Zen Mountain Monastery

It’s a good thing I’m playing catch up. Since I’m not doing anything exciting right now, it gives me an opportunity to write about other things.

This summer, I took some time off to go to a photo retreat at Zen Mountain Monastery.  It’s location is Mount Tremper in the Catskills in New York State.  The abbot there is John Daido Loori.  He trained under Minor White, one of the great masters in photography.  His training with Minor White opened the world of spiritual seeking and zen.  Daido Roshi’s book, The Eight Gates of Zen, is the book piqued my interest in zen.

The monastery is an old Christian monastery in a beautiful setting.  The schedule was to sit zazen every morning from 6 – 8 AM.  Then there was work practice for a couple of hours.  Daido Roshi gave a talk in the afternoon before sending us off on a photo assignment.  After dinner, there was zazen until 9 PM and then lights out.  The schedule was very much like sesshin or a zen retreat.

I was drawn to the monastery’s cemetery, Nirvana Forest.  A lovely, peaceful place surrounded by pines.  The grave markers were simple wood as you would find in temples in Japan.  Taizan Maezumi’s stupa is there.  An article on the ZMM site says that the first creature buried in the cemetery was a dog. 

Here is a link to photographs…in the forest, at the cemetery.

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