Author Archives: Greater Boston Zen Center

Non-Residential Sesshin

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Yunmen

"Every Day Is A Good Day"

"We can't do it by ourselves, and no one else can do it for us."
--from our liturgy book

Non-residential sesshins at GBZC are a wonderful opportunity to deepen our practice by joining together as a sangha (community) in either 2 or 2.5 days of intensive Zen practice.

You can sign up for the multi-day sesshin or you can sign up for any combination of full and half-days. Non-residential sesshins are scheduled from 8am-6pm over either one regular or one long holiday weekend and include up to 8 hours of zazen (seated meditation) per day, liturgy, oryoki (traditional Zen meal ceremony) and dokusan (private meetings with the teachers).

The non-residential sesshin format allows us to practice together during the day and still spend the evening at home. While we will be chanting and eating together during our lunch meal service, we do not serve food at the Center. We will provide hot water for tea. We ask that participants plan to eat breakfast and dinner at home and plan to bring a bag lunch, a teacup, and whatever snacks they may need.

GBZC Non-residential sesshins are led by Josh Bartok, Kate Hartland, Laura Wallace, and others, and are scheduled for:

  • May 15-17, 2020
  • Sep 18-20, 2020
  • Jan 15-17, 2021

Lunch: Please bring a brown-bag lunch and teacup to eat Oryoki style.

Suggested donation: $50 for each full day; $25 for each half-day
Sliding scale available. Please never let money keep you away. All are welcome, regardless of means. It is our policy that no one is turned away from sesshin because of financial circumstances. And we really mean this. Because it costs money to run the Zen Center and to support our teacher's time, we do ask that everyone make a contribution in some amount to our shared work. We encourage you to donate what you can, and know that your contribution of any amount is gratefully received.

All-day Sit (Zazenkai)

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Yunmen

"Every Day Is A Good Day"

"We can't do it by ourselves, and no one else can do it for us."
--from our liturgy book

A powerful way to more deeply explore your practice is to attend a zazenkai, an all-day sit. At GBZC "all-day" means 9am-4:30pm. You are always welcome to attend for any portion of an all-day sit, as suits your schedule. The retreat includes liturgy, dokusan/interviews, zazen, walking meditation, and a Dharma talk with discussion.

All-day sits at GBZC are usually led by our spiritual director Josh Bartok and another teacher. Everyone will have the opportunity to have interviews with both teachers, and people may even have the opportunity to see each teacher twice.

Please bring a bag lunch to eat oryoki-style.

Schedule: Our all-day sits are on Saturdays
Time: 9 AM - 4:30 PM.  You are welcome to attend any part of the day.
Please note: This schedule is subject to change up to 30 days prior!

2020 Schedule:
Feb 15
Mar 21
Apr 25
Jun 20
Jul 18
Aug 15
Nov 21
Note that there is no zazenkai in May, September, October, and December

Suggested donation:
All day - GBZC members: $25 / non-members: $40
Half day - GBZC members: $12 / non-members: $20

Registration:
Pre-registration is encouraged. You may register online using the "Pay Now" button below, or you may register in person on the day of the event.

Please select option:

Receiving the Zen Precepts

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Recommended books on the Precepts

The Mind of Clover (Aitken)
Waking Up to What You Do (Rizetto)
Being Upright (Anderson)
If You're Lucky, Your Heart Will Break (Ford)
The Heart of Being (Loori)

Recommended Books on the Precepts and Society

The Great Awakening (Loy)
The New Social Face of Buddhism (Jones)
Money Sex War Karma (Loy)
Pavement (Jensen)
Razor-Wire Dharma (Malone)

"Vast is the robe of liberation, 
a formless field of benefaction;
I wear the Tathagata's teaching,
saving all sentient beings."
--from our liturgy book 

The Precepts of skillful action are the moral and ethical teachings of the Zen Buddhist tradition. They're not rules to be followed, but suggestions on how to navigate the difficult and messy business of being human in this human world. They describe how to fully actualize the absolute truth of interconnection and oneness in the relative of world of this and that. Moreover, the Precepts are among the Buddha's clearest suggestions about how to find liberation right in the middle of our everyday lives.

The ceremony of formally receiving the precepts is called Jukai, and takes place twice a year. People who have received the Precepts wear a rakusu (pronounced "rock-su") during zazen, the black bib-like garment that is a miniaturized version of the Buddha's robe, the robe of liberation. In this ceremony, each person receiving the precepts has the opportunity to read a sentence or three about each of the sixteen precepts. In this way, the ceremony is extremely powerful, communal, and inspiring. If possible, you should attend at least one Jukai ceremony before receiving them yourself.

Receiving the Precepts is not something we do when we believe we will never act against them, but is itself an expression of our bodhisattva aspiration to return, again and again, to our intention to let Precepts guide our lives.

The process of aspiring to be guided by the precepts, falling short of our aspirations, and atoning for the harming karma we create is the essence of Zen. This three-part process (aspiring, falling short, and atoning) is the heart of practicing Zen in our everyday off-the-cushion lives.

If you're interested in taking the Precepts, you can inquire about this in dokusan with any of our transmitted teachers. Most people sew their rakusu themselves, and there are sangha members who can help with this, including by providing you with a kit to get started.

You can find two Precepts recitations in our liturgy book.

Jukai Ceremonies in which the precepts are given and received are held twice a year.  One in Spring, and one in Autumn at GBZC. It is suitable to invite friends and relative to this ceremony.

Jukai Schedule for 2019 and 2020

  • November 23, 2019 -- GBZC, Cambridge
  • Spring 2020 -- TBA

Our next Jukai ceremony at GBZC is scheduled for November 15th, 2014 at 4:30 PM.

Zen and the Art of Daring to Live the Life You Want

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A workshop
with Lizabeth Roemer, PhD
and Josh Bartok, Sensei

Sunday June 12th from 1:00 - 4:30 p.m.
(See Registration details below)

In this newly developed workshop you will:

  • Learn how to clarify what is important to you, including identifying and addressing barriers to this clarity (such as mistaking goals for values)
  • Explore how the tools of the Zen tradition in the form of the precepts and the Bodhisattva Vows can function as a frame for clarifying values
  • Learn how to take actions that are consistent with how you want to be living your life, no matter what you are feeling in the moment.

Liz Roemer is co-author of The Mindful Way Through Anxiety: Break free from chronic worry and reclaim your life and the newly released Worry Less, Live More: The mindful way though anxiety workbook, and a Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She teaches nationally and internationally on the mindfulness- and acceptance-based behavioral treatment of anxiety. She is also married to Josh Bartok.

Josh Bartok is the Abbot of the Greater Boston Zen Center, and the editor of over 175 Buddhist books from Wisdom Publications. He is the co-author of Saying Yes to Life (Even the Hard Parts), and his writings have appeared in Shambhala Sun/Lion’s Roar and Buddhadharma magazines. He's also a Buddhist pastoral counselor in private practice, with a Master's Degree in Mental Heatlh Counseling. He is married to Liz Roemer.

Registration

The cost for the workshop is $30 if you register online in advance, $40 if you pay at the door. Financial aid is available (see below).
Space is limited.
Click here to register.

Financial Aid

We do not want financial circumstances to keep you from attending this event. We do offer a reduced rate to people with limited income. We encourage you to pay what you can truly afford, and know that your contribution of whatever amount is welcome. When registering, follow the financial aid instructions on the payment page.

Help

Contact [email protected] with any questions.

Zen Movie Night

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The Dhamma Brothers
Thursday September 24th, 2015
Start Time 7:15PM

Dhamma-BrosGreater Boston Zen Center’s Zen movie night continues in September with an exploration of the Dharma through the eyes of those incarcerated in the American Prison system.

“An overcrowded, violent maximum-security prison, the end of the line in Alabama's prison system, is dramatically changed by the influence of an ancient meditation program. Behind high security towers and a double row of barbed wire and electrical fence live over 1,500 prisoners, many of whom will never again know life in the outside world.

But for some of these men, a spark is ignited when it becomes the first maximum-security prison in North America to hold an extended Vipassana retreat, an emotionally and physically demanding program of silent meditation lasting ten days and requiring 100 hours of meditation.”

While Vipassana practice differs somewhat from Zen practice, there are many similarities. After the film we will have a discussion, sharing our impressions of the film and reflecting on insights into our practice, the dharma, and the prison system.

Hosted by Harry Gordon
Runtime 1 hour, 16 minutes. Unrated. Inmates describe their past criminal acts, some of which are violent sex crimes. Some crime reenactments.

STAY TUNED — MORE ZEN MOVIE NIGHTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON!

Liturgy Study Group 2015-2016

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The Liturgical texts of Zen are powerful and provocative teaching tools. They can be pointers to practice, words of encouragement, and transformative acts-in-themselves. This group will use Kazuaki Tanahashi's book ZEN CHANTS: THIRTY-FIVE ESSENTIAL TEXTS WITH COMMENTARY, as our main text to explore chants in Boundless Way Liturgy.

GBZC offers a Liturgy study and discussion group on
THIRD THURSDAY EVENINGS at 7:15 PM. Drop-ins are welcome!

For 2015-16, this group will be taught by Josh Bartok and Senior GBZC dharma teachers. John Vetrano will be the practice leader for the group.

We'll be meeting each month, September through May, except January.
Please note the following exceptions to our typical schedule of meeting on the third Thursday of the month: in February we are meeting on the fourth Thursday, in March on the second Thursday and there is no meeting in January.
Dates: 9/17, 10/15, 11/19, 12/17, (no meeting in January), 2/25, 3/10, 4/21, 5/19
Time: 7:15 – 8:45 pm

Suggested donation - GBZC members: $10 / non-members: $15

Reading will be:

Sep 17 -- Introduction
Oct 15 -- Engraving trust in the heart
Nov 19 -- Song of Realizing the Way
Dec 17 -- Ten-line Life-affirming Sutra of Avalokiteshvara
Skip Jan
Feb 25 --- Sutra on the Heart of Realizing Wisdom Beyond Wisdom
Mar 10 --- Maka Hannya Haramitsu from second edition of BoWZ liturgy book
April 21 ---Guidepost for Silent Illumination from BoWZ liturgy book
May 19 --- Fulfilling the Buddha Way from BoWZ liturgy book

The Zen Way Through Anxiety

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A workshop
with Lizabeth Roemer, PhD
and Josh Bartok, Sensei

Sunday June 14 from 1:00-4:30pm
$40 at the door
$30 if you register online at bostonzen.org/workshop
financial aid is available (see below for details)
space is limited

In this newly developed workshop you will:

  • learn how to understand anxiety and stress, recognize early signs of anxiety, and respond differently to anxiety so that your distress is less likely to spiral and interfere with your life
  • learn different practices that you can incorporate into your life to help you strengthen the skills of noticing your experience with curiosity and kindness, so that you can interrupt problematic cycles of responding
  • clarify what is important to you and learn how to take actions that are consistent with how you want to be living your life, no matter what you are feeling in the moment.

Liz Roemer is co-author of The Mindful Way Through Anxiety: Break free from chronic worry and reclaim your life, and Professor of Psychology at University of Massachusetts Boston. She teaches nationally and internationally on the mindfulness- acceptance-based treatment of anxiety. She is also married to Josh Bartok.

Josh Bartok is the Abbot of the Greater Boston Zen Center, and the editor of over 175 Buddhist books from Wisdom Publications. He's also a Buddhist pastoral counselor in private practice, with a Master's Degree in Mental Heatlh Counseling. He is married to Liz Roemer.

Financial Aid

We do not want financial circumstances to keep you from attending this event. We do offer a reduced rate to people with limited income. We encourage you to pay what you can truly afford, and know that your contribution of whatever amount is welcome. Please register at bostonzen.org/workshop and follow the instructions on the payment page.

Help

Contact [email protected] with any questions.

Zen Movie Night

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projectorThe Greater Boston Zen Center sponsors an ongoing series of films whose Zen themes range from implicit to non-obvious. Each Movie Night is hosted by a Zen student or teacher who offers a brief introduction to that evening's film. A short break during the film and a brief talk afterwards gives us a moment to ask, listen, and reflect on the Zen threads that emerge as the film tells its tale.

Feel free to invite your partners, family and friends and to bring your favorite snacks!

Thursday August 6th, 7:15 PM
Screening:
A Zen Life: D.T. Suzuki
Hosted by Harry Gordon
Run time 1 hour, 17 minutes.  Appropriate for all ages

Zen movie night at the Greater Boston Zen Center continues this Summer with a look into the life of one of the most important people in the history of Zen.  The spread of Zen Buddhism to the West had no greater broadcaster than Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and A Zen Life: D.T. Suzuki continues that same tradition long after his death in 1966.

This absorbing visual record presents Suzuki’s journey from a young Japanese boy raised in rural impoverishment, through his Zen training and to his powerful influence on key creative and political figures in the 20th century.

Beyond simply being an advocate and knowledge base for curious Western minds, Suzuki’s command of the English language and Western ways positioned him to become one of the first to introduce Zen to the West. Bridging the cultural divide between East and West, he made Zen and the Eastern mind comprehensible to Westerners. Suzuki authored hundreds of books that remain resources for Western students of Zen, as well as scholars of Japanese religion and culture.

He most famously conducted a series of lectures at Columbia University from 1951 to 1953 filled with audiences who would take his teachings and apply them to their own philosophies and advocacy for cultural change. Featured interviews, spanning from Zen luminary Roshi Robert Aitken to beat-culture icon Gary Snyder. render a view of Suzuki as both a master of this Buddhist school and also as the ideal conveyor of Zen Buddhism to Westerners.

Considered the ultimate celluloid biography of Suzuki, step into the world of no-thinking with us as we come to know the historical facts and the spiritual oeuvre that make up A Zen Life.

STAY TUNED — MORE ZEN MOVIE NIGHTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON!

Being a Bodhisattva in the Modern World

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The Greater Boston Zen Center is co-sponsoring an event with the Natural Dharma Fellowship. More details can be found on the Natural Dharma Fellowship web site.

Tuesday Night Teachings: Transforming Self, Transforming Society
Being a Bodhisattva in the Modern World
with David Loy, Sensei Josh Bartok, Lama Willa Miller
Tuesday, May 5 7:00 pm
Cambridge Friends Meeting House, Longfellow Park, Cambridge, MA 02138
Map/Directions

The Mahayana path encourages us to transform the self as a path to transforming society. While the archetype of the bodhisattva has been an inspiration for generations of an engaged, compassionate activist in the world, the practice of meditation requires a commitment to examining the inner life, a slowing down and staying put, a commitment to apparent non-action. How can we gracefully reconcile these two directions—outer and inner—as spiritual practitioners engaged in the world? Join David Loy, Sensei Josh Bartok and Willa Miller as they reflect on these questions individually and in dialogue.