Fall Newsletter 2020

Dear Sangha,

Greetings from Crestone Mountain. Change is in the air as the aspen and apricot trees lose their yellow leaves, and autumn submits to the suggestions of winter. Things have changed too at Crestone Mountain Zen Center. We would like to share the most important changes in this newsletter:

  • Leadership Changes at CMZC
  • Changes to Membership
  • CMZC Residents
  • Daily Practice and Upcoming Events
  • COVID Retreats
  • Retreat Cabin Project
Leadership Changes at CMZC

After twenty years of living and practicing at the Crestone Mountain Zen Center, Zenki Christian Dillo Roshi, his wife Sophie, and his disciples Gil, Bryant, and Kevin have moved to Boulder to continue the development of the Boulder Zen Center into an Urban Residential Practice Center in the former Briar Rose B&B.

During Zenki Roshi’s years at CMZC, he transformed the grounds aesthetically, maintained and improved the buildings, greatly improved and stabilized the finances, was the Head Teacher, led Practice Periods, and committed the Center to a responsible environmental presence in the world. CMZC is a better and stronger place because of him. The Dharma Sangha in the USA and Europe are grateful for all that Zenki Roshi accomplished at the Center.

Given his years of committed practice and presence at CMZC, Sangha members and others, here and in Europe are wondering why this change in leadership has taken place. In this newsletter, we would like to briefly give you a feel for our perspectives on this change.
At the beginning of this year, it became clear that changes were necessary at CMZC. We lacked an adequate number of residents to maintain the Center – and there was no clarity about how to resolve the problem. At the same time, for personal reasons, Zenki Roshi was expressing an interest in spending less time in Crestone and committing more energy to continue the development of the Sangha in Boulder.

During this process, it was clear that differences had been building for years between Baker Roshi and Zenki Roshi regarding their conception of practice and their vision for the future of the Center. While there is no one single way to form a healthy Sangha and skillfully steer it, any Sangha which is to flourish must have cohesion, mutuality, and a shared vision. However, Baker Roshi had come to feel that this mutuality was no longer possible between them.

Nevertheless, and again, there is not just one way to live and develop a Sangha, so it is the hope of each of us at Crestone Mountain Zen Center that these developments bear beneficial fruit for Zenki Roshi and his disciples.

Changes to Membership

Beginning in 2021, Crestone Mountain Zen Center and Boulder Zen Center will create separate membership programs. All current Dharma Sangha Membership donations will go 100% to Boulder Zen Center after January 1st. Therefore, Crestone will soon launch its own membership program and we’ll invite you to decide how you would like to define your membership and support.

CMZC Residents

In addition to Zentatsu Baker Roshi, the current residents at CMZC include:

Co-Director, Ino, and online-programs technical director Brian DeCamp, his wife Lyndsay Rose, and their lively and lovely 17-month old son Atlas, who will greet you with a big “haaya” when you meet.

Co-Director, Treasurer, and assistant to Baker Roshi, Anne Ross emerges from a five-year hiatus from CMZC community life to join others to help CMZC develop a new residential sangha.

Tenzo Laurie Nusbaum is realizing a long-held hope to practice, live, and work in the community and to support CMZC’s continuation.

Russell Smith has practiced with the Dharma Sangha for many years in Santa Fe, Crestone, and Boulder. He is a former director of CMZC and a Dharma Sangha board member.

Keith McGuinnes, Guest Manager and tech-partner with Brian in developing our online presence. Keith has a part-time schedule as a lay-monastic experiment. He is recovering from a difficult year of cancer and chemotherapy and is very grateful to be continuing his healing process in this community.

Mark Bluestein, a much-loved Sangha member who is appreciated as one of CMZC’s “founders”, he recently slipped away for a three-month silent, solo retreat. We look forward to his return later this winter.

We are also grateful to two students new to CMZC, but not new to Zen: Honen Myrio, and Emily Gitlin, who have been practicing with us since September.

Other News

We understand that Ryokan Gary Hardin will continue to support BZC’s regular practice as he has for many years and will assist Zenki Roshi with developing the practice and lodging offerings. While BZC is no longer formally affiliated with Dharma Sangha, we would like to acknowledge the tremendous effort Gary has extended over the past decade and a half running the Briar Rose B&B, and his instrumentality in coalescing the Boulder Sangha. It is largely due to his sustained vision and commitment that the possibility of developing an urban-monastic practice center at BZC is now being realized.

We are sad to report that Reynold Bean, a long-time resident of CMZC, passed away in his room at the Boulder Zen Center in early September. He is missed!

Daily Practice and Upcoming Events

The daily monastic practice continues at CMZC, with a 4:30 wake-up bell, two periods of Zazen in the morning and one in the evening, oryoki breakfast, and 5 hours of work a day. We are developing our skills at online streaming, hosting two online talks by Baker Roshi each week. The international edition occurs on Sunday mornings, where his talks are translated into German for our European Sangha. Tuesday evenings, Baker Roshi gives an untranslated English lecture in a more traditional Teisho format, with the drum, densho bell, and chanting included in the streaming. Online discussion follows each talk.

We have several upcoming events, all with online participation possible. Please be patient as we work out the details and costs. It is also possible to join us in-person for student practice and events if you can self-quarantine and Covid test (or strictly quarantine for two weeks) before arrival. Please contact us for more information. For student participation, we recommend that you arrive on Tuesday if possible, so that you can attend the weekly lecture. In terms of practice, a stay from Tuesday to Monday is the “smoothest” as it corresponds with our practice rhythm.

COVID Retreats

We can accommodate up to 6-8 retreatants at any given time for personal retreat. Retreatants receive three carefully prepared vegetarian meals a day. Every retreatant has a private bathroom and the ability to remain in isolation from other guests and students. For more information, please see our website. We have space for additional retreatants through the end of the year. A recent guest remarked after her stay: “Thank you so much for your practice and offering a space for personal retreat during this time. What a deep and lovely gift it has been to stay and practice here.”

Retreat Cabin Project

A shortage of housing has frequently been a limiting factor for CMZC, affecting both how many guests we can accommodate at one time, as well as how many students we can house. We have begun taking steps towards the construction of four retreat cabins, each with a private bathroom and kitchenette. Baker Roshi is developing initial plans with an Architect and Zen Teacher, Ionut Nedelcu, who is a professor of architecture in Bucharest, Romania.

Always Welcome

Please contact us, if you – old friends and new, practitioners and retreatants – are interested in joining this cloistered monastic zen practice community for a short or longer-term stay.

Warmly,
Keith, Russell, Anne, and the entire Crestone Dharma Sangha