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10/3/2019: Interview - Meet White Tara, Your Temple Deity  

"When we meet White Tara,  we’re meeting the archetypal image of a buddha
and she’s putting her hand in ours and saying  'This is the archetypal world of the Buddhas
and this is how it functions in your life and you are this archetypal Buddha.' "
- Rev. Karen Do'on Weik Osho

White Tara sits above the Temple's main Buddha Image.
 

This post is the conclusion of an interview on Sunday, September 22 where novice Zuisei and Rev. Karen Do’on Weik Osho chatted about Do’on’s personal experiences with the traditional Tibetan source material for the upcoming teaching retreat What to Expect When You Are Human (Tuesday Oct. 8 - Friday Oct. 11) and the White Tara Workshop (Saturday Oct. 12). Read the first part of the interview, about the Stages of the Path, below. This is the second part of the interview, about the White Tara blessing.

Read the first part of the interview, focusing on the Stages of the Path teaching, here.

 

Zuisei: The Lam Rim retreat will be Tuesday through Friday, and the last day of the retreat is a White Tara Workshop. Does that connect tightly with the Lam Rim, or is it more of a separate topic? 

Do’on: Come to the White Tara Workshop even if you can’t come to the Teaching Retreat. It’s another empowerment that I received from Rimpoche. White Tara is our Temple Deity, our Patron Saint.  

Do’on: As humans our minds are very multi-layered, and one level we function on is the archetypal level. When we work in the archetypal realm, we can get at the dreamlike quality of our psyche that rational inquiry does not, and this gives us a fuller entry into our humanity. When we meet White Tara, we’re meeting the archetypal image of a buddha and she’s putting her hand in ours and saying “This is the archetypal world of the Buddhas and this is how it functions in your life and you are this archetypal Buddha.” 

Zuisei: The way you describe it, it sounds like a perfect bookend with the retreat. On one end, the Stages of the Path will bring a rational, systematic way of working with our life. And then on the other end, White Tara will bring this dreamlike way of working with our life. 

Do’on: Yes! And Tara is all about love and compassion, clarity of mind. She’s really good with emotional balancing, longevity, and health. She’s so kind and loving and accessible. Once I met a Tai Chi teacher who came from a Buddhist country, and I asked him if we was a Buddhist and he said he was a Christian. I was curious how he came to Christianity and I asked him about it. He said, “I just needed something personal to interact with, I needed personal relationship between me and the higher power.” He hadn’t experienced the possibility of encountering our hearts and minds in this archetypal way as a Buddhist. 

Do’on: White Tara archetypal practice is extremely important for people like the Tai Chi teacher who relate to the world in a more devotional, emotional, or relational way, where having direct relationship with roles models you can rely on is important. Not everyone primarily functions relationally, but for some people it is their main go to. 

Do’on: I’m very devotional, but I’m ambivalent about relationships because I’m such a massive introvert. Although I love people and love working with people, and I love my family, and every day I’m so grateful I have them in my orbit. Maybe I’m not really an introvert! -- but I am shy. Tara helps me with all of this. Because I was abandoned at birth and was in the foster care system moving around so much, and then  had a very complicated adoption situation, I personally really need that archetypal mother. She’s my mom.  

Zuisei: So at the workshop people will learn actual brass tacks how to connect with Tara? 

Do’on: How to connect with the primal mother,  her feminine energy. She’s the perfect mother that you never had, the one you wanted. When you’re in relationship with Tara, you can let your human mother off the hook. 

Zuisei: Would you like to share any other thoughts about this Ango in closing? 

Do’on: Keep your practice strong. Really get the bodhi mind and put it at the center of your heart and the center of your life: We are doing this practice -- awakening -- for the sake of all beings, to bring all beings to full and complete enlightenment and buddhahood.  

Do’on: Let that sink in as total purpose, as the organizing factor in your day. This is the way we have a rich human life, use all of the gifts of our human life, and open the treasure of our Buddha nature and wisdom eye. 

Zuisei: On behalf of the Sangha, thank you again for talking with me today. Would you be so kind as to offer a dedication of merit? 

Do’on: For the sake of all beings, to bring all beings to full and complete Buddhahood, we have entered into this period of quite enjoyable conversation, and may the merits of this extend to all beings throughout space and time. May they come to full and complete enlightenment -- and may we take them there.

10/1/2019: Interview - Do’on Osho Whispers Dharma In Your Ear 

"You can read a thousand-million books on Buddhism,
and until you come into community with sangha and teachers,
until you receive real-life energetic transmissions -- it’s not the same."

Photo of Rev. Do'on

Rev. Karen Do'on Weik Osho
 

On Sunday, September 22, novice Zuisei met with Rev. Karen Do’on Weik Osho to chat about Do’on’s personal experiences with the traditional Tibetan source material for the upcoming teaching retreat What to Expect When You Are Human (Tuesday Oct. 8 - Friday Oct. 11) and the White Tara Workshop (Saturday Oct. 12). Do’on’s life and Dharma practice transformed after becoming a student of Lama Kyabje Gelek Rimpoche and training with him on the Stages of the Path (Lam Rim) and the White Tara blessing. Do’on and Rev. Jay Rinsen Weik Roshi found the Stages of the Path teaching so compelling, they asked for Gelek Rimpoche’s official blessing to make their own adaptation of the Stages of the Path to create a bridge between the independent Mahayana traditions of Zen and the Tibetan Lam Rim masters.  

Read the first part of the interview, about the Stages of the Path, below. The second part of the interview, about the White Tara Workshop, will be published later this week. 


Zuisei:  Thank you so much for meeting with me today to share with the Sangha about your personal experience with the Lam Rim teaching. As usual, BTT is offering many ways for students to engage with Ango. You’ve spoken about the importance of every student receiving the Stages of the Path teaching at least once in their lifetime. Since you and Roshi feel this teaching is so vital for your students, can you tell us about how you first encountered it and why you find it so compelling? 

Do’on: I encountered this teaching from Gelek Rimpoche quite late in my training, about 7 or 8 years ago. Before that, my whole life’s training was under the guidance of my Zen Teachers, due my own delusions I wasn’t putting all the pieces together of wisdom and compassion. I suppose I was “winging it” but with broken wings. 

Do’on: There also needs to be a foundation of clarity and rationality that doesn’t hinder that spontaneity. I say this as a person who loves the spontaneity and the deep intuitive and quantum leaps of Zen. I wouldn’t have it any other way -- I love my Zen training. I feel like my Zen training has completely opened my heart and given my mind such freedom. And yet, for whatever reason, I didn’t get that soup-to-nuts rationality and foundational clarity about what I was doing with spiritual practice.  

Do’on:  There were a lot of holes and twisted places in my heart, a lot of places where love and compassion just wasn’t softening and tenderizing perception. I was abandoned at birth and put into foster care until I was almost 5. So there was lots of suffering to be healed.  Of course, this is the source of great power and perception now. Because I have been in so many dark places I can easily see it in others.  And I am not afraid to go there. 

Zuisei: And this teaching filled in the missing pieces of wisdom and compassion? 

Do’on: It was literally like when you [shuffle] your deck of cards and …  [sound effect and hand motion of riffle shuffling and bridging a deck of playing cards where the cards come suddenly and rapidly into alignment].  

"That is exactly what happened with me when I heard this teaching.
All the years of scratching my head and not understanding went 'Whoosh!' 
and came together like the deck of cards."

Photo of a person shuffling a deck of cards

By Johnny Blood - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=752624
 

Do’on: That is exactly what happened with me when I heard this teaching. All the years of scratching my head and not understanding went “Whoosh!” and came together like the deck of cards. It was the most joyful thing for me, and it was very clear to Rimpoche that it was happening. And of course, after that there is still tons to work on! But at least now I know where I am in the process, and I know some of the places where the masters have said, “If you’re having this issue, these are some of the antidotes” and “this is where this particular affliction is really messing with you” and “Remember where you’re going and why you’re going there!” 

Do’on: Speaking of “Remember where you’re going and why you’re going there”, the most important part of this teaching is the establishment of Bodhi mind [bodhicitta]. Most people don’t first come to the Dharma thinking: “for the sake of everybody else, to bring everybody else to full and complete enlightenment, I am going to enlighten.” Most people come thinking: “I’m miserable” or “I’m stressed out” or “I’m a mess” or “I need to get my life together.” The Lam Rim teaching shows us how “getting my life together” by choosing love and choosing peace is just the first step in Dharma practice. A necessary first step - to choose freedom. This is also traditionally called Renunciation. It’s one of the three principles of the path: Renunciation, Concentration, and Meditation.  

Do’on: Renunciation is a necessary step, but it is not sufficient and complete. And if we establish Bodhi mind right at the beginning of our practice, it is a thousand-million times easier to practice because we’re not using our practice as a way of  covertly cherishing the non grasping self.  

Zuisei: In your training was Bodhi mind something you had kind of stumbled into, heard a little about here and there but didn’t have a model of it like this, or were you familiar with it before the Stages of the Path teaching? 

Do’on: I had some teachings on this before meeting Gelek Rimpoche, but everything was piecemeal. Bodhi mind is there in all the Zen services and in the Bodhisattva Vows, but in the absence of specific teaching and training on how to really comb through the steps to that Bodhi mind, we’re left to our own devices to guess at “okay, here I am, this is what is going on with me, this is what I’m working on now.” It’s much better to rely on the wisdom and expertise of the lineage. The Stages of the Path teaching completely organizes the path for you -- it shows how one point pushes you into the next point, and that point then pushes you into the next point. It gives your mind a way of organizing all the material. I can’t say enough how important this is. 

Zuisei: The first time I read this teaching in the Seminary, I realized I had already met some parts of it through the Daily Liturgy and from some other teachings you’d given. I was surprised because I was expecting something I’d never encountered before, but actually you and Roshi have incorporated it into many of your teachings -- so for people who’ve started their practice in this community, this may feel very familiar, not foreign. Could you reflect a little bit about that? 

Do’on: Yes! So essentially the Daily Liturgy is a mini Lam Rim. At the Teaching Retreat, we’re taking the deep dive into what we say everyday. After the Teaching Retreat, when we come back home and do the Daily Liturgy -- now we have all the knowledge, reflection, analysis, meditation on the points to really enrich our practice. 

Zuisei: You’ve mentioned before that Galek Rimpoche not only taught you the Lam Rim, but also gave you and Roshi permission to adapt the Lam Rim teaching and synthesize it with Zen teaching. What appeals to you and Roshi about synthesizing them? 

Do’on: I was so profoundly affected by his teaching that he had me weeping. After the first time I received the teaching, I saw him in a car in the parking lot of a grocery store. He had the window rolled down, and I walked up with my hands in gassho and I was just like: “Thank you, thank you!” and he said “Shh! Don’t say that! There’s people in the car!”  

Zuisei: You had the “stink” of Lam Rim? 

Do’on: Something like that! My eyes were like saucers: “Thank you so much, you’ve saved my soul.” 
 

"My eyes were like saucers. 'Thank you so much, you've saved my soul.' "

Photo of a small primate with really big, round eyes

Sakurai Midori [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)] 

Do'on: I had genuine complete gratitude in my heart but it was just a little too bright for that moment, for the Whole Foods parking lot, for the people in the Rimpoche’s backseat. 

Zuisei: And so you wanted to share this teaching with your students? 

Do’on: It wasn’t just that I wanted to share it. It was an absolute necessity. I wouldn’t be a good teacher if I didn’t share this. This is the Dharma coming through Rimpoche to me. In fact, Rimpoche would say to me: “You are the bridge”. He really wanted this practice and this teaching to come into Zen training. 

Zuisei: There are many versions of the source material for the Teaching Retreat -- the Lam Rim. What will be different about attending the Teaching Retreat from reading Gelek Rimpoche’s version (Odyssey to Freedom) or Pabonka’s version (Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand) or the mother of all the versions -- Tsongkhapa’s (The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment). I’ve heard you teach from all of them at times. What is going to be different about attending the Teaching Retreat from picking up a copy of one of these? 

Do’on: For now, I’ve decided to return to the mother and work on Tsongkhapa directly. As we know, you can read a thousand-million books on Buddhism, and until you come into community with sangha and teachers, until you receive real-life energetic transmissions -- it’s not the same. It’s not even the same participating with your community and teachers online, but it’s better than just reading a book. This type of teaching is called “ear-whispered teaching”. 

Do’on: In Zen we esteem mind-to-mind transmission. It’s very important to be in the room together to connect energetically with each other. The words are one communication, and then as we work together elucidating each step of the path, the lineage comes through me [the Teacher] to give power. And there is always more for us to do to study and integrate, but there’s a tremendous amount of power that comes through the lineage, through the ear-whispered approach. 

Do’on: People who receive the teachings this way will be shifted -- and some won’t even know how they are being shifted. They’ll finish the week and they be like: “Oh my god, I’m not the same person!” That’s what we want -- a radical transformation -- and it does happen. 

Zuisei: It happened for you!  

Zuisei: At past Teaching Retreats that covered other topics, you and Roshi have invited everyone to drop-in for an afternoon or morning, with each session being self-contained. But this material is different. How should we think about the value and importance of coming to the whole retreat? 

Do’on: The Lam Rim is a very sophisticated, intimate mind training. To really work with it takes focus, concentration, persistence, and analysis over time. So the best way to receive the teachings is to come to the whole retreat, to meditate on each step, and see how each step moves you to the next step. When you come for the whole retreat, you’re immersing yourself completely into each step of the path. At the upcoming retreat, we’re going to be focusing on the part of the teaching that covers how Bodhi mind is actually realized in ourselves. We’ll be working on the 7-point mind training and Shantideva’s Exchanging of Self and Other. So if you come in and we’re on Step 3 and you haven’t done Steps 1 & 2, it’s a little harder to get yourself up to speed -- but there is still value! 

Do’on: For now, for this upcoming retreat, I want everybody to come as much as you can. Just come and do it, because even if you drop in for one step, you’re going to get a lot of value out of it! Particularly because of the way we’re teaching with focus on everyone engaging with the teaching through small-group discussions and Q&A. 

Do’on: People in our Sangha have super busy lives, and we offer a lot of training opportunities, so people can’t come to everything. At this point, it’s just not realistic for most people to come for the whole retreat the way we’ve organized it so far. So Roshi and I are in a “what are we going to do here?” zone. We’re trying to figure out what is the best way to deliver this teaching. Next year we might do it a little differently -- we might have single 7-day long residential Teaching Retreat that’s more of a combination of sesshin and Teaching Retreat, with zazen in the morning, and then working on the material during the day. When we get the new building, so many more possibilities open up for the life of the Sangha. 

Zuisei: If I understand correctly, the way folks traditionally received the Lam Rim was to attend a very long retreat, and to stay for the whole retreat. I remember the Seminarians and Teachers read a written transcript of a 20-some day retreat.  

Do’on: Back in Tibet, there was such a culture of monastics, and people just lived lives differently and had a lot more time. So they would just say “Pabonka’s gonna give a teaching on the Lam Rim so we’re going to hang out for a couple of months and get the teachings.” So there is precedence for having longer retreats, and as our Sangha gets stronger, we would love to do a 20-day retreat at BTT -- but we’re not there yet! 

Zuisei: If someone catches just a session of the retreat, or wants to dig in deeper, after getting a taste of this teaching in community, would there be value in reading one of the books? 

Do’on: Sure. I think the easiest one to get into is Rimpoche’s Odyssey to Freedom. And Rinsen and I are working on our own version. These Teaching Retreats are part of how we’re creating the transcript for it. 

[Note from Zuisei: The upcoming teaching retreat will be live streamed on our Facebook page and will be recorded. You can also find the video recordings from Roshi and Osho’s past editions of What to Expect When You Are Human on our Facebook videos page: see the playlist called What to Expect When You're Human - 2019 Edition

Zuisei: Is there anything more you’d like to say about the Teachings or the Teaching Retreat to the community? 

Do’on: The most important thing is to really get that the heart and the mind have to be integrated. It’s not enough to wildly pass through your koans and enjoy the dance of it. We also have to get inside all of those unexamined places in our perception and the way we organize our minds, so that the freedom and the love and the joy of the koan study can really merge with a mind that has been purified and clarified of all afflictions and obscurations, so that our own mental processes can be healed. 

Do’on: And if you have not started koan study yet, it’s so much better to start with the Lam Rim! It’s better to have a sense of where you’re going before you set out on the trip - a little map. And of course anyone who has ever traveled knows: “Whoah! The land is not the map.” We all know that! We hold it lightly and we really get all of the juice and the nourishment out of it. 

*** 

Part two of this interview, focusing on the White Tara Workshop, will be published Thursday evening.

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!

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.