February retreat with Bernd Bender

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Our dear dharma friend Bernd Bender will offer a retreat in Belfast the weekend of February 15-17. The retreat has three modules: Friday night, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday, and you are welcome to come to one, two or all three parts of the retreat. This offering is dependent on a sufficient number of attendees, so please email us here to register in advance.

Introduction to Zen Meditation:
How to find ease and joy in your everyday life

Zen meditation is a very simple practice which helps us to cope with the stress and increasing complexity of our daily lives.

By just sitting upright in the middle of our thoughts and emotions we can train our mind to be present, flexible and joyful, experience these qualities and integrate them into our daily activities.

This retreat is open to beginners as well as people who already have a meditation practice.

Friday evening will start with an introduction to meditation, followed by a talk on Zen practice. Saturday and Sunday we will sit meditation together, listen to a talk and take time to share and reflect about our own experience.

Please bring lunch to share, and we will eat together in silence.

“I think the 2,500-year-old teachings of Zen are very compatible with our modern forms of living and thinking. Not only has science proven that meditation is a beneficial practice for our well-being, but science is very close to what can be called the ‘world view’ of Zen. So I try to find a contemporary language to express these practices and views in order to make them available to all people.”

—Bernd Bender

Bernd Bender has practised Zen since 1987. He went to California in 1994 to continue his studies at San Francisco Zen Center. Bernd received Dharma transmission (authorization to teach), and in 2012 he moved to Berlin to open Akazienzendo, a place for a contemporary expression of Zen.

In order to make this practice available to anyone who is interested, it is offered on a donation basis. If you can, please give in order to support Zen practice in Belfast. The suggested donation to cover Bernd’s flights and travel costs is £25 for the whole weekend, or £10 for each module. If your funds are limited, please feel free to come and give your interest and effort. 

A New Kind of New Year’s Eve

sunrise new year

December 31, 8pm – midnight

Moment after moment we should renew our life, we should not stick to old ideas of what life is, or what our way of life is. Especially at the end of the year we should completely renew our feelings and completely clean even our cars. If we always stick to old ideas and always repeat the same thing over and over again, then we are confined in our old way of life. Some excitement or some occasion is necessary to encourage us along.” – Suzuki Roshi

As the year winds down, join us in our year-end ceremony of traditional Soto Zen practices:

  • Temple cleaning
  • Toshikoshi noodles (symbolizing “year bridging”)
  • Creating an intention to carry with you into 2019
  • Two periods of sitting and walking zazen
  • Ringing in the New Year with 108 bells (to ward off the 108 delusions of mind!)

Schedule:
8:00 pm – Bow-in together and work circle
9:00 – Vegetarian “year-bridging” noodles
9:45 – Sitting together around the table to write down our intention for the coming year
10:30 – Han begins for zazen
10:40 – Zazen
11:10 – Kinhin
11:25 – Zazen with 108 bells
12:00 – Year end, hugs, and celebration

Make this New Year’s Eve a joyful occasion of rededicating ourselves to practice and wisdom and compassion for all!

Come sit in stillness and presence amidst the raucous energy of the city. Program begins at 8 pm and lasts until after midnight.

Please let us know if you’re coming so we know how many people to plan for; email us here.
Suggested donation: £5 (No one turned away for lack of funds)

May all beings live with the joy of an open heart!

The BMZC Carbon-Offset Forest

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At last, a bit of good news for the planet. At Paul Haller’s request, we’ve spent the last few months investigating ways to offset some of the carbon burden of Paul’s flights from California to Belfast. The wonderful Fr. Ray at Benburb Priory has offered us a free hand with the available land, asking only that we plant local varieties, and we have just received approval from the Woodland Trust for a free tree-pack of 105 saplings – for more information, click here. This beautiful “Working Wood” pack contains a mix of Silver birch, Rowan, Wild cherry, English oak, Field maple and Grey willow trees. We will receive the pack later in the winter and plant them out in early spring, and then our sesshin jobs at Benburb will include weeding and maintaining the young saplings. In the meantime, anyone who has experience in planting trees, please get in touch with us here.