November Sangha Conversation
In November we shifted our monthly conversation away from the theoretical, and discussed a local effort Red Cedar is currently involved in – the Multifaith Network for Climate Justice (MNCJ). Julie Johnson, Outreach person for the MNCJ, and Red Cedar’s representative to the MNCJ Reizan Bob Penny presented the current activities of this recently formed group. A lively conversation was had exploring how our practice can inform MNCJ’s efforts of “spiritual activism” to protect this planet and all beings.
Members with access to Ananda, our online document repository, can read the full meeting notes there. To request access, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
New Program Administrator Position Offered
The RCZC Program Administrator (PA) will provide essential administrative support for the smooth running of Red Cedar events. The Program Administrator will work closely with volunteer Registrars, Retreat Managers, and Inos, and will take direction from the Guiding Teacher.
Red Cedar Zen Community is an equal opportunity employer. We consider applicants for all positions, without regard to race, color, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, differential abilities, political affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected status.
Responsibilities will include:
Adding events to the website on request, this includes setting up registration types, levels, and deadlines as needed for each event.
Proofread submitted event descriptions and provide feedback about readability, inconsistencies or errors
Verify through active testing that new events and registration options are working smoothly for registrants
Manage ZOOM or facility availability, scheduling, and resolve scheduling conflicts
Manage master program calendars online and resolve scheduling conflicts
Assure that online program offerings are consistent in language, format, and accuracy.
Use events system to produce flyers and other simple promotional materials
Working with our bookkeeper to insure event registration payments are made and refunds processed, closing out invoices and resolving any payment issues in Wild Apricot.
Assisting the Guiding Teacher and with other program and website related tasks on request.
A successful candidate must:
Have proficiency with Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, Forms, etc)
Have basic web design skills including some knowledge of html and css
Be able to work independently and also discern when to ask for guidance, input, or help.
Desirable additional skills and knowledge:
Work Schedule and Salary Details:
Hours: Maximum of 22 hours/month (need will vary from week to week) and may be flexed as needed within a two week period. There is no assurance at this time that this position will be expanded
Pay rate: $25 / hour
This is a non-benefited position.
How to apply:
Please email your cover letter and resume to email@example.com
Words From Our Guiding Teacher
“…After you have practiced for a while, you will realize that it is not possible to make rapid, extraordinary progress. Even though you try very hard, the progress you make is always little by little…”
- Shunryu Suzuki Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
Several sangha members have told me they really appreciated a recent talk I gave based on an essay by Norman Fischer called Stages of Monastic Life and this got me thinking about what we're trying to do here at Red Cedar and with Zen practice in this midst of our busy modern lives.
There's a lot to our practice that's practical and makes sense. It does help us stay on the beam. Sitting down for zazen in particular can be such a valuable pause in the action. And even if we're in a period of life that isn't as externally busy there's always a lot of action in the mind. What a blessing to have received a way to stop for a time and just be. Even your mind happens to be racing around during a given zazen period, there's something magical to that time of pause. Something healing....
There's a lot to our practice that's practical and makes sense. It does help us stay on the beam. Sitting down for zazen in particular can be such a valuable pause in the action. And even if we're in a period of life that isn't as externally busy there's always a lot of action in the mind. What a blessing to have received a way to stop for a time and just be. Even your mind happens to be racing around during a given zazen period, there's something magical to that time of pause. Something healing.
And practice in sangha pulls us together with others. With community. With others who are also seeking something. In some ways they are like-minded others, but we're also an eclectic crew aren't we? Isn't there a movie or TV show that opens with the narrator talking about the protagonists as a "rag-tag band of adventurers"? We humans do have a deep need to connect with others! Wonderful, inspiring, and, yes, at times a bit challenging. But there's something to a life of practice that doesn't make sense in a way you can put your finger on, too. And being in the middle of it all, it's hard to feel into what this is. But there's something else about a life of practice, something that's deep in the core of our being, something vital, something deeply essential in a human life, that we're nurturing and living into through our practice.
Take a moment now to pause if you would. Feel into your gut. Into your heart. Breathe gently but deeply. What do you feel? What do you notice? Of course we have all of these Zen stories and Buddhist texts that talk about awakening, enlightenment, realization. Being stories they are often dramatic. And sometimes people do experience big shifts and changes that seem to arise from practice. But actually I think the vast majority of us don't have dramatic spiritual experiences. For most of us it's more like Suzuki Roshi's famous metaphor of walking through the fog.
"After you have practiced for a while, you will realize that it is not possible to make rapid, extraordinary progress. Even though you try very hard, the progress you make is always little by little. It is not like going out in a shower in which you know when you get wet. In a fog, you do not know you are getting wet, but as you keep walking you get wet little by little.
If your mind has ideas of progress, you may say, “Oh, this pace is terrible!” But actually it is not. When you get wet in a fog it is very difficult to dry yourself. So there is no need to worry about progress."
- Shunryu Suzuki Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
And as the practice gradually seeps in to our bones, we don't stop being ourselves. In some ways we settle more fully into ourselves - Suzuki Roshi also said, "When you are you, Zen is Zen." I'll always be some version of me and you'll always be some version of you. And we'll always be human with our joys and confusions.
Lately I've actually been agitated and lost in my own confusion more than usual! But when one of those waves of consternation drops me on the beach again and recedes, I think the difference that practice makes is it's more natural to get up again. To stand and breathe and appreciate the return of clarity and ease. And little by little I have more confidence that everything works out just as it is. In these busy times for many of us in sangha life - fundraising, sorting out temporary zendos, adjusting and changing as we go - and not to mention the confusing and rapidly changing times we're all living in - I want to keep encouraging myself, and all of us, to keep turning back towards this subtle core of our life. A life of practice.
Thank you for supporting my life of practice. I know I'm far from perfect but I'll keep doing my best to support your life of practice, too. We support each other. We do this each in our own way and we do this together.