We vow with all beings from this life on throughout countless lives to hear the true dharma. That upon hearing it no doubt will arise in us nor will we lack in faith. That upon meeting it we shall renounce worldly affairs and maintain the buddhadharma. And that in doing so the great Earth with all beings will attain the buddha way.
— Dogen's Vow; Eihei Dogen Zenji

Dear good friends and members of Atlanta Soto Zen Center
, greetings from the ASZC and the Silent Thunder Order. We bring you our year's-end message of hope and appreciation, encourage you to continue practicing Zen meditation sessions, and invite you to continue supporting Atlanta Soto Zen Center in the new year. We come to you with a worldly affair, one with which Master Dogen was intimately familiar, that of maintaining the buddhadharma, as we recite in the Dharma opening verse:

The unsurpassed profound and wondrous dharma is rarely met with
Even in a hundred thousand million kalpas
Now we can see and hear it accept and maintain it
May we unfold the meaning of the Tathagata's truth

This time of year, most members and friends of Atlanta Soto Zen Center make their year-end donation and offer a sustaining pledge for next year. Won't you join them?

Make a Year-end Donation for 2014
(Button below — Donors will receive an acknowledging letter)

Join or Renew Your Membership for 2015
Choose a Level:

Pebbles  $10/month or $120/year
Tiles       $20/month or $240/year
Walls      $30/month or $360/year
Trees      $50/month or $600/year
Grass     $100/month or $1,200/year
Earth      $125/month or $1,500/year

Thus you will raise up buddha-activity at innumerable practice places of buddha-tathagatas everywhere, cause everyone to have the opportunity of ongoing buddhahood, and vigorously uplift the ongoing buddhdharma. Because earth, grass, trees, walls, tiles and pebbles all engage in buddha activity, those who receive the benefits of wind and water caused by them are mysteriously helped by the Buddha's guidance, splendid and unthinkable, and awaken intimately to themselves.
— Self-fulfilling Samadhi; Eihei Dogen Zenji

And thank you again, from your Sangha at ASZC!

This year we celebrate 75 years of Matsuoka Roshi's appearing in the West, and nearly 40 years of continuous operation of Atlanta Soto Zen Center. We thank you for your generous dana in the past, and its consequences in the present, and invite you to join in taking care of the future Zen Center sangha and practice place that we value so deeply. Please help ensure that ASZC will continue for the benefit of all beings and generations to come.

Now is an auspicious time for you to contribute to your Training Center's prosperity. We hope that by your support the ASZC will be able to be there for you and others for many years to come.

If the ASZC is important to you, we ask that you help to keep it going. The last couple of years have been tough financially, as they have been for most not-for-profit organizations. Owing to our robust residency program and the generosity of supporting members like you, we have been able to offer one of the most active and continuously operating Zen programs in the USA and Canada. We ask you to consider the importance of Zen in your life and to join us in keeping the Zen Center alive and well in 2015. Your donation seriously matters to us, and to the ongoing propagation of Zen in Atlanta.

"What else can you do that will give you your whole life back?" is one way that our lineage founder, Matsuoka Roshi, expressed the importance and unsurpassed value of Zen practice. From a talk given by O-Sensei at the Chicago Zen Buddhist Temple, a half-century ago, in 1965, about the time Elliston Roshi began training with him:

In Zen, the purpose of the religious life is to find the truth about life in this world and then to live with this knowledge. Instead of hoping to obtain some material thing or fortune from a supernatural being, in Zen we live in order to enter into the true life. We do not even desire to become a Buddha, for doing so takes the emphasis off the present moment of life and puts it into the unpredictable future. Instead, we live this moment to its fullest and so act as to develop the potential to be a Buddha which lies dormant in each of us.
The Buddha once said, "If you kill your wrong way of thinking, you will find the truth about life." You ask: How can I rid myself of these errors? The key to this freedom was discovered centuries ago by the Buddha himself after long years of searching for the truth. He finally settled in a seated position under a tree in a garden and resolved not to rise until he had found the truth. Sitting in this position enabled him to find it. One morning, as the dawn broke, the Buddha became enlightened. He discovered the Buddha-nature within himself and the universe. His thinking no longer contained the errors that keep man in misery. Instead, his meditation had shown him the true life. This true life can be known to you, too, just as it was to the Buddha. The key to it is the same for you as for him — Zen meditation.

Matsuoka Roshi had great confidence in each person's ability to discover or uncover their original Buddha Nature, through zazen. He entrusted this mission to Elliston Roshi, along with his firm intent and tireless commitment to propagating the genuine practice of Zen to the West. The legacy of this early founder of Soto Zen in America, arriving here in 1939, is still alive and well, 75 years later, thanks to your support. It is nurtured by the members and benefactors of ASZC, founded in 1977, in continuous operation since. Won't you please help sustain this great success story?

To make a tax-deductible year's-end donation for 2014, go to: www.ASZC.org
and click on the donate button.

To join, or renew your membership for 2015, go to: www.regonline.com/STO_Membership

Please choose a level of membership in line with your ability to pay:
  • Pebbles $10/month or $120/year
  • Tiles $20/month or $240/year
  • Walls $30/month or $360/year
  • Trees $50/month or $600/year
  • Grass $100/month or $1,200/year
  • Earth $125/month or $1,500/year or more

In closing, and to explain our unusual choice of terms for the levels of support, from pebbles to the salt of the earth, we quote again from Master Dogen, from his wonderful and effusive tract on the effects of zazen and their deeper meaning, Self-fulfilling Samadhi:

Because earth, grass, trees, walls, tiles and pebbles all engage in buddha activity, those who receive the benefits of wind and water caused by them are inconceivably helped by the Buddha's guidance, splendid and unthinkable, and awaken intimately to themselves.

And thank you again, from all your Dharma sisters and brothers at ASZC!