A little more about Mushin and CZC

I am a founding member of the Corvallis Zen Circle. We all practice together and I provide teaching and guidance for the group.  And this comes in several forms. I teach classes, lead Dharma discussions, give Dharma talks, and offer daisan , which is a private meeting during times of formal practice

I received Sangha Transmission in 2013 from Jan Chozen Bays, with whom I have studied for many years. She gave me my Dharma name, Mushin, which means Empty or Infinite Heart Mind, during my Jukai  in 1994, when I ceremonially became one of the Buddha’s family. At my Transmission ceremony in 2013, she added the name Ho En, which means, Dharma Garden. So my Dharma name is Infinite Heart Mind Dharma Garden. You can just call me Mushin, or Abby.

I began my Zen study with the Seattle Zen Center in 1975, after practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) for several years. TM was an entry gate to meditation and  spiritual practice in the early 70’s for many. I was one of those. But I didn’t feel as though I had found my true path until the bell rang to start the first period of zazen with the Seattle Zen Center. During that very first sit, I felt relief. I had come home. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, what meditation really was all about. But there was something so authentic and immediate about sitting, still and quiet, and counting the breath.

I met Robert Aitken Roshi in 1976 when he visited our sitting group, and spent a period of residential training at the Maui Zendo with him the following winter. I found his kindness, Dharma clarity, his straight-talking commitment to social action, and his laugh quite inspiring. When I returned to the mainland, I did several more retreats with him when he visited the Three Treasures Sangha in Seattle. ButI took up  steady practice with Takabayashi Genki Roshi,  who had arrived from Japan to lead the Seattle Zen Center when I was on Maui. I also studied with Joan Rieck Roshi, Aitken’s Dharma sister while she was briefly  in Seattle.

It became  more challenging to continue with formal Zen training, when I married and had two daughters. I was working as a psychotherapist during these years as well. (I continue to. ) But I was always determined to carve out some time for regular meditation  and even managed, with the kind permission of my family, to go on retreats. In 1983 I read an article in The Ten Directions newsletter from Zen Center of Los Angeles, written by Jan Chozen Bays. This  article on marriage was timely and helpful and I resolved to meet her if I had the chance. That came a few years later  at Cloud Mountain. I knew at that first retreat with her that she was a good teacher for me and have enjoyed great benefit and Dharma friendship with her ever since. Over the years I have practice with Zen Community of Oregon, the organization that she and her husband, Hogen Bays, started. I have done retreats beyond counting with them, served on their Board, and held zendo training positions at Great Vow Zen Monastery. The experience of practicing with such  mature teachers and sangha there, has enriched my ability to step into leadership and teaching here in Corvallis.

So between leading a householder life and also engaging in constant Dharma activity and friendships, my life has brought forth a sweet fruit of practice and  great faith in the Buddha Way. A faith that comes from experience, taking refuge and the sanity that it brings. It is my vow to continue to deepen my own understanding and to offer teachings on this path . . . . so that all can come to into the pure light of awakening and be released from suffering and dismay.

~  Abby Mushin Terris

Dharma Garden Practice Chimes