Oryoki: the Bowl that Contains Just Enough

By BZC’s Tanto (Head of Practice), Shokuchi Deirdre Carrigan:

In June 2018, Brooklyn Zen Center practiced the ceremony of oryoki for the first time in the sesshin that was led by Tenshin Reb Anderson Roshi.

Oryoki is the ceremonial practice of serving and eating meals in the meditation hall (zendo), practiced in Zen temples since the T’ang dynasty in China. The initial “o” in oryoki means “in proportion to”, “ryo” means “amount” or “quality,” and “ki” means “container”—the bowl that contains the appropriate amount or “just enough”.* …

2018 Fall Practice Period at BZC

A message from the BZC teachers regarding the 2018 Fall Practice Period:

Dear Sangha,

We hope all of you are finding joy, rest and nourishment in these very warm summer days. As September quickly approaches, it is time to begin thinking about our commitments for the upcoming practice period.

Fall Practice Period is an opportunity to wholeheartedly devote ourselves to Zen practice in community by centering it in our lives from mid-September to mid-December. We use this time to create a container that supports our community in taking time to clarify our intentions, deepen insight, embody our commitments and more fully integrate our practice as life. If you are not familiar with BZC practice period, you can read about it more fully here. Regardless of your time practicing at BZC, we very much encourage taking up the practice period as a path of grounding your commitment to practice and sangha through zazen, practice roles, practice discussion and the many other opportunities for Zen students at BZC. …

New zazen periods at BZC this fall

As we are gearing up for the beginning of the fall practice period and putting together the calendar of offerings for the upcoming months, we are happy to announce additional zazen periods as part of our weekly meditation schedule at the Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC).

During the upcoming fall practice period – from Wednesday September 19 to Wednesday December 19 – BZC will be offering additional zazen (sitting meditation) periods on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend! …

Join the Sound Bath greeters’ team!

Sound Bath greeters are part of the shika ryo and they welcome guests into our beloved spiritual home at BZC and help everyone feel at home as they take part on an inner journey of relaxation and transformation. By using frequency and “entrainment,” a sound bath facilitates a shift in brainwaves from our normal waking state to alpha and theta states that are akin to meditation—where true somatic healing can occur.

Flower People

Every week at BZC a team of dedicated sangha members engages in a special form of practice. They use scissors, vases, and brushes. They speak softly with each other, while moving swiftly around the zendo, the kitchen, the bathroom, the teachers’ practice rooms, the library. They work carefully with their hands, paying special attention to colors and shapes, deciding on particular arrangements and combinations – what to discard and what to keep, how to evenly distribute what’s available, what should go where. …

Buddhist statement on separating immigrant families

The Soto Zen Buddhist Association released a public statement today on the U.S. policy of separating families seeking refugee at the U.S.-Mexico border. It was signed by over 200 Buddhist leaders across the country, including BZC’s dharma teacher and senior priest Greg Snyder. The signed statement is available here.


Separating Immigrant Families Statement (6/18/2018):

As Western Buddhist leaders, we unreservedly condemn the recently imposed policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the US-Mexican border.

Over the past few weeks, thousands of children have been inhumanely taken from their parents by US Customs and Border Protection, in a policy that has been condemned by the United Nations and many international human rights observers. Indeed, no other country has a policy of separating families who intend to seek asylum.

Whatever the legal status of those attempting to enter the US, separating children from their parents is a contravention of basic human rights. Parents seeking asylum make long, dangerous and arduous journeys in an attempt to find safety and well-being for their precious children. Ripping these vulnerable children from their parents is cruel, inhumane, and against the principles of compassion and mercy espoused by all religious traditions. From a Buddhist perspective, it is the close bond between parents and children that nurtures not only the physical well-being of children, but their psychological health and their moral formation.

Separating children from their parents and holding them in detention inflicts terrible and needless trauma and stress on young children that hampers and damages their development, causing long-term damage. This policy being employed on United States soil is morally unconscionable. That such egregious actions be employed as a deterrent for families seeking entry and/or asylum in the U.S. – using the sacred bond between innocent youth and their parents – is unjustifiable on any level. We suggest that our current defenders of this policy visit some of these border crossings and child detention centers so they can experience for themselves the present effects of their decisions. It is difficult to conceive that anyone having compassion for our world’s children and their families, and who witnesses such pain and anguish for themselves could continue to uphold such a practice.

As people of faith and conscience, we feel that it is important that we speak out clearly in defense of basic human rights at this time, calling for an immediate end to this heartless practice. In doing so, we join the voices of many religious leaders and congregations that have unreservedly condemned this policy of separation. This policy is a serious violation of the rights of the child and must be stopped today.

BZC has a new oven!

We have reached our fundraising goal to purchase a new oven in just 11 days! And the new oven is now standing shinny and bright in the BZC kitchen!

The new oven will allow us to bake multiple trays of food at once, making meal preparation for large numbers of guests more manageable, as is the case with the upcoming sesshin. The new oven, which replaced a old one that had been given to BZC as a donation years ago and was no longer operational, will allow us to continue to provide meals during meditation retreats, Saturday community lunches (when available) and to support kitchen practice for years to come.

Our heartfelt appreciation to all who contributed to the fundraising campaign. Your support made this possible – thank you!

Do you have a question about BZC?

Are you new to BZC and you are not sure if you need meditation experience to join zazen? Do you have questions about BZC’s meditation schedule? You want to become a BZC member but you are not sure how that works? Do you need directions and parking information? The brand new FAQ page answers all your questions (hopefully)!

If you can’t find the answer to your question or concern, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@brooklynzen.org or at (718) 701-1083.

Oryoki at BZC

At BZC, during the upcoming sesshin (retreat) led by Tenshin Reb Anderson Roshi, we’ll start practicing oryoki  – the traditional form and ceremony of zendo eating, using stacked, wrapped bowl sets.

Oryoki means “the bowl that contains just enough.” This ceremonial practice of serving and eating meals has been practiced in Zen temples since the T’ang dynasty in China. The participants, in a seated meditation posture, receive the food that is offered, bowing with the servers in gratitude, and eat together as a sangha. …

The BZC Accessibility Committee Wants to Hear from You!

The BZC Accessibility Committee was created in the spring of 2017 by sangha members Victory Matsui and Jacob Slominski, in response to their desire to allow those with mental and physical disabilities to fully access the Brooklyn Zen Center and its offerings.

Having encountered barriers themselves in accessing BZC because of PTSD, fragrance sensitivity, and chronic pain, Victory and Jacob were inspired to ask for support from the sangha to skilfully address and dismantle these barriers so that others with disabilities would feel more welcome. And in response, the sangha has stepped up with urgency and care to help with this important work.

Beginner’s Mind Experience

The next Beginner’s Mind Experience program starts on Saturday, May 5! The registration deadline is Wednesday, May 2.

All new members at the Brooklyn Zen Center are strongly encouraged to take part in the Beginner’s Mind Experience, a 3-month introduction program to the various aspects of community practice at BZC.

As part of this program, members have the opportunity to join a peer practice group, experience various forms of wholehearted activity practice, and receive special rates on two introductory classes: Introduction to Zen Buddhism and Meditation in Everyday Life (discount available for one year; introductory classes will be offered again in fall 2018).

The program provides members with a sense of the variety and intimacy of zen practice in the BZC community and also offer embodied experience with how we can engage these practices in our daily lives.

To take part in the Beginner’s Mind Experience, you must be a BZC member.

More information and registration available here.

Zen Priest Ordination at BZC

On March 18, the BZC sangha gathered for a very special and joyous occasion: the priest vow-taking ceremony of Inzan Rose.

Here are some of the images of the ceremony. More images are available at the BZC Facebook page here and the BZC Instagram here. All images by Terence Caulkins.











New Audio Dharma Talk: Kaira Jewel Lingo

You can now listen to a dharma talk by visiting teacher Kaira Jewel Lingo, an ordained nun in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing: Creating a Beautiful Past (10/01/2017).

Drawing on her 15 years living as a nun with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the monastic community, as well as the transition back to lay life two years ago, Kaira Jewel explored in this dharma talk how living deeply in the present allows us to heal wounds from our past, not only in ourselves but also in our ancestors.

Here are some excerpts of the talk:

“We want to figure out how to relate skillfully to the past because there is very important material in our past that we want to learn from. And it is with us now. There is no escaping it, right? We are the past, right now. But how do we engage it skillfully? […]

Because the way we evolved, our minds stick to negative experiences, much more than positive ones. Our minds are like velcro to negative and teflon for positive experiences. Negative experiences lodge in the long-term memory immediately, but it takes 20 seconds for positive experiences to lodge in our long-term memory.”

Kaira Jewel will be leading a one-day sit at the Brooklyn Zen Center on April 1, on Awakening the Mind of Love: Attending to our Deepest Desire. During this one-day sit we will take time to fully experience our bodies, hearts and minds, through sitting and walking meditation, mindful movement, teachings, and group sharing. We will also explore the mind of love using the improvisational forms of InterPlay, an active and creative approach to unlocking the wisdom of the body (appropriate for all bodies and abilities).

Scholarship applications are available for this sit. Please apply by March 19. Registration closes March 23.

For those interested in an opportunity to initiate an exploration of these topics, please note that Kaira Jewel Lingo will be offering a dharma talk on Saturday, March 31, at 11 a.m. (no registration required).

You can find more dharma talks at the Audio Dharma section of this website, including other talks by Kaira Jewel Lingo.

Our programs are given free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. If you would like to support Brooklyn Zen Center, please visit the “Giving” section of this website. A suggested donation of $10 per audio dharma talk is greatly appreciated.