Today, September 11, 2005, is the fourth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That moment catapulted me into a life-changing commitment to Zen practice. Since that terrible event I have become a dedicated Zen practitioner who first took jukai at Austin Zen Center, moved in as a resident, became ordained as a priest, sat many sesshins and retreats, and traveled to Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, Oregon for six months of residential priest training. This practice and my teachers have given me a new life, a life filled with wonderful people, moving celebrations and ceremonies, profound experiences, and deep joy. I am filled with gratitude for all of these changes.
Today is also the day we officially inaugurated the new home for the Ordinary Mind Zen group at 913 East 38th Street. Saturday, furniture was moved from the living room and dining room to clear a space for the zendo. It was thrilling for me to see so many people come to help, and even more thrilling to see thirteen people sitting zazen together in this new Zendo. Once again, nature conspired to make the day auspicious with a much-needed rain and a few claps of thunder in the middle of zazen, echoing the thunder that sounded at my ordination. I hope our new zendo will provide a solid container for our practice together.
We have a great deal of work to do to get established: we need to organize ourselves as a non-profit corporation, set up a bank account, paint the zendo and gather funds for zabutons and zafus to populate the zendo. We need to set up a web site and develop some informational flyers. We are talking about offering some one-day and half-day sittings and some beginner instruction as these are needed. Our intention is to grow naturally and organically, paying mindful attention to what is needed and what will serve this practice and its followers well.
Many thanks to everyone who has helped us through their work, financial support, and enthusiasm. Most of all, thanks to those who join us in this practice, which has nourished and sustained many generations of people in many nations for over 2,500 years.