Rev. Zenku Jerry Smyers

With Deepest Gratitude

Soon after I first met Roshi in the early 70s, I knew that it was very important for me to become his disciple. Roshi’s depth of understanding and keen interest in helping serious students, along with a very approachable midwestern style, was a wonderful combination for an American Zen student at that time. All of Roshi’s key teachers, Sri Nerode, Matsuoka Roshi, and Professor Ho Chi Kwang, were from Asia, yet Roshi remained as American as the jazz piano which he adeptly played.

Spring O-Higan

Welcome everyone to our Spring O-Higan observance. O-Higan is that time of year, at the equinox, when the earth is at a unique point of balance. Day and night are of equal length everywhere on the earth. This happens twice each year at the autumnal equinox around September 21, in the fall, and around March 21 at the spring equinox. The extremes found in nature during winter and summer have given way to moderation and balance. This is the time when the direct rays of the sun are crossing and shinning directly at the equator. An image out of 2001: A Space Odyssey comes to mind.

The Other Shore

Good Morning everyone, welcome to the Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago’s annual observance of Spring O-Higan. O-Higan comes twice each year at the spring and fall equinox. At O-Higan time there is great balance in nature, and this balance is on a planetary scale. The sun is directly above the equator causing the days and nights to be of equal length, thus influencing the overall earth climate to be more moderate and balanced. When compared with the extremes of winter and summer, O-Higan is a strong image and influence for moderation and balance.

O-Bon Special Service

Welcome everyone to our O-Bon Special Service. At O-Bon we stop to remember, reflect upon, and celebrate our deceased friends, family, and Buddhist ancestry. It is traditional to celebrate O-Bon in the month of July or August.

Let Go of Imbalance

Good morning, and welcome to our first observance of Spring O-Higan in this new millennium. Our celebration of O-Higan is a wonderful tradition. We have been observing O-Higan, both spring and fall, at this Temple since its inception by Matsuoka Roshi in 1949. And we can assume that O-Higan has been a significant date for our lineage going all the way back to Dogen, the founder of our Soto Zen Sect, and beyond. O-Higan was certainly our late Abbot Kongo Roshi’s favorite holiday.

Being Present

It is very good to be back in Chicago, sitting with all of you, at the Temple this morning. I am really struck by the strength of the practice, the strength that we gain by sitting together.


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