Today’s work afternoon saw activity inside and outside of the building. Ted Egan tackled groundskeeping cleanup, clearing the alley and walkways of overhanging leaves and branches. Inside, the sangha kitchen was the focus of attention, with bleach and hot water liberally applied to drawers and cupboards.
Tonight Tonen and Hoko participated in the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee’s Know Your Neighbors event. The Oak Creek United Methodist Church was packed for an evening that included a live performance of Sikh hymns, as well as brief presentations about Sikhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Tonen served as event moderator, while Hoko outlined Buddhist basics. The audience included MZC practitioner Kevin Kostick and his wife Cynthia. Click here to see the event flyer: Know Your Neighbors flier
Today we were joined in our Sunday practice by Sister Therese of the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland. She’s staying with Susan Winecke as part of a multistate tour during which she is offering reiki and podiatry care to other sisters around the midwest. During teatime conversation, we learned about Irish history and current life.
Sangha members welcomed Yuko and Shohaku Okumura from September 16 through 18th with a schedule that included lunches, dinners and day trips together. Also on hand was Hoko’s dharma sister Eido Reinhart from Minneapolis. On the 16th, lunch was at the Anaba Tea room, with several sangha members in attendance, followed by a trip to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center for a walk in lovely late summer weather. Dinner was potluck at MZC with a few more practitioners. The 17th included a visit to Old World Wisconsin as well as the Palmyra home of Kaaren Wiken and Tom Rauschke. Dinner was at Cafe Hollander, not far from MZC. The next morning’s breakfast was pot luck, and then the Okumuras set off for the airport to return to Indiana. Eido returned to Minneapolis by train that afternoon after lending a hand with the cleanup.
Go to Amazon to order MZC’s newest publication, Buddhas Behind Bars, edited by Tonen O’Connor. The book tells the stories of three members of MZC prison sangha in their own words–their lives, their crimes, and the Zen practice they’ve established during their incarceration. Its first Amazon reader review gave it five stars!
Speaking of the authors of this book, Brad Warner, author of Hardcore Zen, says, “The men in this book have faced themselves in ways most of us can’t even imagine.” Two of them incarcerated for first degree intentional homicide and one for first degree sexual assault, these three prison inmates recount their life stories: how they grew up, how they went wrong, their crimes and how their lives have changed within prison as they encountered the teachings of the Buddha and the Tao. Told with sometimes shocking honesty, these stories bring to life a struggle to build a life of positive action within the sea of negativity that surrounds them “inside.” Vivid pictures of prison life illustrate the ups and downs of men slowly finding a Way that offers them stability. Described in their own words, their encounter with the teachings offered by the prison program of the Milwaukee Zen Center over a period of more than ten years offers a window into the lives and struggles of members of the prison sangha. Says Grady Hillman, director of the Southwest Correctional Arts Network, “Buddhist disciplines provide an amazing perspective that transcends years of pain and anger. True journeys that can help us all.” An Afterthoughts section offers insights from Tonen on working within correctional institutions.
See the September issue of M Magazine for a page on meditation, featuring a photo and comments from Hoko. Aside from a couple of rather humorous errors (Hoko is not a “he” who does “Zozen”), the piece provides some generally helpful thoughts on the healthy side-effects of daily sitting.
Hoko and Tonen will be representing MZC at this year’s Great Sky sesshin at Hokyoji Zen Practice Community in southwestern Minnesota. Hoko will be running the kitchen, while Tonen will serve as godo for the sesshin. Hoko’s on the scene now, helping with setup and preparations from her headquarters in the meadow. By Saturday evening, 27 people will be living and practicing here together.
For immediate release
August 5, 2012
Buddhist Peace Fellowship supports the Sikh community
Contact: Rev. Hoko Karnegis, Milwaukee Zen Center
The Buddhist Peace Fellowship of Milwaukee was shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic acts of violence and suffering which were carried out this morning at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek. We stand in sympathy and solidarity with the Sikh community as it deals with this tremendous loss.
“This morning’s events are completely contrary to everything we believe America should be as a country that welcomes the talents, individuality and religions of all those who choose to come here to strengthen our democracy,” stated Soto Zen priest Rev. Tonen O’Connor.
The Buddhist Peace Fellowship works for peace from diverse Buddhist perspectives, embracing a triple treasure of compassionate action – learning, speaking, and doing. BPF includes practitioners from the Milwaukee Zen Center, Milwaukee Mindfulness Community, Great Lakes Zen Center, Tender Shoot of Joy, and Shambala Meditation Center of Milwaukee.