We Are Building American Buddhism

Friends of Zen, Inc.

P.O. Box 326
East Brookfield, MA 01515
Telephone: (508) 333-6099
Website: www.hollowbones.org
Attn: Jun Po Denis Kelly, Rev. Dai En Hi Fu George Burch

Description of Organization

As part of the Academy's religious diversity efforts, the Zendo was dedicated on October 29, 2007. One of the founders and a director of the Friends of Zen, Rev. Dai En Hi Fu George Burch, was part of the Academy's first graduating class, and has organized this important effort through the Air Force Academy's alumni support group, the Association of Graduates.

Click here to read the story and to listen to the National Public Radio Broadcast on the Air Force Academy's Buddhist Chapel.

Grant(s) Awarded

During 2006, the Foundation made a grant to Friends of Zen in the sum of $85,000 to construct and furnish a Zendo on the campus of the United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 2007, the Foundation also funded a Friends of Zen training center for Zen Buddhist teachers and programs designed to inspire business leaders to incorporate Buddhist values and principles into their corporate cultures.

In each of the first quarters of 2011 and 2012, the Foundation will supplement the Academy Zendo Grant with a further payment of $5,000 payable in installments of $2,500, subject only to the following further conditions:

  1. That the $5,000 grant proceeds be used to support senior staff compensation at the Zendo for the purposes outlined in the Proposal, but in expending those funds, Friends is not required or compelled the pay the grant funds or the matching funds to any one staff member, but rather in its discretion to support such senior staff as is leading the Zendo, and to do so in its reasonable discretion.
  2. That Friends match the Foundation's $5,000 grant with a grant of its own in a sum no less than $5,000 paid in support of the same purposes outlined in the Proposal, and to do so on or before the Foundation's scheduled payment of its $5,000 grant.

Results / Update

2010-2011; a progress report

Following is Our Regular Schedule

SPIRE (Special Programs in Religious Education) meets on Monday evenings:

These meetings include some time for meditation and then discussion of a reading, or a talk by a visiting teacher. This year, for example, we had talks by the following teachers:
  • Dr. Victor Bradford, a Vipassana teacher who is a retired Air Force dentist.
  • Ellie Coriell, a teacher of Qigong.
  • Dr. Dave Levy, a professor at USAFA who is also a very skilled leader of Big Mind workshops, and who offers several annually for cadets.
  • Chaplain Darlene Avery, our SPIRE volunteer leader, a Christian who is very thoroughly engaged with Buddhist practice, and her husband, Chaplain Derek Krehbiel, who led discussion of Sacred Hoops.
  • Andrew Palmer, Sensei, from Springs Mountain Sangha
Cadets were also invited to attend Monday evening talks in Colorado Springs by Joan Sutherland, Roshi and by Richard Baker, Roshi.

Meditation and Dharma Talk on Thursday evening

Starting with the second semester of this year, the cadet Schedule of Calls changed, allowing us to hold our second service of the week on Thursday evening, a night with far fewer scheduling conflicts and homework assignments than our previous Wednesday evening time. This change was very helpful. It may have come about in part because our Cadet in Charge spoke up very assertively in a Religious Respect conference about the need for some protected time for Buddhist services.

Hi Fu Roshi has generously met with the group when he has been in town, offering talks and discussion with cadets.

Sunday morning services

Every Sunday we hold a 10:00 service that includes one period of meditation, a sutra service, and then time for a brief talk and discussion, often over brunch. This is the most formal service of the week. As one might expect, some cadets prefer this and some prefer the simpler evening services. Visitors and members of the wider community come to both the Thursday and Sunday services, but more often Sunday. The addition of this service seems to have been a good idea, and we will continue it. Two cadets are now able to lead sutra services, and this year we will add two more.

Three Retreats

September 24-26 we held a Doolie retreat in the mountains. This included some introduction to meditation and Buddhist practice, but also a lot of time for the new cadets to form as a community. Eleven attended, and among those, seven ethnic groups were represented!

January 29-30 we held a meditation retreat, which was small (7) but let the cadets begin to have the experience of a longer stretch of meditation.

March 4-6 nine of us held a meditation retreat in the Black Forest, fully silent and with Oryoki meals. This was our strongest sesshin yet. The cadets participated fully and sat very strongly. Major Stuart Lloyd, an active duty Air Force member who used to teach at the Academy, came to serve as Head of Practice, and Darlene Avery served as Tenzo.

The Dharma Hall Itself

The Dharma Hall, a Buddhist Chapel within the Cadet Chapel, is itself an important presence. Cadets do come to sit, a nd sometimes to leave dedications on the altar. Thousands of tourists come through, and it's very interesting to be around when they are there. Many are just curious, but some come in to sit, ask for some instruction or discussion, leave dedications, and sometimes ask for a prayer. Most seem to be touched by the beauty, warmth and calm of the Hall, and by the presence of so many faiths in one building.

Our library is still very small, but each year there are a couple of cadets or recent grads who seem to go through it, reading almost every book we have.

Our heartfelt thanks!

We are keenly aware that without the generous support of the Lenz Foundation and the Friends of Zen, especially the support of Dai En Hi Fu Roshi, we would still be meeting in a corner room with cinderblock walls and industrial carpet; and we would not have been able to develop the program that is becoming better and better established at the Academy.

Return to Grant Activity