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Spring Equinox: Higan-e

mochi2In Japanese, there is a proverb that says “Hot and cold weather last until the equinox”.

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, rice cakes covered with bean jam called ohagi or botamochi. 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. 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. In Japan 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.


Robina Courtin event – April 1 at 7pm

unnamedRobina Courtin, is in the Bay Area for a brief visit and would like to connect with her students, friends and followers at Hartford Street Zen Center on Tuesday, April 1. You do not need to RSVP for this event, however, seating is limited and we will accommodate you on a first-come, first-served basis. Here are the details:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014, 7pm

Unravelling our Negative Emotions

57 Hartford St., San Francisco, CA
Seating Limited, No RSVP, First Come, First Served
Donation of $10-15 welcomed



Thursdays at 7:30pm

SANCHIJoin us Thursdays at 7:30 pm as we study The Book of Serenity as an opportunity to practice together in Sangha. We read the entirety of text we discuss together. Preparation is encouraged, and so are drop ins!

There are books to share for anyone who wants to join in.


Welcome all to 2014

HSZC will return to full swing operation Jan 3, 2014



Rev. Myo – What Can Practice Do for Me? — Zen in America Video

zen-paintingClick Here


HIV and Supporters Sitting Group and Meditation in Recovery

Did you know at Hartford Street Zen Center there are many groups that practice together?

hszc buddha gardenThe HIV Meditation Group meets twice a week, every week, Thursday and Friday at 10:30 am in the Zendo. There is 30 minutes of sitting followed by socializing in the garden.

The Meditation in Recovery Group meets every Friday at 7:30 pm until 9:00 pm in the Zendo and offers meditation, a talk and discussion. Meetings are led by senior Buddhist practitioners in recovery.

Click on the names of the groups in this post for more details.


Memorial Day Holiday: Zendo Closure

Reminder: Zendo closed Monday, 27 May 2013. Regular Schedule resumes Tuesday, 28 May 2013, at 6:00 am.


Metta Service/Meditation: 26 April 2013 6pm

I think it goes without saying given current, recent & historical events we need as much Metta as we can generate.  Please join us next Friday!



March 31 – April 1: HSZC and Zendo will be closed

bunnysleepIn observance of the widely celebrated Easter holiday.

Enjoy the colored eggs, baby animals & spring celebrations and your bunny sleep!

We will see you bright and early for zazen again starting the morning of April 2nd. 

Be well and we will see you soon!


Clothing Drive a Success!

siphaiOur one month-long clothing drive for the benefit of St. Anthony Foundation’s Free Clothing Program was a hit! We began our drive on the National Day of Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and concluded it on Saturday, February 23. A clothing barrel was provided by St. Anthony’s for us to use in the zendo, but over the course of the drive dedicated Sangha members accumulated and dropped off so many bags of clothing they were piled upstairs in the dining room. All in all we had the equivalent of almost 30 bags of clothes and other items including some children’s toys. At the end of the clothing drive Siphai from St. Anthony’s picked up the clothing from us. Siphai also happens to practice at a Cambodian Buddhist Temple in the Sunset District.

Our thanks to all the Sangha members who helped by participating in planning the drive, publishing notices online, and who donated their clothing to this well-known charitable program. Our appreciation extends to St. Anthony Foundation for providing us an opportunity to participate in this, allowing us to practice our Bodhisattva Vow by helping others.