Yesterday my friend Sensei Gyokei Yokoyama sent a mailing out to the Soto Zen Monastic Practice Group that he leads and of which I am a member.
It triggered a small cascade of thoughts.
The first was sort of an aside, sparking my ambivalence with the terms “monastic” and “monk” being used by non-celibates. Our phenomenon of “married monks” is a byproduct of the evolution of ordained practice in Japanese Zen. I actually wrote about that not long ago.
That noted the vastly more important point for me today is the heart of that posting Gyokei Sensei sent. And that was a general announcement about Zen in Long Beach and North Western Orange County.
December 1st – December 8th
123 South Hewitt St. Los Angeles, CA 90012
This certainly makes sense. Sensei Gyokei Yokoyama is, after all, a Sotoshu priest, the minister at the Long Beach Buddhist Church (which is Soto affiliated not BCA as the name might lead one to think) and serves on staff for the Soto mission.
But, the very next thing on his list was a full on announcement to our upcoming Blue Cliff Zen Sangha with this description:
Three Day Sesshin
6-9 December, 2018
at Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple
A three-day intensive Zen meditation retreat
with James Myoun Ford
He then included some copy describing the event:
Sesshin is an opportunity to practice wholeheartedly and deepen your understanding of the dharma. We will be gathering at the Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple & Meditation Retreat in the Ventura County Mountains of Southern California. Myoun Roshi will be assisted by Senior Dharma Teacher Jan Seymour-Ford. Other Zen priests and teachers may be joining us for all or part of the retreat. Stay tuned for announcements.
So, that was wonderful. There are some rather deep connections of affection and more between the Blue Cliff and the Soto Zen Monastic Practice Group. But he didn’t stop there.
He also posted a link to the Yokoji Long Beach Zen Meditation Group.They’re a Soto community affiliated with the White Plum and led by Osho Arthur Wayu Kennedy a Dharma heir of Roshi Charles Tenshin Fletcher.
He just casually dropped it in, and with that providing links to three independent Zen groups with a presence in Long Beach and Northwestern Orange County.
There are other people practicing Zen in the vicinity, at least one group I personally am fond of. So, yes, his principal concern is with the Soto stream.
As a small aside, I know there’s another group that has been meeting for years in Long Beach that stand in the lineage of the late Roshi Soyu Matsuoka, While there are controversies surrounding that lineage, I’m confident the only reason that group wasn’t included was that they don’t have a web presence.
And as another small footnote the Soto Zen Monastic Practice Group doesn’t have a web presence, either. For more on sitting with him, I suggest email.
So, all this a bit of a way around the barn to hold up Reverend Gyokei Yokoyama, and his attempt in our little corner of the universe to reach out and include. Something that seems increasingly hard to find.
Are there limits to such a project? of course. Not everyone who claims a name is legitimately part of the project.
But. And. All of that…
I hope this approach the sensei is bringing to our little corner of the globe becomes a bit of an example for others in a world that seems to be spinning us all farther and farther apart.
Wouldn’t that be something?