When I went to Massachusetts in 1975 with two of my dharma brothers, Uchiyama Roshi said that we should not advertise our group in an attempt to collect money and gather people. Rather, we should just sit quietly. I think Uchiyama Roshi’s admonition came from small desire and knowing enough. We should focus on the most essential and genuine practice without greedy mind.

I have heard from some people who have participated in fundraising activities at various Zen Centers. They often say that they didn’t have time to practice zazen because fundraising activities used up all the time and energy they had for Dharma.

Let me restate my questions:

Is it possible to work on fundraising for Sanshin practice center with “small desire” and “knowing enough?”

How can each person ask for, and how can each person make, a donation without three poisonous minds (greed, anger-hatred, and ignorance), especially greed?

How will individuals avoid ill feelings if other people do not agree with, or cannot help, Sanshin Zen Community?

For those moments in which our ignorance presents itself, how will individuals prevent that attitude from clinging to Sanshin as a larger ego?

Certainly, a center and practice established with an attitude of the three poisonous minds cannot nurture the three minds (magnanimous mind, tender or parental mind, and joyful mind) in the place and people practicing there. Instead, in a community that creates samsara because of poisoned practice, people will feel pain and difficulties. Each individual will need to discover his or her own answers to these questions.

In the Buddhist tradition, we have two methods of fundraising. One is takuhatsu (begging) and the other is kanjin (asking for donation). When Dogen Zenji founded his first monastery, Koshoji, in Kyoto, he wrote an appeal for fundraising (kanjin). A copy of his appeal still remains and some of his talks about establishing a practice place are recorded in Shobogenzo-Zuimonki. I will write elsewhere about the principle of takuhatsu, that is, the inner attitude we need to maintain to do takuhatsu appropriately [please see section in this newsletter entitled “Dharma Inquiry”].

Please consider for yourself how to create a practice center and community of practitioners without giving rise to the three poisonous minds. Please feel free to provide me with your ideas at the address below. In the meantime, the Sanshin Board of Directors and I will continue to discuss regional practice events, which might include activities suitable for a Sanshin practice center, and how to conduct fundraising. Based on people’s opinions and ideas, the Board will be able to make decisions about realistic steps to reach the goals I listed for the community at the beginning of this letter.

I would like this letter to promote communication among as many people as possible that are interested in helping Sanshin.

Thank you very much for your aspiration to work and practice together for the sake of the Dharma in this country for the next century. I hope all of you are in good health and that things are going well with you and your families.

A final note: the office of the Soto Zen Education Center will move to Sokoji temple in San Francisco, probably in July. So, I will move to San Francisco. I am considering living at the San Francisco Zen Center so that I can walk to Sokoji. I am discussing this possibility with Blanche Hartman, the abbess of the Zen Center. Moving again? More and more, I feel that I am homeless. When my job at the Education Center is done in three and a half years, I wish to settle down at a place where I can stay and practice with others.

Shohaku Okumura
April 1999

Please send comments or questions to: Shohaku Okumura, Soto Zen Education Center, Soto Zen Education Center, 123 S. Hewitt St., Los Angeles, CA, 90012;
fax: (213) 617-0200.

I may relay your comments and questions to the Board of Directors or other practitioners, unless you indicate a preference otherwise.

« Part II
Dharma inquiry »

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