Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei offering incense
eMirror Vol 26, No. 32
Friday, August 5th
Edited by the Practice Council
The White Wind Zen Community:
An international community practising and teaching Dogen’s Zen since 1985.
You can of course enliven and explore the sense of smell through burning incense. Incense is burned at Dainen-ji not merely as an air freshener, although lesser grades of incense can be used in washrooms and toilet areas, or when nasty smells linger in the hallways. On the whole, incense is used as an offering to the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha or Awareness, what arises with Awareness, and the seamless intimacy of this. However incense is also burned recreationally, that is to say, simply for the joy of appreciating the nuances of the fragrances. The incenses that are used here are derived from aromatic woods and resins rather than from floral sources. There is a wide spectrum of qualities of incense. Although the raw materials for most incense come from South East Asia and occasionally India, I prefer to use incense that has been crafted in Japan or at least according to Japanese methods by an experienced house.
Incense has been burned in Japan since at least the 600s and the same kind of care and attention to detail has been paid to its processing as Japanese artists, artisans, and craftspeople have brought to wood joinery, textiles, and design elements. Over time, a similar kind of attention was brought to the appreciation or mon of koh, incense. Interestingly, the phrase mon-koh, which derives from the Chinese wenxiang, means “listening” rather than smelling incense. And the various terms used to describe the qualities of fragrances derive from the rokumi, the six tastes, with the exclusion for some reason of mild. So various kinds of koh are said to have five qualities: sweet (like honey or syrup), sour (like the taste of acidic foods), hot (like a seared chile), salty (like an ocean breeze or seaweed drying over flames), and bitter (like boiling medicinal herbs). Although this reflects the general paucity of languages in their regard for the qualities of fragrances in their own right, something called the Way of Incense or Kohdo developed.
Whether this is an art form or simply deep appreciation is up to question. In a kohdo ceremony, charcoal is heated and then placed in sand in a small brazier, often a bowl similar to a bowl for sencha, leaf rather than powdered tea or macha. A piece of mica is placed over this to prevent the incense from merely burning away. Then incense, in the form of rolled pearls or as a powder is placed on the mica. Small chips of the aromatic woods used to make incense can also be used. Once the incense begins to heat, the brazier or censor is raised with the right hand and then is placed to rest in the left palm. The right hand is cupped over the mouth of the bowl and it is raised to the nose. The hand is lifted slightly and a few gentle inhalations convey the fragrance. The head is turned away to exhale so as not to scatter ash or blow the pearl or chip from the mica. This is repeated several times and then the bowl is placed before the next person. Often a succession of different kinds of koh are burnt. This is the simplest form of kohdo.
Sometimes kumikoh or the incense game is played. The host of the ceremony or game provides a title to the event which provides a literary or seasonal reference, for example part of Basho’s poetry journal Narrow Road to Hokkaido. Following monkoh or listening to the incense the participants record their impressions or to compose a poem, perhaps on each of the different kinds of koh that have been presented. At the end of the game, the host reveals the scene or event that was portrayed through the succession of fragrances. The point of the game is the skill with which the host constructs and portrays the series of impressions and allusions and the sensitivity with which the guests follow the series and understand the scenes of the journey that have been conveyed.
The word koh comes from jinkoh, the Japanese word for aloeswood resin or resinous woodchips. There are six grades of jinkoh and it is highly prized and often highly priced. Other woods such as sandalwood, various roots, musk, myrrh, frankincense and other resins are often used. Floral scents are uncommon except for modern room freshener kinds of incense for their cloying, rather high-pitched quality.
The smoke rising and curling from an incense stick. The fragrance of a crushed tarragon leaf. The taste of water. Where do these all take place? What are they showing you about who you are?
-Ven Anzan Hoshin roshi, continuing Class Five: "It Becomes You" in the series "Zen Arts: The Flowering of the Senses", October 1999 Daruma-ki O-sesshin, Dainen-ji.
Fusatsu: August 10th and 24th.
August Two-day Sesshin:
The August two-day sesshin will begin on Friday, August 12th at 8:00 p.m. and will end on Sunday, August 14th at 6:00 p.m.
Dogen-ki (August 28th)
Dogen-ki August 28th is Dogen-ki, the memorial of Eihei Dogen zenji's death.
The next Samu Weekend will take place on August 27th and 28th. Each day begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 6:00 p.m. Please pencil these dates into your calendar so that you will be able to attend some or all of this weekend of samu practice. Saigyo ino will be writing soon to students with more details about the activities taking place over the weekend. To register please send an email to Saigyo ino at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Roshi is currently in an extended period of "self-isolation" due to underlying health issues until the COVID-19 situation clarifies.
Beginning Instruction in Zen Practice:
For information concerning our Long-distance Training Program, please visit this Web Page: https://wwzc.org/long-distance-training-program
Rev. Chiso anagarika sat her weekly semi-retreat on Tuesday, August 2nd at her home in the Berkshires. Jessica Mui, visiting from her home in Hong Kong, sat a partial retreat on Friday, July 29th at Dainen-ji. Thach Hoang sat a one-day retreat from Friday, July 29th to Saturday, July 30th at his home in Laval, Quebec. Aaron Ford sat a two-day retreat on Friday, July 29th and Saturday, July 30th at his home in Calgary, Alberta. Brian Lakeman sat a half-day retreat on Sunday, July 31st at his home in Brampton, Ontario. Beth Buerkle sat a partial retreat on Sunday, July 31st at her home in Chamcook, New Brunswick. George Donovan sat a partial retreat on Wednesday, August 3rd at Dainen-ji.
If you would like to sit a retreat at home please follow the schedule outlined in this page: https://wwzc.org/retreat-schedule-public-students. After your retreat, please send an email to email@example.com to confirm that you sat a retreat and include the duration and location.
Retreats at Dainen-ji
Although the monastery is not open to associate and general students for scheduled sittings, if you would like to sit a retreat at Dainen-ji, that is now possible.
You would need to schedule your retreat a week in advance. You will also need to get a rapid antigen Covid test done the day before you arrive and email us to let us know that you are Covid negative.
You will need to wear an N-95 mask while in the monastery. This link will let you know where you can pick up a free rapid antigen test https://covid-19.ontario.ca/rapid-test-locator
During the retreat, where the timing occurs along with scheduled sittings, you would join monastics and formal students in the Hatto on the second floor and wear a mask as we all do. During the other periods, you would sit in the Zendo on the first floor and would not wear a mask unless there are other students present.
You can sit a partial retreat, half-day retreat or full retreat for one or more days (providing you stay in the monastery and do not leave). The duration of retreats is as follows:
You would need to arrive 15 minutes before the actual starting time. Begin at 6:00 a.m., end at noon. Or begin at 9:30 a.m., end at 6:00. Or begin at 3:00 p.m., end at 9:10.
You would need to arrive 15 minutes before the actual starting time. Begin at 6:00 a.m., end at 6:00 p.m. Or begin at 9:30 a.m., end at 9:10 p.m.
You would need to arrive by 5:45 a.m. Begin at 6:00 a.m., end at 9:10 p.m.
Please remember to bring a change of clothes suitable for samu (caretaking practice). If staying overnight, please remember to bring a sleeping bag, a towel and other such necessities. If you have been diagnosed by a medical doctor as having allergies to specific foods, please contact the tenzo-anja, mishin godo at mishin at gmail dot com, a week in advance of your retreat to inform her of dietary restrictions as this affects food purchases and meal planning. The suggested dana for retreats is $50 for a full day or $40 for a partial day, which covers the basic cost of food and other materials. Donations above this figure are very welcome and all donations are tax deductible.
If you would like to schedule a retreat, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monastery Room for Rent
Framing for the new room showing a nearby small kitchen area. A washroom is located to the far right and to the left is the entrance to the rooftop garden and seating area.
We are in the process of building a new room in the monastery which will be available for rent in the Autumn. If you would like to engage in a period of long-term training, please contact Mishin godo at email@example.com for further details.
It is recommended for students thinking of moving into the monastery to engage in a period of temporary residential training (a week, two weeks, a month or so) before making the decision to move in permanently. Students living in the monastery are required to attend all of the scheduled sittings, so you need to be practising as a general student to meet this requirement.
Recorded Teachings Schedule
Saturday, August 6th to Saturday, August 13th
Saturday, August 6th: "Bodymind of the Way: Zen Master Anzan Hoshin's Commentaries on Eihei Dogen zenji's "Shinjin Gakudo":"Arising and Disappearing" (17 of 17)
Sunday, August 7th: SAkN “Root Cycle Five” by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi: “Just This” (teisho 5 of 5)
Monday, August 8th: “Every Breath You Take” by Ven. Shikai Zuiko o-sensei: “Seeing People in a Forest" (Dharma Talk 101)
Thursday, August 11th: "The Dragon in His Waters, the Tiger in Her Mountains, part 2" by Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei (2 of 3)
Saturday, August 13th: “Wild Time: Zen Master Anzan Hoshin's commentaries on “Uji: Being Time” by Eihei Dogen zenji: Reading of “Uji: Being Time” (1 of 13)
Listening to Teisho and Dharma Talks
Associate and general students should continue to follow the recorded Teachings schedule for the sitting you were attending at the monastery, and listen to that during your home practice.
You can access the online Recorded Teachings Library at wwzc.org/recorded-teachings-schedule.
You can also use the streaming site at app.wwzc.org to live stream recordings from the online Library. If you have forgotten your password or need assistance with accessing the recorded Teachings, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that teisho should be listened to in the correct order and with none missed out as themes, metaphors, questions raised and answered evolve in spirals throughout the series.
Recorded Teachings for Public Access
While most of the online Recorded Teachings library is password-protected and only accessible to students of the Lineage of Zen Master Anzan Hoshin, a small selection of MP3 recordings of teisho are accessible to the public at wwzc.org/recorded-teachings Additional recordings will be uploaded periodically. MP3 recordings of four recorded teisho by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi are currently available:
Dharma Position https://wwzc.org/dharma-position
Eyes See, Ears Hear https://wwzc.org/eyes-see-ears-hear
Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi's reading of his translation of Eihei Dogen zenji's “Bendowa: A Talk on Exerting the Way”: https://wwzc.org/bendowa-talk-exerting-way
Translations and Texts
Photograph of Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi at Daijozan, mid-1980s,
by Ven. Shikai Zuiko sensei
Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi has recently completed translation work on some shorter texts by Eihei Dogen zenji from the Shobogenzo. The work on these particular texts is based upon the literal translations that he worked on with Joshu Dainen roshi at Hakukaze-ji around 1977-78 followed by many years of putting them down, picking them up, and polishing. Naturally, more essential texts such as Uji, Genjokoan, Shinjin Gakudo and some 40 others were completed first and have been given extensive commentaries by the Roshi. This batch of texts includes Baike: Plum Blossoms, Ryugin: Howling Dragon, and Udonge: The Udumbara Blossoming and many others are nearing completion. Annotation details and successfully conveying them across various document formats are the issue at this point.
Work on Bussho: Buddha Nature, a very long and nuanced text by Dogen zenji, is ongoing.
Roshi is also finishing an update to the Saijo Shingi: The Deportment of Radiance, our manual of monastic training standards which is a supplement to the ancient Eihei Shingi and Keizan Shingi.
(do not satisfy hunger)
Begun by Ven. Shikai Zuiko o-sensei
Finished by Rev. Fushin Comeau shramon following her death
Teishõ (J): "Tei" means to pick up or to carry; "shõ" means to present or proclaim. A formal discourse of a Zen teacher used to stir up recognition in students.
Posted July 22nd, 2022. New entries are posted every two weeks.
Office of the Tenzo
Dogen zenji taught in the Tenzo kyokun: Instructions for the Tenzo (https://wwzc.org/dharma-text/tenzo-kyokun-instructions-tenzo) that the work of preparing and serving meals is "a matter for realized monks who have the mind of the “. or by senior disciples who have roused the Way-seeking mind." In alignment with this, part of Zen Master Anzan Hoshin's samu for the Community involves personally overseeing the activities of the ancient office of tenzo. Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei serves as tenzo and Mishin godo and Saigyo ino offer assistance as tenzo-anja. The following meals were prepared on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings for residents:
Thai white and brown rice; bulgogi tofu (sauteed medium-firm tofu, poblano and red bell peppers, Spanish onion, bulgogi sauce, shoyu); baechu kimchi.
Thai white and brown Jasmine rice; red Thai curry (reduced coconut milk, chopped Spanish onions, carrots, San Marzano tomatoes, poblano and jalapeno peppers, bamboo shoots, bok choy stems, red Thai curry paste, lime juice); salad of Romaine and leaf lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, thinly sliced red onions, with a dressing made from peanut butter, lime juice, coriander powder, shoyu, minced garlic, and honey.
Calrose brown rice with fresh peas (donated by Shigemi); carrot-miso soup (garlic, ginger, chopped carrots, apple, leeks, tomato, cumin, cayenne, sweet paprika, turmeric, coconut cream); flat beans and bok choy sauteed with minced garlic.
If you would like to thank someone for a contribution they have made, please feel free to send an email to Jinmyo sensei at rengezo@gmail dot com, but be sure to type "eMirror” in the subject line.
From Mishin godo:
Thank you to Shigemi Ichino for fresh picked snow peas, sugar snap peas and flat beans that made a lovely addition to this week’s meals.
From Fushin shuso:
Thank you to Jinmyo sensei for consistently exceptional meals, especially the thai red tomato curry this week. Thank you to Mishin godo for the delicious cherry tomatoes grown on the Monastery roof garden and used in the red curry this week. Thank you to Saigyo ino for purchasing squirrel resistant bird feeders.
From Pablo Melchor:
Thank you to Saigyo ino for welcoming me upon arriving at Dainen-ji and giving me the necessary guidance to get started with my retreat. Thank you to Mishin godo for a practice interview, frequent guidance throughout the day and delicious and wholesome meals. Thank you to Jinmyo sensei for supper and for the experiences and encouraging guidance shared in daisan.