Zazenkai Report 5-7 July 2019


In the foothills of kunanyi/Mt Wellington at Kunanyi House, Fern Tree, fifteen retreatants gathered to meet for a weekend of practice with Kirk Fisher, an apprentice teacher in the Diamond Sangha lineage.  

Three days on the mountain, sitting with the mountain, sitting as the mountain, being the mountain – zazen felt strong and deep as everyone practised sincerely in the dojo and the grounds of Kunanyi House.

Reflections from the garden ponds, adjacent to the dojo, adjacent to the altar, mirror the mind of stillness, the mind of equanimity, clear and deep right to the bottom … and this echoed through and around the dojo as we sat with the warming fire, with the ravens, the currawongs, the kookaburras, with each other … continuing to sit with the creak of the floorboards, the ripple of wind through the roof lines, the tick of the fire, myriad sounds from the kitchen as meals were prepared and announced with an accelerando of a wooden spoon on a metal pot lid … and answered with a ding on a handbell.

Practice sincerely, continue to sit assiduously and the fruits of practice will begin to emerge.

Memories and re-working of words heard in the dojo – from a distance the river looks certain – a slash of curved ribbon carving through the landscape . Close up the river is not the river – it is made up of myriad things – water, riverbank, cliff, rock outcrop, pebble, sand, fish, insect, spider, tree and bush, leaf and twig, bird … from a distance the mountain looks certain, looks like a mountain. Close up we can’t see the mountain – when we are on the mountain the mountain is not the mountain – yet it is the mountain actualized by myriad things.

Kirk’s teisho’s (dharma talks) explored the koan, “what is the sound of one hand?”, formulated by Zen master Hakuin Ekaku, and the question “what is troth?”. Sitting with the latter as an enquiry elicited a number of responses – the sound of the bell, what is a true person?, how to be of service?, how to cultivate sangha deeply rooted in practice?, how to challenge the architecture of power in society where there are imbalances and inequalities, a poem, a song, artistic expression, simplicity, non-judgemental way of being …

This dedication was offered by Kirk in the closing ceremony: 

We dedicate the virtue and merit of this practice to the living beings of this, the Derwent estuary and river, who gather under the shadow of kunanyi, a living presence. 

Thoreau wrote: We don’t know the future, but we can have trust in a seed. 

May our practice be a seed that begins growth in this place. May these roots extend outwards and inwards, in the hearts of those who suffer and are alienated, and for the healing and wholeness of the earth. May all beings be well.

Kirk has offered the following words of encouragement for us all to consider.

“Our practice is like a river, drawing on waters from far and near. In the same way, our retreats and weekly practice is open to all practitioners. Don’t hold back! Dive in. That’s how our practices merge and flow! It helps to plan retreats in advance. We have practitioners and teachers that come from all over Australia, so the earlier you commit your resources to the event, the better the planning is for everyone.”

Our next planned teaching event will be with Roshi Susan Murphy to be held in Hobart from 28 November to 5 December 2019.

what’s left
after the raucous cries of ravens
deep stillness

a deep bow