Happy New Year from the Abbot

Taiso Byran Bartow Roshi

Happy New Year!  As we enter 2022, there is much for which to be thankful.  We have the privilege to practice together in the traditions of zen as transmitted to us through the teachings of Junpo and all those who kindled the lamp of enlightenment and thereby illuminated the way for us.  We practice in a robust world-wide Sangha, and we have the support of this jewel as we engage the world in the Bodhisattva tradition of Mahayana Buddhism.  The list of those who have contributed to our practice community is large: the 200 or so, who partake of our many offerings and practice together as our Sangha, over 50 volunteers and staff who lead, teach, and support Hollow Bones as a practice community and zen training vehicle, and 200 who have made a financial contribution to sustain the services and technology that allows us to connect across the world. Deep Bows to all in gratitude for the generosity of spirit that enlivens this Sangha.

Our beloved teacher, Junpo, found his final rest in the year past.  Even as we miss his determined example, humor, and encouragement to “wake up now” into the embodiment of wisdom and compassion in all facets of this life, we see his teaching reflected in one another as we practice together.  We also witnessed the passing of Vimala Roshi, a dear dharma-brother and a stalwart supporter of the Sangha and Junpo’s teaching.  The Green Bay Sangha continues to thrive as a new generation of leadership carries on, just as we continue our practice in the Hollow Bones Zen community.

We had hoped for a greater opportunity to return to in person practice in 2021, and we have managed several retreats in person as well as Rohatsu in a “mixed mode” environment – both in person and online through the hybrid environment we have created in collaboration with Zen River Sangha.  We continue to look forward to greater opportunities to conduct traditional in person practice in 2022.  There is great value in the online practice and training we have developed to connect across the globe and continue our practice together; still, there is nothing to compare to practice together in Sesshin as a vehicle for deepening realization of the way.  As Junpo often said, practice in Sesshin can afford the deepening experience of a year of dedicated practice at home.  The call is to show up to practice together, and for those of us with experience, to sustain the container which supports our practice and opens the door.

The world is crying out, do you hear?  Our practice, realizing the marriage of wisdom and compassion is a gift we bring.  There is so much fear and suffering evident, even as we can witness the wonder of the unfolding of truth manifest in this ever-present moment.  The necessity of sacred stewardship confronts us in stories of extinction, warming climate, and extreme weather daily.  The call to wake up and show up as Bodhisattva rings out in the Han pattern reminding us, “this passing moment is precious.”  We are called to show up and in doing so receive this gift, even as we embody and offer this gift.

In love and gratitude,

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