December, 2012

by Norman Fischer | December 04, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Muir Beach

Dear Everyday Zen friends,

I am writing you as another year draws to a close. This last month has been pretty trying and exciting, what with Hurricane Sandy battering New York (where our children and many friends live: all are well) and the grueling Presidential election. Once again, we have survived. There is always suffering but we always survive. That's practice, that's the Buddha's teaching. It inspires us, and gives us great strength and confidence.

Trying times force us to reach deep to find our love and compassion. This has been my experience again and again, and I feel it now more than ever, as our communities advance and mature, new leaders and teachers emerge, and more and more people make stronger and stronger commitments to the Dharma. I find myself often moved to tears by the efforts people are making, and by the increase in happiness I find wherever I go to practice - even when many of us remain challenged by the economy and our life situations.

In early 2013 I'll publish (this time with Shambhala Press) a new book called Training in Compassion: Zen Teaching on the Practice of Lojong. It's about the importance of compassion, and the way to systematically generate compassion through practice. I am passionate about this topic right now, and have scheduled numerous events around the country to visit Dharma friends and share these teachings.

Around the same time a new poetry collection will be coming out called The Strugglers. It is, I think, my strongest poetry yet (though I usually think this whenever a new collection comes out). It's also about suffering and compassion. Unlike "Training in Compassion," it offers no program and no solution- it's a long sad, and, I hope, memorable, song of the world's suffering - and of human caring.

I am really happy to be birthing both these works and hope you will support me by attending events when you can and letting your friends know - and of course buying books!

That's the good news. Less good is the fact that Everyday Zen is currently meeting a financial challenge. As you may be aware, we have had trouble recently with our website. As our genius webmaster Tim Burnett (the resident priest at the Red Ceder Zen Community in Bellingham and a self-taught professional tech maven) worked overtime to put out fires, it became apparent that we needed more than pitchers of water. Another re-do of the "stuff under the hood" is again necessary.

In order to do this we will need to raise $20,000 soon.

This includes hiring an outsider tech person to do major fixing, as supervised by Tim. Our new person would also be hired to maintain and update the site as we go forward.

As you probably know, Everyday Zen is conceived of not so much as a Zen group in the ordinary sense, but as a wide and various network, a family of like-minded association. Although the family includes several physical temples, its real home is the website. It has been heart-warming for me in the last several years to recognize the reach that Everyday Zen, through the website, now has. We regularly gets notes from around the world thanking us for our offering of talks and programs. I just had a visit from a group of Zen nuns from Korea who listen regularly to talks on the site!

In short, the website is very important for us, so please reach as deeply into your pockets as you can this year to add a little extra to your year end donation to support this crucial project. Donations can be made by check or by Paypal, and you can find instructions by following this link to the donations page .

This is from Tim:

The Everyday Zen website was last renewed in 2007 based on an early content management system available then. Since then much has changed in the web world and technologies have advanced. We are excited to start another revision of the website backed on a cutting edge system called "Concrete 5" which will allow us to update and maintain the website more easily and fix and improve many awkward corners and minor issues. In the end it will be the same website with more than 1000 Dharma Talks, a full calendar of Everyday Zen events, information about the many programs and initiatives of Everyday Zen. And it will be a better website: cleaner in look and performance. Pages will load faster. And links to specific talks and events will be shorter and more stable. Thank you for your support in updating and improving this central piece in our center-less practice place of Everyday Zen.

I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season. As always, thanks so much for your financial support and your practice. It makes a big difference to me and to many others.




Norman Fischer