Founder's Letter December 2004

by Norman Fischer | December 01, 2004 at 7:50 PM

December 1, 2004

Dear friends,

This is my twenty-fifth winter as a Zen Buddhist priest, the fifth year of my beautiful collaboration with my dear friend Rabbi Alan Lew at Makor Or, our Jewish Meditation Center in San Francisco, and the fifth birthday of Everyday Zen. Congratulations to us all! 

It's been a beautiful five years. Everyday Zen has become a widening circle of spiritual friendship that includes several Zen and other Buddhist groups, Jewish meditation groups, communities of business people and lawyers, caregivers, poets, artists, social activists. Everyday Zen is a feeling, a spirit of being moved to be alive together, trying to help out. Our modest goal is to make the world more peaceful, more honest, more humane. I am sure we will be able to accomplish this goal, and for some reason, now seems like the best time to work hard at it.

This past Fall I have done more traveling, more retreats and events than usual. I return home inspired by your maturity, warmheartedness, and skill. In five short years we have demonstrated that spiritual practice, done in a flexible yet disciplined manner, can change lives deeply and for the better, and can be a supple and effective vehicle for remaking relationships and the world. 

Several new developments that will be coming up in the months ahead. 

For the first time, this year at Mar de Jade in Mexico, from April 25-May 9, Everyday Zen will hold a two week community practice session. For a while I've been scheming to find a way for us to have a longer time to spend together that would include both formal practice and informal time and this year I thought we could give it a try.

From April 25 till May 4 the schedule will include daily meditation and dharma talks, social meals, work, and hang out time. There will also be daily small group dharma meetings and trainings of various sorts. May 5-8 we'll end with four full days of silent retreat. People are welcome to come for all or part of the event. It's my hope that everyone connected to Everyday Zen will feel inspired to attend. Mar de Jade is a marvelous place, providing a warm Mexican-style community feeling, tropical weather, a warm wide ocean, and a beautiful beach. Dogen Zenji, St Benedict, and Rabbi Akiba should have it so good!

A few new features will be appearing this winter on the Everyday Zen website. The Everyday Zen Study Guide is just about ready to go up. We've been looking forward for a while to being able to post an organized set of study texts, with available oral commentaries by me. We hope that this guide will provide a way for students from all over the world to remain creatively engaged with their practice. Also on the site soon will be a new experimental feature, a "blog" I'll write about practice, reporting to you on a more regular basis about how things are going, thoughts and personal reflections, teachings, readings, wonderments, hopes. 

Finally, I want to thank as many people as I can manage to remember for their immense contributions to Everyday Zen: the founding Board of Directors of Everyday Zen, Michael Friedman, John Schick, Keith Heller, Kathie Fischer, Andrea Jacoby (all of whom in various ways continue to make major administrative contributions); current Board member Lynne Hofmann for huge assistance, putting together this founder's letter for one; registrars Meg Porter and James Flaherty, and past registrar and super Everyday Zen cheerleader Elizabeth Sawyer; Jeff Bickner, Marc Lesser, Sue Moon, Chris Fortin for their work with the one day sittings and sesshins; Martha Freebairn Smith for making appointments; Peter Aradi Bob Andrews, Tim Burnett, and Lynne Hofmann for help with the Study Guide, Bruce Hartsough for help with the website; A Robin Orden, Steve Gross and Marc Lesser for work on Company Time; Tim Burnett for creating and maintaining the website. The Zen communities in Bellingham and Vancouver, B.C.; the Makor Or Community, Laura del Valle and the Mar de Jade community, the Zen Hospice community, the lawyer's group, the Company Time community. To all the rest of you whose names I've stupidly forgotten to include (sorry!) and all of you who continue to support Everyday Zen through your contributions and presence: thanks for five fruitful and inspiring years.




Norman Fischer