Mushroom Workshop Sustainability & Zen

Posted on Apr 25 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter

On Sunday, April 17, Providence Zen Center hosted a mushroom inoculation workshop presented by Steve Gabriel, director of the Fingerlakes Permaculture institute.  We spent the day learning to inoculate shitake, oyster and winecap mushrooms, and Steve walked the grounds with George and Troy after the workshop and gave us some pointers on sustainably managing our forest.  Providence Zen Center now has nearly 100 logs inoculated with shitake, which will begin fruiting next year.  In addition, we inoculated the flower beds near the main entrance with winecap mushrooms, and we have 3 bags of coffee grounds inoculated with oyster mushrooms which should be ready for fruiting in a couple months.  Thanks to Steve for teaching this workshop and sharing his knowledge of edible mushroom cultivation with us, and for helping us get started growing our own mushrooms for the Zen Center!  Our hope is to continue to expand the number of inoculated logs we have in coming years (logs will fruit for up to 5 years, sometimes even longer) and begin to grow enough shitake to provide some supplementary income for the Zen Center.  Another possibility is for the shitake logs to become a cottage industry which one or more residents could use to support themselves while living at the Zen Center.

– Troy Rapp, PZC Housemaster



Vesak 2011

Posted on Apr 21 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter & Upcoming Events

Please join us Saturday May, 14th 2011 for Vesak Celebration! Here is a link to the flyer so you can print it out / save an e-copy that you can share with all your friends, family or other Buddhists you might know. Vesak_Poster_2011 We invited as many Buddhist groups as we could find in Rhode Island and we encourage you to do the same. If you are not familiar with Vesak, it is considered one of the most important days in all Buddhist traditions and is the day we celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of the historical Buddha who lived over 2500 years ago.



ZMSS Memorial

Posted on Apr 19 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter

ZMSS Memorial

While on retreat this weekend, it was a lovely day and we were able to do our walking meditation outside on the porch of the Diamond Hill Monastery. The wind was brisk at times, but with the Willow tree starting to bloom and all the flowers popping out, it was fun to be outside. As I was walking, I noticed the hillside behind Zen Master Seung Sahn’s Memorial Stupa. We had weeded the hillside when installing the area in 2009, but Sunday I noticed it seemed very barren with only a few lone daffodils at the base of the hill.

Now, there is a house in Providence near Rhode Island College that I pass by quite frequently. Suddenly, last week, I noticed their entire front lawn is covered in flowers – quite a display of hyacinth, daffodils, tulips and crocus … so that is what I envisioned this Sunday … a wall of flowers for our Founding Teacher. Could we remember to plant more bulbs this Fall to see if we could get that to happen? Then, each Spring would come and not only the grass, but the whole hillside would grow and spring to life, all by itself!

What do you think?


Precepts Ceremony Talk

Posted on Apr 14 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter

Zen Master Dae Kwangby Zen Master Dae Kwang on Apr 3, 2011


Big Suffering

Posted on Apr 13 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter

Often Zen Master Seung Sahn used to say, “If the direction of your life is clear, then your whole life is clear. If your direction is not clear, then your life will always be a problem.” The reason we practice Zen is to understand ourselves completely, attain our original nature, and save all beings from suffering. This is our direction – the original job of all human beings. In this there is no “I, my, me.” If we have “I, my, me” then we will get suffering, guaranteed.

Several years ago at the end of the long winter retreat in Korea, Byoek Am Sunim, our precepts teacher, gave each of the participants a calligraphy It read: “You make, you get.” This is a very simple equation! At that time, someone asked him why it was that people suffer. He said, “Human beings continue to suffer because they do not see cause and effect clearly.” So, the question “Why do I suffer?” has a simple answer: “What do you want?”

Achaan Chah, a now-deceased meditation teacher in Thailand, would often walk around the monastery grounds and ask every monk that he met, “Are you suffering today?” If the monk answered “yes,” Achaan Chah would say, “Oh, then you must have a lot of desires today.” If we can clearly see the nature of desire and anger, then it is possible to let them go. This means seeing cause and effect clearly. However, one more step is necessary.

One time a monk came to Zen Master Seung Sahn and said that he wanted to stop being a monk because the monk’s life for him was a living hell. Zen Master Seung Sahn replied, “If your direction is clear, then even living in hell is not a problem.” This means if you want to help this world, then even suffering should not be a hindrance. Most important is direction. If your direction is clear, then the suffering you experience becomes “Big Suffering” and helps this whole world. So, what do you want?

(By Zen Master Dae Kwang)


Dharma Heritage

Posted on Apr 09 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter

If you’ve ever been to or practiced in a Kwan Um Zen Center, chances are you’ve seen these portraits hanging on a wall or over a doorway. They are our Korean Zen Masters and represent our Dharma Heritage. Just like we have parents, grand parents, and great grand parents, the same concept can be applied to the teaching we receive from the Dharma Masters and Zen Masters of our school. Each one successively passed down or gave transmission to the next so that an authentic clear Zen teaching could be preserved through the passage of time.

Korean Zen Masters & Dharma Heritage – Left to right: Kyeong Ho Sunim, Man Gong Sunim, Ko Bong Sunim, and Seung Sahn Sunim.

Kwan Um School Lineage

The Kwan Um School of Zen’s teaching lineage is part of the Korean Soen tradition. The founding teacher of our School, Zen Master Seung Sahn, is the 78th teacher in his line of Dharma Transmission. All students of Zen Master Seung Sahn to whom he has given Dharma Transmission are thus the 79th teachers in their personal lineages.

The Korean Soen lineage comes from the Chinese Rinzai lines and became separate around the year 1200. Famous Zen Masters in our lineage include the six Zen Patriarchs, Ma-tsu, Pai-chang, Lin-chi and Nan-chuan. Zen Master Seung Sahn received Dharma Transmission from Zen Master Ko Bong at the age of 22. His lineage also includes the noted Korean Zen Masters Man Gong and Kyong Ho.