Dharma in the Year of Bird, 2017

Dear zen friend
1)  January sesshin:     from 01/20  to 01/24 for five days.
2)  There will be a tour planned by Sotoshu for Baika festival from 05/21 to 05/24 in 2017.

      It is scheduled to gather at Kyoto on 05/21.
      Application deadline is January 31st.
      If you are interested, please email me back.
3)   Last winter was the warmest and easiest in my memory. There were few snowfalls with less than three inches each. Deep snow was talked about but never came true. It was so warm that firewood shed was not emptied. I worried about the consequences of little water and springlike winter.
Last November I had to cut a few trees, mow leaves, and get propane gas delivered. I waited for the best timing for those works. Then It rained for two weeks. I waited days for land being dried. I still have time, I thought.
Then it snowed late November. Snow did not melt quickly. A propane gas truck failed to come close enough to the tank due to slippery driveway. Leaves were covered with snow. Trees were not cut because of cold temperature. I have been frustrated with my own incomplete operation.
I knew winter would come soon and it might be very cold while waiting for the best timing. Even though cold winter was imagined in November, a sense of urgency did not come out. Memory of the easy winter overwhelmed me. I was simply lazy.
In Buddhism there are four lands, they are named North, East, West, and South. Former three lands are paradises with great Buddhas. But the land of South is the land of suffering, samsara. All humans are living in the land of South with Shakyamuni Buddha. This is why our lives are full of sufferings and pains.
Dogen Zenji often wrote ‘Fortunately we were born in the South Land.’ For long I wondered what was ‘fortunate’ while longing for paradise.
Warm winter gave me a false sense of timing. I forgot that nature is often hard to survive. The preparation works were not finished, as if I were in a land of paradise.
2017 is the year of Bird, and many also say the year of hope.
A Happy New Year!
Eishin Ikeda
Valley Zendo
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