Volume 4, Number 3                                                                                    Summer, 2019
Welcome to the Summer edition of the newsletter. We have packed this issue with newsy articles and pictorials which we hope will make for some interesting (and enjoyable) late summer reading.

Our feature article, The 2019 Annual Meeting, provides a summary of the reports and discussion from this important annual event. The Heart of the Way returns in this issue, as Shao-Ren writes about the significant events and people which lead her to practice at Shao Shan Temple. In this issue is the first installment for a new series entitled, Words from DochoRoshi. This feature will offer quotes or messages from Taihaku’s teacher, Shinkai Yoitsu Daiosho (DochoRoshi). We also included a pictorial celebrating the 2019 Jukai Ceremony.
Our regular features lead off with the Upcoming Events Calendar, where you can learn about all of the special temple programs that have been scheduled from September through December. You can review the temple's most recent programs in the Temple News feature. In the Cemetery Report, Kenzan reports on recent improvements in the cemetery's appearance.
The Community Involvement: Programs and Ceremonies section highlights the temple's community participation efforts.The Development Committee Update reports on recent Development Committee activities including the review of the temple's bylaws and policies.Your knowledge of temple objects will once again be challenged in the Temple Treasure Hunt. In the Financial Picture section, Kenzan presents a financial summary for the 1st half of 2019. Opportunities for Giving Back provides an overview of opportunities to help support the temple with emphasis on Work Practice.

Many people in our sangha have worked hard to bring you this edition of the newsletter. We would like to thank: Taihaku and Kenzan for writing features and reviewing drafts; Shao-Ren for writing her "Heart of the Way" piece; Kenzan, Raven NK Bruce, Noah Weinstein, Donna O'Malley, and Heather Kralik for their photos; Scott Fields for his copyediting; and Nancy Schulz for her proofreading services.

SO WHAT DO YOU THINK?  We would appreciate hearing your suggestions on how we can improve our quarterly newsletter. You can email us at:

 In the Dharma,

Monica DiGiovanni and Max Schlueter

Upcoming Events Calendar

The Shao Shan Temple website is a great way to check on the dates and times of the temple's regular schedule of zazen, study groups, work practice, oryoki, and services.You can view the temple calendar at:

If you are interested in coming to Shao Shan Temple for the first time, please read about the Introduction Programs offered by the temple. Some events require an advance RSVP and event details may have changed since the newsletter publication, so please contact the temple ( or 802-456-7091) before coming to special events. 

On August 28 the Wednesday early morning program will end for the summer season.The program included meditation, followed by morning service, and oryoki breakfast with formal monastic eating bowls. 
September  2019
7            Work Practice
15          Anniversary Celebration
20          Peace Day/Autumn Equinox
29          Visiting Teacher, Rev. Kato

October  2019
4            Annual Remembrance Ceremony

5           Work Practice
12         Family Program
20         Teen/Youth Program
25-27    Sesshin  (Three-Day Retreat)
27          Zazenkai (All Day Retreat)
November  2019
2             Work Practice
9             Family Program
23           Introduction to Zen
29-12/6   Rohatsu Sesshin

December 2019
14            Family Program
20            Winter Solstice Ceremony
21-30       No Public Programs
31            New Year's Eve Celebration

Click on an event for more information.

Feature Article:  Summary of the           
2019  Annual Meeting

On June 8 from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, members of the Shao Shan Temple sangha gathered in the Screen Room to attend the 2019 Annual Meeting. Present were Development Committee members Taihaku, Kenzan, Stella, Noah, Judy, and Max. Nine other members of the sangha were also present.  
The 2018 Temple Reports were distributed by email prior to the meeting and were also available at the meeting.The Development Committee took questions on the Sangha Report, Program Report, Buildings & Grounds Report, Cemetery Report, and Financial Report. Sangha members were pleased to hear that participation at temple programs remains steady.There were approximately 103 first-time visitors to the temple in 2018. Sangha members noted that attendance at Saturday Work Practice has declined. A discussion followed which focused on suggestions on how to improve participation in Work Practice activities. Sangha members were encouraged to hear that donations in 2018 were up from the previous year in almost all categories. Read the details...

Pictorial:  2019 Jukai

On June 30, Heather Kralik (Gen-Kyoku, "Meadow Melody") and Monica DiGiovanni (Ku-Kyoku, "Sky Melody") received the 16 precepts, Dharma names, and became formal students of Taihaku. Susan Stitely, Clara Bruns, and Amy Koenigbauer received the first five Bodhisattva precepts and made their commitment to a Buddhist way of life.This ceremony was an occasion for the families and friends of those receiving the precepts and sangha members to join together in support of the commitments that Heather, Monica, Susan, Clara, and Amy have expressed in this public ceremony. Thanks to all who joined in a spirit of renewal and intentions which support a life beneficial for all.
 (L to R)  Susan, Clara, Amy, Heather, and Monica
Shao Shan Temple is now offering a second path to receiving the first five precepts. In addition to the usual path of regular participation, there is now also the option of a three-week residential/intensive. Jake Burke (pictured below), participated in a three-week residential intensive in July culminating with his precept ceremony on July 28.
Soto Zen Buddhist Association
Taihaku and Kenzan are registered teachers with this American-based organization.

Temple News

Buddha's Birthday
On Sunday, May 19, 2019, the day of the full Flower Moon, Shao Shan Temple celebrated Buddha's Birthday with flowers, parasols, bubbles, and bells. An enthusiastic group came together on this perfect spring day to join in a colorful procession, listen to the story of Buddha's birth, offer sweet tea, and partake of festive refreshments.

Annual Meeting 2019
Shao Shan Temple's Annual Meeting took place on Saturday, June 8 in the temple's Screen Room. Participants had the opportunity to review annual reports, ask questions, and offer feedback. The dedicated sangha group which gathered on this bright sunny day also enjoyed catching up with each other and sharing refreshments together. 
Annual Animal Friend/Pet Blessing
 A group of five dogs and their human friends came together on Saturday, June 15 for a lighthearted Animal Friend/Pet blessing.  Each pet/animal friend received a blessing and a certificate. This was followed by a procession down to the Pet Cemetery to honor deceased pets and animal friends. There was also a separate blessing for two parakeets.  
Jukai - Bodhisattva Vows
On Sunday, June 30, the ancient formal ceremony of Jukai was held. This year Heather Kralik and Monica DiGiovanni made the commitment to become formal students of Shao Shan Temple. Susan Stitely, Clara Bruns, and Amy Koenigbauer received the first five Bodhisattva precepts and made their commitment to a Buddhist way of life.

Temple Kitchen, Study Area, and Bathroom Upgrade
During Shao Shan Temple's "Maintenance Week Break" (July 1-8) a number of improvements were made to the temple which included extensive surface refinishing in the kitchen, study area, and bathroom, and exterior deck maintenance. Sangha members were amazed with the fresh look that greeted them upon their return to the temple from the maintenance break.

Formal Student Gathering
The first formal student gathering took place during the afternoon and evening of July 14. Approximately half of Taihaku's formal students were able to come for a program of meditation, learning to write their Dharma names in Japanese, and supper with informal discussion.

Family Program:  Summer Weather
For the July 20 Children's Program we celebrated summer and the weather. We explored the similarities between the weather we experience around us and the "weather" we experience inside. We discussed how the external weather is beyond our control, and yet there are many things we can do to make the best of, or at least accept, whatever weather presents itself in the moment. Similarly, the shifting landscapes of our moods and feelings are also often beyond our control, and yet we have a choice about how we respond to them. After a "weather" meditation, we explored the Shao Shan property in search of wild strawberries and wild mint, and then made mint ice tea to share at snack time.

Summer Mini-Practice Period:  July 25 -28
Thank you to all who participated in creating an inspirational, joyful, and productive mini-summer practice period at Shao Shan Temple.There was strong sangha participation in several days of a monastic-like schedule which included meditation, services, meals, and Work Practice.  


Open House
Shao Shan Temple hosted its fourth annual Open House on the afternoon of Sunday August 18. This was an opportunity for people who practice here at Shao Shan Temple to invite family and friends to experience the temple on a more informal occasion. It was also a time for neighbors and community to discover what this Buddhist temple down the road is all about.

The Heart of the Way

Every one of us has some pull towards what is true, a pull to wake up. Sometimes this can feel like a search for “something more.” In Japanese this is expressed as “do-shin,” literally “Way – Heart/Mind.” Looking back over our life to see how The Way, The Dharma ,The Bodhisattva Mind arose and got cultivated in our life can be a helpful new way to review our own life story. It can also help us to read someone else’s story. Sometimes there is an event or burning question that sparks this deeper aspiration or inquiry in our life. The following piece by Shao-Ren is the third article in this series.                                                                                       
Of all the influences that led me to Zen, the death of my father when I was a child was the most important catalyst. As is often the case, this early encounter with “the great matter of life and death” sent me on a search throughout my early years. Thankfully, I had a mom who accepted and encouraged my exploration of spirituality. 

When I was 16, a friend invited me to attend a talk given by H.H. the Dalai Lama.This was part of the Dalai
Lama’s first trip to the United States in 1979. It’s amazing to recall the small gathering at the Theosophical Society that day! A year later when I went to college, I somehow knew that I wanted to study Buddhism.

In college I found the academic study of Buddhism dry and far too removed from experience. After three frustrating years, I gave up.Thankfully, there was a professor in the psychology department who was teaching experiential methods related to mindfulness.This apparent detour into psychology eventually developed into a deeply satisfying career. At that time I couldn’t have imagined the cross-pollinization between psychology and Buddhism that exists today.  Read more ...

Words from DochoRoshi

This new feature offers quotes or messages from Taihaku’s teacher, Shinkai Yoitsu Daiosho (DochoRoshi). This first piece is a quote from DochoRoshi’s book: Zazen That Fills the Whole Universe
When we take even one step towards Buddhahood, our life becomes peaceful, quiet and filled with warm compassion. By practicing zazen, the ground under our feet becomes a mentally created pure land of tranquil light and ultimate bliss. This is why Dogen Zenji said, “When you practice zazen, your life will naturally improve.”
That is the reason why we now recommend the teaching of pure water (Shikantaza, zazen that fills up the whole universe) which transcends all human thoughts. 
DochoRoshi at Shao Shan Temple in 2013
at the Shinzanshiki Ceremony

Cemetery Report 

by Rev. Kenzan Seidenberg
Shao Shan Temple Cemetery has been flowering from the efforts of the last several years. Earlier this summer, it was bright with rhododendron, azalea, and crabapple blossoms.

The central granite pagoda is settling in, with the moss growing around its base as though it has always been there.This summer additional granite posts were
added to more clearly define the pagoda (Rokkaku Yukumi -"snow viewing lantern"). A glass front was added to the Communal Shrine to protect the Kwan Yin statue inside it.

In addition to the recently formed Cemetery Committee (Peter Burke and Susan Calza), Julie Hand has agreed to be the Cemetery Maintenance point-person.   
Community Involvement: Programs & Ceremonies

In addition to conducting services, planning programs, and tending to the needs of the sangha,Taihaku and Kenzan are also actively involved with local communities. Here are a few examples of recent community participation programs.

Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC)
Kenzan continues offering a weekly meditation in the CVMC chapel midday on Tuesdays.This is primarily for hospital staff, patients, and their families/friends, but is open to all.

Doty School 
Noah Weinstein, a member of the Shao Shan sangha, offered a series on

Mindfulness for the teachers of Doty School in Worcester during the past school year. He invited Taihaku and Kenzan to serve as guest Meditation Instructors.

Private Ceremonies
As a community temple, it is an important function of Shao Shan to make available private and public ceremonies for landmark occasions such as birth, coming of age, marriage, divorce, and death. Taihaku and Kenzan perform these ceremonies at the temple and also at other locations. Please contact the priests if you are interested in additional information regarding landmark ceremonies.
Taihaku in Marblehead, MA conducting a memorial service for a childhood friend.

During this quarter the Development Committee worked primarily to plan and present materials for the 2019 Annual Meeting and continue work on the Master Plan. 

The 2019 Annual Meeting was held on Saturday, June 8 from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. A small but engaged group of sangha members attended. There were reports on the status and direction of the temple and an opportunity to provide feedback. The Development Committee worked to achieve an effective balance at the meeting between a formal agenda and a free-flowing discussion of issues which were of interest to the sangha members in attendance.

As part of the “Master Plan," the Development Committee is currently looking at what kind of changes would be helpful to the organization's bylaws and policies. Now that the organization is more developed, there is a need to expand the original bylaws. A subcommittee has been created for this purpose. Part of the bylaws review includes exploring a new organizational structure for the temple which involves a shared management model. For more details, please see the Feature Article summarizing the 2019 Annual Meeting which is included above.
Taihaku and Kenzan enjoying the 2019 Annual Meeting.
Temple Treasure Hunt
These objects appear in the temple's kitchen. Interestingly, they actually belong to sangha members and not Shao Shan Temple. There are three questions for the objects depicted at right: 1) what are the objects?  2) when are they used at the temple? and 3) why are they used?

The answers appear at the end of the newsletter.
Sangha members have requested that each newsletter include a simplified year-to-date financial report. The report for the first half of 2019 (January 1, 2019 thru July 31, 2019) is as follows:

The 2019 budget is $30,000. The funding goal for the first half of the year (January – July) was $15,000 (50% of $30,000). As of July 31, 2019, contributions amounted to $13,546, which included “Private Ceremony” donations (Home Blessing donations, Wedding donations, and a donation from the Doty School). Donations did not quite cover our first half of the year expenses which amounted to $13,950. However, the expenses for the first half of the year include some of the costs associated with the improvements in the Little Hall building for which the “Buildings and Grounds Improvements Fund” can be applied.
Thank you for your generosity and continued financial support!
Each issue of the newsletter includes a list of suggestions for ways that sangha members and friends can give back to Shao Shan to ensure a stable future for the temple. For those who can afford it, a weekly or monthly donation placed in the offering bowl, sent as a check, or paid through PayPal is a wonderful way to help support the services and programs provided by Shao Shan Temple.

There are also several funds at Shao Shan Temple to which people can designate their contributions including: 
  • Endowment Fund -- supporting the temple and priests into the future,
  • Improvements Fund -- underwriting major buildings and grounds improvements and repair,
  • Cemetery Perpetual Care Fund – providing for Shao Shan Temple Cemetery maintenance and operation into the future, and
  • Land Transfer Fund -- helping to fund the costs of transferring Taihaku's property to the Shao Shan Temple organization.

The emphasis of this article is on "Service Donations" in the form of Work Practice. It takes many hands and much time and effort to maintain the temple's buildings, grounds, and gardens. Formal Work Practice at Shao Shan Temple is generally scheduled for the first Saturday morning of each month and alternating Thursday morning Temple Day Programs. 

Work Practice is another form of Zen Practice. Work Practice is about bringing Buddha Mind to our assigned activities at the temple during designated times. Just as we focus on our breath during meditation, in Work Practice we focus our minds on our work assignment. It's not necessarily only about accomplishing things. There is an underlying focus on how we do things. It's about being fully involved and focused on the task at hand. It's a chance to share this opportunity for service and giving with other sangha members. For more information regarding the Zen aspects of Work Practice, readers are encouraged to consult Kenzan's Dharma Talk on Work Practice at: Dharma Talk.  

Unfortunately, attendance at Work Practice has declined. Though Work Practice attendance on Thursdays has stayed steady, attendance on Saturdays has not. During the recent Annual Meeting, sangha members offered a variety of reasons for this decline and suggested several strategies which might increase Work Practice participation. It is important to note that work jobs are assigned based on consideration for the participant's abilities. Any offer of work assistance is appreciated and participants should not feel that they need to stay for the full practice period. 

This past July the temple offered a four-day Summer Mini-Practice Period, which in addition to meditation, services, and communal meals, included Work Practice. This combination of activities mirrors life in a Zen monastery. Monthly Work Practice Programs are half-day sessions that also offer participants a taste of monastic life. Below are some photos from the Summer Mini-Practice Period.

If you feel you have special skills or time to volunteer, please let the priests know. You can email them at:
                          Work Circle                                                                     Honey Processing
                  Meal Preparation                                                               Little Hall Carpentry 
                          Gardening                                                                           Meals        
Answers to the Temple Treasure Hunt

1.  The objects depicted in the picture at right are Oryoki bowls which rest on the top shelf in the kitchen.

2. Oryoki bowls are used at Shao Shan Temple during sesshin breakfasts and during the summer early morning program. In a monastery, oryoki bowls are used for all formal meals.
3. “Oryoki” is Japanese for “just enough,” as the bowls were intended to be big enough to satisfy hunger, but small enough to discourage over-eating. The oryoki bowl set includes three nested bowls, utensils, and cloths that serve as placemat, lap cloth and drying cloth. Historically, a monk only had two possessions – a robe and a bowl. Accordingly, the bowl set is treated with great respect, with the largest bowl symbolically representing the head of the Buddha. A meal using oryoki is a kind of eating-meditation designed to remind us that nothing in our lives, including eating, is separate from the Dharma. It includes chanting, certain etiquette, and choreographed sequences similar to tea ceremony. For more detailed information on oryoki visit: Oryoki Practice
Open oryoki set 
                                             SUMMER SCENES AT SHAO SHAN
                          Temple Garden                                                    Temple Beehives in Orchard  
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East Calais, VT 05650

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Shao Shan Temple · 125 Cranberry Meadow Rd. · East Calais, VT 05650 · USA

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