Dharma Rain Blog

Dharma Rain News

Ken Barker sent three lovely pictures – two of birds, and one of a rabbit. You can find a list of birds spotted at Dharma Rain by those participating in eBird. This is a citizen science project, a network of local, national, and international partners. They have a list of 94 species spotted and recorded on Dharma Rain’s property.

Here’s our old friend the crow – many of these on site, of course.

Wednesday Work Parties
Dharma Rain hosts regular Wednesday work parties from around 9am to 3:30pm. There is plenty of work for people to do, inside and outside, light and heavy. Come for as much or as little of the time as you wish. We have tools and gloves, but if you have your own, feel free to bring them. We have a mid-day sit from 11:30am to 12:25pm. If you are around at 12:30pm, we feed you lunch.

Denkoe Sesshin to be Cloistered

Each year we study a chapter of the Denkoroku as a way of honoring and learning from our ancestors. This year, April 16-21, Denkoe is a cloistered retreat on a trial basis. There are two entry points, at the Monday night beginning or on Friday for the weekend, with participants staying for the entire retreat or the entire weekend. Pre-registration is required, and closes April 11.

The drop-in schedule is as follows:

5am-5:50 Zazen
5:50 Kinhin
6-6:50 Zazen
6:50-7:20 Service

[Breakfast through dinner closed]

7pm-7:35 Zazen
7:35 Kinhin
7:45-8:20 Zazen / Dharma Talk
8:30-9 Zazen
9-9:15 Formal Tea
9:15-9:25 Vespers

As the Dharma Wheel Turns

Visiting Sangha Leaders

On March 24, the sixteen participants and three staff who worked together in an intensive 10-day training for sangha leaders finished their time together. Three of the participants shared short dharma talks that they developed in the course of the training to give the rest of us a taste of what they’ve did. People came from near and far to do this training, staying here, sharing meals and the schedule, and enjoying some outings. Kakumyo, Jiko, and Jyoshin organized and presented the training.

This presentation was Sunday, March 24.

Dharma Rain News

This week’s weather has been outstanding, and the moon rising over Rocky Butte was spectacular. The visiting Sangha Leaders have enjoyed March at its best.


Anicca, or Impermanence, looms large among our basic Buddhist teachings. It’s one of the three characteristics of existence and is intimately related to the Four Noble Truths. Impermanence seems pretty straightforward – everything changes. It’s pretty easy to accept that intellectually, but not so easy to live in congruence with it. Why do we struggle so hard to avoid impermanence? What are our often unconscious strategies for avoiding it? How can we avoid avoiding it? Who are we when we don’t avoid it? We explore these questions together.

This talk was given Sunday, March 17.


A special thank you in three directions. First, we received a very generous, $250,000 gift from an anonymous donor, paying out over 10 years. This gift helps reduce our debt over time. Secondly, Nancy Kodo Conover and David Ellston forgave their $45,000 portion of the Semble loan. Dharma Rain took out this loan from friends and members in order to complete the purchase of the site. Including this recent gift, $150,000 of this loan has been forgiven so far. Finally, we received a $46,000 bequest from the estate of Carolyn Glass, a former participant and member of Siskiyou Cohousing. See more information on planned giving or the Branching Streams Society. We are deeply grateful for, and inspired by, the generosity of all of our donors.

New Lay Disciples; Garden Waking Up

On March 9, six people became lay disciples. Kakumyo’s students are Minshu, Honei, Yusatsu, Sokuchu, and Zuiryu. Jiko’s student is Daiko. All of them have sewn rakusus and met all other criteria for becoming lay disciples. The sangha rejoices.

The weather is slowly getting better, and we are beginning to work outdoors again. Wednesday’s work party saw lots of mowing and spiffing up the grounds in preparation for guests. Compost processing is happening. Here, Ember tenderly cares for a special worm bin.

The SOTO of Zen

Richard Fumyo Mishaga
Especially during challenging times or when experiencing personal difficulties, we can find comfort by focusing on our core practice – our Soto style of Zen. Fumyo highlights some practical aspects of our Soto Zen including its beginnings as a unique style and its subtle pragmatism. He also touches on deep questions at the heart of our everyday koans and, finally, on the student-teacher relationships that overlay the whole of practice.

This talk was given Sunday, March 3.

What is a Teacher For?

Sallie Jiko Tisdale
Several people became lay disciples this week. The decision to enter a formal teaching relationship is a serious one. But it’s not magic – teaching takes place both in and out of such a relationship. What does a teacher do? How do we work with the embodiment in front of us?

This talk was given Sunday, March 10.

Fujaku and Frog Song

Fujaku gave a lesson in putting up a curtain rod to the students of Frog Song this morning. The children watched him work with great interest and had many helpful suggestions!