A Carnage of Compassion
ACZC Happenings, 11/25 - 12/1
“We don't downplay it. We don't sit here and say, ‘what I'm feeling isn't real and doesn't matter.’ It's this weird technique where it's like - no, no, go all in on it and take it very, very seriously …with an enormous grain of salt.” - Dave Cuomo
We hope y’all had a wonderful day of gratuitous gratitudes yesterday for all who celebrate such things. And for those who don’t, well, we hope you had a wonderful of gratuitous gratitude just because.
But speaking of abundance and profuse thank yous, the big news for today is that our Year End Fall Fundraiser is up! And hosted this year by our Marvelous Monster of Compassion herself, the 1000 Eyed 1000 Handed Avalokiteshvara, She Who Hears the Cries of the World (to her friends) as depicted by our graphics department in full glory above*, and available to say thank you herself on some of our many great thank you rewards for your kind donations this year.
But first, a huge shout out and thank you to everyone who donates and supports us all year. It’s amazing that we’ve been able to be open and do everything we’ve been able to do in this year thanks entirely to you. We are entirely small donor funded, and always operate on a pay what you can no one turned away system, which is the only way we’d ever want to run things. But, the truth is we lose a slightly scary amount of money every month paying the bills and rent to stay open in Los Angeles and the only way we’re able to keep going is by having these fundraisers and trying to make up the shortfall.
This year we need to raise $10,000 to keep things going, so everything you can contribute is a huge help! Also in 2024 we need to send our caretaker back to Japan, not just for more stories (though we’ll take those…), but also to complete his training and get fully licensed so that we can remain a legitimate Zen Center able to write “Zen” on the sign with a straight face.
And yes, we do have great rewards this year to say thank you! We are told our friendly caretaker wandered around the monastery during his last stint surreptitious recorder in hand to create some brand new ringtones for you with the Toshoji Expansion Pack to our original bell series, made up of all sorts of real live monastery bells, boards, and whistles. We’ve also got some epic zipper canvas bags adorned with our Marvelous Compassion Monster, and of course the 2024 full color original art ACZC Wall Calendar featuring full color prints of the best of the art you’ve seen in the newsletter this year, and we’ve also got a few one of a kind original hand painted wall scrolls to say a really big thank you to a special few of you who want to snag ‘em.
Please check it all out over on the website and help out how you can, if you can! But most importantly, whether you can donate or not, thank you for everything you do all year, thank you for being a part or our little community, and most importantly, thank you for being.
And speaking of getting what you really truly want (and/or need), this week on the podcast we are very pleased to bring you A Carnage of Compassion pt 1 (Compassion Monsters & the 5 Skandas) w/ Dave Cuomo. Dave gives us a pep talk for the deep practice of retreat (and in general) while introducing our theme for the season - the Compassion Monster, aka a Carnage of Compassion, aka the truth that everything you do, in all of your inglorious incarnations, has great value for everyone whether you believe it or not. It’s a mashup of pie in the sky mystery along with brass tacks basic technique for how we might start to notice that undeniably. Can we be any better for the world if we tried? Can we grow up AND stay weird? How should we respond to the things that go bump in the night? Find out here!
Up now at http://aczc.org/aczcpodcast or on all your favorite podcast platforms.
*our graphics department also wanted to follow up on the speech bubble on the left of the image there. As confirmed by our Chinese and Kanji speaking friends, the characters read, “Tell me what you want, what you really, truly want.” Apparently these bodhisattvas are spicy…
And hey, here’s a koan for the week:
Case in point:
A monk asked Qianfeng, “The Great Saints are on a road that leads straight to the gates of Nirvana. But where‘s the road?”
Qianfeng drew a line in the air with his cane and said, “It’s right here.”
The monk went and asked Yunmen the same question.
Yunmen said, “This fan can fly up to the highest heaven and hit Indra, Emperor of the Gods, on the nose. If you hit the Sacred Carp of the Eastern Sea just once, the rain will pour down in buckets. Get it??”
This Week in Zen! All times posted in Pacific time zone, all sessions hosted in person and on Zoom unless otherwise marked (email us for quick and easy Zoom access info):
Saturday - 11/25 at 10am
Sit & Talk w/ Emily Eslami - Our biggest day of the week! Two half hour rounds of zazen, and then Emily is back with another installment in her series on Shunryu Suzuki’s classic, Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind. And for all of you non-beginner’s out there, don’t worry, you’ll get there eventually. See y’all there!
Monday - 11/27 at 7:30pm
Sit & Talk w/ Leon Sandler - One half hour of zazen and then Leon takes the hot seat for a mashup of some early Buddhism with some deep classic Zen, taking on the Four Noble Truths and Dogen’s classic Instructions for Zazen. Can zazen help us get what we really want? Or maybe start by helping us figure out what that is? Let’s find out.
Wednesday - 11/29 at 7:30pm (Zoom Only)
Sit & Koan Discussion W/ Leon Sandler - A monk wants to follow in the footsteps of the great saints, but he seems to have lost the trail. Can Qianfeng point him back to the wide and winding way? Will Yunmen’s fire and feist call down a torrent of dharma rain?? Let’s find out.
Thursday - 11/30 at 7pm (Zoom Only)
Yoga & Zazen w/ Nina Snow - Nina is back to help us wind down our weeks with one hour of Slow Flow Zen Yoga, followed by one half hour of a delightful evening’s zazen. Join us!
Friday - 12/1 at 8am
Chanting & Zen Breakfast - This week! We chant the Heart Sutra in English followed by Sengcan’s Seussian ode to choosing the side of being on everyone’s side (or no side at all) - the Trusting the Mind Inscription. Poetry for the ages! And then stick around for ACZC’s fresh hot take on traditional Zen breakfast (house milled multi grain porridge - now with almonds and apricots! mmm…). A nutritious (and delicious) part of this complete practice. Let’s dig in.
Tuesday - Friday, 7am - 8am
Morning Sit - One simple hour of what we do best - just sitting. Optional five minute stretch break offered in the middle.
See y’all soon!