As the local Buffalo Zen Dharma Community continues to meet online, spiritual progress continues. Besides the Tuesday night (7 PM -- 9 PM) program, there are monthly half-day meditation (half-day zazenkai) events on a Sunday morning (8:30 AM -- 11:30 AM). And now the Organizing Council is looking to have an all-day practice event in January to ring in the new year which will not only include zazen (meditation), but a senior monastic talk and oryoki (the formal taking of a meal in meditation setting).
Training of course continues at Zen Mountain Monastery where there have been changes in the monastic staff. Two residents at Zen Mountain Monastery have taken steps to advance their monastic training.
Julia Jiryu Krupa became a postulant monastic in a brief ceremony on March 5th. Postulancy is the first stage of monasticism, a way for someone discerning their spiritual calling to lean a little further into the home-leaving life without yet taking any formal vows. For Jiryu, as with anyone who enters postulancy, the question of monasticism is something that she's already been exploring for several years. She became a student of Shugen Roshi's in 2010 while living in NYC and had also done extensive residential training with the San Francisco Zen Center and their Tassajara Mountain Center before stepping into residency at Zen Mountain Monastery in early 2018. Previously Jiryu worked as an architect and later in restaurants having graduated from the Natural Gourmet Institute in 2013. She currently manages the Monastery Store, a position she has held for several years with dedication and grace. She has served as liturgist among other roles, and regularly lends both her drafting skills and her food preparation training for the benefit of all the sangha.
Jeffrey Kien Martin had a novice ceremony at the Monastery on Sunday, April 18th. Kien is currently the Monastery cook (among other responsibilities), but his involvement with the Monastery goes back two and a half decades. After starting a career in engineering, Kien completed two years of residency at the Monastery in the late nineties. He went on to teach english in Italy and also lived in New Mexico, New York City, and Germany, but he always maintained his connection with ZMM and Fire Lotus Temple, often spending a month in residency in the summertime.
In 2016, Kien returned to full time residential training and became a postulant one year later. Now, as he takes on the robes of a novice, Kien will further eplore the monastic vows and train in the role of a monastic, though it's worth noting that one does not formally commit to those vows until full ordination, leaving the discernment process open to further clarification. Those lifetime vows are: simplicity, service, selflessness, stability, and following the path of the Buddha
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David Kozen Williams, MRO has been a formal student in the Mountains and Rivers Order since 1997.