Zen River Business Meeting Notes

Notes from the November 3rd Sangha meeting: Zen River Sangha Business Meeting Thank you to all who participated, and to Lask for taking notes.

Sangha Expressions: YouTube Stories by Franklin Chen

Researched, created and narrated by Franklin Chen, Zen River Sangha member, excerpted from the October 2018 ZRS newsletter   Hiroshima, is a history account on the decision of dropping the atomic bomb to Japan and the aftermath. A lesson that all humanity needs to learn about. 

Sangha Expressions: Knowing our Call of this Incarnation by Franklin Chen

By Franklin Chen, Zen River Sangha member, excerpted from the October 2018 ZRS newsletter


There are two important days in our lives.
The day we are born, and
the day we know why we are born.
—Mark Twain

Back in 2008 when I was in Taiwan for sabbatical leave, I read a newspaper story of a dumpling lady in Taiwan. She sold the best dumpling in a small village in southern Taiwan. She was in the news for two reasons. The first reason was that her dumpling was the best at the time in Ping-tong, a small village in southern Taiwan where she lived. The second reason was that she had a stage-3 ovarian cancer and was told only had 3 years to live. Despite that, every morning, she got up at 3:30 AM and began to work, making dumpling. No one helped her because she was a widow, and her children were working outside of Ping-Tong. Reporters were puzzled why she was working so hard and did not take rest.

“Taking a rest? “, she said, “Did I just sit there and waiting to die?”

“When I make the best dumpling and my happy customers complimented and smiled at me, that is my best medicine.” She said.

The day she was interviewed by the reporter, she had already outlived the dreadful pronouncement of death by two years. I do not know if she is still alive today. Either way, she is a good role model for us because she knew her purpose of life. She knew why she was born.

There is another example. I met an old time friend (a Kimberly-Clark colleague) at a concert in July of 2018. He was an engineer, and got laid off in 2003. I asked him what he is doing now. He said that he is building

organ. Building organ requires engineering skills, metal and wood crafting, and music ears. He had learned the craft as an apprentice from a master 25 years ago before he worked for Kimberly-Clark. After working at Kimberly-Clark, he made good money as an engineer in a corporation, but was never be happy. Once he got laid off, he knew his calling was to continue to build organs for churches. My old friend knows his calling and is very happy for his life.

The dharma teachers in our Sangha ask us to be joyful even at unlikely circumstances. Many studies have shown that if we know why we are here and know why we are given this life to experience our impermanent body, and emotions, we can be joyful at most of the circumstances.

Sangha Expressions: Three Poems by Jian Zhi Peter

By Jian Zhi Peter Tolly, ZRS Board Secretary, excerpted from the October 2018 ZRS newsletter   Rumination A sheer torrent my need for story: I can dredge for days but was dead in the flow from the start   *          *    

Sangha Expressions: Consciousness Uniting by Christian Peterson

By Christian Peterson, Zen River Sangha member, excerpted from the October 2018 ZRS newsletter   “The world presents itself to us as ​real.​ It is, by accounts, a very convincing presentation.” How many forms of stimuli are there that present themselves to our consciousness, and how 

Sangha Expressions: Be Hollow by Scott Wanless

By Scott Wanless, Zen River Sangha member, excerpted from the October 2018 ZRS newsletter


An everyday experience in Zen practice

For me, the best advice to quiet the normal chatter during a sit is to breathe and repeat the word “listen.” This advice also has practical application.

For example, the results of my most recent health check showed slightly elevated risk factors due to sloppy habits. The doctor suggested a set of unnamed prescriptions, and I bristled at this. I favor meditation first and home remedy second where possible, and so far, take no prescription medications. I respect Western medicine. I just steer clear of it if possible.

I sat with this challenge and was fully ready to listen for any advice from Intuition. On my next Thursday night sit, the phrase “Be Hollow” exploded into my entire being. Very compelling, but I needed a little more specific instruction.

The next Thursday, the word “subtract” arrived. This is better, as I now had an action verb. But still not specific enough.

Next sit, a still more specific suggestion with the phrase “subtract sugars in three forms.” After a little web surfing, I found those three forms. Fortunately, they all start with the letter “s,” making them easy to remember. They are sugar (i.e. processed), stealth sugars (sugar that goes by an alternate name such as sucrose, fructose, maltodextrin, nectar, etc.), and syrups (e.g. corn syrup, rice syrup, barley syrup, cane syrup, etc.).

Now I had something to work with. My directive was to be hollow by subtracting sugar, stealth sugars and syrups. In 15 weeks, I have lost 30 pounds. And I continue to lose approximately two pounds per week. My guess is in six months I should be down roughly 50 pounds.

I thought this was all the instruction I needed, but on my next sit I received the phrase “subtract sludge.” Once again, not specific enough. This was followed the next morning by a coughing spell that worked free a great deal of mucous. This must have been the “sludge.” I am currently sitting with this and listening for more specifics. I suspect it may be subtracting more sloppy habits. And if the instructions stay true to form, they should all start with the letter “s.”

I do feel great and more “hollow” at least physically. Each breath is deeper than ever before, which improves my focus as well as a feeling of “true freedom and joy beyond comprehension.” I intend to keep listening for more directives, which may extend to not just body, but mind and spirit as well. Wonderful!

By Scott Wanless

About our Sangha and Place of Practice

By Taiso Hannya Byran Bartwo Roshi, ZRS Head Priest, excerpted from the October 2018 ZRS newsletter   In this article, I want to briefly explore the meaning of Sangha, with a perspective which departs a little from the usual. Ultimately, the place of practice is “no-where” 

Fall President Greeting

By Liaoran Bo Re Tess Grey, ZRS Priest and Board President, excerpted from the October 2018 ZRS newsletter   Sangha-wide meeting on ZRS financial future Saturday, November 3, 2018, following practice You are invited to bring a dish to share *** Dear sangha family and friends, 

ZRS Board Minutes – July 28, 2018

20180728 ZR Board Minutes

Attendees: Jian Zhi, Kai Hiu, Liaoran, Taiso

Convened at 9:55 a.m.



  1. Financials
    1. Review of expenses handout provided by Kai Hui
    2. Discussion of building purchase feasibility
      1. Reishin hoping ZRS can purchase the building by June 2020; would like to know decision by December 2019
        1. Yearly building expenses provided by Reishin for review; review of income/expenses projection provided by Kai Hui
          1. Current income is just less than what base cost would be; would need to add $500 to monthly income to “just get by”
          2. Building purchase would require ZRS to assume full responsibility for the building; would need additional income increase to cover building maintenance
          3. Other variable to consider is ZRS capability of building purchase in terms of credit
        2. Building purchase must come with intentional effort to increase income by 50-100 percent
          1. Intention would need to be presented to the sangha to involve them in meeting goals; should be primary focus
            1. Board agrees to hold a sangha meeting to discuss this development; November 17 chosen for brunch potluck following sit with a goal to get messaging out before meeting in fall newsletter
          2. Other ideas for increasing income to cover building expenses:
            1. Rent unused building spaces
            2. Share the ZRS story with the international Buddhist community as well as Hollow Bones to attract financial support
              1. Generating meaningful content for social media would support this effort but would require time and energy
            3. Host events and retreats, give talks, etc., to generate income
  2. Subcommittee Reports/Updates
    1. Building & Grounds – Matt
      1. No update from Matt
      2. Jian Zhi updated committee head listed on website
    2. Zendo Cleaning – Reishin
      1. No update other than that Reishin introduced an “adopt-a-room” policy last week; all Zen center rooms have been claimed by regular practice attendees, who accept the ongoing responsibility of keeping the room clean
    3. Zendo Opening – Myoshin
      1. Myoshin happy to continue in the role of opening coordinator
    4. Newsletter – Jian Zhi
      1. Jian Zhi and Myoshin have communicated about switching to biannual production of newsletter; recommended timing is September and March (Fall and Spring); any feedback on the newsletter from the board or Zen River priests is welcome
        1. The board is in support of this change
        2. Next newsletter should acknowledge the change in timing
        3. Would be good to coordinate timing of next newsletter with November sangha meeting (late September issue)
    5. Library – Taiso
      1. No update
    6. Timing for yearly reassessment of committee chairs (suggested by Kai Hui at last meeting)?
      1. Board agrees to assess committee chairs as needed
  3. Review of comment cards & requests for board agenda topics
    1. Results of communication with foreign Bikku requesting invitation for visa
      1. Liaoran followed up but heard nothing
  4. Old Business
  5. New Business
    1. Request from Manju to take a sabbatical this fall
      1. Planned for October
      2. Taiso to take Manju’s priest weeks with Liaoran covering as needed

Adjourned at 11:55 a.m.

Sangha Expressions: Poem by Jian Zhi Peter

By Jian Zhi Peter Tolly, excerpted from the March 2018 ZRS newsletter   Wave-play The way the world warps on the slope of a breaker— the movement of moon through matter unstoppable by the mind’s graph paper: only the bob of faces on the surface