Twining Vines Sangha: Entwining Varied Zen Experiences
Twining Vines Sangha (TVS) is a non-residential practice community located in the northern suburbs of New York City. Our home zendo is in Purchase, NY, Sejiki Ceremony: Hungry Ghosts in Old Greenwich where we have Tuesday evening zazen, short talk, and discussion; and a regular Saturday morning program including zazen, service, and work practice. We also sit Thursday evenings in Old Greenwich, CT in a Congregational Church that has welcomed us since early 2006, and where we offer beginning instruction.
TVS has been celebrating its 10th anniversary throughout 2016. Founded in early 2006 by Jane Genshin Shuman and Patty Chikai Pecoraro, it started with a sitting group in one room on the lower level of Patty and Jane’s home. As we grew, pieces of furniture and exercise equipment disappeared one by one until the whole ground floor was dedicated to space for TVS.
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We began with a small group of experienced practitioners, many from Empty Hand Zen Center, where several of us began practice with Susan Jion Postal in the early ‘90s, and people came from other zendos on the East Coast as well. Some new practitioners and those from different lineages and ancestors, and their varied experiences of Zen practice forms and styles became a part of the inspiration for our “Twining Vines” name. We have one natural twining vine outside, a plant that has resisted all the efforts of local gardeners and dogs to remove it. As with our sangha, it continues to slowly grow and thrive year after year!
About Patty Chikai Pecoraro and Jane Genshin Shuman
The sangha is grateful to have two teachers who embody harmony with each other but also offer diverse expression and views for us to consider. Patty, a hospice worker who shares her experiences in being with the dying, began practice in 1993 and was ordained in Suzuki Roshi’s lineage by Misha Shungen Merrill (Zen Heart Sangha) in 2005. Jane, who had been ordained by Susan Jion Postal in 1997 in Maurine Stuart’s tradition, was re-ordained in the San Francisco Zen Center lineage in 2008 and received Dharma transmission from Misha Shungen Merrill in 2011. Meanwhile, Jane retired from commuting to work in Manhattan to focus full-time on our sangha, as it was growing and deepening in practice. With her long experience of combining committed lay practice with life in the business world, Jane is able to understand the challenges and joys we face in bringing our practice into harmony with busy lives. Together we find the unique gifts of the Dharma within the demanding and often hectic culture of Westchester and Fairfield Counties.
Offering special ceremonies, classes, and retreats
We offer several special ceremonies each year such as Rohatsu, Buddha’s Birthday, Segaki, and Solstice celebrations, trying to provide some times when children can attend and see what their parents are doing. We also offer classes, student talks, one-day retreats, and sesshin both here and off-premises. We have lay-ordained 9 sangha members and 4 or 5 more will receive the Precepts in 2017, so sewing has also been an enjoyable and informative part of our practice, as has been mindfully preparing food in the great SFZC tradition for our celebrations and retreats. And in our decade of practice here, Jane and Patty have presided over many special occasions: weddings, memorial services, and other services for the sangha and our families and loved ones.
A welcoming, close-knit community
The “sangha” in our name Twining Vines Sangha was chosen deliberately, and we feel that over time our sangha has really grown into that name.
In these ten years of sharing both silence and words in an intimate, close-knit community, we have developed a good sense of the importance of taking care of each other. The kindness and empathy practiced here is what we take out of the zendo into our families, work situations, and to everyone with whom we come into contact. We are grateful to be a part of Branching Streams family, and the Suzuki Roshi lineage.
Please join us when visiting New York
Please come and visit us any time you are in the area. For more info about Twining Vines Sangha please visit our website: www.twiningvines.org