September 22, 2008

10th Anniversary Celebration at Endless Mountain Zendo

Yesterday Chris, Soren and I trekked out to Endless Mountain Zendo, a Zen meditation center about 2 hours from our house. This was the place where we got married almost 8 years ago. (Wow! Seems like last year).

Before you go thinking, What kind of nuttiness is this? Some sort of cult?, let me just say that Zen Buddhism to me is more of a philosophy of living than a religion. Christians, Jews, and Muslims can practice Zen meditation, where you focus on breathing and just being in the moment. We don't worship the Buddha, who is more of a role model and teacher than a god.

To return to my original thought, it was the EMZ's 10th Anniversary celebration, and Chris and I can't believe that we started going out there 10 years ago. Chris actually started meditation instruction when the center was in Philadelphia, under the name Plum Tree Zendo. It really was kismet, the way that we became part of EMZ.
The back of the house

We had lived in Philly for 5 years and were ready to leave the city for rural life again (we both grew up in a rural area). We missed trees, fresh air, and kinder people. About a month before we left the city, Chris contacted Genro, the resident monk/teacher, looking to do more intensive Zen studies, but Genro told him that it wasn't a good time, due to the fact that Plum Tree Zendo would be moving out of the city to the country.

We moved from the city close to our hometown, and after a month or so, Chris contacted Genro again, and in a twist of fate, found that the Zen center bought a property about 15 miles from where we were living. How amazing!
SoJo meeting other sangha (community) members of the front porch

Chris and I helped build the zendo (meditation hall) that you see in the photos. There was already a house on the property, but there wasn't a room large enough for meditation. Genro and some of the other sangha (EMZ community members) began working in the fall, shortly after purchasing the property, which pushed construction into the winter.

Let me just say that it's freezing out there in winter, since EMZ is located in a little valley or hollow. There were days and nights when it was sleeting and we were out there pounding nails and hoping the drywall seams would cure under the portable heater. I helped a little, but Chris and Genro did a lot of the work, mostly because we lived close by, since many of the sangha members live around Philly or New York.
The zendo's shell. That's me on the right hand side of the right side window, and Chris sitting in the doorway on the left

Somehow the zendo got built, and Chris still has the chipped front tooth from a stray hammer as a souvenir. The zendo has been the site of many meditation retreats and other events. Like I said, we got married there, much to the puzzled looks of my parents and siblings, who are Catholic.

Yesteday was really lovely. There was meditation, chanting, some meaningful talks on EMZ, a wonderfully yummy vegetarian buffet prepared by one amazing woman, and a silent auction, which generated lots of money for EMZ. I'm so happy that people bid on my silk scarf, and knitted scarf and hat set. We got to catch up with old friends and feel a part of something again. With SoJo and, prior to him, our jobs, it's been hard to make the 2-hour drive up there very often.
Here are a few photos from the day.
SoJo and his Dada (zendo in the background)

Mama and SoJo

Yayoi (a resident nun), Genro (our teacher) and Soren
{not a great photo, since the light was coming from behind, but in real life it was gorgeous!}

I wish I had taken some photos of the zendo interior, but you can go HERE to see some more. Our wedding picture's in the Sangha Life Gallery.

Happy 10th Anniversary Endless Mountain Zendo! May you have many, many more!

5 comments:

  1. I find it really interesting that Buddhism here has really become intertwined with anamistic/folk beliefs. Like you said; Buddhism doesn't actually involve worshiping Buddha, but that is what people do here. It isn't textbook buddhism. It is a mish-mash of folk beliefs that they put label on. I mean they even call themselves Buddhists. Kind of like how Catholics in rural Mexico have a different kind of thing going on than Catholics in another country.

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  2. Is that the same center where you were married?

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  3. Thanks for sharing--what a wonderful community to be a part of. I really, really need to make meditation a part of my life.

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  4. The Zendo story is very interesting and I love your history with it but I must admit, all I'm doing is thinking how totally adorable SoJo looks in his little big guy outfit. What a cutie!

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