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
A Happy New Year!
1) January Sesshin from 01/18 to 01/22
February Sesshin from 02/08 to 02/12
2) On last day of the sesshin 31st, we found a big owl perching on a white birch and watching us. Each sesshin gives us something more than we expected.
Last year was windy. Strong wind broke tree tops. Many branches fell. On each windy day numerous leaves and twigs were blown off . Too many twigs were on the land, so cleaning driveway became a daily job. Power outage occurred frequently.
First snow was on 10/18. I expected a long winter. So far we have had little snow and mild temperatures. This weather pattern was new to our community. When I take a long walk, I bring an umbrella with me on days of cloud. We seem to have moved to London in England from New England.
Looking at broken tree tops and fallen countless twigs, a theory came across. In windy areas trees cannot continue growing because wind blows tops. Leaves and flowers come out of twigs. Fewer twigs mean fewer leaves. Fewer leaves mean less nutrients for a tree. Little nutrients result in smaller trees and leaves. An existing big tree dies due to few leaves.
A maple leave would change under a severe condition. If a windy season continued, the size of a maple leave would become closer to the size of Japanese maple, which is one tenths of American maple. We might be witnessing the change of woods. A mammoth on a small island was the size of a donkey. .
New year is the year of Boar. By astrologists violent things happen this year. We do not need to believe in such thousand year old knowledge. Have we, however, truer knowledge?
Wish to be a good year for all.
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.