May 2021 - Faith
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I’m sometimes asked about the role of faith in Buddhism, which expects us to believe nothing we can’t verify for ourselves.  Buddhist literature, like other religious literature, has its stories of the supernatural and of miraculous happenings.  Celebrating Buddha’s Birthday each April, we remember the story of the newborn Buddha walking and speaking.  It’s told as part of our tradition, as a story to encourage our practice, not as a historical happening. Believing it is not essential to being a Buddhist.  It’s the same for all the mythical beings and spirits – we can believe in them or not.  Or perhaps we can keep mind and heart open to possibility.  I like this stance.  It keeps me open to things I may never even have imagined, and life’s more fun with surprises.

We Buddhists have faith, though perhaps it’s a little different.  A good place to begin to understand faith for us is with the Chinese character for faith, 信, shin. The left side, 人, hito, is person. The right side, 言, iu, is “to say” or “word.” So – a person’s word – our word – our trust and commitment. The common meaning is “faith,” “truth,” “fidelity,” “trust,” and “reliance.” Shin is also honesty and sincerity.  This little word has a lot of meaning to carry.

Faith is what makes us take the first step on the Buddha’s path.  It’s seeing that it has worked for others and trusting it enough to take the first step.  I decided to ordain because I saw the effect my teacher's, Rev. Katagiri’s, practice had on him and on everyone around him, including me.  I trusted that if I followed the path, I could do something useful in the world, so on a cold January day in Japan I chanted together with the assembly at Zuioji as my head was shaved.  I don’t know if I ever did anything good, but that faith makes me keep trying.  Zazen is like this.  It’s faith that something will happen that makes us sit still and let go of our thoughts for the first time.  It’s faith that keeps on sitting us down again and again even though our knees hurt and our minds are total chaos. 

Faith is what keeps us going when we sit but nothing seems to happen.  Here we are, having done zazen for a few weeks.  Our mind is as chaotic as the first time, our life is no different. We continue on, trusting that something will come of this.  This trust opens us up to seeing results that are not the ones we expected and realizing that the ones we expected were just our ideas. 

Faith is useful in the raw, painful times in life.  We can face it all and take the next step if we can have faith that there will be light and safety.  In these circumstances, we can have faith in the Buddha’s teachings of impermanence and cause and effect.  All things change, and my actions can help that change along.

Blind faith, however, is not helpful.  It should have the eyes of wisdom.  When we face a difficult situation, faith keeps us going, keeps us acting.  However, though we act we also know that things may not turn out as we wish, though we do our best.  We’re not surprised when, despite our commitment and our effort, things sometimes go south.  We just get up and go on.  Reality operates on probability and random shifts.  It’s not totally determined.

Sometimes, the path we’ve committed to is not effective, so we give it up.  It’s not true faith to continue in a useless direction.  We assess the situation and put our faith in another course of action or set of beliefs.  What seemed helpful may be helpful for others, but not for us.

We give our word to and trust in the Buddha’s teaching and practice it in our lives wherever we are.  We practice everywhere – sitting zazen, making dinner, sending an email, talking to others, standing in the supermarket checkout line.  Our faith enables us to constantly return to our practice, taking us through life with wholeheartedness and steadiness.




Other News 


Help with Reopening

We’re looking toward the time when we can have people in the zendo on Sunday morning again and we need help in figuring out what to do with lights and cameras so that the zendo still feels like a zendo.  And how to take remote participants from the zendo to the discussion room as we transition to tea and social/discussion time. 

If you have ideas or expertise in this realm, please email us.  Zuiko will be very happy to have people to work with.

Friday Noon Zazen on Zoom

Friday noon zazen is available on Zoom.  The link will be turned on at noon and zazen will begin at 12:15 p.m. and end at 12:55 p.m. CST.  Email us for the link. Zuiko would like to sit with you; please come keep her company!

Dharma Talk Summaries

Zuiko posts a summary of the dharma talk each Sunday, and you can be on the list to receive it if you send your name and email address to us here.  The summaries are also available on our Facebook page and web site.

Amazon Smile on Your Smartphone

You can now support the dharma and get the stuff you need while you shop on the Amazon app on your Smartphone!   To sign up, open the Amazon app on your phone, go to the main menu and tap “AmazonSmile,”  select us as your charity, then follow the instructions for activation.

Our small donations accumulate to make a real difference, just as our small moments of practice accumulate to give us wisdom and contentment.


Upcoming Events


May 9: Guest Dharma Talk – Shuji Mintzmeyer

Sunday 9:45 a.m. - after zazen

Rev. Shuji Mintzmeyer is a candidate to succeed Zuiko as our teacher. We invite everyone to come and meet her and hear her dharma. 

Shuji grew up in Iowa and presently lives in Michigan where she leads Just Sit, a small sitting group in Grand Rapids. Shuji practices and teaches in the lineage of Dainin Katagiri Roshi.  She trained with Rev. Nonin Chowaney in Omaha and Rev. Shoken Winecoff at Ryumonji, near Decorah, and at Shasta Abbey.  She received certification to teach from Rev. Eido Espe of Des Moines Zen Center. 

In 2019 she and Zuiko collaborated in the novice ordination of a Clarinda Correctional Facility inmate who is currently training under Shuji’s direction.

Please attend and meet Shuji.  If you don’t have the link, email us and we’ll send it.

May 15 - August 15: Summer Ango


In the Buddha’s time, monks and nuns gathered to practice together during the rainy season.  This was a time for sitting, studying, and taking care of body and mind.  In Japanese, this is called ango – peaceful dwelling.   Buddhist monasteries across the world still observe ango, and we can, too. 


Living in the world, we can intensify our practice by choosing something we can do that’s a bit more than what we usually do and vowing to do it. The choice should fit easily into our lives, so we are able to honor it consistently.  And it need not be grand.  it’s not as important to practice intensely as it is to continue our practice in our daily lives.

Here are some ideas to encourage your creativity at finding something you can do:

we ask that people:

  • Sit at home every day, maybe even just for ten or fifteen minutes.
  • Come to Sunday sitting weekly, twice a month, or once a month.
  • Read dharma – choose a book, read it, and practice with it.
  • Choose a daily-life practice like kindness, generosity, joy for others, or awareness and work on it.
  • Come to noon or evening zazen or sit at home or work as we sit here.
  • Attend all or part of one all-day sitting or sesshin.
If you’re far from the Center, you can still do this. Email us with your commitment. By doing this, we can support each other. On May 14, the day before ango begins, we’ll send you a certificate of participation so you can have a connection during ango.

As you practice, you can post your ango adventures on our web page every so often so everyone can see and we can encourage each other.  We also hope to have a blog on the web site where people can check in and tell of their adventures.

To sign up, email the center with your vow for intensifying your practice and we’ll register you.

May 16: All-Day Sitting

Sunday 5:00 a.m. - 4:40 p.m. CST

All-day sittings are informal times of sitting together ― a chance to do a mini-retreat for a morning or spend an entire day sitting, walking, and chanting. Participants can come and go as their schedules allow. We will have the link on all day and you can come and sit with us anytime. Lunch will be on our own, but participants can sign up for talk with Zuiko at the break after lunch if they want.

Email the Center to register and get the Zoom link. Donations are welcome; there is no fee. A typical all-day sitting schedule is available here.

May 19: Introduction to Zazen on Zoom

7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. CST


Do you or a friend  want to begin participating in the Center?  Or perhaps you’re just interested in Buddhism and what we do here. Come to our introductory evening!  It features zazen instruction and a short period of zazen, along with some information about Buddhism and the Zen tradition, and an opportunity for questions.  Everyone is welcome, whether you’ve been practicing or you’re just curious.   Email us for the link, and we'll send it along.


May 22: Work Day

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. CST

We’ll mostly be doing outside work, though there are a couple of indoor projects.  You’re also welcome to find your own project.
Bring your enthusiasm and come in something you’re comfortable working in. If you see a project you’d like to work on, that can be arranged, too.

Work is the Buddha’s practice. Let’s come and share it together.
We will observe social distancing and masks. If you forget your mask, we can supply you with one. Hand sanitizer will also be available.



Coming in June


June 13: Guest Talk – Rev. Gyokei Yokoyama

9:45 a.m. CST - after zazen

Rev. Gyokei Yokoyama, resident pastor of Long Beach Buddhist Temple and Sozenji Buddhist Temple, will be giving the dharma talk on June 13.  Gyokei-san trained at Eiheiji and spent a number of years ministering in Japan before coming to the United States.  He is one of many young Japanese priests in both Japan and America who seek to put the dharma out there in new and vibrant ways.

June 16: Introduction to Zazen

7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. CST

An introduction to Zen Buddhism and zazen. Donations are welcome; there’s no fee.

June 20: All-Day Sitting

5:00 a.m. - 4:40 p.m. CST

An introduction to Zen Buddhism and zazen. Donations are welcome; there’s no fee.
All-day sittings are informal times of sitting together ― a chance to do a mini-retreat for a morning or spend an entire day sitting, walking, and chanting. Participants can come and go as their schedules allow. We will have the link on all day and you can come and sit with us anytime. Lunch will be on our own, but participants can sign up for talk with Zuiko at the break after lunch if they want.

Email the Center to register and get the Zoom link. Donations are welcome; there is no fee. A typical all-day sitting schedule is available here.   


Monthly Practice & Sitting Opportunities 

(N.B. Please note that these times override those listed in the email footer. Due to an issue with Mailchimp, we are having difficulty editing the email footer, but hope to resolve this soon.)

Sunday Zoom

We’re live-streaming our Sunday activities over Zoom. If you’d like to join us, please send in a request. You can participate either with a video or an audio-only link.
9:00 – 9:40 a.m. CST– Zazen
9:45 – 10:15 a.m. CST – Dharma talk
10:15 a.m. CST – Check-in and discussion (bring your tea)
If you aren’t able to connect by Zoom, you can still connect. Please sit with us at the regular time anyway. If you’d like, you can receive a summary of the dharma talk later in the day. You can get on the list by clicking here. Dharma talks will be posted on the web site during the following week, usually on Tuesday.


6:30 - 8:00 p.m.  CST - Dharma Study
If you’re interested in joining, please contact us.

Third Wednesdays

7:30 – 9:00 p.m. CST -  Introduction to Zazen and the Center

Second and Fourth Fridays

3:00 – 4:00 p.m. CST - Baika

Fourth Sundays

Sangha meeting (following dharma talk)

Weekday Zazen

Zuiko is sitting our regular weekday schedule. Please sit with her wherever you are. Zazen is definitely good for connecting with reality in a sane way.

Morning Zazen

9:00 – 9:40 a.m. CST

Noon Zazen

Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
12:15 – 12:55 p.m. CST

Evening Zazen

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
6:30 – 7:10 p.m. CST


Other Ways to Connect

  Tell Us About Your Experience

Post something on the blog page on the website. This is a place where people can exchange their adventures in practicing in a pandemic and support each other’s practice. If you’d like to be part of that, send us a request and we’ll send the link. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Work in the Dirt

Things are growing rapidly out in the yard and there’s always weeding and pruning to do. If you’d like a little fresh air, soil, and sunshine practice, email us and arrange a time to come over. Zuiko will show you where the tools are and what to do. There are projects for all abilities. Kids are welcome.


Other Sitting & Sangha Opportunities

Bloomington-Normal, Illinois group isn't meeting at the moment but you can connect with them at

Des Moines - Daishin McCabe and Jisho Siebert lead half-day sittings and other events online for the moment. For more information, contact Daishin.

Staying Connected

Listen to Dharma Talks on Itunes

Send us an email

See our posts on Facebook

Join us for a Zoom Dharma Discussion
Mondays at 7p.m. Email us for the link and more information

Pandemic Practice Discussion
A place to leave your thoughts about practice during these times.

Monthly practice

-Currently on hold due to COVID-19-

Third Wednesdays
7:30 – 9:00 p.m.  Introduction to Zazen and the Center

Second and fourth Thursdays
5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Baika

6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Dharma Study

Fourth Sunday
Sangha meeting (following dharma talk)
Click here for more information about Cedar Rapids Zen Center.
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