Sunday, August 30, 2015


Innen at a shinto temple near Kyoto, 2013
Since joining the Tendai family, Red Maple has established itself as the home for Tendai-shu in the Ottawa Valley and in Canada. We have sponsored 5 individuals in completing jukai (refuge taking). In 2013, Innen was invited to attend the international Tendai Symposium in Kyoto, Japan. Along with leaders from sanghas around the world, he presented the growth of Tendai Canada to the leaders of Tendai in Japan. He has participated in several conferences and seminars in Canada and the USA.

Our zendo in the Old Schoolhouse served us for years until 2014, when Judy and Ray decided to sell the property. Because we were attracting a good deal of interest from our neighbouring community of Pembroke, we decided to join with Ray’s business project, Red Maple Mindful Living and his Padakun-Whole Person Walking project in setting up the Red Maple Centre for Mindful Living in a building in Pembroke’s east end. At this site we held weekly practice sessions and several retreat events.

With Ray and Judy’s decision to settle in Renfrew, we were presented with the opportunity to return to Renfrew again. Over the summer of 2015 we closed the Pembroke centre and re-established our presence in Renfrew. We begin our 2015-16 season with a new zendo and weekly practice sessions. We have already held our first successful retreat and are growing and learning with an active and dedicated sangha.


As we move into 2016 we continue to be the single permanent presence for authentic Dharma in the Upper Ottawa Valley and rural Eastern Ontario. We have spun off the KAPPS Walking group, two new mindfulness training programs and are launching our Bluebox Walking campaign ( see http://blueboxwalking.blogspot.ca/). Innen is about to begin a year-long study program on the Visualization Sutra and its companion Taimadera Mandala. He is further preparing to present a new online fiction project called Dharma for A Dying World.

Yours in the Dharma,                           
Innen, doshu
om namo amida butsu   

Friday, August 21, 2015


The next stage in our development as a community of practice was our affiliation with the profound and authoritative tradition of Japanese Tendai, which, like our very own Red Maple style is known as the “harmonious way”, ekayana. After a few distant communications, Innen made the first of many trips from Ottawa Valley to the Berkshires in northern New York, to participate in training events with members from similar groups in New York, California, Colorado and even Denmark.

Within a year, Innen was confident that there was sufficient compatibility for Red Maple that he requested he be trained for formal ordination as a Tendai priest. This required his attendance at three summer training programs or gyo, the formal preparation for Tendai priesthood. This he completed in the summer of 2010, returning back to Renfrew County to transform Red Maple into the first Tendai Sangha in Canada.

Innen, doshu at his ordination

Over the next two years five other individuals from Red Maple received jukai or refuge vows, joining Innen as formal members of the international community of Tendai. One of these became the first-ever refuge taker within the Tendai tradition to receive jukai in Canada. In the practice space in the old schoolhouse just outside of Renfrew, we revised our altar so that it reflected the formal style used in Tendai service. We harmonized our practice schedule, chanting guide and practices so that our practice continued the forms established 1200 years ago in Japan.

During this same time, Innen was invited to become the Buddhist commentator for the weekly  Ask the Religion Experts column featured in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. Every week for nearly 4 years he would join representatives from a dozen other religious traditions and comment on specific questions related to religious life. 

It was also during this time that Innen completed the writing and publication of Walk like a Mountain: the Handbook of Buddhist Walking Meditation, the first book to document the dozen or more walking practices from various Buddhist traditions.

The positive energy of this time for Red Maple inspired two new groups to form. The first was The Flowing Rivers practice group in Ottawa which functioned for two years; the other was the White Birch practice group in Halifax which is still functioning. 

Next: The Present Moment

Yours in the Dharma,                           
Innen, doshu               
om namo amida butsu   


Saturday, August 15, 2015


In the mid-2000's we made the decision to re-locate further up the Ottawa Valley into the area just outside of the Town of Renfrew. In the spring of 2005 we set up our practice space in an L-shaped room attached to an old log school house, Ray and Judy’s new home. We continued the same forms of practice and non-affiliation. At the same time, Ray was developing a more active promotion of mindfulness training in his social work, through the Change Your Mind program he had first developed in Lanark. 

This interconnection of practice environments worked in both directions. It gave those interested in Buddhist meditation a well-developed practice instruction program. For some of those who were learning about meditation in a secular environment this would be their entry point into Dharma study. This was a challenge to the group in Carleton Place. Those people tried for a year to maintain their practice but with the moving-away of some key people and the desire to participate more in the “home” base, the Carleton Place group shut down.
This was an exciting and rich time with the introduction of some instructional series and themed retreats. The schoolhouse proved to be a wonderful location, with peaceful walks down to Hurds Lake, several ponds at the entry, magnificent flower and veggie gardens and countless birds singing to us during practice times. All of us grew as practitioners and as a group. We began to feel the need for greater connection with a larger Dharma tradition to give us more guidance and depth. As he had a few years earlier, Ray began searching for a compatible relationship with a more established tradition.

Yours in the Dharma,                          
Innen, doshu
om namo amida butsu

Sunday, August 09, 2015


In this month of anniversary of the founding of our Red Maple Sangha, I offer some historical reflections on our origins

As with many insights, once I determined that I would establish a local practice community, it immediately seemed to be correct has to follow. Deciding not to affiliate with a distant group felt like stepping into a dark room, literally a leap of faith. I knew that there were other groups operating independently, but there was no instruction manual, no step-by-step program which would direct me into a guarantee of success.
Back in my home county, I began to discuss with a few individuals with whom I had practised was a possibility of an ongoing group. Initially, we decided on a monthly discussion/study format. Because we were intending to be a Buddhist group, not simply a meditation group, it seemed that raising people's understanding of Buddhist teaching was an important place to start. This was the beginning of The Turning Wheel Buddhist Study Group and, once a month, we were meeting on Sunday evenings in a small church space in Almonte.

For the following year, we explored the basics of Buddhadharma - the Four Noble Truths, The Eight Steps to Satisfaction, some history of the Buddha and Buddhism and an introduction to Buddhist art. Very soon we made the decision that we needed to venture more directly in Buddhist practice. Most of the group were former participants from mindfulness courses, so this was not a huge leap.