Oxbow Zen Sits Now **Online**

Hello everybody,
We hope this message finds you well.  As part of the recommended efforts at social distancing, the Friends Meeting House has closed until at least the end of March.  
Starting immediately and continuing until at least the end of March, the Oxbow Zen Sunday morning meetings will connect us all *online* for meditation using a video platform.  (We just did a quick test-run. A few technical recommendations below.)

Remember: Times of upheaval can be important times for practice.  Let’s stay connected!

Sunday schedule for tomorrow:

  • 8:00 AM:  A link to a Google Hangouts video room will be emailed to this list.   Connect early if you want to test your tech.  You can point your camera wherever you like.  It might be nice to get a visual sense of all the people sitting together.
  • 8:15 AM:  The Jikido (time keeper) will start the sit.  
  • 8:45 AM:  The sit will end with Four Vows and Three Bows.  (We can see how the chanting together works over video 😉  )

Right after this sit (8:50’ish), there’s an opportunity to connect for a check-in, to hear what’s going on with everybody.  It’s a chance for connection in this time of social distancing.  And also an opportunity to brainstorm opportunities for practicing together; e.g. additional evening sits, connect the online sits with sangha members at other Zendos, e.g. at the Hyannis Zendo or the New Paltz Zendo or the Village Zendo, etc. etc.   
Everybody is invited to participate! 

We can figure out a schedule for future Sunday sits at the check-in.

This email list can also serve as a path of connection.  Every person on the list can post.  If you have ideas, suggestions, concerns, etc. related to our evolving practice together, don’t hesitate to post and reach out!

Looking forward to practicing with all of you,

Tech recommendations:

  • For now, we’re using Google Hangouts (https://hangouts.google.com/).  I suspect you might need some kind of Google login …
  • The video link can open in a browser on your PC.  There is also a “Google Hangouts” app for your phone.
  • Connect early to test your tech.
  • After connecting, you can mute/activate your microphone and your video camera using the controls that appear below the center of the screen.  (Both start set to ON, I think.)
  • For loudspeakers & microphones, make sure they are turned up just right and not redirected to a smart speaker somewhere.  (e.g. turn off Bluetooth)
  • For the conversation, please use head-phones to cut down on echo and feedback for everybody.  I don’t think they are needed for the silent sit.
  • … and a space for the traditional unexpected tech mishap … 
Prepare and take your seat, wherever you are.

Feb & Mar 2020 Events

Dear Oxbow Zen Community:

Just a quick note about upcoming events with the Oxbow Zen Sangha!

Zazen:  Our regular Sunday morning Zazen continues.  Let’s meet at 8:05 AM as usual to set up our Zendo space at the Friends Meeting House for community Zazen.  We are fortunate that Soshin Hoshi may now offer private interview (“daisan”) during the Sunday sits.  Please consider taking advantage of this important pillar of Zen practice.

Study:  On Sunday, March 1, from 9:45-11:30 after the sit you are warmly invited to Magna House (#201, 26 Crescent St, Northampton) for our monthly Zen Study with coffee, snacks, and fellowship (http://oxbowzen.org/study-group/).  We’ll be discussing the connection to our lives of the reading on Dongshan in Janet Abels’ book “Making Zen Your Own.”   All are invited!  

Talk:  When Jo-Ei/Roger and I were on the West Coast, we learned about Flora Eko Courtois, a Co-Founder of ZCLA and the Santa Barbara Zen Group. On Sunday March 1, Roger will be sharing with us some of what he found out in his research about Flora’s life and practice.  A quote from Flora:

Every moment lived in absorbed attention is simultaneously a beginning and an end, at once a birth and a death. In such attention we are radically open to the unexpected, to letting life live us. Any event, however small or seemingly trivial, properly attended, opens the door to infinity.

Register for the Day-long sit (Zazenkai):  On Saturday March 21 you are invited to an all-day sit (8AM-5PM, *) with Ryotan Sensei from the Village Zendo.  Many thanks to Ryotan Sensei for supporting our practice.  And special thanks to Shokai and Mark for hosting the Sangha in their beautiful home in Southampton!    

(*) If you are unable to join for the full day, consider participating in just the morning portion. That way we can all start and settle in together.

Register here (please indicate a potluck item you will bring):

Happy to be practicing with all of you!

Small altar at the Friends Meeting House
Small altar at the Friends Meeting House

2020 Events

Dear Oxbow Zen Community:

Happy New Year 2020! Just a quick note about upcoming events!

Zazen:  This coming Sunday, Feb 2, we’ll meet at 8:05 AM as usual to set up our Zendo space at the Friends Meeting House for community Zazen.

Study:  After the sit, from 9:45-11:30 you’re invited to Magna House (#201) for our monthly Zen Study with coffee, snacks, and fellowship (http://oxbowzen.org/study-group/).  We’ll be discussing the connection to our lives of the reading on “Zhaozhou” in Janet Abels’ book “Making Zen Your Own.”   All are invited to share their experience with the reading!

Day-long sit (Zazenkai):  Mark your calendars for the Saturday March 21 all-day sit with Ryotan Sensei from the Village Zendo.  Many thanks to Shokai and Mark for hosting the Sangha in their beautiful home in Southampton!

Happy to be practicing with all of you!

Image of snow couple on Paradise Pond
Winter on Paradise Pond

December Event Schedule

Fri Dec 6 – Sat Dec 7: Rohatsu: All-night sit to commemorate the Buddha’s awakening. All are welcome! Arrive between 8:10-8:20 PM when the building doors are open. We will conclude on Saturday morning at 7 AM.

Thu Dec 12: Fusatsu: Evening ceremony of atonement, awakening, and renewal. Starts at 5:30 PM, ends around 7:00 PM. Please arrive a few minutes early to set up the space, and settle in.

Sun Dec 15: Study at Magna House from 10AM – 11:30 AM, after the regular morning sit. Read the chapter on Linji/Rinzai in the study text “Making Zen Your Own” and share your reflections when we meet.

Year-end Retreat, Dec 26-Jan 1: Enter deep silence and stillness with this Zen retreat hosted by the Village Zendo at the Garrison Institute. Learn more and register!


We’re excited to announce a very special event, namely an all night sit to celebrate the Buddha’s Enlightenment, called “Rohatsu” in our Japanese Zen tradition.  It will take place in our new home at the Friends Meeting House!   All are welcome!!  
On Rohatsu we commemorate the Budda’s enlightenment by doing as he did — sitting Zazen all night.
Start: Friday December 6 evening (~ 8:15 PM)
Ends: Saturday December 7 in the morning (~7 AM)

There will be a Dharma Talk by Soshin Hoshi.
Short breaks for rest are included and a light meal will be served around the halfway point.  Please join us!  Help us celebrate this most important date on the Buddhist calendar.   Please note that you may leave the building at any time, but there is no entry or re-entry after 8:15 PM


Fusatsu is an ancient ceremony of atonement, awakening, and new beginnings — recognizing and celebrating the circle of the year nearing its completion, and a new circle beginning.  Making all fresh and new!

All are invited to throw themselves fully into it 😉 

Change in Date: Study on Dec 15

Today, we enjoyed a wonderful sit with seven people in our new Zendo at the Friends Meeting House, including an opportunity for private interview with Soshin Hoshi. Settling in…  

Note the change in date for the next Study: It will take place on December 15, for about 1.5 hours after the boring sit.   We will focus on the great teacher Linji/Rinzai (Chapter 6 of the book “Making Zen Your Own” by Janet Abels).  

You are warmly invited to participate.  You don’t have to have participated in any of the prior study meetings. Just read and reflect on the chapter before the meeting, exploring its relationship to your own Zen Life today.

Painting of Linji / Rinzai
Source: Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linji_Yixuan#/media/File:RinzaiGigen.jpg

New Home: Friends Meeting House

Starting on November 17 2019, the Oxbow Zen Sangha will be meeting at the Northampton Friends Meeting House on Center Street (directions). We are excited to find this new home with a spiritual community that also values deep silence and social action.

Image for Friends Meeting House
The Friends Meeting House in Northampton where the Oxbow Zen Sangha meets for weekly meditation.

Three bows! October Zazenkai

Many thanks to all the many hands that made this past Saturday’s Zazenkai with Ryotan Sensei such a deep shared experience!   It was a brilliant, sunny, and colorful fall day!  Delicious food!  Deep practice!  
Special thanks to Ryotan Sensei: for making the trip once again; for an inspiring Dharma talk; and for his teachings in private interview and in just being Ryo.  And for reminding us that, with Soshin Hoshi, we now have a teacher right here!
And heartfelt gratitude to Shokai and Mark for transforming their beautiful home into a Zen temple!
Three bows to all!

Group photo at the end of the Zazenkai

Zazenkai Registration

[Online registration is now closed and the button has been removed from this post.]

If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for the Oct 26 Zazenkai with Ryotan Sensei, you can do so now at the “SIGN UP!” button below. You will be connected to an online form at signupgenius.com where you can indicate what food you plan to bring, and which service positions–if any–you’re interested in taking on (in the comment section).

Mark your Calendars: Zazenkai on October 26

Mark your calendars! We are excited that Ryotan Sensei will be available for our Fall Zazenkai on Saturday October 26 2019. It will be a full day of practice, including Zazen, chanting service, shared oryoki meals, and an opportunity for private interview with a teacher.

As we are looking toward October, who is planning on participating in the October Zazenkai on Saturday Oct 26 2019? Contact us soon via email if you’re interested in participating.

If there is a particular service position you would like to practice at the Zazenkai, please indicate your wish. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me at oxbowzensangha@gmail.com

Looking forward to practicing with you,

Zazenkai with Ryotan Sensei Sep 30 2017