Being an affiliate of the Mountains and Rivers Order, the Buffalo Zen Dharma Community gets outstanding support not only in terms of spiritual direction and leadership, but also in practice opportunities. Since Zen Mountain Monastery was founded by John Daido Loori in 1980, it has continued to grow and meet the needs of all who visit. One of the most recent and significant developments is the building of Jizo House.
In order to accommodate the aging members of its sangha (near the monastery and abroad), it became clear that new facilities needed to be created. The old Jizo House as pictured above was showing its age. Infirm structures and poor moisture control were problems that could not be corrected. So a funding drive for a new Jizo House started and was successful in providing the funds for its construction. Below is a picture of the new Jizo House built just in time for the colder and wetter weather.
With this new building the square footage has markedly increased, to 4800 square feet, allowing for three bathrooms instead of one, and significantly more beds for retreatants. It will also offer specified accommodations for end-of-life care for monastics, which Zen Mountain Monastery did not have before. It also offers improved mobility options which did not exist before, allowing those with ambulation difficulties the ability to continue to participate in retreats. This project also includes the creation of a lift in the main building, which was sorely needed to also improve participant mobility. This new Jizo House will have a larger multipurpose room than before, and now it will also offer a full finished basement for monastic projects and activities. The new Jizo House will also have a kitchenette and dining area, which was not in the old Jizo House.
The sangha members of the Buffalo Zen Dharma Community have had a long history of frequent trips to Zen Mountain Monastery to participate in its various programs and residencies. Now, with the building of this new Jizo House, the sangha members have the option of going there as they age and have aging challenges.
With this new residence our elder sangha members, as well as retreatants with disabilities, will now have the opportunities to participate that were not available before due to design limitations at Zen Mountain Monastery. The modern facilities will broaden the ability of those with limitations to continue to study, practice, and socialize with the wider sangha membership well into their later years.
David Kozen Williams, MRO has been a formal student in the Mountains and Rivers Order since 1997.