Four Blind Men Visited the Elephant

Posted on May 25 , 2011 in Blog

Four blind men went to the zoo and visited the elephant. One blind man touched its side and said, “The elephant is like a wall.” The next blind man touched its trunk and said, “The elephant is like a snake.” The next blind man touched its leg and said, “The elephant is like a column.” The last blind man touched its tail and said, “The elephant is like a broom.” Then the four blind men started to fight, each one believing that his opinion was the right one. Each only understood the part he had touched; none of them understood the whole.


Zen and the Art of Living

Posted on May 19 , 2011 in Blog & Buddha Enlightenment Ceremony and Retreat & Newsletter

July 16 – 29. Register for one day or for the entire program.  To register for your retreat online – fill out the retreat registration form.

Non-Members – $65/day – $820/whole retreat

Members – $45/day – $560/whole retreat

Dharma Teachers – $35/day – $440/whole retreat

You can download and print the Zen and the Art of Living PDF here.

Special Guest Colin Beavan will be leading workshops July 23rd -24th! He is the author featured in the film “No Impact Man” and a dharma teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen.

“Colin Beavan is a liberal schlub who got tired of listening to himself complain about the world without ever actually doing anything about it…”

-from noimpactman.typepad.com

Other classes and workshops will include: • Organic Farming & Gardening • Pita & Bread Making  • Yoga  • Kong An & Consulting Interviews  • Dharma Talks • Sutra Workshops  • One Day Retreat  • Kido  • Bonfires  • Work & Community Practice

Experience Zen Center life and how to apply Zen to your everyday life.For more information please email director@providencezen.org or call 401-658-1464.


In addition to regularly scheduled morning and evening practice:

Saturday July 16 – Intro / Orientation.

Sunday July 17 – 9:30AM – 3:30PM One Day Meditation Retreat. Orientation for first time participants begins at 9AM.

Monday July 18 – 8:30AM Organic Gardening Day with Garden Master, David Barstis. 4 – 5PM Yoga with Theresa Murphy, PZC Resident. http://theresamurphy.net/

Tuesday July 19 – Bread Making Workshop 8:30 AM – 2:00PM with PZC Resident and Dharma Teacher Diana Starr Daniels

Wednesday July 20 – Garden Work Period 8:30 – 10:00AM, 1:30PM Dharma Talk with Zen Master Bon Haeng (Mark Houghton), 4 – 5PM Yoga with Theresa Murphy, PZC Resident. http://theresamurphy.net/ , 7:00PM Kong An interviews with Jose Ramirez, JDPSN after special chanting.

Thursday July 21 – 8AM – 4PM South County Farm Day, road trip to Nancy Hedgpeth, JDPSN’s farm for work practice.

Friday July 22 – Kido 9AM – 12PM Chanting with Senior Dharma Teacher Edith Lebowitz, 4 – 5PM Yoga with Theresa Murphy, PZC Resident. http://theresamurphy.net/ , Pita making workshop after Yoga in the afternoon with the Abbot George Hazlbauer.

Saturday July 23 – No Impact Weekend – Workshops with Colin Beavan, author and Dharma Teacher featured in the film “No Impact Man”. http://noimpactman.typepad.com/

Sunday July 24 -No Impact Weekend – Workshops with Colin Beavan, author and Dharma Teacher featured in the film “No Impact Man”. http://noimpactman.typepad.com/

Monday July 25 – Work period in the morning then tea in the morning with Abbot, George Hazlbauer and Kitchen Master Chong Yew. Calligraphy class in the afternoon with Kitchen Master Chong Yew. 4 – 5PM Yoga with Theresa Murphy, PZC Resident. http://theresamurphy.net/

Tuesday July 26 – 10AM – 12PM Kong An interviews with Nancy Hedgpeth, JDPSN and Long Sitting meditation.

Wednesday July 27 – Raising bees and chickens for sustainability with PZC Resident and Dharma Teacher, Diana Starr Daniels. 4 – 5PM Yoga with Theresa Murphy, PZC Resident. http://theresamurphy.net/

Thursday July 28 – Zen and Yoga with Yoga Teacher and PZC Resident, Theresa Murphy and House Master Troy Rapp. http://theresamurphy.net/

Friday July 29 – Sutra Workshop.



2011 Summer Kyol Che

Posted on May 18 , 2011 in Blog & Buddha Enlightenment Ceremony and Retreat & Newsletter

Diamond Hill Monastery

Tuesday August 2nd – 21st

A Kyol Che (“coming together”) is a longer, intensive meditation retreat held in the winter and summer. Held at our Diamond Hill Zen Monastery, it is modeled after the traditional winter and summer retreats in the mountain temples of Korea. For more detailed information, download the Kyol Che Information Booklet (pdf format).

Please register for Kyol Che retreats at least one week in advance.

To register for your retreat online – fill out the retreat registration form.




Purpose of Buddhism

Posted on May 17 , 2011 in Blog

Many centuries ago, the Greek philosopher Socrates used to walk through the streets and marketplaces of Athens, teaching his students. He would say to them, “You must understand yourself! You must understand yourself! You must understand yourself.” Then one day a student said, “Sir, you always say we must understand ourselves. But do you understand yourself?”

“No, I don’t know myself,” Socrates replied. “But I understand this ‘don’t know.’” This is very interesting teaching. Buddhist practice points at the same experience, because most human beings pass through their lives without the slightest sense of what they are.

We understand many things about this world, but we don’t understand ourselves. So why do human beings come into this world? Why do we live in this world? For love? For money? For respect or fame? Do you live for your wife, husband, or children? Why do you live in this world? If someone asked you these question, you might very well answer, “I live for my children. I live to earn enough money for them, or maybe just to have a good life.” Most people think like this. They live only for their family, for some fleeting social respectability, perhaps to enjoy art or to get some powerful position. Everyone wants to have a good situation for themselves. If you look at this world very closely, it is easy to see that most people eat and sleep and live merely for their own personal happiness. Yet these things are not the real purpose of human beings’ life. They are just temporary means for living in the world. If human beings cannot find who they are, how can they ever be truly happy?

From the Comapss of Zen


Runty Has Died

Posted on May 13 , 2011 in Blog

Ji Jang Bosal

The Center had ten, day-old chicks which will provide eggs for the kitchen in the late summer.  One of the chicks was smaller than the others, pale in color and standoffish.  The other chicks would slam past her and sometimes climb right over her to get to the food.  We decided to keep her in a separate box so that she would not have to compete with her more  robust sisters for food and water.  We also focused the heating lamp on her in the hope that she would catch up with the other chicks.  While Hye Soeng was visiting she would hand feed the chick.  Darlene took a special interest in the chick, began to nurse her and named her “Runty.”   Darlene speculated, probably accurately, that the chick’s lungs were not fully developed when she hatched as she seemed to be struggling to breathe and became exhausted from even the simple task of eating.    While I was away at work this weekend, and despite Darlene’s careful ministrations, Runty died.  Darlene took the little chick’s body and placed it under a tree in a quiet part of the woods.  Runty has returned to the universe and we are grateful for the opportunity to ease her passing.  Kwan Seum Bosal.

-Diana Starr Daniels PZC Resident



Correct Life

Posted on May 10 , 2011 in Blog

One, two, three. Where do these numbers come from? You already understand. Children want candy; business people want money; scholars want to become famous. There are many kinds of people and many directions. Where do they finally go? If you attain this point, you attain human nature and universal substance. If you attain universal substance, you can see and hear clearly, and your emotions, will, and wisdom can function correctly. Then your life is correct and you can help all beings. This is called the Great Bodhisattva Way.


From the Whole World is a Single Flower by Zen Master Seung Sahn



Why Did the Chickens Cross the Road?

Posted on May 03 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter

To come to the Providence Zen Center where they can live in a humane, cage-free environment.  PZC has purchased chicks, affectionately dubbed the Dharma Chicks, which will be raised on the grounds and eventually provide eggs to supplement our food budget.  They will be joined shortly by pullets (young laying hens) which will provide eggs immediately for the kitchen.  The chickens are hybrids, a cross between Rhode Island Reds and White Leggins.  They are laying hens bred to produce eggs rather than supply meat.  George will be building a predator-safe Chicken Coop and Darlene Demers will lend her artistic talents to paint and decorate the coop.  Kimball  has volunteered to be the Center’s official egg collector.  Part of the day the chickens will be free-range.  Studies have show that free-range hen eggs are more nutritious and, I would guess, due to the natural and varied diet.  These eggs are a little harder to crack because of the higher level of calcium than store-bought eggs.  The eggs will be washed just before cooking.  Mother hens leave an invisible coating on their eggs that protect them from bacteria.  When the coating is left on, the eggs keep much longer than commercial eggs.  The Center also purchases eggs from a neighbor whose chickens are raised in the same humane, environment.  Stop by and see the Dharma Chicks.  They love visitors!  One more step toward sustainability and living gently on our earth.

-Diana Starr Daniels PZC Resident




Posted on May 02 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter


The Providence Zen Center recently purchased two Honeybee packages from a local bee keeper. Bee packages are 30 pounds of bees and a queen which were installed in hives from Nancy Hedgpeth’s apiary. The hives are located in the far end of the orchard, near the stone wall and away from human traffic. The Center provides an ideal environment for bees with fruit trees, a vegetable and flower garden, water and lots of land on which to forage. The Center’s primary intention is pollination of the orchard and garden and also to help support bees which have become threatened due to loss of habitat and the use of pesticides. Bees are highly sensitive to pesticides and could be viewed as the canaries in the mines. Any honey that is harvested in the Fall is secondary, but also welcome. I wore a recently-purchased bee suit to install the bees which had a complicated way of attaching the veil to the suit. I finally gave up in frustration and just let the veil hang loosely. However, a bee found its way under the veil and began buzzing around my face. I made an undignified exit by sprinting across the orchard, flinging the hat and veil into the wind and smacking at the air. Fortunately no one was around with a video camera to capture this unskilled moment. The bee survived.


-Diana Starr Daniels, PZC Resident


Colin Beavan | Kwan Seum Bosal

Posted on Apr 30 , 2011 in Blog

Colin Beavan in Times Square on November 2, 2010. He is the author featured in the film “No Impact Man” and a dharma teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen. He will be leading workshops at Providence Zen Center July 23-24!



Life is a Kongan

Posted on Apr 27 , 2011 in Blog

Q: Can you talk a little bit about life kong-an’s?
Zen Master Bon Haeng: What is your life?
Q: Just to be here right now.
ZMBH: No thank you. That’s your explanation, not your life kong-an. The fact of the matter is that the real life kong-ans are oftentimes too intense. So we start small, we start with an interview. We start with a situation where we can let our spontaneous nature appear; then we can see if there is a connection – see if a mind to- mind connection takes place. Working with life kongans can be like getting dropped into the NFL- we get banged around pretty hard! Interview is like pee-wee football. It’s just a chance to get a sense for letting go, a sense for opening up to an experience. Some of the kong-ans are 1000 – 1500 years old. For example, Joju was asked about a bridge: “What is the meaning of this bridge?” He answered, “Horses pass, asses pass.” That’s an old kong-an. We might say, “Mercedes pass, Volkswagons pass.” But the quality of the teaching is the same, and the human mind is very similar. Can we open up to the kong-an, and in so doing, can we loosen up a little bit to the experience of now and have that be okay? Can we be comfortable in our skin-bag – comfortable in our not-knowing? The kong-ans are simply a tool for that. Some people get frustrated with them. I can assure you, if you get frustrated with kong-ans, you also get frustrated with your life. Some people are afraid to go into the interview room. The fact of the matter is, if you have fear going into the interview room, you also have fear in your everyday life. So why not address it? Why not experience it, so that it can dissipate. As long as we’re chasing what we like and trying to avoid what we don’t like, then in fact the things that we’re chasing and avoiding are controlling our life. So we sit without pushing away or clinging to. That’s our practice.

When we practice, we sit – we sit still, and we accept. Accepting without judgment means that the energy is here, in our abdomen. We’re not trying to control the universe with our head. There’s a simple reason for that: we can’t. It’s like saying, “I’m never going to die.” Well, we are. We cannot control the universe. We can’t control the universe because –and this is really intriguing- we can’t be separate from the universe. It’s not like we’re sitting here going, “Oh yeah, there’s the universe going on over there, I’m just going to fix this and adjust that.” We are the universe! We can’t be separate. Zen Master Seung Sahn was asked about death and said, “This body, this human existence, is life and death!” It’s not something that is out there. It is it. And each one of us is living it, moment by moment. That’s incredibly beautiful! Dying time comes, die! Eating time comes, eat! Shitting time comes, shit! The point is, for each one of us, what are we doing with our life? How are we going to address it, what are we going to do with it? It’s funny, it’s ridiculous, it’s sad, it’s absurd, it’s terrifying- if we get hooked by it with our thinking. But when we really address the question: “What am I??? Don’t know…” then we return to before thinking. Then our situation is clear, our function is clear, our job is clear.
That’s all we can do.

By Zen Master Bon Haeng (Mark Houghton)
From Providence Zen Center Newsletter April 2011