Words from the Teachers, September 2019

Dear sangha friends,

Summer is drawing to a close, Labour Day weekend is past, and the new school year has begun. Judging from the crowd at the zendo Wednesday evening, it's also a time for people to renew their commitment to their practice and come together in community. We want to encourage you to consider how our annual practice period can support your practice. You can customize the components of the practice period in a way that will work for your schedule and work/family/school responsibilities. You can also find ways to extend your practice into those areas beyond the zendo. Please take a look at the Practice Period Guide and registration form. Our theme this year is Zen's Chinese Ancestors. You may wonder why we want to look back so far in time, when the world faces so many social, political and environmental crises. But those old Chinese Zen monks lived in times of turmoil and great suffering, too, and they may have some wisdom, and encouragement to offer us as we walk the bodhisattva path. (Take a look below, for some contemporary encouragement from our Engaged Practice group.)

Deep bows of gratitude to everyone who supported practice at the zendo when we were away hiking in the Rockies last month, and to everyone who helped out at the sangha picnic and work-day at Blue Mountain Zendo: renovating our triple compost bin, hauling and stacking firewood, brush-cutting, weeding, picking and snapping beans, weeding and more!

Warm bows,
Myoshin Kate and Shinmon Michael

p.s. And thanks to Nadia and Todd for the photos in the slide-show below from the picnic and work-day. Click on the photo to see the next one.

Kakuko Kaye Simard's Ordination Ceremony

Ordaining as Zen priest--and ordaining one--can be a daunting thing. Especially when you live in place where that is not part of the cultural heritage, taken for granted. But we and Kaye have taken the plunge. We've co-ordained our first person, and she's now a shaven-headed monk (see photo below). Kaye's dharma name Kakuko Shinkai means Awakening-Light, Heart-Ocean. One person's awakening light and opening heart cannot happen without the support and connection of buddha, dharma and sangha.

Perhaps the most important thing we learn as we walk the bodhisattva path, is that we are not separate entities seeking enlightenment. We can only awaken for and together with all beings. Only a buddha and a buddha can realize the buddha-dharma, said Dogen, quoting the Lotus Sutra. So when we take these big steps off the 100-foot pole, we do so in the faith that if we practice wholeheartedly, even with all our clumsiness and failings, it will give courage to others, 

Thank you, Kakuko Kaye, for your steadfast and shining practice. May it continue.  And deep bows of gratitude to everyone who contributed in so many ways to the weekend retreat and ordination ceremony, and to those who attended to celebrate the occasion. 

Warm bows,

Myoshin Kate and Shinmon Michael

New anthology: Zen Teachings in Challenging Times

Temple Ground Press
is pleased to present

Zen Teachings in
Challenging Times

with Introduction by
Patricia Dai-En Bennage.


Twenty-five leading American teachers of Soto Zen Buddhism speak to all who have suffered and sought spiritual guidance, revealing personal stories of sickness, death, political anger, fear, jealousy, environmental corruption, disillusionment, and longing for peace. They offer insight to how to stand with poise through the woes of existence and emerge transformed by our suffering. The transformative nature of Zen practice gives strength to face all possibilities. The entire book wears the mantle of Kanzeon, the goddess of mercy, the one who hears the cries of suffering and offers the loving hand of compassion to all living beings.

At our October 14 half-day retreat, Mountain Rain's co-guiding teacher Myoshin Kate McCandless will read from her chapter of the book, "Beings are Numberless: When Bodhisattvas Get Discouraged" accompanied by a slide show. When you care about beings from plankton to orcas to refugees, how can you stay steady on the bodhisattva path?

By donation. 

Books are available at the zendo for $18.00 CA with proceeds going to Mountain Rain Zen. 

Interfaith Support for the Kinder Morgan Protest

kinder morgan protest.jpg

Several sangha members joined others from various faith groups at a rally to protest the Kinder Morgan pipeline on April 28. 

Report from Burnaby Mountain by Jizan Sara Ross.

If you have been attempting the daunting task of following the news about Kinder Morgan, you may have celebrated to learn that the company had stopped non-essential spending on their Trans Mountain pipeline until May 31st. The day after this announcement went public, I saw a video of the company hard at work at their Burnaby Mountain site. Curious, I went to see for myself. I learned that Kinder Morgan has not stopped working at all, and in fact, in big development project language, stopping “non-essential spending” actually means they are ONLY working at building the pipeline, putting on hold the non-essentials around the side. Later in the week I supported a dear friend and fellow Buddhist practitioner as she “took bold action” to stop the project. Along with a group of artists and supporters, and under the direction of Coast Salish leaders and protocols, we raised our voices together in song and love for the land, water, and future generations. Three were peacefully arrested, including Violet Williams an 18 year old aboriginal woman, and my friend Pia Masse, who is an Instructor and Artist in Residence at Emily Carr University, bringing the arrest total to almost 200. The ceremony, love and interdependence that I was a part of at this action has been truly healing and uplifting for me personally. I recently completed the volunteer orientation and training so that I may support the Watch House (Kwekwecnewtxw), which is the spiritual and practical foundation of this movement. I would like to offer any sangha member or affiliate, if you would like to learn more about what is happening on the mountain, please be in touch with me. It feels like indeed, now is the time for us to act in alignment with our aspirations to save all beings, particularly in light of the political crises that are unfolding. redsara@gmail.com

Invitation for Samu (Work Practice), and Witness

The Mountain Rain Sangha is invited to come together to support Kwekwecnewtxw (the Watch House) with our Samu (Work Practice). Please email Sara redsara@gmail.com if you would like to meet up to go to the site and have an orientation. The Watch House is located on the south side of Burnaby Mountain, approx. 8505 Forest Grove Drive in Burnaby. The Watch House does not need food donations, but they do have a wish list for other items. Ongoing volunteer opportunities include: Kitchen help General Camp Maintenance Fire-keeping Dinner Drop-off Staying Overnight and Fire-keeping at Night (sacred fire) Marshalls at Events Laundry and Recycling support.

Kinder Morgan Rally Support from Faith Groups

Save the Date: Saturday April 28, Big Rally at Burnaby Mountain calling Spiritual Leaders and People of Faith and Spirit

Mountain Rain has been invited to have a presence at this Rally.  We have several banners to unfurl, and Burnaby Mountain is a gorgeous place for zazen.  The details and time are forthcoming.  Sangha members who would like to express their support through work practice and/or peaceful witness please email Jizan Sara Ross at redsara@gmail.com to be added to a temporary list for details and updates.

To read Sara's Report from Burnaby Mountain with details of how to help, please Click here

To read the call-out to faith communities from Will George, Project Leader for Protect the Inlet and the Watch House: Click here