About Bodhi Oak
At Bodhi Oak Zen Sangha, we aspire to adopt a beginner’s mind in the tradition of the late Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.
To adopt a beginner’s mind is not to be blind to the world, but to become increasingly aware and connected to life through the practice of meditation and mindfulness. It is to discover our own awakened mind, our Buddha-mind, and to open it wholeheartedly to our life.
Sitting meditation is a tool for becoming aware of our bodies and thoughts and for learning to observe ourselves with compassion and wisdom. Although sitting meditation is foundational to Zen practice, we commit ourselves to carrying the awakened mind into every experience and every encounter, and to offering the wisdom and compassion of awakening to everyone.
Our Sangha offers a variety of Zen practices to guide us during formal sessions and in our everyday lives, in addition to instruction and practice in both sitting meditation and walking meditation. In our dharma talks, we discuss the fundamental teachings of the Buddha as well as teachings from our ancestors who taught and practiced in the Mahayana stream. In practice discussion (a short private meeting with the teacher) we have an opportunity to explore personal issues in Zen practice. In Spiritual Direction, we can deepen our practice through extended discussion and exploration of personal spirituality.
In sangha, we work together to create and maintain our community, by taking part in events, serving tea and snacks, helping to maintain Bodhi Oak Zen Center, assuming formal roles during ceremonies, and supporting the center financially. We value the support of each other in maintaining our personal practice through group meditation.
“If you are not a Buddhist, you think there are Buddhists and non-Buddhists, but if you are a Buddhist you realize everyone’s a Buddhist —even the bugs.” ~Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
With the closing of Empty Nest Zendo in North Fork after many years, there was no longer a dedicated venue for practicing Zen in the foothills of Eastern Madera County.
Bodhi Oak Zen Sangha arose from a wish to establish a meditation group expressed by two lay practitioners of Zen who had moved to the mountain area. They asked Mary-Allen Macneil, an ordained Zen priest, to help start a group. Beginning with a public lecture and slide show, “Introduction to Zen”, given at the Oakhurst Library in May of 2016, Bodhi Oak Zen Sangha was born.
We began sittings at a local yoga studio in July, 2016. Within a few months, we realized that we needed a dedicated space, and we began a search for an appropriate rental.
We found a storefront in a shopping center on the outskirts of Oakhurst, and began conversion to a zendo in October. We held our Zendo Opening Ceremony there in December 2016, to coincide with the date on which the Buddha’s enlightenment is celebrated annually.
Bodhi Oak Zen Center has natural light and a view of our beautiful Sierra, offering a calm and peaceful environment for practicing meditation in community. There is a separate room for practice discussion with the teacher, a small kitchen, and a bathroom.
Since our Center is located in Oakhurst – meaning oak-wooded hill – we decided on the name Bodhi Oak. Following the example of the Buddha, we can awaken here, where we live, in the shade of our own trees.
Bodhi Oak Zen Sangha is a religious non-profit 501(C)3 corporation.
Our teacher is an affiliate member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. Our Sangha is a member of Branching Streams