Author: JianZhi

ZRS Rummage Sale April 28, 2018

Are you looking to clear out your attic, basement, or closets of gently used items that others could benefit from? We are looking for your donation of clothes, furniture, books, household items and knick knacks for our first annual rummage sale and fundraiser for the 

Henna Fun and Thanks!

Henna Fun and Thanks!

By Myoshin Renee Taylor, excerpted from the March 2018 ZRS newsletter Thank you to Annie Quick-Laughlin for offering her home for our Henna Event in December. We had a great time visiting, learning the ancient art of Henna and experimenting with our newfound skills on 

Celebrating This Sangha

Taiso Hannya Byran Bartow Roshi, ZRS Head Priest, excerpted from the March 2018 ZRS newsletter

The three refuges or jewels of Zen Buddhism are Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. In our service we have a slightly more poetic reflection of these. These are differentiated in communication and may be best understood as interdependent facets of complete Buddhist practice. Our practice is a manifestation of the Buddha’s awakening. And not just the Buddha, this practice in this time continues the practice of those who have come before. So in this way the ancestors’ practice is present with us, and we recognize this by lighting the ancestor candle during our service and talks.

Traditionally, sangha was the community of nuns or monks who practiced together. In interdependence, sangha encompasses a broader community… ultimately all being. Zen River Sangha continues the practice of our founders, Vicara, Manju, and Daruma. And they were continuing the practice of Junpo, who is continuing the practice of Eido, and so on. We are blessed by the support of all who practice.

As a sangha, each of us contributes in many ways. Buddha nature is manifest in this sangha relation. Practicing, this sangha honors the generosity and practice of our ancestors and benefactors. We can offer gratitude to this entire sangha relation in taking refuge.

Reishin’s practice is continually manifest in Zen River Sangha through the generosity which gives a home for practice at 2989 Spencer St. in Appleton. And we have a dharma friend in Kensho, a Hollow Bones Priest, from the Denver/Boulder area. Kensho, an unseen sangha member has made very generous contributions which have helped to make it possible for us to have this home for our community. Kensho will visit during the first week on May.

Here, together we have made a home for practice, through the generosity of everyone. Our financial contributions and our commitment to practice–including work practice in all forms–are melded in this sangha relation. Our motto continues to be: “Your presence is your most important contribution.”

We will hold a half-day sit on May 5 and conclude with a ceremony that honors the founders and all contributions that manifest in this sangha–Zen River. Of course this includes you, and there is a seat for you if you can join us.

I want to conclude with a moment of reflection on the passing of Junpo’s teacher and the founder of our root monastery, Dai Bosatsu Zendo of the Zen Studies Society, where Junpo received formal Zen training. Just following this is a note from Shingei Roshi on the passing of Eido Shimano.

Blessings, Taiso

Dear Zen Studies Society Sangha,

With a heavy heart I must inform you of the sad news of the passing of Ven. Eido T. Shimano Roshi, while he was in Japan. Early this morning I received a telephone call from Fujin-san Formhals. She said that at Shogen-ji Junior College, in Gifu, he had delivered a teisho on Dogen’s Life-Death that she felt was the best teisho she had ever heard him give.

Some time ago, Eido Roshi had asked that Sogen Yamakawa Roshi, abbot of Shogen-ji, conduct his

funeral service in Japan. There are still many details to be arranged. We will keep you informed once we know the arrangements for the service there and at Dai Bosatsu Zendo.

Let True Dharma Continue!

Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi, Abbot

Sangha Expressions: Poem by Ming-Kai Franklin Chen

By Ming-Kai Franklin Chen, excerpted from the December 2017 ZRS newsletter ***Here is the poem I wrote inspired by a story told at a concert/storytelling with a theme of “Homeless Connection.” The story told the chilling fact that many homeless people do not have resources 

Sangha Expressions: Poem by Jian Zhi Peter

By Jian Zhi Peter Tolly, excerpted from the September 2017 ZRS newsletter   Walk after Storm Drops of rain like a dishcloth raised away from the sink— a dragonfly face down in the driveway. It was the flagpole’s clang that stopped me in the corner 

Three Chinese Characters or Pictographs Explain the Meaning of Zen

By Ming-Kai Franklin Chen, excerpted from the December 2017 ZRS newsletter

At the CMind Conference, one of my instructors, Dr. Steve Murphy-Shigimatsu introduced three Pictographs of Chinese origins explaining the meaning of Zen (or lack of Zen). Dr. Murphy- Shigimatsu was born of a Japanese mother and Irish-American father. He speaks fluent Japanese and English. His mother came from a samurai family with strict Bushido (samurai ethical code). Looking over his appearance, he looks like more Japanese than American. His thinking and philosophy is deep-rooted in Japanese culture.

Chinese and Japanese share the same pictographs, so when he showed these pictographs in the class, it resonated in my heart.

The first pictograph is 念. The upper part, 今, means ‘present time.’ The lower part, 心, means ‘heart.’ It includes feeling, emotion, mind, spirit, and the whole body. It implies ‘Living at Present Moment.’ This is exactly the basic teaching of the Buddhism about mindfulness. This is Zen.

The second pictograph is 忘. T he upper part, 亡, means ‘death.’ The lower part, 心, means ‘heart,’ which includes feeling, emotion, and spirit. The Chinese meaning of this pictograph can be either ‘forgetfulness,’ or ‘ignorance.’ But what was forgotten or ignored? We forget that we are inter-beings. We forget that we are inter-connected to each other, inter-connected to Mother Earth. Such ignorance creates so much suffering for our human race and environmental degradation to the Earth. Much of today’s racism, terrorism, are basically coming from this ignorance, or 忘.

The third pictograph is 忙. The left-hand part of the character, 忄, means ‘the heart;’ the right-hand part of the character, 亡, means ‘death.’ The Chinese translation for this pictograph is ‘being busy.’ When we are busy, or when we are preoccupied by ‘something’ in our mind, we will not be fully present at the moment either in a conversation, or a task.

Here are a couple anecdotes to illustrate this: Violinist Joshua Bell once played for three hours at a Washington D.C. subway but only collected $32. Most of the visitors were small kids, and their parents rushed them through. The next evening, when he played at a concert hall of 2,000 seats, each seat sold at $100.

And, Princeton seminary students who were given an assignment to deliver a sermon on ‘The Good Samaritan” did not help their classmate who was in need of help on the day of delivering the sermon.

Somehow, if we are pre-occupied with some thought, we will not enjoy the music, nor will we pay attention to help other people.

In summary, I find these three pictographs intriguing. They could serve our daily reflections on the Zen practice.


By Taiso Hannya Byron Bartow Roshi, ZRS Head Priest, excerpted from the December 2017 ZRS newsletter There has recently been some discussion of the precepts. The approach taken with the precepts is one of the remarkable Hollow Bones interpretations of the zen tradition. Affirm Life Act 

ZRS Board Minutes – Mar. 24, 2018

20180324 ZR Board Minutes Attendees: Kai Hui, Liaoran, Taiso, Jian Zhi Convened at 10:11   Topics: Financials Significant contributions at the end of last year; about $1,100 per month including this bump; about $600 per month this calendar year Slight profit in 2015, slight loss 

ZRS Board Minutes – Nov. 11, 2017

Attendees: Kai Hui, Liaoran, Taiso, Jian Zhi

Convened at 10:15 am



  1. Financials
    1. Kai Hui:
      1. Offerings are about the same as the same time last year
      2. About $1,600 net positive this year so far compared to last year
      3. Current total assets $19,500 (actual cash position)
        1. A good portion of this is saved–functioning from generated income
          1. About $10,000 is earning minimal interest
          2. Kai Hui recommending investing in a safe way
          3. Taiso cautious due to tumultuous political climate combined with ZRS’s relatively short financial time horizon
          4. Alternatively, we could earn a little more interest in CDs
            1. Kai Hui to move on this
  2. Subcommittee Reports/Updates
    1. No update
    2. Call went out for openers for specific dates this month and next
    3. Building & Grounds doing leaf work now
    4. Call went out for contributions–shooting to publish by Thanksgiving
      1. Request went out with a new set of guidelines
      2. Taiso, Liaoran and Kai Hui all planning on submitting writings
      3. Place being held for Reishin’s deferred article
      4. One contribution came in from a Sangha member
  3. Review of comment cards & requests for board agenda topics
    1. Comment card: Reviewed library computer-related questions from Manju
    2. Comment card: Jonathan would like to do Mondo Zen
    3. Email from Amy re fundraising idea: establishing space as coworking or writing space
      1. Taiso: Would Amy want to be the person to facilitate this?
  4. Old Business
    1. Sutra book reordering:
      1. Friends of Zen took care of bill for 50 new sutra books–ZRS to reimburse them
    2. Fundraising:
      1. Newsletter would be good place to mention ideas arrived at during fundraising committee meeting
        1. Kai Hui to draft this
      2. In April, ZRS will be participating in the Irish Road annual rummage sale
        1. Feeling this out as a relatively simple option for a recurring fundraiser
  5. New Business
    1. Kai Hui thinking about taking responsibility for one social night per month
    2. Recognizing donors:
      1. Taiso: Kensho may be visiting sangha next year–would be nice to recognize his financial contributions in some way
        1. Liaoran: Maybe commission a brushwork scroll? Or a donor list?
        2. Not immanent… to think about
    3. New Year’s Party
      1. Taiso may be unable to facilitate due to travel
      2. Myoshin helped facilitate last year–Jian Zhi also interested

Adjourned at 11:05 am

Effortless Donations for Zen River (Easy as ABC!)

By Reishin Denise Leong, ZRS Priest, excerpted from the September 2017 ZRS newsletter Smile Amazon – Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Zen River.  Go to, log in to your account, and choose Friends of Zen OSHKOSH