Dear Sangha and Friends of Open Mind Zen Naples,
As 2019 comes to a close, I would like to express my deep gratitude to all of our members, students, and friends that made this year such a meaningful one. Many stepped up this year to take on new roles and responsibilities. We also welcomed many new friends to our Center. It was an incredible year and the Center’s practice is even stronger.
In addition to adding more weekly practice opportunities, some great things happened this year.
In September, the Center held its first residential retreat at the beautiful Franciscan Retreat Center in Tampa, Florida. The retreat was attended by 17 members of the Naples and Melbourne Open Mind Zen Sanghas. It was organized and lead by the Naples Sangha and other Open Mind Zen School teachers like Dave Jitsusan Vititoe, Sensei, and Rev. Michael Jiun Stamper, Hoshi. Sensei Al Rapaport performed Jukai (transmission of Buddhist Precepts) for three long-time members of the Naples Sangha: : Jan “Kojin” Ice, Anne “Seihyo” McLaughlin, and Jean “Onryu” McCullough. Their thoughts on receiving Jukai at the retreat will be posted on the website’s new blog page.
On November 3rd, Dominick Koshin Tascher and Karen Kyokai Lasker formalized
their commitments to the Sangha and the Bodhisattva Path by receiving Lay Monk Vows from
Sensei Al. Almost thirty Sangha members and friends were present for their ordination. Thank you Kyokai and Koshin for your deep commitment to being of service to others. They join Sean
McCabe as the Sangha’s core group of Lay Monks that support the Center as a function of their own practice.
This winter, the Center will have its first Ango period which begins on January 19, 2020, and
ends on March 1, 2020. Ango is a traditional practice period that dates back to the time of the
Buddha. During the monsoon season, the monastic community would settle in one place and
practice intently for a longer period of time. The theme for the Ango will be Roshi Bernie
Glassman commentaries on Zen Master Dogen’s work in “Instructions to the Cook:- A Zen
Master’s Lessons in Living a Life That Matters.” It will be an opportunity to work with Zen
practice to help us “cook” a life of meaning that reduces our suffering and the suffering of others. Non-members are welcome to join the Sangha in this practice period. More information about the Ango will be sent out shortly.
The Center’s also had a physical transformation. The Center has a new altar, new baseboards, and was completely repainted in October. Most significantly, the Center’s lease has
been extended another four years term with an option for an additional four years. The Center is here to stay!
2019 was filled with great practice opportunities for me as well. I attended a sesshin at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in August. The Upaya Sesshin was, although physically demanding at over 7,000 feet, the perfect time for examining my role as the Center’s teacher and how that relates to my own practice. The result has been a much clearer vision for theCenter that I hope will include it becoming a force for good and a place of support for the entirecommunity. I look forward to practicing with all of you in the coming year. Please come sit and havetea on a first or third Wednesday of each month!
Thanks again to everyone that joined in our practice this year, and to those that have supported us from afar. May we all embody the Enlightened Way together.
Sentient Beings are numberless, I vow to free them;
Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to transform them;
Practice paths are boundless, I vow to study them;
The Enlightened Way is incomparable, I vow to embody it.
With hands in gassho and a feeling a gratitude,
Andy Hoseki Solis, Hoshi