Thursday, 12 December 2013

Re-opening January 2014

With attendance down of late and the year grinding to a close, I'm not going to run sessions for the remaining Mondays of 2013. We'll start again on Monday 6th January 2014 - same time, same place - and see what the New Year brings! Wishing you all a wonderful Xmas, season's blessings to you and your families.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

"Right Where You Stand" - Keizan Sensei in Northampton

As you may already know, Keizan Sensei will be giving a public talk on Friday 1 November 2013 during a brief visit to the area.

You can download the flyer here - please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might be interested in attending this event.

If you know of a venue that would be willing to put out some printed versions of the flyer, please contact me at and I'll send a few out (we're not printing many, but there should be plenty to go round!). If you know of any other avenues to promote this event, please contact me to let me know.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Still here!

Gosh haven't posted in a while - I suspect that just means it's been business as usual. We're still at it, keeping those zafus warm on Monday evenings, come along and join us!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Back from my hols...

Was good to get back to the zazen group this evening (though odd not having Carol there...!). Was both very pleased and also perhaps a little disappointed that it turns out my presence is hardly required any more... seems as if everyone got on just fine in my absence. A bit ambivalent about that...!

So - thanks to Rob for doing the fetching & carrying, and to all the rest of you for turning up and doing all the other tasks necessary for the group to continue functioning - tea, set-up, tidy-up, bells, discussion... all of that. Thanks for turning up.

Next Monday there'll be no zazen - August Bank Holiday weekend of course. Back to normal thereafter all the way through to Rohatsu & the Christmas season, with Sensei's visit/talk on the 1st November to look forward to.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Crosby sesshin details available

Just announced today, details of the second of the year's major sesshins held in Crosby. The October sesshin is led by Tenshin Roshi and Keizan Sensei, and is considered by many to be the highlight of the StoneWater year.  Bookings are now open, and the earlier you book the better.

Dates: 20th-26th October
Cost: £280 (concessions available)
Flyer available to download... share freely!

This year's proceeds will go towards the rebuilding and renovation of Yokoji Zen Mountain Center after the fire & flood which caused so much damage recently.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Change of email address

Just a quick note to say that the contact email address for the zeNN1 StoneWater Zen Northampton group has changed as of today - please from now on use to get in touch.

The previous address (admin@SWZ) will continue to be used as a general contact address for the whole UK sangha, and it will usually be received by Andy Tanzan Scott in Liverpool.

Bon Voyage Carol & Paul

We said goodbye to our stalwart member Carol, who will be leaving next week for Thailand with husband Paul - a good excuse to go to the pub for a quick one (かんぱい!) instead of reading from the Platform Sutra and having tea & biccies!

I'd like to say a special thank-you to Carol for the energy she's put into this group over the last almost two years. Carol, your steadfast attendance almost every week over this time has been a great gift to me and the rest of the group. Turning up week after week, rain or shine, that's great Zen practice; regardless of whether you binged when you were supposed to bong!

You've also been unfailingly cheerful and continually helping out with the chores that keep the whole thing running. Making tea isn't a big deal... making tea every week is a great service to us all, and you'll be missed.

Wishing you and Paul the very best on your new adventure, and hope to see you when you pop back to N'hants every now and then.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

First service in Northampton...

So given the absence of the Music Appreciation Society for their summer break, we had our first opportunity this week to hold service after zazen. Only a few of us had ever done service before, but given our collective inexperience, I thought it went very well indeed.

I said I'd upload the service sheet for folks to have a look at - so here it is: Service sheet. I've edited it slightly to include a translation for the Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo as well as the Evening Gatha that we wind things up with each day.

I mentioned that we don't have a mokugyo that we'd normally use for keeping the time when chanting... here's a picture of one, just to make the page more interesting!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A personal note...

At home, ironing my disobedient zagu (!), listening to Keizan Sensei on a downloaded talk, and hearing the voices of my dharma brothers and sisters in Liverpool. Miss you all.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Poem: "The Human Route"

Kevin brought in a poem this evening, and I thought I'd share it here, too.
Coming empty handed, going empty handed, that is human
When you are born, where do you come from?
When you die, Where do you go?
Life is like a floating cloud, which appears.
Death is like a floating cloud, which disappears.
The floating cloud itself originally does not exist.
Life and death, coming and going, are also like that.
But there is one thing that always remains clear.
It is pure and clear,
Not depending on life and death.

Then what is the one and clear thing?
I said at the time that I thought this was written by Seung Sahn Sunim (founder of the Kwan Um School of Zen), but it turns out its origin is less certain, and perhaps dates back to T'ang dynasty China (618-907CE). Not sure how true this is, or how to evaluate it, but I suspect that Seung Sahn at least wrote the last line.

Thanks, Kevin...

Monday, 10 June 2013

Survey of meditators for sangha member doing MSc...

One of the members of the Liverpool sangha, Martie Kodo Griffiths, is currently doing an MSc at Liverpool Hope University and is looking for participants for his research into the relationship between dissociation, mindfulness, meaning in life, quality of life, depression and anxiety. Participation is of course entirely voluntary, but shouldn't take more than around 15 mins, he reckons - it's just the filling in of an online questionnaire.

If you'd be willing to help out, you can find the questionnaire online, along with a bit more information about the study.

Friday, 7 June 2013

New website for SWZ

It's taken a lot of work (almost none of it mine, it must be said!) but the new StoneWater Zen website is now up.  Have a butchers:

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Keizan Sensei to visit in November

Have been organising for Keizan Sensei to come down to Northampton, and it looks like we have a date. He'll be visiting to run a day-long event for Masters students at the university, but we're going to organise a public talk the previous evening.

The date will be evening of the 1st November 2013, venue to be arranged. The talk is likely to be an introduction to Zen practice, and we'll have to have a think about how best to spread the word to get people along.  It would be nice if his lead to greater numbers for our weekly sits, but I'm trying not to pin any hopes on it.

More details in due course.

Monday, 3 June 2013


This was posted on the Soto Zen Buddhism Facebook group today, and I thought it was fantastic.

The question is:

Where is the bird?

Leave answers in the comments section, if you're feeling adventurous...

Friday, 12 April 2013

Sesshin, jukai, and business as usual

Right, sesshin is over, and it's back to business as normal, with zazen this Monday at 7.30 as ever.

I'm very pleased to be able to congratulate Rob Kizan Pettitt on receiving the precepts at a jukai ceremony last Friday. The rakasu is sewn, the bows are bowed, now the cushion beckons...! Was very pleased to be able to be there for the ceremony, and to play a small part.

My dharma brother Andy Tanzan Scott sent me this snap from right after the ceremony...

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Off to Crosby...

Sesshin starts today - driving up later with Rob. Knees seem to be aching already in anticipation...

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

April closing

We will not be meeting for two weeks in April. Obviously Easter Monday (April 1st) is off, but the following Monday we will be closed too. The next time we meet will be on Monday 15th April.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Sesshin in Suffolk (July 2013)

Recently posted on the SWZ Events page: Keizan Scott Sensei will be leading a 5-day sesshin at Ringsfield Hall, nr Lowestoft, on 22-26 July.

A flyer for the sesshin is available to download - please distribute as you see fit.

From the listing:

A retreat to be held in Suffolk with Keizan Sensei. The schedule will be one of traditional Zen training with sitting and walking meditation, private interviews and dharma talks. It is a great opportunity to begin or renew training with an experienced teacher in an authentic and traditional lineage.

The retreat is open to absolute beginners with optional introductory classes in Zen Form and Practice especially for newcomers. Meals will be vegetarian. Part time participants are welcome.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A visit to Moulton Primary

Today I spent some time at Moulton Primary, leading a Buddhist assembly with the whole school from Year 1 to Year 6.

We talked about the Three Poisons - they're usually listed as Greed, Anger and Ignorance, but I tried to put things in a more accessible format:

  • Being selfish and greedy
  • Getting angry
  • Getting confused and frustrated

(That last interpretation very much inspired by my own son!)

Instead of behaving in these ways, I talked about trying to practice the opposites: the antidotes, asking if the kids could be (i) generous, (ii) kind and compassionate, and (iii) recognising when we're being upset or selfish and clearly deciding that we don't have to behave that way.

The kids were fantastic - so attentive and curious, so bold in their questions. We did a short metta meditation and then learned how to do gassho to say goodbye. Half the kids ended up filing past me to leave the hall, and I ended up doing a lot of gassho-ing!

Thanks to all the kids who were so wonderful, and to Miss Wilson for inviting me for their special Buddhist assembly.

Moulton Primary School

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Return to yourself...

From Master Hua's commentary on the Prajna chapter of the Platform Sutra:

You need not wait. See right through it, and suddenly, you don’t know how, you are enlightened. Strange and unspeakably wonderful. You return to yourself and regain your original mind.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Platform Sutra

Thought I'd pop in links to the two translations of the Platform Sutra that I brought with me this week.

McRae's translation is hosted by the wonder "TheZenSite", at  The other - the one with the commentary by Ven Master Hua - can be found at  Both fairly substantial docs, especially the latter.

Huineng, attributed author of the Platform Sutra

Monday, 14 January 2013

Cancellation 14/1/2013

Apologies for the short notice, but I'm just not going to be able to make it this evening because of health stuff. Went back to work today, but that was perhaps a bit ambitious, and have had a bit of a setback.  Boo.  Off to bed.