Furnace Mountain
Zen Retreat Center

Newsletter Summer/Fall 2011

In this Issue:
Memorial Service for Steve Clark, Abbott of Northern Kentucky Zen Center:
Memorial Service for Steve Clark, Abbott of Northern Kentucky Zen Center
Abandoned animals

Our dear friend Steve Clark, Abbott of Northern Kentucky Zen Center died on June 10th. 2011. On Sunday, July 17th, family, friends and Sangha-members gathered at Furnace Mountain to hold a memorial service for him.
We gathered in the temple, shared memories about Steve and chanted as he loved chanting. It was Steve's wish that his ashes be spread from the top of State Rock. After the ceremony in the temple we silently walked his ashes up to State Rock, where his wife Roxann and his son Andy released them into the wind.
Ji Jang Bosal!

Steve loved Shantideva's Bodhisattva Vow and always read the text before starting practice.
Here is a short excerpt.....

.... May I be a protector to the helpless,
A guide to those travelling the path,
A boat to those wishing to cross over;
Or a bridge or a raft.

May I be land for those requiring it,
A lamp for those in darkness,
May I be a home for the homeless,
And a servant for the world...

For the entire Shantideva text click here...

Change of email-address
ZMDG's new book - hardcover edition
What's new at Furnace Mountain?
Work-study exchange/ residential program
Naikan and Zen Day
Wake up to what needs your attention

The above Jizo Statue
was recently donated
to us by Blythe Jamieson.
Thank you Blythe!

steve clark walk


Clear direction......

About two month ago we found a pregnant cat that had been dumped on our property. Later we discovered one baby. We took care of both of them and tried to find them a home.
Then the baby disappeared for over a week and we were heartbroken, assuming that it had been eaten by a wild animal.
When the baby all of a sudden reappeared it was clear we could not give her or the mother away.
We kept them both and named the mother Grey and the baby Senge (Snow Lion).


As you can see from the picture above, Senge has a clear direction: Upwards.

She has adopted Zen Master Dae Gak and spends as much time as possible close to him, preferably on his shoulder.
Here she is participating in doing calligraphies.

One of our Sangha members - Frances Figart - has graciously offered to participate in the costs for getting the cats neutered if we find other donors to share in the costs. Our dear friend Ruth Venable has come forward and paid for the neutering of Grey. Thank you Frances and Ruth! Senge will need neutering when she is older. Please consider helping.

Many animals get dumped on Furnace Mountain, as people seem to know that we treat them well.
The costs are high - for food, care and medical treatment. We appreciate any form of donation in order to support us with our fellow animal beings: Money donations are as welcome as is cat and dog food, flea treatment etcetera.



Please note:

Due to constant spam attacks we have decided to change our email-address.
We have shut down the current furnacemt@aol.com address, so please add both new addresses (below) to your address book and use them for all further correspondence with Furnace Mountain.

We use this occasion to also divide responsibilities in a new way:
For information about retreats, retreat registration, visits and Naikan, please contact Jigetsu (Mary) at (606) 723-4329 or send an email to office@furnacemountain.org

For information regarding work-study-exchange, residential program, scholarships and Empathic Communication (aka "Nonviolent-Communication" or NVC) please contact Myozen (Daniela): myozen@furnacemountain.org

You can now find us on "Facebook" - we post pictures and current information there. Please "like" us and recommend us to your friends.


New book of Zen Master Dae Gak forthcoming:

Zen Master Dae Gak is currently working on a new book.
Working title is "Upright with Poise and Grace".
The book will contain short texts, excerpts from talks and poems by ZMDG, probably combined with nature pictures of Furnace Mountain. There will be a limited and signed hardcover edition (20 - 30 copies), which we will hand-bind ourselves at Furnace Mountain.

With the income generated through this very special edition we hope to finance a cheaper paperback edition. All the income generated with the paperbacks goes to the maintenance of Furnace Mountain and into scholarships for students who otherwise could not afford to sit with us.
If you are interested in purchasing a hardcover copy or helping sponsor the hardcover edition, please contact Myozen.

Letting us know whether you are interested in a hardcover copy helps us to calculate the costs and make a final decision about the number of copies. Everyone interested will receive further information about the book/costs before they make a final decision whether or not to purchase a copy.

Excerpt from "Upright with Poise and Grace":


On Suffering:
"Going through life’s passages is difficult at best and for some totally overwhelming. It is not easy to grow up and take responsibility for our lives. We continually want some one to save us from the disasters and sorrows we experience. We look to something outside ourselves to fix our pain and discomfort. We take pills to solve our problems and turn to teachers and spiritual movements to save us from the trauma and disasters that are everyone’s life.

Yet every life is filled with trauma, loss and disaster. We make mistakes and suffer the consequences. We do everything right and still the outcome is disappointing and even tragic.
A great man taught that life is suffering. This suffering takes a multitude of forms in our life from divorce and disgrace to chronic discomfort, fear and depression.

Spiritual maturity comes as we learn to live through the highs and lows of our life; the joys and the sorrows. Maturity appears when we learn that inquiring into our life as it is, is the alchemy that turns disaster and mistakes into the gold of generosity and compassion"


What's new at Furnace Mountain?


Due to a very generous donation and a lot of work we were able to fix our roads and walkways. It is now much easier to walk to the temple and drive around the property.
The generous donor does not want his name mentioned publicly, but knows that we are very grateful for this support!


The teahouse has a new fence. It is made from local cedar wood and will hopefully last forever. It still looks a little "rustic" with all the little branches sticking out, but we are working on it during retreat work periods.....


In spring we started a very small vegetable garden - basically just some herbs, tomatoes and squash. We are exploring what we can handle work wise and what might grow without too much effort from our side.


For the next year it is our hope to generate enough money to put up a small greenhouse and grow some of our own vegetables. It is our goal to become more self-sustainable and to reduce our CO2 footprint.We want to exppress our Zen practice not just on the cushion and through offering retreats, but also in the way we treat our environment, the ground we walk on and the living space of all past, present and future Buddhas.


As we do not have much experience we would greatly appreciate support by anybody who knows about permaculture, about sustainable living etc.
We would also be very happy to receive herb & vegetable seeds, seedlings and advice on how to grow them.
Please refer to Myozen if you want to help. Thank you!

Work-Study-Exchange/ Residential Program    
We are currently working out a viable structure for a work-study-exchange program and for a limited time residential program at Furnace Mountain. Since we mentioned the opportunity of such programs on our website we have had an astonishing amount of interest. Especially younger people without much money are asking for more information about the work-study-exchange. As our resident community is quite small and work is always abundant we are right now inquiring how we can integrate part-time residents in the community and care for them in a way that meets both their needs for teaching and structure and our needs for community contribution and quality time together.
As for the Residential Program we are inquiring right now what we would be able and willing to give to our part-time-residents and what requirements we will request from anybody who applies for the residential program.
Participation in the residential program will surely involve having sat several retreats at Furnace Mountain, being committed to some form of spiritual practice, the willingness to get involved with the small community on a daily and intensive basis, willingness to learn NVC (Non-violent-Communication) and Naikan and to grow on a personal level as much as together as a community.
Further information will follow.
Naikan and Zen Retreat Day    
Naikan is a structured method of meditation that opens the heart.

We all carry a story of who we are, and often that story is dominated by the hurts we have received and the injustices that have occurred. This preoccupation with what has been lacking provides only a partial view and limits our awareness of all that we have received.
Our first Naikan-Day at Furnace Mountain will be held November 19th. 2011  
During this Naikan and Zen Retreat Day we will immerse ourselves in Naikan practice using these three questions. There will also be periods of Zen meditation, “just sitting” and opportunity to dialogue about the benefits and complementarity of each practice.

The Naikan and Zen Retreat will run from 10a.m. until 4:00p.m. The cost is $50.00
The number of participants is limited, so if you plan on attending, please register soon.
For further questions please contact Jigetsu (Mary) at office@furnacemountain.org or call 606-723-4329
The method of Naikan is a simple one of taking up three questions: what have I received, what have I given and what troubles and difficulties have I caused, as we examine relationships and experiences in our life. The effect is profound: Naikan offers a corrective lens that broadens our view, restoring an appreciation for all that we have received and all that supports our life in this moment.
Wake up to what needs your attention....    
Living (and working) close together can be daunting, especially in a small community like ours.

This morning I came into the office and stepped into dog poop. (We put Skittles and Shakti in the office at night, because if they stay outside their barking keeps us up).
Whoever let them out this morning did not see or did not want to see that a major accident had happened – while cleaning the poop away I noticed I was getting more furious with every spot I tried to clean. I stopped counting them after the tenth spot. Outraged.

So what is this Zen practice we engage in? Toni Packer during one of her retreats told about a student who, upon entering the meditation hall, very mindfully and very slowly put on her robe ….. very mindfully and very slowly buttoned up her robe….. – not noticing at all that through her very slow actions she was blocking the entrance and thus creating a long line of other students behind her, waiting to finally be able to enter the dharma hall. Ultimately that's being caught up in one’s own affairs, being stuck in the idea of mindfulness, so to say, rather than really being mindful. Doing so, one creates something “special”. One separates oneself from what is, rather than listening to, and perceiving what IS and acting from what the present moment requires.
Being caught up in one’s own affairs like this causes troubles for others, making them step into the shit that one, for whatever good reason, has not taken care of oneself.

After cleaning up the mess I wrote to a friend, still furious. He wrote back: “Just clean the poop away. There is nothing else you can do. It´s this persons behavior and weakness and only they can work on it, all you can do is work on yourself to not get touched by their actions anymore.”

Reading this, I realized how easily my mind had slipped into the pattern of judgment, creating good and bad, right and wrong, seeing my own anger as good and justified while judging the other person as mindless, unsocial and not caring for community.

But really, where is the difference between leaving the shit out for others to take care of and creating shit in one's own mind?

So I received a great teaching this morning: A great chance to support  our community, a great opportunity also to see (and work on) my own (mind)shit.
This is what our practice is about: Again and again waking up to what needs attention right here, right now - INSIDE and OUTSIDE!

“When the mind is at peace, the world too is at peace. Nothing real, nothing absent. Not holding on to reality, not getting stuck in the void, you are neither holy or wise, just an ordinary fellow who has completed his work.”   
Layman Pang-yun (740-808)  

Wishing you all peace of mind and the presence to do your work, however it may present itself along your path! Myozen
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