Mondo Zen | Hollow Bones | Friends of Zen

April/May, 2012

The Wedding of
Vicara Mary and Junpo Denis in Paradise

by Dai En Hi Fu

The island of Kauai is called “Paradise” by its residents including myself. So when Junpo and Vicara decided to get married last year, it was no surprise that they called me to ask if I would officiate.  The date was set for the 18th of March, 2012.

The wedding party arrived the Friday before the wedding and included Vanessa, Denis’ daughter, and Caitlin, Mary’s daughter. Vanessa had flown in early after a 36 hour trip from Africa. Caitlin arrived with Denis and Mary. It was my pleasure to greet them with our traditional flower necklace, the lei, at the small Kauai airport.

After some sightseeing Saturday looking at possible beach sites, Junpo and Mary decided to hold the wedding at the place they were staying.

The day of the wedding was typical Kauai winter weather – on and off rain, clouds and sunshine, and wind. The wedding took place in two stages. First, out of doors, a Kahuna provided chanting and hula dancing in celebration of the marriage as an event bound to the natural setting of mountain and sea ruled by the Goddess Pele. It was particularly apt that it started to rain and thunderous sounds like voices came out of nowhere – a truly auspicious beginning for an eternal relationship.

Following the traditional Hawaiian ceremony I officiated as the wedding master.  Junpo, Vicara, and I had prepared the wedding service specifically for the occasion. An incense ceremony purified the 10 directions and 3 periods of time. We took refuge and the precepts as a community joining our hearts with Junpo and Vicara to celebrate the true meaning of rebirth in all lifetimes.  Junpo and Vicara stood inside a circle of flowers (Hannya Entso) as they kissed . We all bowed recognizing the meaning of all events as described by the Buddha to his disciple Subhuti. 

"Subhuti, how can one explain this Sutra to others without holding in mind any arbitrary conception of forms or phenomena or spiritual truths? It can
only be done, Subhuti, by keeping the mind
in perfect tranquility and free
from any attachment to appearances.

So I say to you -
This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:
'Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble
floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion,
a phantom, or a dream.'
So is all conditioned existence to be seen."


The Wait is Over

by Caitlin Frackelton

The ceremony took place at Chrissy's residence, nestled in the rolling valleys of northern Kauai. On the upper level balcony, sheltered by the sea and overlooking a vast lawn ending in a seemingly eternal array of tropical forests, it appeared as though we were the only ones on the island.

Commencing the ceremony in the early evening and standing in a circle of purple leis, the hula dancer sang a blessing in the island's tongue. Almost immediately, she brought with her the rain; the earth seemed to know that it was time. Stepping inside the fragrant circle of flowers, Hi Fu then led Vicara and Jun Po through the wedding vows while Vanessa and I stood to the side.

This short but magnificently sweet ceremony led to the exchange of rings - rings not able to be bought at just any store, but handcast by Jun Po's niece Shannon and forged from the melted gold of his infamous frogs. A single diamond lies sunken into the center of each ring: his from Vicara's mother's engagement ring, and hers from his private collection of jewels.

He had been waiting over thirty years to give this diamond to someone. 


Finding Stillness:  Embarking on a Six-Day Zen Retreat

by Scott Youmans (pre-sesshin reflections)

I’ve never done this before: willingly embarked on a multi-day meditation retreat. It has been something that I have wanted to do for seemingly a lifetime now, beginning with boyhood visions of emulating Kwai Chang Caine, the character in the Kung Fu TV series.

Over time my understanding of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy increased, and I came to value their ethical perspectives, especially in our fast-paced, competitive, and sometimes selfish western ways.

Finally, though, I discovered Coleman Barks’ poetic interpretations of the Sufi mystic Rumi, and my heart was blown open, like a gentle breeze guiding magnolia petals toward some unknown place and time. I carry this image with me into the retreat as an expectation that a part of me will be blown open, swept clean, and able to be present for the divine.

We are a sacred order
bringing into being
a harmonious and loving world,
through the practice of meditative,
compassionate awareness
and mindful stewardship.

– Mondo Zen Mission Statement

It is no accident that I am going on this retreat during the Holy Week of two Abrahamic faith traditions: Judaism and Christianity. This time of Passover and of the Passion of Christ is a holy time for many, and just as the children of Abraham gather to tell stories of their past and celebrate its wonders, so, too, do I gather with spiritual community to share stories and take on spiritual practice. And after a period of time, I will emerge with a different perspective and understanding - and possibly a backache.

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal, of being witness to the unfolding mystery of life as we watch brilliance burst from seemingly dead and barren sticks, twigs, and earth.

The full moon (last night) is a signal to be mindful of what we’d like to let go of - old ways and means that no longer serve us - in order to make room for ways and means that do serve who we are now, and who we are in the process of becoming.

Find a stillness, hold a stillness, let the stillness carry me. Find the silence, hold the silence, let the silence carry me. In the spirit, by the spirit, with the spirit giving power. I will find true harmony.

– Carl Seaburg based on a
Unitarian Transylvanian Text

I’ve been playing this hymn – Find a Stillness – in my mind for the past few days, and I’m struck by how much is said in so few words. The gift in this passage is that the silence and stillness is something both within me and beyond me, something that I can seek and hold, and also something that I can surrender to and be held by.

(continued next column)




May 4-6 - 3-day Mondo Zen retreat at Still Point Zen Center in Wisconsin led by Meru Doug Szper. Contact:

May 12-19, 2012 - 7-day Mondo Zen Teacher Training led by Jun Po Roshi at Sunrise Ranch near Loveland, Colorado (full - contact for the waiting list)

July 10-15 - 6-day Mondo Zen Sesshin led by Jun Po Roshi at Creighton Retreat Center in Griswold, Iowa.

September 22-28, 2012 - 6-day Silent Sesshin led by Doshin Roshi at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center in California.

September 24-30, 2012 - 7-day Mondo Zen Teacher Training led by Jun Po Roshi at Venwoude International in the Netherlands.

October 13-20, 2012 - 7-day Mondo Zen Sesshin led by Jun Po Roshi at Sunrise Ranch near Loveland, Colorado.

November 24-December 1, 2012 - Rohatsu 7-day Sesshin led by Jun Po Roshi at the Norbertine Center for Spirituality in Green Bay, WI.

Visit the Retreat Calendar on the website for more information.    

Jun Po's Biography

A Heart Blown Open: The Life & Practice of Zen Master Jun Po Denis Kelly Roshi by Keith Martin-Smith is available now on Amazon.     

The Spirit Has Mingled

May these nuptials be blessed for us, may this marriage
be blessed for us,
May it be ever like milk and sugar, this marriage
like wine and halvah.

May this marriage be blessed with leaves  and fruits like the date tree;

May this marriage be laughing forever, today,tomorrow,
like the hour is of paradise.

May this marriage be the sign of compassion and the approval of happiness here and hereafter;

May this marriage be fair of fame, fair of face and fair of omen
as the moon in the azure sky.

 I have fallen silent for words cannot describe how the spirit has mingled
with this marriage.

~ Rumi 

Amsterdam Sesshin

Over 40 people participated in the February sesshin in Amsterdam.  Four people took jukai: 

Torei Mauk Pieper 
(Ascending Emptiness)
Jiryu Leon Gras
(Compassion Dragon)
Mukti Franken Toon
(Gentle Companion)
Tenshin Charles Crutchfield   (Universal Mind)

... Stillness (cont'd.)

This surrender is what I hope to bring to my practice this week, to approach it with a child’s mind, unencumbered by the weight of my world.

May you find stillness or silence in your own way, may this holy week of spring offer you beauty and magic and remind you of the beauty and magic that you are.

Zenrin Jo Tai
Jeff Goodman

 Sept. 2, 1953- April 22, 2012

Zenrin unexpectedly passed away in his sleep, the result of a brain aneurysm.  More information here.


Zenrin, my beloved brother,

I miss you and will remember the unique gift that you were to us and all of the times we shared.

In your leaving, we get the teaching:  Do not wait to love fully, do not hesitate to awaken.  You inspired me.

Eternal unconditional love to you, Zenrin.           

Jun Po                     


I will not send you my poems
they are the fallen past
petals decaying.

the morning sunrise is a lightening
of dark not so
dramatic as the rosey
glow when the sun has set.

the texas heat is burnt air scorched
earth all around and new life
is preparing to break
open once summer's back
is broken
and I can breathe again

Zen Rin








Mondo Zen's Mission from our Sutra Book

You're receiving this newsletter because you've subscribed on
Not interested anymore? Unsubscribe. Having trouble viewing this email? View in your browser.

©2013 Mondo Zen - All Rights Reserved.