1/12/2020: Guiding Teachers Address

Happy New Year from your Sangha at the Buddhist Temple of Toledo! 

I am writing today with a summary of the annual Sangha Meeting. The Sangha gathered on Sunday January 12 for a New Year’s Ceremony and a Sangha meeting. At the meeting, the Board President Shokai thanked the Sangha for a year of sincere practice and volunteer efforts in 2019, Revs. Rinsen Roshi and Do’on Osho addressed the Sangha looking forward to 2020 and beyond, and Hoshi gave a detailed update and lead Q&A about the new Temple building.

Rinsen and Do'on's remarks to the community are reproduced here in full.

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Jenna Zuisei Hirschman


Do'on Osho: 

Thank you everyone for being here, and for your practice this year, and especially for your support in getting the new Temple to be built. I wanted to let you know that everyday where my altar is at the Abbacy, I'm sitting directly facing the altar that will be in the new Temple, so lots of good mojo and work is being done there already. I can assure you that in a sense the new Temple is already built. 

Rinsen Roshi: 

Thank you everybody for being here. I would like to give a brief Abbot's Address at this time, as I usually do. 

First point. 

I'd like to start by saying, as many of you know, Do'on and I are deeply involved in various Zen Teacher support organizations, and this is critical, important, necessary, and also ... really interesting. 

Without divulging anything that I am not allowed to share, I can say there is a lot of joy happening [among Zen Teachers and Sanghas] for us, because it is now very clear that if you take the entire middle chunk of this country -- everything except the far east and west coasts -- we are the largest, most vibrant Sangha in the country. 

Which is inspiring. And scary. Why is there not a Sangha in every town? Wouldn't it be a better country, a better world, if there was? 

But our part in [a better world] is actually what we are doing. We are getting together, combusting our lives together over time, in community, in training. And it is making an impact. 

So, while we are celebrating and feeling joy for ourselves, we should also take a moment to appreciate the growth and practice for everyone in this room today, as well as for all the many many people who are not in this room right now who are watching from home. But really it doesn't end there -- really, truly, no kidding -- there are people who will never come to this space who are being deeply encouraged and deeply nourished by what is happening here. 

I am not the least bit withholding when it comes time to talk with my elders and peers about how we do things here. Every mistake we've made, everything we've screwed up, every wall we've run into and said "Oww!" and then retrofitted and rearranged -- all of this experience is getting passed on to other sangha. Everyone is benefitting from our mistakes and benefitting from our things well done. 

So, I bow to everyone who is engaging with this practice. You can see that the list of people [practicing and volunteering] is astonishing. I don't think at this point there is any one person -- definitely not me -- who actually knows everything that is going on in the Sangha at any given moment. And there's not any one person in the Sangha -- definitely not me -- who is actually steering the ship. We are all in this thing together and we are doing beautifully. Thank you all for your leadership and practice. 

Second point. 

I've offered Tokudo Unsui ordination to Shokai and she has accepted. Here we have someone who has actually begun their practice in our community and come all the way through their training, all the way through Shuso. 

(Which you should know is not limited to folks in Seminary, anybody can be Shuso, anybody can take that high seat for a minute and do Dharma Combat, but we had our first homegrown student go all the way through that point and it is a prerequisite for ordination.) 

So we have decided that the most auspicious alignment for this is to angle it so that the ordination is the last thing we do in this space [on Angola Road]. We haven't picked a day, but that's the plan. So then we'll have an Assistant Priest, how wonderful! 

Third point. 

Also, I've offered Denbo Transmission to Do'on Osho and she has accepted. For those who may not know, transmission happens in increments, and Denbo is the second shoe dropping in transmission. At that point you'll have to get used to Sensei as a title for our beloved Do'on. We've decided that the Denbo ceremony shall be the first big thing that happens in the new space. 

But this is not just happening for our community. I've asked Myoun Roshi [James Myoun Ford Roshi] to come back and we're going to try to arrange a grand opening for the space and that's when we'll do the Denbo transmission for Do'on. 

But not only he, also Myotai Sensei [Bonnie Myotai Treace Sensei] has said she will be willing to come and be witness to this if her health allows -- and we all pray and hope that it does -- and she's very excited for our community. 

But not only that, also I invited Melissa Blacker Roshi and David [Rynick] Roshi to come out because they are a married couple and they teach and they are such an influence for us. 

But not only that -- speaking of the budget [ahem, laughter] -- I've also invited Dosho Port Roshi and his wife Tetsugan who also teach out in the midwest. 

So if this all works out, there's a couple of other powerful teaching couples in the Dharma to witness this transmission, James [Myoun Ford Roshi] is publicly and happily endorsing this transmission, and he'll be here for sure to help. And we'll have all these powerful folks here to come and help bless the new Temple. 

And we're going to have a hell of a party together. So that's what we have to look forward to. 

So my last comment in this Abbot's Address is "Holy Shit! Damn!" 

Thank you everyone.

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