This Week in Zen: 10,000 Buddha-Lands in One Drop of Water

Tonight at 7pm: I’ll be read bits and pieces of Dogen’s Mountains and Rivers Sutra in which Dogen states “The place where water exists is already beyond past, present, and future and beyond the world of dharma.”

The thing meanders a lot but I’m gonna try to boil it down to the mind-blowing bits that really get to the point: Nature is the best testament to the Buddhadharma there could ever be.  Maybe, even better than the historical Buddha himself. And while I’m being a incongruous gadfly, I might even go to into why we might not need to lose our shirts about Dogen himself (I know. Aren’t I being so rebellious? LOOK AT ME.)
Saturday at 7am: Three Rounds of sitting, the Heart Sutra service, skyping with Sensei.

Ever wanted to have one of those old dudes in fancy robes that appear on the back of Buddhist books to answer your most vexing questions? Whelp, here’s your chance! We are skyping with Sensei, Michael Elliston Roshi- the abbot of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center, after all of our usual rigmarole at 9:10 am. Come with your questions ready as I will be giving them to Sensei in a kind of talk show hostess style. Please bring difficult questions as they most often lead to the most vibrant discussions.
Plans are moving ahead for the Early Winter Retreat at Penuel Ridge (Friday Afternoon 11/30 to Sunday Afternoon 12/2). I hope to have the full details (a fleshed out schedule and place to register) posted by next week.
Hey, do what you can to take in all of this fall splendor. I do sincerely agree with Dogen that Nature is the best teacher when to comes to seeing reality for what it is.  Plus, fall isn’t just for basic white girls like myself to enjoy, you know?

~ Steph


Zen This Week: Zen One-on-One and Zen 101

Tonight @ 7pm: Nat’s back and offering dokusan tonight (you know the thing where you go in the backroom ostensibly to talk about your practice but always wind up talking about your personal problems {wait...aren’t those kinda the same things?}). So if you wanna go in-depth about your practice with one person, now’s your lucky break.

I’ll also be reading from writings of our guiding teacher’s teacher, Masuoka and why he says the ultimate authority can’t be found on the outside but it’s not quite an inside job either. Some days I think we should just rebrand and call ourselves “Paradox International”.
This Saturday at 7am: OUTDOOR SITTING!

Kinda: We’ll be in under a roof in case of rain. Show up at Shelter 8 at Edwin Warner Park to observe Fall Weather in all of its splendor. They’ll be coffee, grub, and in honor of the occasion, readings from the Mountain and Rivers discourse by Dogen.

Fun! Click here for a google map that will take you right to the joint:

And if you possibly can, please throw $25 on the paypal so we can keep doing these silly escapades: http://nashvillezencenter.org/donate/

(Just to be clear, no sitting at Gallatin Pike, this Saturday. We are going all in at the outdoor sit in Edwin Warner Park!)


Speaking of silly escapades, Dave and I have been talking about our upcoming retreat at Penuel Ridge (Friday Afternoon, 11/30 til Sunday Afternoon, 12/2). Expect round-table koan discussion, yoga breaks, relaxed oryoki (i.e. zen eating). I am very much excited about it. More on all that soon.

~ Steph


Zen This Week: I’m So Metta Even This Acronym ...

Tonight @ 7pm: Two Rounds of Sitting then talkin’. What we talking about? The Metta Sutra and how the Metta Sutra might be the most Meta of all the Sutras. So come see what all this silliness is about.

Saturday @ 7am: Three Rounds of Sitting then the Heart Sutra Service. Then what else? Whatever you guys wanna within your own limits, of course. But I half suspect that it’s going to boil down doing the book study. So join us in our petty squabbles over what possibly made-up people did or didn’t do way back over two thousand and five hundred years ago … supposedly. It’s always amusing and, in it’s own humble way, illuminating.
Remember, we are having an Outdoor Sit at Edwin Warner Park Saturday after next (10/20). It will be at Shelter 8 from 7am until whenever we don’t wanna anymore (you know how we do). I’ll post the address next week so keep your peepers peeled.

Also, Sensei did agree to Skype with us again this month, Saturday October 27th. He said that he wanted it to be a Q&A format. So if you ever fantasized about pestering a real life Zen Master with your burning quandaries, now’s your chance.

Questions? Shoot ‘em my way: info@nashvillezencenter.org.

Metta Lurves
~ Steph


Zen this Month: Not the Retreat We Deserve but Probably the One We Need Right Now

Glorious Galoshes-Wearing-Weather, Everyone! Here is a long view of the things we have got coming up:


It’s the first Tuesday of the month. That means tonight's New People Night. Curious about Zen? And what’s more, wanna know how do it? Then you are in luck! Show up tonight at 6:30 and learn all you need know before the regular scheduled sitting. After the sitting, we will go over the Bendowa: Dogen’s FAQs for why we do zen at all. It’s something new people and old hands need to hear.


Saturday, October 6th: It's the first Saturday of the month. That means sangha social at Sip Cafe after the regularly scheduled Saturday morning. What’s Sip Cafe? A cool coffee shop in a refurbished bank building that’s right down the street from the zendo. If you happen miss the sits at 7am then you are welcome to meet us at Sip at around 9:30.

Saturday October 20th: We said that we'd be doing an outdoor sit and we are doing an outdoor sit. Edwin Warner Park, Shelter 8 starting at 7am until the last one sitting gets up. We’ll have Coffee, Grub, and a couple of readings to tool around with. Details and a map location of where exactly the shelter is will be posted the week of. Should be lovely fall weather to sit in and behold.


We are working on Skyping with our guiding teacher, Michael Elliston Roshi of the Silent Thunder Order, one Saturday a month. We did last month and had a splendid discussion about what leaving home means these days anyway.  This month it's either gonna be the 13th or the 27th of October. We will announce whichever one he agrees to the week of. It’s always lively and beats just playing a podcast for sure.

Now, the big news for last. Brad Warner canceled on us for a third and final time. But in the true “lemons-into-lemonade” NZC idiom, we parlayed that into a Retreat at Penuel Ridge lead by our own and dearly missed Dave Cuomo. Dave’s a legit Zen Priest these days and working a full time gig as the head resident of the Angel Zen Center (Brad’s group in L.A.).

Penuel Ridge is a beautiful tucked away retreat center in Ashland City only 20 minutes from Downtown Nashville.  It has cozy overnight accommodations and some the most relaxing scenery on this side of the Cumberland. The dates are looking like Saturday December the 1st and all day Sunday December the 2nd. Mark your calendars.

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m very much looking forward to an old school overnight retreat. A real reunion indeed.


Shoot me any questions that come up:info@nashvillezencenter.org.

Remember: We appreciate your practice!

~ Steph


Zen this Week || Ritual and the Ocean Poet

Tonight @ 7pm, after two rounds of sitting, I will be talking about ritual and whether it's just some old junk we cling to or whether we actually need it to do zen (Surprise! Probably both!). Even better, I'll be doing a demonstration... kinda. Come for green tea and see what I mean.

Saturday @ 7am, three rounds of sitting, the Heart Sutra Service and then the book study. Still working our way through Thich Nhat Hahn's "Old Path, White Clouds", one chapter at time. This chapter is 67, Ocean Poet, in which Buddha talks about the bad side of converting barbarians and later he steals a fisherman's poetry to proselytize.


A zillion Treasure Bows to the Tullahoma Zen Center for having a swell Jukai! Nat, Adam, and I had a wonderful time supping with y'all, petting Doug's dogs, and getting to know your sangha in your cute quirky UU church. You guys are great. It's always a pleasure to be there.

Specifically, sincere congratulations to Jancy (Daishi-Great Inspiration), Rosanna (Shosei-Bright Spirit), and Randy (Teiho-Faithfully Follow the Way). Welcome to the Sangha!

~ Steph

P.S. Robert's right. That big shiny bell y'all bought is bangin'!