Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: Brief Bulletin

April 4, 2017

A day without work, a day without food.

This week we have our first work retreat going on at Mountain Cloud. This is more or less the first phase of the “First Phase” of our development plans. A crew of varying size is working on moving Cabin 1 and creating the new maintenance shed out of it, in preparation for the construction of our residency “cottage” later in the year.

Master Hyakujo lived to the ripe old age of 94 (720-814 CE). Even as a very old man, he would go out and work every day in the fields. One day the monks took his tools and hid them, fearing for his frail health, so he couldn’t go to work.

He didn’t eat all that day. When the monks asked him why he wasn’t eating, he famously replied:

“A day without work, a day without food.”

They gave him back his tools, he went back to work, and he agreed to start eating again…. thus reminding us that our practice is not confined to the cushion, and that taking care of the places that nourish and support us is an integral part of life and practice.

Hyakujo is credited with establishing Zen’s monastic codes, which included work as central to the life of a monastery: rather than merely being contemplatives  supported by patrons, laborers and servants, as in some other schools, monks and nuns should tend the sod and harvest themselves.

Why? Perhaps because Zen concerns the actual human being and their life, in all its aspects, and because all things are our teachers, and because the world all around, and our life in it, is the one great teaching.

This week every day from 9am to 5pm work of different kinds is going on at Mountain Cloud. The retreat is already rolling along very nicely. If you live locally, and have some free time, and feel like joining in, please know that you’re welcome to come by and Chris will find something for you to do.  If you don’t live locally, consider joining one of our two other work retreats later this year (June 5-12, August 19-26).

In addition to our usual times and events, this week there is sitting every day 6-8 AM and 7.30-9 PM. All welcome.

Thank you!

Message from Henry is from our April 4, 2017 Newsletter
Image: Cirsium Lanceolatum, by uroburos, CC0 Public Domain from

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