Letter from the Chief Disciple

Yusen Taikyo Gilman

Dear Sangha,

When I first encountered Zen practice I was cautiously curious about ango: three months of commitments in dharma study, starting and ending together, an enticing mystery. What would I accomplish? While I have learned to let go of many expectations, and to be realistic about my time commitments, I have never before felt so many butterflies of excitement and trepidation as I feel now with the responsibility of serving as chief disciple. With gratitude to Shugen Roshi for asking me and trusting that I can do this, and to all my teachers, seniors, fellow students and sangha, I am grateful, and truly hope I can fulfill this responsibility.

I am also appreciating that ango is something we create together. I feel happily supported by the ancestors who lived their 90-days of gathering together with the ebb and flow of daily liturgy, of monthly sesshin and fusatsu, not to mention the thousands of moments when we communicate, collaborate, and renew our energies together. Our teachers and ancestors had their challenges, and we have ours, and so we each do our part to meet them.

I hope we can deeply tap into the aspiration and intentions which bring us together and sustain us. I’ve found that loving attention can transform indifference and division into care, and turn superficial, habitual words into genuine inquiry. This has been true for me, to feel the hurt and to truly care that the old habits cause harm, giving up the defensive self-stories and choosing to love deeply. Zazen, our personal and collective liturgy, our creative spirits and activities, can always be tapped to transform confusion, irritation or numbness into something more nourishing, something beneficial, to ourselves and all beings.

I’m excited to explore the ango theme of Intimate Language, Mitsugo, and take up Atisha’s Slogans (also known as the Lojong), both of which tap into the practices of intention and aspiration that are fundamental to the Eightfold-Path. Let’s support each other well as we gather—the sangha—for a Peaceful Dwelling as we create, mend and wear the robe of the Buddha’s teachings.

With love and a bow,

Yusen Taikyo

Taikyo sig 4 web2

Yusen Taikyo Gilman (she, they) started practicing at Fire Lotus Temple in the nineties and became a student of Daido Roshi in 1994. She received Jukai and the Dharma name Taikyo (The Great Mirror) from Daido Roshi in the Spring of 1995.  She is currently a student of Shugen Roshi’s was ordained by him as a monastic in 2021, when he gave her the monastic name Yusen (Courageous River).

Taikyo is a member of the MRO Board of Directors, lives full-time at ZMM and works at the Monastery dye studio and as Assistant Training Coordinator.