiny sound was no longer ‘outside’ of me. Yet, I resist defining it. This tiny sound points the way home.”
Blue Heron Zen Center; Seattle, Washington: Korean Zen
Roshi Anita Feng, teacher at the
Blue Heron Zen Center
in Seattle, explained how she understands malas in her Korean Zen tradition, noting the somatic experience of mala use, drawing similarities between using a mala and the embodied practice of walking meditation.
“There is a history of using malas in the Korean Zen tradition. Our root teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn, practiced with a mala,” she said. “Practicing with a mala is both a focusing and an ‘accounting’ technique. They are not separate. Combining body, breath and mind, we account for our whereabouts as the thumb and forefinger pass from one bead to another.
“Just as when we do walking meditation and we focus on each part of the sole of our foot meeting the floor, so too with fingering the beads of the mala. Some of us use a mala to register the completion of each internal recitation of the Great Dharani [a Buddhist chant in Korean Zen]. Others use it to register a single breath. Some find that simply wearing a mala reminds them to stay present in the midst of daily life.”
Open Gate Zendo; Olympia, Washington: Chinese Linji Zen traditio
Koro Kaizan Miles, founder of Olympia, Washington’s
Open Gate Zendo
, which is in the Chinese Linji Zen tradition, said he uses his malas in three ways.
“First, when I am suffering physical pain or stress, I use my mala to slow down and regulate my breath,” he told me. “Within a few measured breaths, my breathing slows from about 30 per minute to around 18 per minute. I usually continue until it is stable at about 12 breaths per minute. This produces a much calmer effect.
“Second, when I do my 108-bow practice, I use the mala to count bows. I typically use my wrist mala because it is easier to hold while bowing. Since my wrist mala has 27 beads, I bow 27 times, then do nine rounds of
(walking meditation), then repeat bowing until I have bowed 108 times.
“I do this as a form of calisthenic exercise, as well as a meditation,” Miles said. “Doing this regularly helps me to maintain my ability to bow during ceremonies.”
“Third, I have a mala looped over the stick shift of my truck. I often use it to relax when I am stuck in Seattle traffic. This makes the most productive use of my time!”
Sravasti Abbey; Newport, Washington: Tibetan Buddhism
“It’s a counter,” said Thubten Chonyi, referring to her mala. Chonyi is a nun at
, a Tibetan monastery for Westerners near Newport, Washington.
Chonyi explained that traditional Tibetan malas function as a sort of “abacus,” an ancient counting device. Tibetan malas utilize two tassels, each with ten small beads attached, to track the completion of one hundred, one thousand, and up to 100,000 mantras around the 108-bead mala.
Today, Sravasti supporters are using their malas to count a million mantras, as part of raising awareness and positive energy for the abbey’s planned new Buddha Hall. Their
website is currently collecting mantras
, and you can listen to a recording of the mantra, recite it as many times as you like, and then submit a form adding your recitations to the other mantras collected so far. The total number is visually recorded on an electronic mala online.
“Mantras are like the utterances of a holy being in deep meditation. We see this as a way to make a connection with the deity,” Chonyi explained. Mantras are also considered a form of “mind protection” and a powerful expression of commitment to practice, she told me. “We believe that if you continue to recite a mantra like
om mani padme hum
you will develop compassion. Whether you want to or not!”
Malas in 2020: When Digital Counting Replaces Clicking Beads
In a perhaps not so surprising development in the history of malas, some people are adapting digital devices to support their dharma practice as effectively as physical malas have since the time of the Buddha.
Some tech-savvy practitioners are turning to smartphone apps like
Mala – Prayer Beads
, which offer the same functions as traditional malas, albeit on a screen. As I researched these trends, I wondered: “Is it time to toss our mala beads?”
Members of some sanghas consider technology a useful tool, while others remain suspicious of innovation. Perhaps the “middle path” is to use an app that adds a lovely bell at the beginning and end of daily meditation, freeing us from clock-watching. Meanwhile, a simple mala, like a true friend, reminds us to return to the essence of our practice.
Volunteers at Tibetan Nuns Project (from left) Deb Slivinsky, Shu-Hsiang Wang, Erika Bartlett, and Iris Antman pack malas made by Tibetan nuns in India, for online sale from Seattle. | Image courtesy of Steve Wilhelm and the Northwest Dharma Association
But I wouldn’t worry about the makers of old-fashioned malas going out of business just yet. The Seattle-based nonprofit
Tibetan Nun Project
(TNP), which supports over 700 nuns in exile in eight nunneries in India and Nepal, says that their mala sales are growing. “We are selling more internationally, thanks to our growing online presence and social media,” TNP executive director Lisa Farmer said. She attributes the growth to new trends in consumer values. “People are looking for gifts that are ‘meaningfully made’ and ‘ethically sourced,’” she explained––and TNP has become a “major source” for malas in the Pacific Northwest. Best sellers include malas made of carved sandalwood beads, rose quartz, and coral beads.
Some malas aren’t malas at all––I know of one particularly creative Northwest practitioner who devised a counter for his bicycle, so he could count mantras while riding. He also envisions his bicycle wheels as Tibetan prayer wheels, increasing and sending out merit as he pedals them into turning.
Stress is Normal...?
Stress, anxiety and fear are normal human responses. Ongoing stressful events like war or pandemics is not a normal occurrence, uncertainty causes increased stress. Constant anxiety/fear/stress can dampen and depress our life. Sometimes when we experience overwhelming stress or fear we do unusual things. You can change your level of stress by some simple steps. There are many ways of dealing with the stress of anxiety and fear, as we deal with illness and uncertainty.
- Separate what is in your control from what is not. There are things you can do, and it’s helpful to focus on those. Wash your hands. Remind others to wash theirs. Take your vitamins. Limit your consumption of news (Do you really need to know what is happening on a cruise ship you aren’t on?).
- Do what helps you feel a sense of safety. This will be different for everyone, and it’s important not to compare yourself to others. It’s ok if you’ve decided what makes you feel safe is to limit attendance of large social events, but make sure you separate when you are isolating based on potential for sickness versus isolating because it’s part of depression.
- Get outside in nature–even if you are avoiding crowds. I took a walk yesterday afternoon in my neighborhood with my daughter. The sun was shining, we got our dose of vitamin D, and it felt good to both get some fresh air and quality time together. Exercise also helps both your physical and mental health.
- Challenge yourself to stay in the present. Perhaps your worry is compounding—you are not only thinking about what is currently happening, but also projecting into the future. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.
- Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s ok to reach out to a mental health professional for support. You don’t have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help.
Doreen Marshall, Ph.D.
From an article https://afsp.org/taking-care-of-your-mental-health-in-the-face-of-uncertainty/
Actions that may help minimize stress
Attending religious services, online, television
Speaking to your religious leader
Speaking with family members, friends, neighbors
Physical activity (Walking, Yoga, Stretching, Qigong, Taichi, Exercise)
Socializing by phone, Facebook, zoom or online meetings, chats
Balance watching the news with positive programs like ‘Extreme Makeover’, ‘What would you Do?’, etc.
Minimize alcohol and recreational drug use
Eating a healthy diet
Keeping a waking and sleeping regular schedule
Think of things that are positive or enjoyable for you
Read an interesting book or watch a movie
Resources for Mental Health Support. Sadness, depression, feeling overwhelmed
Talk with your local clergy
Talk with a Local therapists
(there are crisis lines everywhere - check your local listing)
Thinking of suicide
Talk with your local clergy
Talk with a Local therapists
– just letting go of stress and regaining mental balance. Try this simple breathing exercise 3 times a day and when feeling overwhelmed.
3 Deep Breaths
Breathing In “I know I am breathing in”
Breathing Out “I know I am breathing out”
Breathing In “I am aware of the breath in my body”
Breathing Out “I am aware of the breath in my body”
Breathing In “I calm my body”
Breathing Out “I calm my mind & body”
Starting Monday, March 30th, Trinity will become a virtual studio.
All of our studio classes will be held through Zoom, an online Live Streaming platform. For more information on how to access our Zoom classes.
For the time being, Trinity will not use Practice Passes and will switch to an Unlimited Monthly Membership ($80) structure. To purchase an Unlimited Monthly Pass, you can
click on the Products/Packages link on the website
or use the button below. If you have never taken a studio class at Trinity, you can still try out a class for free. Click on the First Class Free button below to sign up. If you are having financial hardship, you will not be turned away. Please
and we will be happy to work with you.
Classical Chinese Herbal Medicine Consults and Formulas
The roots of herbal medicine are deeply intertwined with the philosophy and practice of acupuncture. Those of you who have had exposure to medical qi gong, have likely realized that all these modalities are but branches of the same tree. Now, more than ever is the time to rely heavily on plant medicine and qi gong, and to allow physical medicine to take a supportive role.
Dave has been fortunate to study with some of the finest Chinese herbalist alive today in the West. Their sacrifice and dedication uniquely prepare us for moments like these, when the conventional medical system is threatened with overload.
Starting immediately, Dave will be dedicating himself to a regular herbal formula practice. Please schedule a brief individual consultation to discuss your specific needs. We will be filling formulas daily, and will work to develop pick-up and delivery options. The formulas will provide 6-12 day long prescriptions at a time.
For high-risk patients, and those patients that require physical medicine or counseling as part of their overall scope of work, we will be scheduling 1 ½ hour home visits on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Preference will be given according to patient severity.
Many of us are being asked to completely change our lifestyle right now. Our hope is that by sharing the wisdom of our teachers, and dedicating ourselves to serving each of you, that we will inspire others like you, to seize this opportunity and to manifest greatness within you. Be a light in these dark times!
Happy little monks reminding us to be careful in thought and deed
May the Infinite Light of Wisdom and Compassion so shine within us
that the errors and vanities of self may be dispelled;
so shall we understand the changing nature of existence and awaken into spiritual peace.
Mt Adams Zen Buddhist Temple 46 Stoller Rd., Trout Lake WA 98650 509.395.2030