The journey to the unknown

As many of you know, after living eight years in Upaya Zen Center, I completed residential training and decided to embark upon a solo journey in February of this year.

I left UZC feeling very grateful to Roshi Joan, Upaya residents, and all the people that I met throughout my years in service there. But I also left with fear -- a good fear!-- to embrace the unknown and trust the path.

The beginning was rocky; my car broke down near Las Cruces and I saw it was a "reality check" experience. I had to let go of my gift car and my initial plans! But it seems to me now that the universe held something else for me.

As soon I got to Cordoba, Veracruz (my hometown), people started asking me to offer Zen meditation workshops, so I said yes!  Soon I presented 3 talks and 2 workshops in Mexico City, Cordoba and Tepeaca, Puebla. In the last 2 cities, sitting groups formed as a result, and are now meeting weekly. I am planning to do some teaching with these Sanghas this winter.

The trail south also took me to Mar de Jade in the state of Nayarit, Mexico. It is a beautiful place where Laura Del Valle the founder, has created a resort for Yoga and Zen retreats. Roshi Norman Fischer has been holding zen retreats there for the last 20 years, as does Ven. Gou Yan Fa Shi, (successor of the late Zen master Ven, Sheng Yen). It has been in operation for the last 30 years and is a source of employment for people in the region. Laura is a Bodhisattva, really, she is so much into engaged Buddhism, serving many people through health, education and employment offerings.

During my stay, I volunteered in an after school program supported by Mar de Jade: "Club de Niños".  I also had the opportunity to co-teach with Laura, Rick Slone and Reiren (priests from San Francisco Zen Center). We did a day of sitting, and a 5-day Sesshin for Mexican people. It was very well received.

I returned to the U.S. in May to do a Zazenkai for the Southern Palm Zen Group in Florida, thanks to the invitation of Sensei Jane Fayasash. After spending 2 months in Mar De Jade working with children from the very poor village of Las Varas, Nayarit, arriving in Boca Raton, FL. was shocking for me. However, the Zazenkai was well attended and I spent much of the time doing practice interviews. Afterwards, I headed to the Northeast, to hold a Zazenkai at High Meadow Farms (thanks to Charlie and Holly Watts for the opportunity and for welcoming me to this beautiful land) in New Hampshire.   To be continued ....