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9/12/2019: Annual Sangha Survey 

Dear Sangha,

It’s time for the 2019 Sangha survey and your input is vital! 

Take Survey Now! 

We need you to take a few minutes to share your thoughts and ideas about what works, what needs improvement, and what else you wan to get your Sangha thinking about as we move forward with the new temple building and into an exciting new phase in the life of the Great Heartland Sangha. 

Please share openly and honestly your ideas on how to nurture our dharma practice and grow as a community. As always, the survey is anonymous. 

If you'd like to see past surveys please follow these links:
2014 Annual Sangha Survey
2015 Annual Sangha Survey
2016 Annual Sangha Survey
2017 Annual Sangha Survey
2018 Annual Sangha Survey

The survey will close on Wednesday, September 25th. If you have questions, please let us know at programs@buddhisttempleoftoledo.org. 

_/\_ 
Amy Zuiho Hartman 
Buddhist Temple of Toledo Sangha Engagement Chair 

on behalf of the Buddhist Temple of Toledo Board of Directors 

Rev. Karen Do'on Weik Osho 
Michael Hoshi Leizerman 
Rob Kaishin Bondy 
Rev. Jay Rinsen Weik Roshi 
Winifred Shokai Martin

9/10/2019: Interview with Shokai, Fall Ango 2019 Shuso 

Just before Fall Ango began, novice Zuisei sat down for a chat to learn about Chief Disciple Shokai’s perspective on the Fall Ango topic The Bodhisattva's Perfections: 10 Practices to Transform Your Life and to find out what upcoming autumn practice opportunities Shokai is most excited about. Read the interview below.


 

Zuisei: As I understand, Rinsen Roshi and Do’on Osho asked you to suggest a topic for this Ango.  

Shokai: When Rinsen Roshi and Do’on Osho first asked me to serve as Chief Disciple [at the end of the Spring Ango Closing Ceremony], in the announcement Rinsen mentioned that we’d figure out the details of how it works as we go. I didn’t really believe he was serious when he asked me to suggest a topic for the Ango as part of my preparation. Was this some sort of test? But I double-checked with Do’on Osho and Rinsen Roshi again and they confirmed that I really was meant to find the topic under their guidance. 

Zuisei: And you settled on suggesting the ten paramitas, or ten perfections, and Roshi and Osho chose to take it up as the Ango topic. What led you to the paramitas? 

Shokai: About a month before Rinsen and Do’on asked me to prepare for Shuso, I read the poem “This Morning I Pray for My Enemies” by Joy Harjo, a Native American writer. This line has stayed with me:   

 “The door to mind should only open from the heart.”   

Shokai: I practiced in the Vipassana tradition for some years before coming to the Buddhist Temple of Toledo. When I started practicing, I was very wisdom heavy. When I started practicing here, I was still leaning into wisdom, but now the Teachings were about integrating wisdom and compassion -- no one path by itself is complete. Roshi always says “getting up to the top of the mountain isn’t that difficult, but coming down and integrating it all is where the work is.” As a Sangha, we did a deep dive into wisdom with the Diamond Sutra last Fall, so now is the perfect time to go deep into the relative path with the paramitas. 

The paramitas are the Bodhisattva Code for living in the world and expressing who you really are in the world -- manifesting your Buddha nature -- past all the self reification and self righteousness. And we need this, especially right now when there are a lot of people engaged in divisiveness and grandstanding and preaching to the choir and drawing warlines, but not speaking from the heart.  

In our Ango text, Lama Surya Das describes the paramitas as “the Buddha’s own guide to enlightened living”. During Jukai, our initiates and the Sangha deeply engaged the second paramita, moral discipline, to open our hearts. Now we are going to dive into the whole set of ten perfections. 

Zuisei: There are many books out there about the paramitas, and you read several before recommending Lama Surya Das’s Buddha is As Buddha Does to our Teachers for the official Ango reading. How did you encounter this book and what made you suggest it for our Sangha? 

Shokai: I listen to Lama Surya Das’s podcast quite a bit. He is called “the American lama” and is from a Jewish background. He spent decades training in Tibet and his style is no-nonsense and earthy. After our Teachers approved the topic, I ordered his book about the paramitas.  

The day I started reading it, Rinsen Roshi suggested I take a look at a book about the paramitas. The book he suggested I take a look at was Buddha is As Buddha Does

I read a couple of other great books about the paramitas that take two different approaches; Norman Fischer’s from the perspective of imagination and Diane Rizzetto’s from the perspective of hope. The Rizzeto book would be really good for beginners as it gives a very good basic framework. Eventually, I settled on Lama Surya Das’s book because it is very practical and intimate, rather than theoretical or impersonal. Personal responsibility is a big part of it. 

Zuisei: Usually we are called to intensify our practice during Ango. This Ango, you and our Teachers have asked to instead focus on “peaceful dwelling.” Will you speak a little about why this and change and how? 

Shokai: We had a very intense summer this year with so much of our effort as a Sangha directed toward settling our Teachers into the new Abbacy, campaigning for the new Temple building, and assisting Myōun Roshi with the Inka Shomei ceremony and celebration for Rinsen Roshi. With so many significant things going on, it seemed like we were going full speed in manifesting practice in a very busy world. So now the healthful thing to do is to shift into a more gentle “peaceful dwelling.”  

I’m trying to be mindful of slowing down this Ango. One practice I have is on my drive up to work in Ypsi, turning off the podcast and looking at the scenery in the sunrise -- really taking it in.  

Zuisei: You have mentioned your commute to work, and at other times you have talked about family practice. As always, BTT is offering a lot of events and programs this Ango. Very few Sangha members can do them all. What are you most excited about for the first part of Ango? 

Shokai: Rinsen always says “if you have one dart, throw it at sesshin.” And yet, the Fall semester at the university where I work is extremely busy and I can only take so much time off. So my sesshin practice this Ango will be Saturdays and Sunday mornings.  

Beyond sesshin, it’s a lot of fun to see how everything integrates. And during our workshops and Teaching Retreats, we usually have time for small group sharing. Somebody always says something that is a way of looking at the topic that I never considered before.  

I’ll be at both of the half day workshops on the paramitas (Sat. 9/21 and Sat. 11/9). I’m really excited to get our Teacher’s take on a deep dive into the paramitas. We almost called the workshop “The Bodhisattva’s Code” because the paramitas really are the code of behavior for the bodhisattva as the relative path to awakening. Most of us are a little bit familiar with the paramitas from the Daily Liturgy, but this is about how we live our lives. I think it’s worth spending a few hours to learn how to live our lives skillfully -- how can you manifest joyful effort with everything that’s going on? If you want to find out, come to the workshops! 

Due to work, I am not able to attend the full Teaching Retreat this Ango (What to Expect When You Are Human Tues. Oct. 8 - Fri. Oct 11 and the White Tara Workshop Sat. Oct. 12). The Teaching Retreat will cover Rinsen and Do’on’s Zen adaptation of the traditional “Stages of the Path” (Lam Rim) Teaching. When [the current Novices] were postulants, Rinsen and Do’on lead us through a traditional version of the teaching. I am so grateful to have received this wisdom and to have worked through it with our Teachers. It gave me a framework for understanding the practices and texts we encounter -- and the paramitas are a big part of the Stages of the Path, so this is really good timing. 

Zuisei: Thank you so much for taking some time to chat today. Is there anything you’d like to share to close?  

Shokai: I am grateful for the opportunity to practice with this amazing Sangha. I am looking forward to seeing you at service and sesshin and these special workshops. I’m hoping that I make it through Shuso Hossen ceremony at Ango Closing (Sun. Nov. 17) and that we can meet in Dharma Combat. 

Zuisei: Thank you again Shokai! A dedication please? 

Shokai: By our efforts this Ango may we fully manifest our true loving and compassionate nature and alleviate our own suffering along with that of all beings. May this be so for our Sangha, for Toledo, for our country, for our planet, and for all beings throughout space and time.  

8/28/2019: Introducing BTT Code of Ethics 

Dear Sangha, 

As many of you know, we have been working on a Code of Ethics for the Sangha for some time now. As a Sangha we commit to aligning our lives with the Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts. As humans, we embody the myriad possibilities of being human. Together, we recognize both our true glorious nature and our capacity to cause suffering in this world. Our responsibility is to provide a safe, ethical, and respectful environment for all who practice at our Temple. 

With this task in mind, we undertook an initial survey of ethical codes from Buddhist communities across the country and sought input and feedback from some Sangha members involved in the counseling/psychological fields. After a lot of drafting, discussion, and revision by Temple leadership, we sent out a call for feedback from Jukai members in spring. After processing and integrating that, the Board approved the Code of Ethics on May 26, 2019 and began populating the EAR Council. 

The Code of Ethics and information about how to engage with the EAR Council are now available on the Ethical Guidelines page of our website.

We wish to thank all involved for their diligent and sincere efforts. This is, of course, a living code ready to evolve with and integrate the experience of our community and always to be held in the heart of love, compassion, and wisdom that is our beloved Sangha. 

_/\_ 

Shokai 
President of the Board of Directors 
Buddhist Temple of Toledo

8/23/2019: Letter from the Shuso, Fall Ango 2019 

Dear Sangha, 

Now, as the change of season approaches, as we bow deeply to Black Oak Farm for hosting one last glorious Jukai sesshin, and as the woods on Emmajean open to welcome the new Temple we embrace the impermanence and perfection of all things. After a summer of intense activity for the Sangha, what better time to slow down and enter the “peaceful dwelling” that is Ango.  

When Rinsen Roshi and Do’on Osho asked me to serve as Chief Disciple for Fall Ango, I felt both profound gratitude and a surge of anxiety. It’s been a year of pushing past the limits of what is comfortable for me, especially as my practice has manifested in the world. Throughout all of this, I have relied on the support and training I have received from my teachers. I know I can rely on that again in this role and on the patience and kindness of this wonderful Sangha. I look forward to practicing deeply with you all as together we undertake the only thing asked of us in this life: to offer all that we truly are. 

At the Jukai ceremony we witnessed the courageous vow of this year’s initiates to live by the bodhisattva precepts - the moral and ethical code contained in the second of the paramitas or perfections. During Fall Ango, we undertake to encounter all ten paramitas: the entire code of behavior for bodhisattvas as they walk the path of awakening in this suffering world. How do we engage and manifest these transformational practices that are innate to us all and that connect us all? How do we manifest who we really are? How fortunate we are to have the Buddha’s own guide on how to do this in this life, in these relationships, with these feet on this ground.  

May our words, thoughts, and deeds fully express our tender and good hearts and may our efforts this ango alleviate the suffering of all beings.    

Much love, 
Shokai 

 

PS: Ango Opening is Sunday September 1st. Our Ango text will be Buddha Is as Buddha Does: The Ten Original Practices for Enlightened Living by Lama Surya Das. You can learn more about the book and practice opportunities on our Ango website

7/27/2019: Sangha Support at Agenda-Setting Meeting and August City Council Meeting 

On July 23, the City Council ultimately decided to delay a decision on the new Temple. The Temple will be on the July 30th agenda-setting meeting at 2pm, and up for a vote again on August 6 at 4pm. We have been advised that the sangha's presence on July 30th and likely on August 6 will be helpful to show our passion and the importance of the new Temple to our community. There will be no public commentary at either meeting, but the lawyer representing the Temple could be invited by City Council to answer questions.

Olivia Kodo Simkins Bullock will be coordinating folks who want to attend either of these meetings. Contact them at kodo@buddhisttempleoftoledo.org for more information.

7/25/2019: City Council Approval Delay - Plus WTOL Coverage 

Temple supporters after the Planning and Zoning Committee meeting on July 17, 2019.

This July, the new Temple's site plan has come before City Council twice. The first meeting was the Planning and Zoning Committee of City Council, last week on July 17. The second was the full City Council meeting this past Tuesday, July 23. The results of the July 23 City Council Meeting were covered by WTOL. Check out their video on Facebook.

Planning and Zoning Committee Meeting. 
Because our site plan was appealed by our future neighbors, it was discussed at the Planning and Zoning Committee of City Council on July 17. That meeting was an opportunity for the Council Committee to hear from neighbors concerned about increased road use. The neighbor's appeal discussed the possibility of limiting some functions of the Temple's current use in order to reduce traffic. The Council Committee also heard from Sangha members who affirmed the positive difference the Temple had made in their lives, and in Toledo has a whole. 

The lawyer representing the Temple, Dick Wolff, argued that religious organizations like ours have a legal right to "religious use " as well as "accessory use," which could include things like recovery meetings and social events. The memo is available here on Google Drive, as well as a public document on record with the City of Toledo. Ultimately, at the July 17 meeting, the Committee referred the decision to the full City Council without a recommendation.

City Council Meeting. 
On July 23, the City Council was set to vote on the neighborhood association’s appeal. However, one Councilman requested a first read on this piece of legislation. This mean that he requested to delay a final vote until a future Council meeting in two weeks' time. Council members then voted on whether they'd move forward with approval or chose to delay. Eight Council members voted "yes" to move forward, and four voted "no" who wanted to wait two weeks. Nine members were required to vote yes in order to move forward. Because of this vote to delay, the new Temple site plan will be on the July 30th agenda-setting meeting and up for a vote again on August 6.

Thank you to all those who've expressed their support through the meeting livestreams, and to those who've been attending Sunday and Wednesday services in solidarity. Your sincerity and commitment to this process is deeply felt. Our teachers encourage all of us to take up the practices of patience and joyful effort during this two-week waiting period. Let's dedicate our efforts to all those yearning for a new home.

7/11/2019: Site Plan Appeal Update 

When the new Temple's site plan was approved, we knew there was a possibility that it would be appealed. An appeal has indeed been made. Fortunately, that appeal doesn't pertain to our right to build or the layout of our site. Rather, the appeal concerns legal use types, including "religious use" and "accessory use." 

Toledo municipal law provides that both “religious assembly” and “accessory uses” to religious assembly are permitted by right on the property. The appeal argues that many of our current uses do not qualify either as “religious assembly” or “accessory uses.” However, churches and other houses of worship throughout the City of Toledo have not been constrained in this way and regularly engage in both types of use to serve and bring together their respective communities (i.e., knitting groups, workshops, recovery meetings, social dances, baking groups, exercise classes). Both types of use should also be permitted at the new Temple building. The discussion at the July 17th meeting will focus on legal definitions of use types and the rights of religious organizations. 

To show our support for the new building, Temple members and friends are encouraged to attend the July 17 Planning and Zoning Committee Meeting of City Council, beginning at 4pm in City Council Chambers of One Government Center.

At that meeting, we'll have opportunities to practice patience, compassionate listening, and generosity of our time and energy. For more information on the logistics of that meeting, check out the main support page.

 

6/14/2019: APPROVED! What's next? Plus 13abc Coverage 

Yesterday on June 13, 2019, the Toledo City Plan Commission unanimously voted to approve our current plan to build a new Temple at 3900 Emmajean Road. 

Buddhist Temple of Toledo supporters gathered for a photo after the City Plan Commission meeting.
These folks had been sitting in the Council Chambers for the past five hours! Fortunately we've had some practice sitting...

Going into the meeting, our site plan had already been recommended for approval by the Plan Commission staff. The Commission Chairman commented that our plan was the most thorough, detailed proposal that they'd ever seen for a building of our size! 

During the meeting, the Temple was represented by our lawyer Dick Wolff and Board President Winifred Shokai Martin. A half-dozen sangha members also spoke briefly in support of the Temple. After that, the Plan Commission heard neighbors speak in opposition to the new building. Neighbors cited concerns about increased traffic and changing neighborhood character. After a response from our lawyer and a few questions by the Plan Commission, the Commission moved to approve our construction plan, and all members voted in favor. 

Thank you to all the Buddhist Temple of Toledo members and friends for holding this project in your intentions. Deep bows of gratitude to all those who attended the Plan Commission meeting, and to those who tuned into our livestream. Many other noteworthy items were on the June 13 agenda. Discussion of the new Temple began only after four hours of meeting, and discussion of the Temple lasted nearly an hour.

Some neighbors on Emmajean and Estateway have continued to express their opposition to the new Temple. Because of this, we expect that they will chose to appeal our approval, and bring the issue up for discussion by the Toledo City Council. If this is the case, there will be a hearing before the Toledo City Council on the afternoon of July 17. It is imperative that we show the commitment and compassion of our community by appearing in-person at this meeting. Please pencil this date into your calendars as the next event on the horizon in the new building process. We will update this page as soon as possible if this appeal is confirmed. 

This is an exciting time for our community, but there is still a lot of work ahead of us. This moment calls for compassionate advocacy in the midst of some strong, heart-felt opposition. This is a perfect opportunity to double-down on our practice of open-heartedness, of recognizing suffering, and of manifesting kindness in the form of civility to people with whom we disagree.

The story of our site plan approval received some nice coverage by 13abc. Check it out!

6/10/2019: New Temple Covered in the Toledo Blade 

Over the weekend, The Blade published an article on the new Temple building. The article discusses the Buddhist Temple of Toledo's need for a new building, our minor site plan review slated for the June 13 Plan Commission Meeting, and our goals to maintain a quiet community in the new location.

Check out the full article here!

6/2/2019: How to Attend the City Plan Commission Meeting 

On Thursday June 13, 2PM at One Government Center, the Toledo City Plan Commission will vote on our new Temple site. Buddhist Temple of Toledo members and friends are encouraged to attend this planning meeting to show our dedication to creating compassionate community at our new Temple location.

Click here to sign up to attend the City Plan Commission meeting to support the Buddhist Temple of Toledo's new building.

1. Plan Commission meeting day: before the meeting 

  • How and when should we arrive? On Thursday June 13, plan to arrive at One Government Center, Toledo, OH 43604 by 1:45 pm. Late arrivals are okay - you'll still be allowed to enter the meeting. Sangha members and friends who wish to carpool should arrive at the Temple location on Angola by 1:15. Carpooling cars should depart towards downtown at 1:20 to arrive in time.
     
  • Where should we park? There is a parking garage behind the Government Center. Go past the Government Center and turn right onto Beech Street. If the parking garage is full, continue past the entrance to the stop sign. Turn right onto Huron Street. There is a pay parking lot one block on the left. Additionally, paid street parking is available nearby the Government Center. Check the Toledo ParkSmart app or website to see open spaces.

2. Plan Commission meeting day: at the meeting 

  • When is the Temple on the meeting agenda? 
    The Temple is the twelfth item on the June 13th meeting agenda. 
     
  • So how long will we be there before the Temple comes up? 
    Earlier agenda items are expected to be simple, procedural, and to progress quickly, but we cannot be certain how long the meeting will run before the Temple comes up. It could take thirty minutes, or it could be an hour. The Temple will get voted on, but there is no set ending time for the meeting, meaning that it could be awhile. 
     
  • Do we have to stay for the entire meeting? 
    Nope! Once the Temple's site review is concluded, Sangha supporters are free to leave. There's no expectation that all attendees will stay until the meeting's end. 
     
  • What should we do at the meeting?
    Practice open-hearted listening. We encourage all supporters to be silent, calm, and gently compassionate at this meeting. Show your support through visual representation: free stickers we'll print and have available at the meeting, or a pre-purchased Buddhist Temple of Toledo t-shirt. During the Temple's portion of the agenda, a few people will speak briefly: the lawyer representing the Temple, Dick Wolf, Rev. Rinsen Sensei, Board President, Winifred Shokai Martin, and a few other Sangha members who have been asked in advance to prepare brief speeches. Only supporters who have been asked to speak in advance should sign up.

Thank you you to Zen Buddhist Temple of Toledo members and friends for your heartfelt practice and positive intentions for peaceful communication. We're looking forward to seeing you at the City Plan Commission meeting!

Sign up to attend here!

CONTACT US
Buddhist Temple of Toledo
6537 Angola Road,
Holland, Ohio 43528

(567) 297-0108

HAVE A QUESTION?
Our Board of Directors would be happy to assist.
Email:
info@buddhisttempleoftoledo.org

MISSION
The Zen Buddhist Temple of Toledo is a not-for-profit organization fostering the teachings of Zen Buddhism as adapted to Western cultural forms and traditions by providing training in the disciplines, practices, and devotions of Zen Buddhism and by providing suitable surroundings, instruction, and support for the teaching and practice of Zen Buddhism.