Letter from the Shuso

· ANGO ·

Dear Sangha,

Looking toward this Fall 2019 Ango, I feel the excitement and trepidation of a child starting a new school year, eager to learn, and fearful that I will fall short.  I gain courage knowing we will be learning together as a sangha, and walking with the green teeming mountain into yellow, orange and brown, before going quiet. 

When Shugen Roshi asked me to serve as Chief Disciple, I felt intimidated and humbled taking on this role.  Like starting other service positions, I sense it will be awkward, challenging, and with the help of sangha, deeply rewarding. Hojin Sensei once said, as she was training a group of us to be servers, “this is a place where we learn to fail gracefully.” The graceful part, for me, is what we create together as we each do our best to practice sincerely, and hold our own shortcomings and those of others lightly.

May we study and embody each facet of the Noble Eightfold Path during this ango in order to transform our own suffering and the suffering around us. With Right Intention, let us clarify our aspirations for the ango, and strive ardently to be of benefit in this troubled world. We manifest Right Effort by showing up for each other in the wee hours of the day whether at home or in the zendo, and make this difficult and rewarding practice possible by doing it together and leading others by our own example.  May we sip from the honey cup of our peaceful dwelling over the next 90 days, creating a Buddha-verse of kindness and clarity.


Katie Yosha Scott-Childress, began practicing with the MRO in 2005, became a student of Daido Roshi in 2007, and received the precepts in 2014. Living near Mt. Tremper, she has been able to participate in the life of the Monastery in different ways over the years, first bringing her two children to the Zen Kids program, and currently serving as a NBPS practice adviser. She works as a public library director, and has a creative urge that sometimes takes form in cooking or making clay pots. 

Fusatsu: April 2019 ZMM

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 4/04/2019  


The second Fusatsu talk of the Spring Ango on Dogen’s fascicle “Refrain from Unwholesome Action.”  

Cultivating Reverence

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Bear Gokan Bonebakker, Senior Monastic

Zen Center of New York City, 3/31/2019


Gokan takes up Dogen’s opening lines of the Ango fascicle, “Refrain from Unwholesome Action,” and asks what is refrain from? Gokan suggests we cultivate reverence.

Practicing “Refrain From Unwholesome Actions”

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Ron Hogen Green, Sensei

Zen Mountain Monastery, 3/29/2019


Even in our ignorance of the impact we have on others, karma is created. Hogen Sensei explores how we can use dharma practice to investigate what it is to “just refrain from,” both wholesome and unwholesome activity, as Dogen describes in the fascicle being studied during this Ango.

Fusatsu: Refrain From Unwholesome Action

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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, 3/14/2019


This Fusatsu talk invites us to reflect deeply on Dōgen’s teaching from the Spring Ango study fascicle: “Refrain from unwholesome action. Do wholesome action. Purify your own mind. This is the teaching of all buddhas.” Shugen Roshi explores how all actions (positive, negative, and neutral) are unborn, undefiled, and are reality manifest in various ways. Study of our thoughts, words, and actions with an undivided heart offers insight to understanding intentions, desires, and karma. Refraining from unwholesome action is how is “the power of practice immediately actualized” which Dōgen describes.

No Time To Waste

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Prabu Gikon Vasan, Senior Lay Practitioner

Zen Center of New York City, 11/18/2018


Gikon uses the teachings of early Theravada nuns, in particular the experience of Kisa Gautami, to examine the meaning of true freedom, and relates their struggles our modern day experiences of meeting barriers and attachments.