Category Archives: News

HSZC’s 3rd Abbot – life story

$_57Now a second Abbot’s life written by David Schneider.

Issan and now Philip



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Sat 13 June @10:15am – Dharma Colloquy, Peer Student Discussion

1515Join us for a peer student discussion lead by a long term Zen  practitioner while Rev Myo is attending the ASZB event in SF.

Every Saturday we offer early morning zazen (seated meditation), a brief drop-in meditation instruction at 8:30 am. And again zazen at 9:25 am. We wrap up with a dharma talk at 10:15 am followed by a ceremony if applicable, then tea and cookies with socializing. Please know you are welcome and invited as well  to any of our weekly schedule!


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Spring Equinox & Higan-e (currently)

In Japanese, there is a proverb that says “Hot and cold weather last until the equinox”. This week-long ceremony takes place on the spring and fall equinoxes, the middle of an important week when the weather is usually very good.imagae

Higan is the teaching that leads people from the world of delusion to the world of awakening. There are six components of this teaching: giving, precepts, perseverance, diligence, zazen, and wisdom. It is taught that if we carry out these practices we will be blessed with happiness and good fortune.

On the day before Higan, it is the custom in a Japanese home to clean the Buddha altar, to straighten up the various Buddha implements, and to change the flowers on the altar. It is also customary to make offerings of rice dumplings on the first day of the week. On the equinox (the middle day of this week) rice cakes covered with bean jam called ohagi or botamochi are offered. And once again on the final day of the week, dumplings made from rice flour are offered. During this time, offerings of food, special sweets, and fruit are also made.

Visiting the temple

It is customary at this time to visit the temple to present offerings of pounded-rice cakes (mochi), sweets, fruit, and so on to the principal image of Buddha as well as the family ancestors.

It is also the custom at Higan to visit the family grave to express our gratitude to the family ancestors. For those people living far away from the family grave, it is especially good to visit the temple and family grave during Higan. This is a good way to learn the warm-heartedness customarily expressed during Higan of giving rice cakes covered with bean jam to the neighbors and one’s relatives.

Visiting the family grave

A visit to the family grave first begins with cleaning the grave stone and grave site. It is particularly important to scour places that easily become dirty such as water basins and flower vases. Older wooden stupas are mindfully removed and disposed of according to temple instructions. Once the grave has been cleaned, fresh offerings of water, incense, and favorite delicacies of the deceased ancestors’ are made. The temple priest is then asked to chant a sutra at the grave, at this time, we join our hands in wholehearted prayer.

Following the visit to the gravesite, it is proper to remove the food offerings. No one likes to see spoiled offerings and they are also unsanitary. It is also good to clean up the special gravesite for graves that are no longer tended by family members and offer incense and flowers. In Japan, this is thought to express the beauty of one’s heart and mind.


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14 February – Multiple events: Parinirvana, Sangha Council & Guest Speaker!

In addition to St Valentine’s day , we will have a morning and early afternoon packed full of events:

Regular Saturday Scheduleparinirvana.jpg.w300h360

Guest SpeakerRev. Ryuei Michael McCormick is an American Nichiren Shu convert to and longtime practitioner in the Nichiren Shu school of Buddhism, who has written prolifically on the topic asking us to look deeper at this path and is also a long-time practitioner of zazen (seated meditation) and a student of the writings of Dōgen-zenji.

Following the talk we will commemorate in a ceremony  the passing of the Buddha to nirvana known as Parinirvana

We then go on to have social time, tea and cookies and suggest folks grab a quick lunch. So at 12:30pm we can reconvene for the Sangha Council and run for 90 minutes with a break mid-way — We’re  continuing this format that is flexible enough for a diversity of needs. The scaffold we’ll be working from is based on the Council process developed by the Ojai Foundation.

You do not need to have an ‘issue’ or overt concern to attend.  Council is sangha building, connection and healing.  All are welcome and invited to all of these events!


Wed, 11 Feb @7pm hszc member annual meeting

On Wed @ 7pm, we will meet in lieu of a board of director meeting with the full membership of hszc to have our annual meeting for the year 2014. Please all members and to be members join us, and please also see the letter below the image from the board of directors:


Dear Sangha (hszc community) Friend,

We hope this finds you doing well.

HSZC is expanding the membership of its Board of Directors, and seeking board members both inside outside of our immediate ‘temple family.’

This coming Wednesday (February 11) at 7 p.m., we’ll hold our annual Board meeting; it’s an opportunity for those interested in participating to observe, and ‘meet and greet.’

Our sangha and friends have a wide and varied depth of experiences across it’s membership, so I’m making a sales pitch to you…

HSZC is an active, intimate temple with 5 full time residents and twice daily zazen and service. 2015 holds an ambitious agenda for us; a nascent capital campaign, plans for a symposium to mark the 25th anniversary of our founder- Issan Dorsey’s- passing and celebrating the ongoing practice today, expanding our relationship to Maitri Compassionate Care, etc. We also host Meditation in Recovery (MIR) on Fridays, HIV and HIV Caregiver’s meditation groups, and monthly Women’s and Men’s MIR evenings.

Being a board member is a very meaningful way to ‘practice in the world.’ We care deeply about Issan-ji, and we all work with the ‘primary purpose’ of it’s well being as our intention.

So, think about being part of the HSZC Board of Directors: we’d be grateful to welcome you. And come visit this Wednesday, 11 February, at 7 p.m.

In gassho,

Hartford Street Zen Center Board of Directors


Sat. January 24 – Dogen Zenji’s birthday

DogenZenjiDogen Zenji, the founder of Soto Zen School as well as of Daihonzan Eiheiji, was born on January 26, 1200 CE. This was during the Kamakura Period of Japanese history, the year following the death of Minamoto Yoritomo. It is said that his father was Koga Michichika, a government minister, and that his mother was Ishi, the daughter of Fujiwara Motofusa. Presumably, young Dogen Zenji lived in comfort. However, at the age of thirteen, he climbed Mt. Hiei, and the next year he shaved his head and became a monk. It is said that he became a monk because he felt the impermanence of the world on his mother’s death when he was eight years old. (more here)

As the founder of our school of Zen Buddhism, we would like to offer a bit of a celebration after the Dharma talk of his life and contributions to Zen & Buddhism in Japan and study and practice in China. Every Saturday we offer early morning zazen (seated meditation) at 6:30am, morning service, a brief drop-in meditation instruction at 8:30 am. And again zazen at 9:25 am. We wrap up with a Dharma talk at 10:15 am (followed by ceremony if applicable) and then socializing,  tea and cookies.