January at Ancestral Heart Zen Temple: A Month in Photographs

Each month, we’ll be sharing photographs of life at Sōshinji, Ancestral Heart Zen Temple. All Brooklyn Zen Center members are warmly invited to come practice here, and to experience Zen monastic training. Please email ahdirector@brooklynzen.org for more information. 

January was a time of transitions and change at Sōshinji. This was the first month that Kosen Sensei and Laura Sensei were not present at the temple, as they devoted themselves to caring for Kosen Sensei as he received cancer treatment. We concentrated our hearts on them and their well-being as we cared for the temple and for each other. And as we honored our grief and fear, we also cultivated joy and play. Here are some sweet moments from this month.

We stepped into new roles this month: Former Tenzo Kaishin (left) is now Tsusu (Director) and former Shika Don (right) is now Tenzo (Head of the Kitchen). 

Here is Lokha (left) pounding rice into mochi. Wesley (middle) built our temple’s first kine (wooden mallet) out of scraps in the garage, and we had our inaugural mochitsuki (mochi making) tradition for New Year’s. It worked!!!

The garden crew and work leader worked hard to clear the fire pit, and we celebrated our Shissui (work leader) Emme’s birthday with a fire.

Our friends at Sokoji—the temple that first invited Suzuki Roshi to America, and a foundation of Soto Zen and the Japanese American community in San Francisco—sent us this calendar as a New Year’s gift. We are deeply grateful to be forming a relationship with them. Back row, left to right: Wesley, Kaishin, Jeff, Rachel, Emme, and Don. Front row, left to right: Ryan and Weishin.

During our daily afternoon break, the kitchen offers rice cakes, apples, peanut butter, and jam, which we call “backdoor snack,” as they do at Tassajara. Jeff has been expounding the true dharma through backdoor snack art.