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Rohatsu 2016, ASZC
Rohatsu 2016 Jukai and Zaike Ceremonies
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STO Congratulates So KyoRyo William Hagans whose Dharma name means "Great Journey", So KyoRaku Jason Leon Barre whose Dharma name means "Humble Joy", So Gaku Stephen Sengupta whose Dharma name means "Zen Student" and So KeiSei Andrew Dietz whose Dharma name means "Sounds of Valley Streams". So KyoRyo and So KyoRaku participated in our Jukai ceremony. So Gaku and So KeiSei participated in our Zaike ceremony.

ASZC & Georgia Tech School of Architecture Collaboration
Led by Associate Professor Julie Ju-Youn Kim, Georgia Tech School of Architecture students developed creative and visionary design proposals for a new Atlanta Soto Zen Center. The studio's efforts culminated in a range of design solutions that celebrate the figurative and literal heart of the project, the Zendo, while also amplifying the opportunities for community engagement in the daily life of the retreat. More information about the proposals will be forth coming!

Car for Sensei Fund Drive
Dear STO Disciples,

I hope everyone is doing well.

On behalf of the STO Board of Directors and the entire STO Sangha, I would like to share the following urgent need and fundraising effort to support our Abbot.

We have begun a Car for Sensei Fundraising effort to provide a reliable automobile for our Abbot Taiun Elliston Roshi.

As you all know a reliable automobile is essential for our guiding teacher in order to travel to our STO training center at ASZC, travel to affiliate centers in the south east in order to lead retreats, to provide continued training to practice leaders, and provide transportation to the Watershed Retreat Center when retreats are held there, as well as being required for daily living activities such as shopping, etc.

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Study Opportunities

Mixlr
ASZC is on Mixlr! Download the app or connect on your computer to hear live streaming Dharma talks at ASZC. Those connecting on Mixlr can participate in the discussion by messaging. If you aren't able to listen to the live streaming talk, the recordings can be accessed. Click on the link below and search for Atlanta Soto Zen Center. (Mixlr link)

Cloud Dharma Tuesday Skype Discussion Group
Cloud Dharma study group is currently reading and discussing Just This Is It: Dongshan and the Practice of Suchness by Taigen Dan Leighton. The Chapter 13 will be discussed January 10th. Starting January 17th, a new title will be started. Stay tuned for details!
Click here to learn how to participate.

Residency Opportunity
STO offeres residency opportunities at Atlanta Soto Zen Center. Please contact Zammai Lawrell Studstill (cell 404-867-4408; email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for more information.

Dharma Byte
ZEN PAST & FUTURE IN THE SILENT THUNDER ORDER (STO)
by Taiun Michael Elliston-roshi

"May you live in interesting times!" — Ancient Chinese Curse

Well, we certainly live in interesting times. In the midst of the chaos of local, national and global imperfect storms, we turn to Zen as respite, sanctuary and dependable source of succor. As our lineage Founder, Matuoka Roshi would often say, "When you do zazen, you always have a place to go." He did not mean that we can escape reality, but that we can do something about it that always helps. Zazen always works, even though it is not a panacea, and not a substitute for action. If you believe, as I do, that Zen has the power and potential to change our lives, and thereby to change our society, you will want to know what you can do in the new year to enhance Zen training, both on the personal level, and on behalf of your community, the STO Sangha.

We would like to share with you just some of the highlights of the past year as we move into 2017, the 40th Anniversary of the founding of Atlanta Soto Zen Center (ASZC) in 1977. What a long, strange trip it's been. And I would like to suggest some of the many ways you can contribute to our efforts to propagate genuine Zen practice for the sake of others, and for future generations. It is truly a mission, and now more important than ever that people be exposed to Zen. This installment will necessarily be longer than our usual Dharma Byte.

YEAR'S END 2016
This year we saw a great deal of consolidation of our efforts, throughout the STO network of Affiliates, to bring Zen practice to our existing members and newcomers. This monthly newsletter has been refined to provide consistent updates to our programs, and to acquaint and familiarize our readers with the various affiliated centers operating around the United States and in Canada.

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Guest Columns
Ango at Green Dragon Temple
By Kuya Minogue, Sakuraji

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4:00 a.m.
My cell phone alarm clock awakens me before the jarring cow bell run of the shuso. A quick shower, and then I don two of the three layers of my new priest's robes – the Japanese short-waisted white jubon with the grey kimono, and the flowing black koromo – a Japanese name for a Chinese garment that has sleeves twice as long as my arms and that hang below my knees. Then into my Birkenstocks and off to the Green Gulch Farm dining room for coffee. Every morning Steven, Tenshin Reb Anderson's jiko, brews coffee so he can bring a cup to Tenshin Roshi's dokusan room before 5:00 am zazen. I take my cup to a bench that overlooks the zendo and the residences, and sip coffee while I watch and listen to the monastery's daily awakening.

One hit on the han that hangs outside the zendo is followed by that jangling, clanging cow bell being run through the monastery grounds. Windows in the Cloud Hall and Stillwater residences light up, trainees in pajamas stumble into the washrooms beside the zendo. Robed priests and lay trainees swish by me on their way to the dining room for a hot drink. The weather is crisp. The moon is close to full. Day after tomorrow we will do the monthly full moon ceremony where we will stand, kneel and bow in white socks as we recite the names of the ten Buddhas and the sixteen Bodhisattva precepts.

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Zen Training For Children
by Soun Kosetsu Randy Earl, Novice Priest

Duncan Meditating
 In dharma talks I tend to draw from my personal life experiences because that is what I know and thus more authentically represents my own practice and understanding. This means, for better or worse, that my family members often figure prominently in my examples and stories. My youngest child, Duncan, has played this role several times, thus folks have asked me about his interest in Buddhism and Zen and what I have done to share the teachings with him. This post is an attempt to describe my approach to teaching the dharma and zen practice to a child and to share my lessons learned and some helpful resources.

I felt that the standard zazen instructions might be a bit tough for a six-year-old to appreciate, so I quickly looked for guidance from those more experienced in teaching meditation to children. One little book and CD that I found very useful and highly recommend is Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents), by Eline Snel. The book contains several simple exercises that are designed for a child to be able to easily practice and understand, accompanied with a CD of those exercises. We have used those often and Duncan found them soothing and helpful. Seeing the impact of these exercises on Duncan, I often use the wonderful guided meditations from The Art of Mindful Living, by Thich Nhat Hanh. For example, he loves one which is also one of my favorites, which I'll abbreviate here as "Flower/Fresh, Mountain/Solid, Water/Reflecting, and Space/Free."

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Affiliates Listing
Atlanta Soto Zen Center, Atlanta, Georgia (founded 1977)
Atlantic Soto Zen Center, Dalhousie Multifaith Centre, Halifax NS Canada
Buddhist Philosophies NCSU Campus Group, Raleigh North Carolina
Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha, Falmouth, Massachusetts
High Plains Zen Ness City, Kansas
Iqaluit Soto Zen Group Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada
Jacksville Soto Zen Meditation Group, Jacksville, Florida
Memphis Zen Community Memphis, Tennessee
Mission Mountain Zen Group Dayton, Montana
Nashville Zen Center Nashville, Tennessee
Ottawa Soto Zen Ottawa, Canada
Sakura-ji Creston, British Columbia Phone - 250-428-6500
Savannah Zen Center, Savannah, Georgia
Southwind Sangha Soto Zen Buddhist Assoication Wichita, Kansas
Treehouse Sangha Troy and Cohoes, New York
Wire Grass Soto Zen Group, Headland AL
Zen Group of Chattanooga Chattanooga, Tennesse