Valley Zendo was created cooperatively by priests from Antaiji, Valley Zendo’s home temple in Japan, and North American lay practitioners. In 1974 Rev. Koshi Ichida and Mr. Stephen Yenik arrived from Kyoto. The following year land was purchased with donated funds in forested hills near the Vermont-Massachusetts border. Rev. Ichida was joined by monks from Antaiji, Rev. Shohaku Okumura and Eishin Ikeda and several American practitioners. Together the group cleared the land and built a simple structure that served as residence and zendo. Thanks to the support and labor of monks and lay practitioners over the years, Valley Zendo has been able to function as a zazen center for four decades.
Set in the woods of the Berkshire mountain foothills, Valley Zendo provides a quiet atmosphere in which to practice zazen. Reached by a narrow dirt road, the facilities at the zendo mirror its rustic setting. In order to preserve the integrity of the Antaiji tradition, from the beginning life at the zendo has been simple. In winter the zendo and residential facilities (where the resident teacher lives) are heated by wood stoves. Drinking and bathing water are drawn from a well located at the edge of Valley Zendo’s land. Each summer vegetables and herbs from the zendo garden contribute to meals in daily life as well as during sesshin. Through the work of its residents and donations from lay practitioners Valley Zendo continues to provide its services to individuals interested in the practice of Zazen.
Valley Zendo hopes to continue to provide instruction in shikantaza and to encourage people to integrate zazen practice into their daily lives. The Zendo does not intend to create a hierarchical structure, but has been run with help of board members as regulated by government. We envision the zendo’s sangha as a network of independent practitioners.
–Eishin Ikeda, Resident teacher
Dear Zen friend
1) September sesshin: from 09/07 to 09/11
October sesshin: from 10/12 to 10/16
2) “Alan Watts – in the Academy” compiled by Peter Columbus and Donadrian Rice, published by Suny Press won the Gold medal of the year in the category of academic publication.
3) New novel, “T.T.Mann, Ace Detective” by Gerald MacFarland was published in August from Levellers Press.
4) It has been hot and humid at valley zendo. There were many rainy days in July and August here. Flooding disaster in Japan happened near my home town. Hottest temperatures there were record breaking. Something unusual must be going on.
I was not an advocate on global warning nor climate change. But finally become worried about extraordinary weather.
I have watched DVDs from library about environmental matters. Among them a movie showed fracking shale gas. Fracking is done deep under the earth. Logically released gas would go up any place, leak into air. The movie says leakage is not only logical but real. Natural gases are found in many places around the fracking field.
How much gas has been leaked? Corporate agencies and research firms do not inform of data. Fire at faucet or on a pond did not open their minds. We even do not know if they have gathered data.
When global warming was talked about, carbon dioxide was hated as major factor. How about natural gas? Isn’t it helping the warming?
America is No.1 on oil and gas production thanks to fracking technology. Mass production always changes environments in a big way. Has fracking not brought free natural gas into air in a big way? The fact should be checked.
Dear Zen friend
1) There is the Summer Lecture at 11:10 am to noon on 12th, Sunday.
Guest speaker is Rev. Eve Marko who has presided Green Valley Zen Center for years.
Potluck lunch follows.
Hope everyone would share her sense of the Dharma.
2) There will be One Day Zazenkay at Shantigar on Saturday August 25th.
The session starts at 9 am and ends at 5 pm o’clock.
Dharma discussion, walking into the woods, and general Q&A are included.
Shantigar: 63 Davenport Rd. Rowe (413)339-4332
Last Sunday while having lunch, 2 young deer visited Zendo.
They were standing about 10 meters distant from us and eating grass.
They may know a hunter moved away.
Sunday afternoon I stepped on a nest of wasp bees. Sharp pains were sensed. As I was taking shirts and trousers, 6 or 7 wasps came out inside clothing. They bit me on the skin at least seven places. They have been itchy and uncomfortable for 4 days. I chopped fire woods as much as possible for washing away poisons through sweat.
Another bee problem. Bees have tried to make a big nest at the entrance of Zendo. I removed it by water, but they do not give up their project. The fighting may continue for a while.
Have good time for the rest of summer.
Dear Zen friend
1) July sesshin from 07/06 to 07/10
No sesshin in August.
2) Summer Lecture: At 11 am on 12th (Sunday) of August.
Guest speaker: Rev. Eve Marko from Green River Zen Center
3) One day Zazenkai: On 25th (Saturday) of August, from 9 am to 5 pm.
Place: At Shantigar; 63 Davenport Rd. Rowe 413-339-4332
Discussion: Buddha Dharma and the Dharma Transmission
4) Wisdom in ancient times often amazes me. There is a place named Himuro ‘Ice Room’ in northern Kyoto. The village has existed for centuries with a shrine for ice. There ice was made and stored for summer time. In summer it is hot in Kyoto. Ice was used for ceremonies at the palace. People knew how to get and use ice in summer a thousand years ago.
Ten years ago there was about a ton of soil in a wooden box in the basement. It was originally used for storing vegetables. It was an innovation at a time without a refrigerator nor a freezer. Basement is cool, soil does not use electricity.
The soil in the box stayed there for 30 years, not used for decades. When bathroom was mended, the box had to be moved. I carefully looked at the soil. There was no hint of life activities. There was not an insect, not a worm, not a root. It was like soil on the moon, having stayed there with nothing happened.
I put the soil on the driveway. For two years weed did not grow. In the third year, the spot became greener. I remembered phrases ‘The basics of gardening is making rich soil.’
Making rich soil is a way of zen. How can we do it?
Dear Zen friend
1) June sesshin from 06/08 to 06/12
July sesshin from 07/06 to 07/10
2) The last winter was long, last snow fell on April 30th. Wood stove heating was necessary for 6 months.
In Los Angeles it rained yesterday, air is chill.
3) In Little Tokyo new restaurant serving ‘Okonomiyaki’ is open. That was my favorite meal in Japan. I have been waiting for the taste in the us. If successful, likable restaurant would spread as sushi has done.
4) There are concepts human beings and nature. And we think humans stand on the same ground of nature. We encounter, handle, and struggle with nature. Some try to live with beauty of nature, some try to change nature for humans’ sake.
How about Buddha dharma? It seems that the dharma is over both human beings and nature. So the Dharma has survived either global warming or cooling in nature, either peace or war among human beings.