7/7/99--From: Susan Jion Postal
SusanJion@aol.com of the Empty Hand Zendo, Rye, NY.
Just a note to share our Sangha's enjoyment and appreciation of your visit! I trust that the subsequent legs of your journey were smooth and fruitful. How was Eido Shimano? His place is beautiful, I am told. Although I feel very hesitant to write anything about Suzuki Roshi - my experience was barely a fleeting moment and so long ago - I also have been brainwashed to try please others, and respond when asked. So...
I visited Tassajara in the Guest Season, summer of 1971, with my husband and two children (ages 3 & 5). We were devoted students of Tibetan Buddhism at the small time, studying Dzogchen with a Nyingma lay teacher in New York. It was all my idea, having had an affinity for Zen ever since I heard Alan Watts speak in 1958 in the Palo Alto area. Actually, that was the beginning of this whole wonderful journey into Buddhism; I was a freshman at Stanford when my high school sweetheart took me to hear Alan Watts - a "light bulb" experience, quite literally. A path which made sense appeared, and I was hooked.
So we get to Tassajara (almost burning out the clutch of our rented car on the descent) and it is very hot. My husband was struggling with no ice and no Tab. I was totally happy with herb teas and hot baths. We went to sit one evening and attend a talk by Suzuki Roshi. I can only remember it was clear, bell-like clear, and very simple. Back in our cabin, my husband felt it was so elementary; feeling that in our Dzogchen practice we were far 'ahead' of this stuff. I guess beginner's mind didn't fit with the scheme we had been studying, where the Vajrayana is always portrayed as the "highest" teaching. I liked the Zendo, and started to get up early and sit while my family was still asleep. I thought I would like to come back sometime to practice here. By 1980, I was no longer a student in the Tibetan tradition, but rather very much at home in Zen practice. But it was all in the East, with Glassman Roshi in New York and Maurine Stuart in Cambridge. Maybe I will get back to Tassajara yet. I sense the atmosphere is much like it was 30 years ago.
7/9/99--More Info on the Empty Hand Zendo
The Empty Hand Zendo is a non-residential practice center which has been meeting since 1986 in the Quaker Meeting House in Rye, New York. The Meeting House, which the group rents from Monday through Saturday, is actually an antique Episcopal chapel built in 1832. Although a bit in need of paint and repair, the atmosphere is very supportive of silent sitting. Zazen is offered three evenings each week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday - with Wednesday always being Introductory and geared for newcomers. On most Saturday mornings there is zazen and a service, then a simple breakfast. Classes (Tai Chi, Basic Buddhism, Healing) often follow. One Saturday each month is a one day Retreat, sometimes with a guest teacher, from 9-5pm, following a sesshin format. Spring and Fall there are three day Sesshin at Beaver Conference Farm . There are about 60 active members, with many others who come occasionally.
Susan Jion Postal entered Buddhist practice in 1970 with a Tibetan teacher. Since 1980 she has been practicing Zen, originally with Glassman Sensei of ZCNY. In 1987 she began to study with Maurine Myo-on Stuart of the Cambridge Buddhist Association. In 1988 Susan was ordained Zen priest by Maurine at the Rye Meeting House. Since Maurine Stuart's death in 1990, she has continued to lead practice in the style and spirit of her late teacher for an increasingly large and active Zen group. She has participated in the Western Buddhist Teachers Conference. She is active in Interfaith work, most especially in Zen/Christian dialogue.
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