When were you first exposed to dharma?
My father was an Atheist and said any religious reading was a waste of time. This was a huge seed for me to explore “religion” (Episcopal –Methodist -Divine Light from Guru Maharaji –Occult. In the small Denver Episcopal church I like the incense, vestments and pageantry . After a second trip to Japan I was enamored with Buddhism and the many Jiso statues -with the little stones placed at their feet as prayers. On my return, I went to Dharma Rain Zen Center and immediately there was an affinity. I sensed deeply that the Monks, Kyogen and Gyokuko manifested the spiritual value that I was seeking. (I had been drawn to a Buddhist retreat during my college years and actually I am so grateful that I sat at the table with Roshi Kennet and Kyogen – but at that time I did not pursue a practice).
How has the path manifest in your daily experience? Does it reflect in your work and relationships?
After 2 years at DRZC I became Gyokuko’s Lay Disciple. As an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher I turned to Gyokuko in sanzen (private interview) to deal with my “opinions and ingrained ideas” about family planning. Many of my Evangelical Russian students had 13 plus children. I had to overcome my bias and cultural views. There were other similar situations. Being an only child and having an only child was always a shock to all my students. Having the opportunity to serve as Chief Junior for a year (2002), I was able to face some limitations and habitual patterns that I no longer needed.
As a Dharma School teacher, I found it a good fit, an consider it service to the community. I also teach beginners Meditation Practice and Starting a Practice workshops.
If you explore other lineages within Buddhism, how did you come to decide on which lineage was right for you? Secondly, who are your primary teachers and what role/influence do they have on your practice?
I did not explore other lineages. I had attended one session at KCC (Tibetian Lineage) in a small cramped house and found the altar so complicated and overwhelming. So Zen was very comforting. I followed my instincts and felt that DRZC resonated for me. I had not done much previous reading.
For a Seminary class I was to explore other lineages and attended KCC/Insight Meditation/Shingon temples. I also created a calendar with the images of many temples in Portland – Vietnamese, Tibetian,Chinese Pure Land etc. Gyokuko is my Primary teacher (as were Kyogen, Chosen and Hogan from ZCO –(our 7 day retreats, 4 times a year took place at ZCO until DRZC bought the 14 acres and built our new temple-5 years ago.) When my Mother became ill and actually died, I went to Denver. I asked Gyokuko if I could have sanzen with the monk at the Denver Zen Center. Once a Lay Disciple, one does not ask for sanzen with another Monk, without permission from your teacher. And once in front of the monk in Denver, he asked if I had permission from Gyokuko.
What are some of your practices/rituals that you do to support your spiritual development (meditation/prayers etc.)
Meditation, of course. At HOWZT on Thursday evenings, Sunday mornings, and evenings; Meditation is also my ‘go to’ if thinking about things I need to do/anxiety are keeping me awake at night. Loving-Kindness meditation – less regularly at HOW; I shuso when Nan leads it and fill in to lead it occasionally when the regulars (Nan and Kodo) are not available; particularly after working through Christina Feldman’s book, Boundless Heart, in a Meditation & Dharma Drop In I facilitate on Sunday evenings, I find this type of meditation becoming something I go to on a more frequent basis during my days. Meditation twice a week via FaceTime with Kip’s cousin (usually I offer some guidance). The Work of Byron Katie – which I met through this community; after attending her 9-day school, I now do the work on a regular basis with two friends I made there; this year I attended a 3-Day Camp for The Work of Byron Katie and look forward to continuing this involvement in whatever format/event/location works. YouTubes – Hogen, Chozen, Kisei, Jogen, and others from Great Vow Zen Monastery.
Sesshin – twice a year is my current intention (and practice).