Sakura-ji, (Formerly Creston Zendo) is located in Creston, British Columbia, 13 km north of the BC/Montana border. Creston is a town of 5,000 people, and its major economic activity is agriculture. Cherries are the primary crop in Creston, which is why we have chosen the name Sakura-ji, Cherry Blossom Temple, for our centre.
Our practice leader is Kuya Minogue. On May 17, 2014, Kuya became an STO Disciple, during the Zaike Tokudo Ceremony officiated by Zenku Jerry Smyers at the Mission Mountain Zen Center in Dayton, Montana. Kuya began her training in Soto Zen Buddhism taking the precepts at Shasta Abbey in 1986 and as a formal student of Kyogen Carlson at the Dharma Rain Center in Portland.
This year's Winter Ango (90 day retreat) at ASZC will take place from January 1 through March 31, 2015. Everyone is invited to take part in the increased opportunities for practice and study. Rev. Tesshin James Smith, from the Atlantic Soto Zen Center, Halifax, Nova Scotia, will be in residence throughout the 90 day Ango.
There will be an enhanced practice schedule including:
• Weekday Morning, Midday & Afternoon Zazen
• Monday Evening Zazen & Selected Readings with Gatsu Jabez Maurer
• Tuesday Evening Cloud Dharma Skype with Elliston Roshi
• Wednesday Evening Newcomers Workshop with Disciples in Rotation
• Thursday Evenings: An 11-week Workshop: "Observing the Precepts, Deepening Samadhi"
• Sunday Evenings: Group Sutra Study (Surangama)
For those who like getting a little sawdust on themselves, Saturday afternoon zendo kitchen renovations.
Additionally, on the last week of each month there will be an open mic musical entertainment evening. Come bring your instruments and voices to sing along with others. It will be held on either a Friday or Saturday evening. You can let us know which evening you prefer by emailing:
All are encouraged to meet with Tesshin for practice discussion by appointment, at ASZC or for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or coffee as time allows.
SHUSO AND SHIHO CEREMONIES
Tesshin will undergo Shuso (head student) and Shiho (Transmission) ceremonies while in residence. You will be invited to participate in the public parts of those ceremonies, which will be announced in advance and take place on appropriate Sunday mornings. This is the "PhD of Zen" as Matsuoka Roshi called it, so Jim is to be congratulated.
Visiting the national treasure sites in Nara, we were all overwhelmed and awed, like everyone else who visits them, by the sheer scale and majesty of the temple buildings, and the statuary they contain. There is something about standing in the presence of these massive, towering works of transcendent art, further enhanced by the meaning they are meant to convey, of such power radiating from compassion, that is impossible to describe. It is a bit like looking at the Grand Canyon, or the Hubble images of the far reaches of the universe, and wondering how could this possibly be.
But the effect of the temples on your mind is compounded by the stunning fact that these architectural and sculptural masterpieces were built by mere mortals, with full awareness and intention as to their effect upon others of the time, and far into the unforeseeable future. At this time, there was no communications technology such as we have today - no movies, TV, radio or other broadcast media - so, if you wanted to make an impression, what did you have at your disposal? The construction materials of the day, the giant cypress trees, stones, and the combinations of grasses and clay to make stucco and ceramics, as well as metal ore mined and forged, and the beginnings of alloys of copper, tin and iron, for example to make bronze. And, not to mention, various combinations of pigments and vehicles to make surface finishes, such as whitewash and paint. And, of course, gold and gold leaf, tons and tons of gold leaf.
But the main dimension you had at your disposal was the sheer size and scale you were willing to undertake. Going from temple to temple on a trek like this is exhausting, physically, but also mentally and emotionally. It also challenges credulity that there would be yet another, and then another, sometimes many in the same neighborhood. One area alone, at the top of a mountain range accessible by cable car, is said to boast 117 temples, each of which occupies an incredible amount of land, and features uncountable buildings, statuary, paintings, and any number of skillfully designed and constructed amenities and necessities to support the ritual devotions of the pilgrims and visitors, and to properly honor the sponsors with monuments.