A message from Abbot Taiso Roshi

Dear Hollow Bones Zen Practitioners and Supporters,

This is the time we reach out to you with an end-of-year fund drive to express our gratitude for the opportunity to practice together. We thank you for your practice, volunteer activity, sustaining contributions, and ask for additional financial support from those of us who have the means to give this.  We also want to share what we have been doing, and where we intend to be headed, so it is clear what we are inviting you to support and practice with.

This annual fund drive is essential to our continuing operations and continuing growth toward the aim we share with Jun Po: the aim of being an order which embodies a western expression of Zen awakening.  We undertake this in faith with our precept to receive only that which is freely given.  Please understand that the spirit of this request is in realization of the precept, inviting the meaningful expression of Dana as the continuing support of our practice together.

Our planned operations require a budget of $90,000 per year.  As demonstrated in more detail in our year-to-date report, we have made substantial changes to better function within our means. We have made three important changes in how we finance our organization:

  1. Our community has substantially increased the sustaining monthly contributions which provide a foundational support for our cash flow ($26,000/year). 
  2. Basing the cost of our events and training activities on the real costs of sustaining the activities, and electing not to conduct events at a financial loss, which would be irrecoverable. 
  3. Returning to reliance on volunteerism for much of the support of our training and activities as had traditionally been the case for Hollow Bones. That which is compensated has a component of volunteerism – generally not all time is compensated, and it is less than market rate. There are both advantages and complications with this approach as briefly commented on below.

This means that to sustain our operations for the coming year we need to raise at least an additional $64,000 above the expected ongoing donations. I hope that our combined energy can make significant inroads to this goal over the next two months. 

So, what is it that we are asking your support for?  Sustaining and growing an accessible western expression of authentic Zen practice to relieve suffering by supporting awakening.  In short fulfilling the vision of Jun Po’s Hollow Bones Ministry. In practical terms:

  • Our events and retreats:
    • DBZ Annual Summer Sesshin
    • Women-led Retreat
    • Living Mondo
    • Rohatsu
    • Exploring connections with traditional Buddhist practice (with Emyo)
    • Jun Po Memorial Sit – Celebrating the legacy of our founder
    • Possibly more as participation warrants
  • Our web presence, namely the capacity for:
    • Virtual Zendo activities as Sangha for those who do not have a geographically local Hollow Bones Zen practice community, or who choose to also join the virtual Sangha practice.
    • Training and teaching in support of zen students at various levels and allows for some retreats to have a hybrid component: both in-person and online participants.
  • The capability to offer support to zen students who cannot afford to pay for retreats and/or on-line training.  It is important that our ministry is not restricted to those who have significant financial means, and it is important that we provide opportunities for fee adjustments and volunteer effort as part of the meaningful exchange and support for value received.
  • Improving support for local practice communities:
    • Visiting local practice groups and looking for opportunities to provide support.
    • Developing and supporting training and materials based on Jun Po’s teachings and innovative culturally accessible expressions of Zen Buddhadharma underlying this legacy.
    • Sustaining and supporting the use of Mondo as both introductory and advanced approaches to practice.
      • This includes support of the recognized Mondo Facilitators.
    • Deepening our methods and support for the use of the Five Training Elements as a foundation for authentic Zen practice as taught by Jun Po.
    • Developing improved methods and materials for teaching beginning zen students basic meditation practice – for instance further development of the Stop & Drop paradigm from Jun Po’s basic teaching as a foundation.
  • We are presently offering a variety of online training:
    • To introduce zen students to our practice forms and prepare those interested in taking Jukai:
      • Introduction to the Sutra Book
      • Introduction and practice support for the Five Training Elements
      • Exploration of the meaning of conversion to Buddhism and the Hollow Bones Zen Precepts
    • Zen and Facing Death
    • Sunday Practices periods supporting practice in the Five Training Elements, including:
      • Meditation & Embodiment
      • Sunday Sangha
      • Zendo Hours
      • Contemplations on…
    • Priest training to prepare advanced students to lead local Sanghas and support the Hollow Bones Sangha
  • Dokusan/Daisan offered online and in-person both within and outside of Sesshins and Retreats.

Our volunteers have long been the backbone of Hollow Bones, and although we experimented with a more extensive use of stipends and other compensation for a couple of years, this has not proven to be sustainable at this time. As I have the blessing of retirement, and as Abbot of Hollow Bones Zen, I am privileged to join many of you as a volunteer in support of our community of practice, including making financial contributions. This is meant as part of the commitment to being totally in and open in the relationship of Abbot.

The good news is that our voluntary efforts express and nourish our spiritual practice as a meaningful form of Dana, just as financial contribution does. However, should we wish to be a holistically healthy modern organization, it must be important to us to provide fair compensation to those who support Hollow Bones Zen with their professional skills and working hours. Although we cannot do so now, in time we hope to grow our capacity in this way. 

The intention of this communication is to recognize the many contributions that sustain Hollow Bones Zen, both locally and internationally, and to invite you to continue and increase your participation in all elements of practice in our community including additional financial support as you are able.

Blessings and Love,


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