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April 18

As you can see from the picture we were getting ready to place the last piece of sheet rock in the zendo!!

Sheet rocking gangSheet rocking gang

The Sunday sheet rock crew of Evan, Lowell, Susan, and I worked from 9 to 7 to get the work done.  In the afternoon a request went out for some more help and John B. and Margaret joined us then Hogen arrived and added some urgency to our work.


Well done. This crew was hard worked to the very last screw was safely in place.  Thank you all for helping to pull off this sheet rock miracle.


Great new!  We got a couple of donations and will now hire a crew to do the mudding, taping, and texturing.  They will start this week.


The big tie rods will go in today and we will then focus on cleaning the ceiling, painting the zendo and of course gardening.


Gassho many times,




A Sheet Rocking Day!
A Sheet Rocking Day!
April 16

April 16, 2011


Sparks flew at Heart of Wisdom today and the work practice crew did a tremendous job in completing the insulating and getting the sheet rock well on the way to completion.


Thanks to all who came out and worked so diligently....Evan, Brad, Teiko, Doug, Rob. H, David R, Darah, Susan, Ryushin, Fred, Gensho, Zac, Jerzy, Wayne, Danno and Hogen who has worked at Heart of Wisdom all week until he couldn't work any more then he came back on Saturday.


Teiko and David R.: Tools of the tradeTeiko and David R.: Tools of the trade

Besides working on the insulation and sheet rock, Wayne was there to look at the wainscotting which once planed looks very nice.  Danno was there to coordinate the painting.  Zac and Jersey are getting the long tie rods together...that is why sparks were flying as two 20 ft. rods were welded together.  Michael Hull came by to begin a plan to approach business to help with our outside projects.

Wayne and Susan: Before and AfterWayne and Susan: Before and After



We also have some new beautiful plants donated by Nan and Allen with Robert and Evan's help in transporting them.


It really lifts my heart to see all the hard work and dedication that is going into Heart of Wisdom. 


Thank you everyone!!


Metta and gasho,







We will have another work practice tomorrow Sunday April 17 9 - 3:00 with the hopes of finishing the sheet rock.  We decided to have a professional crew come in and do that part.  We got a good price and a $1,000 donation!

Work Practice Follow Up
Work Practice Follow Up
April 12


WHAT A DAY OF WORK on Saturday April 9, 2011!!
We got very much accomplished in the new zendo and in the garden....But let's step back a bit for an update before the work day.
During the week before we worked with our floor expert  and decided to have the zendo floor taken up professionally.  They cleaned, denailed and bundled it and took it to an industrial place where the floor will be planed.  It will be ready for installation when we have the zendo completed.
We also decided to take off all of the wainscoting in order to sheet rock and insulate the whole of the zendo.
 The zendo was very empty and fairly clean on Saturday morning.  Then the many people from the Sangha arrived and work energy arose and arose and arose until it finally disappear at the end of the day.  This is what we accomplished:
  1. 60 sheets of sheet rock and 30 big bales of insulation were unloaded from the truck to the zendo
  2. Most of the zendo is insulated
  3. New blocks were cut and put in place between the studs in the zendo...almost completed
  4. Sheetrock was put up in about 1/2 of the zendo
At the same time:
  1. A yard of compost was delivered and spread throughout the garden area
  2. Grass was removed to make a new area for plants along the back west part of our property
  3. Conical apples tress were planted
  4. Many, many plants found their new homes
  1. Carrie worked on a non toxic way of removing paint in the stairway area
  2. Half of the wainscoting was denailed
  3. Lots of cleaning and things moved and organized
Neighbors dropped by, people worked, talked, ate, learned new skills and enjoyed the day.  And the weather was beautiful!
Thanks to the folks from Great Vow and the food that they brought.  We now have a microwave so lunch is much easier to prepare.
Saturday Worker Bees:
Kojun, Kotetsu, Betty, Sam
Brad, Ryushin, Lowell, Tony, Bansho, Gensho, Zac, Fred, Greg, Julie, David Weiss, 
Fuho, Carrie, Barry, Evan, David E., Nestor, Seiko
Nan, Matthew, Roberta, Levi, Steven, Elise, Eimyo, Jason, Heather,
Hogen and Kodo
Please let me know if I missed anyone.
THANKS TO EVERYONE for today's work and those who helped get things ready (Robert, Doug, Zac, Nan and Allen)!!!
Another great day....we are on target to have enough completed to move in June.
Our next work practice will be on Saturday April 16 and Sunday April 17 to complete the insulation and sheet rock projects.  If that gets finished we will start cleaning the ceiling. 

Thank you and many bows,



Work Practice
Work Practice
April 5

Saturday April 9 from 9:00 to 3:00 enjoy working with the sangha to insulate the zendo or work in the garden at Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple, 6401 NE 10th.


Everyone is invited to experience a Saturday of rehab on our new home or work in the garden.  I can find work for you no matter what your skill level or confidence may be.  Wear work clothes and bring a lunch.


Any questions email or call Kodo.


April 1 Talent Show
April 1 Talent Show
April 5


Dear Sangha and Friends:

Well, you had to be there to really experience the full array of the Sangh's abilities to entertain, delight and amuse all of us at the Talent Show Fundraiser on Friday night  It was a wonderful evening with wonderful talent (music, poetry, comedy, dance, singing dog, magic and surprise appearances!)  Don't Miss Next Year's!

Thank you to everyone who participated and many thanks to Eimyo and those who organized the event.  The evening went smoothly, we had great food, festive decorations, laughter.  It was an amazing evening.

 My friend emailed the next day and said, "Thanks for the fun evening out! What a fun loving, thoughtful crew."
It is so wonderful to be part of such a dynamic sangha....oh, yes, we raised nearly $12,000 for Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple!!!!!!  Onward to moving in June 2011 to our new home.

With love and gratitude.... and smiles,


Temple Work Day
Temple Work Day
March 21

First and foremost, thank you to: Rob Hoisington, Tony, Nan & Allen, Zach Reiser, Lowell, Eimyo, Chiyu Baker, Fred Pool, Nester, Matt Weigert, Grace Nawakoski, Kishin, and Nan & Allen's family. We also had special visits by Jomon & Bansho, Ken & Cathy Silva, and Sara & Emerson.

We had a great turn out and managed to get a lot accomplished. As Nan mentioned, Jomon donated a LOT of amazing plants from the Chinese Garden's Spring Sale. Allen brought a pick up so he and Rob Hoisington could go to Seiko's friend's house and picked up a truck load of Boxwood plants and another truck load of plants (whose names I don't remember). Nan & Allen, their family, Rob, and Eimyo got them all planted out in record time.

Meanwhile, Tony, Lowell, Zach, Fred loaded up carpet from the Zendo and cleaned up some metal which Allen will take to recycling. Zach and Evan removed support posts from the furnace room this week in order to reset them in firm concrete (the concrete they were in was a hundred years old and of questionable quality). Tony and I sorted the concrete from the rock/dirt pile. Chiyu, Lowell, and Matt fearlessly continued the task of removing linoleum. Chiyu went on to fill the cracks in the Zendo walls to prepare for installing the insulation. Fred was also working on the Zendo wall prep by vacuuming debris from the initial deconstruction phase of the walls.  Nester quietly fixed untold numbers of electrical needs. Matt and Tony organized the various piles of wood in the downstairs main area. Grace, Lowell, and Matt finished a second coating of primer in the old magenta room at the back of the Zendo. Kishin thoroughly cleaned up the stairway and halls. Tony cleaned up the kitchen from it's layer of concrete dust.

There were a great many neighbors passing by while enjoying their Sunday who we got to greet.

Thank you to everyone for sharing your life energy, and supporting what is turning into a beautiful temple. May it be an offering to all.


Words from Hogen
Words from Hogen
March 18

Dear Sangha,

There is so much in the news that reminds me of the first noble observation of Buddhism: that there are problems, serious problems everywhere.  From the giant catastrophes such as the earthquake in Japan, the violence in Libya and the 450,000 people displaced by civil war in the Ivory Coast to one family’s struggles with illness and joblessness. Everywhere we turn we are reminded that no one is safe from difficulty and distress.  It is almost impossible not to become anxious when we look honestly at the possible disruptions and challenges that we are facing and may have to face.  What hope do we have?  How can we live?  What can we rely upon?

One thing is certain, that when confronted with life’s very real challenges, knowing theories about timeless wisdom is no help.  When we are laying in bed at night and overwhelming anxiety wells up in our hearts, knowing how we ‘should’ respond does not help.  When we are hungry even world class photos of food are not filling.  Rocked by trauma, how we are ‘supposed’ to feel, what we ‘should’ understand, what we ‘think’ we know, is of little support.  A real catastrophe washes away all our hopes, dreams, shoulds and oughts.

For me, this is when spiritual practice becomes extremely compelling.  Usually, our spiritual and psychological lives revolve around how to be more happy, effective or successful. But when we know death is coming (and a lot sooner than we hoped) there are more urgent questions: “What is it that is alive right here?”  “Where can I turn for help?” “What is real right now?”  “Who is the one who is suffering?”  “What is the truth that is always present?”  When we are compelled to ask these questions no one else’s answers are of any use.  What we have read, believe or been told will not do!  We must know for ourselves!

Of course, writing about this matter requires words and so it seems that these questions are intellectual and require thinking.  These questions are like the finger pointing at the moon. The words only direct our attention to what is more intimate than words.  What is more intimate than words is our direct experience.  It is not a particular experience.  We naturally meet crises with an intense aliveness, a compelling demand from deep inside us to look at what is real.  It may present as anxiety, or numbness,  anger, deep depression, or curiosity, but whatever our experience our attention is caught.  It is our deepest life saying, “pay attention!”

This is what we can always take refuge in – the compelling experience of being alive.  This experience is the essence of all seeing, hearing and feeling.  It permeates all body, emotions and thought.  In fact everything that comes forward whether we regard it as magnificent or dreadful comes from the same source.  No matter what comes towards us or from within us, this is our ultimate refuge.

This attention to the source of life is a refuge available at all times, in every place.  But we must practice and recognize it.  Initially we have to learn to turn our attention away from our thoughts and conceptual mind.  We let the churning of our minds still, like allowing the mud to settle so we can see the water.  But, then we turn our awareness to seeing both mud and water, to seeing thought and the space in which it is held.   We experience life and creation, death and destruction and the space in which they are held.  We see ourselves respond completely too each changing condition.  And whether our responses are skillful or unskillful they are all held in the dreamlike nature of our own life.  This is the essence of practice.  This is refuge.

Hogen Bays
Co-Abbot Great Vow Zen Monastery


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A Letter to Japan
A Letter to Japan
March 16

As the unbelievable pictures come in on our computer screens, our hearts are filled with sadness and prayers for those tens of thousands who have died, those who are injured and those who grieve.
An entire nation turned upside down. What can we say?

In ancient times, entire villages were wiped out by earthquake and tsunami. Maybe only the few people who survived could tell about it and remember it. But now we all can see it, the ferocious power of nature, of the sea. Those huge waves carrying away a vast jumble of tens of thousands of cars, houses, trucks, boats, greenhouses, human bodies, buses, all the accumulated human junk and treasures, grandmothers, babies, even an entire University. We will never forget it.

And then, for the only nation on the earth that has suffered attacks by nuclear weapons, to be under the threat of a nuclear disaster. It is unbelievable.

As Buddhists we cannot take refuge in this being part of God’s inscrutable plan, or even in the notion of God’s wrath for a planet not cared for. We take refuge in something that is hard for many to understand. We take refuge in the truth of impermanence. As the Buddha said to his weeping disciples as he lay dying, ” All compounded things will fall apart and be gone.” Over centuries, or in a flash. When our lives rest on that foundation, on the strange and strong foundation of constant change, then our lives are anchored in truth.

“Vast ocean of dazzling light, marked by the waves of coming and going, being born and dying.” We chant this at our memorial services. This week we have all seen it in action. We practice to be able to balance wisdom and compassion.

The wisdom eye sees constant change, even tsunami, as normal, as expected, as part of how IT IS. At the same time our tender hearts feel acutely the pain of human suffering on an unimaginable scale, and we are moved to do what little we can to help. The small blessing of a natural disaster is that there is no one to blame. The earth shrugged, a huge amount of water was displaced, and it flowed where it could. With no energy wasted on blame, everyone can work together to help.

At least know that we are chanting every day for those who have died and are suffering. We will also donate through various organizations including Red Cross and Soto Shu, to help in any small way.

We had a young monk visiting here for a month at the monastery. He flew home last week, arriving on the day of the earthquake. His home temple is in Fukushima. We have no news about him or his family.We have no news of Abe-san and his temple members, who worked with us on the Jizos for Peace Project.

Our thoughts are constantly with everyone in Japan.

In love and sadness,


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