The Hazy Moon’s dazzling sister temple near Tepoztlan, Mexico, offers practitioners a magical combination of light, space and energy. Visit the web site for the Black Scorpion Temple for information about upcoming retreats, and learn more about the history of the Black Scorpion below.
History of the Black Scorpion
A simple act of kindness can change many lives. Consider the history of the Black Scorpion, sister temple to the Hazy Moon Zen Center and the fruit of Taizan Maezumi Roshi’s having scattered the seeds of the Dharma in Mexico.
In the early 1980s, Hazy Moon priest and Dharma-holder Claudia Hosso Politi (left) was living in Paris, where she was beginning to make a name for herself as a painter. One day Hosso spotted a disheveled but bright-eyed stranger standing on a corner in her neighborhood. She struck up a conversation with the young man, a fellow artist named Cesar—also from Mexico—whose situation was dire and trending toward desperate.
Hosso took him home, fed him and decided to give him a place to stay until his fortunes improved. And improve they did.
A quarter-century later, both Hosso and Cesar were back in Mexico and enjoying flourishing artistic careers. At a time in her life when Hosso was beginning to yearn for a retreat from the density and bustle of Mexico City, Cesar and his wife were establishing themselves in Santo Domingo, a village in the hills above the thriving artist colony and spiritual center of Tepoztlan, a couple of hours south of the capital.
Cesar persuaded Hosso to buy a plot of land near his place in Santa Domingo and offered to design a new house and studio for her. Hosso agreed, saying that she just wanted a modest space that she and her daughter could escape to on weekends.
When she visited the construction site a couple of weeks into the project, she was shocked to see 50 workers erecting a colossus.
“It was huge,” Hosso says. “But I got caught up in Cesar’s enthusiasm. He suddenly wanted to build a balcony on the second floor, and I agreed! It added four meters to the height of the house.”
Hosso’s dream of a cottage in the country had produced a cavernous, glass-enclosed aerie with views of craggy volcanic mountaintops and the fertile valley below.
How could she possibly fill such a space?
“It wanted to be a zendo,” Hosso says. “So I organized a small retreat with a few people from the sangha in Mexico City, then I started talking to [fellow Hazy Moon priest] Ento and Nyogen Roshi about organizing a larger retreat with people from the Hazy Moon.”
The inaugural sesshin at the Black Scorpion Temple happened in March 2008. About 25 people—including a dozen from the Hazy Moon—participated in the week-long retreat as well as a formal eye-opening ceremony for the Buddha on the temple’s main altar and the dedication of a temple bell that Maezumi Roshi’s youngest brother, Junyu Roshi, had donated to the Mexican sangha several years earlier.
Many people were moved to tears by the beauty of the setting and the feeling of joy that suffused the retreat, and everyone came away altered by the experience.
“The energy at the Black Scorpion was powerful and inspiring,” says Carol Shozen McKelvy, a lay practitioner at the Hazy Moon. “After a couple of days of sesshin, it took very little effort to feel grounded. I could focus on my practice and drop the distractions that I normally feel.”
In one way or another, Hosso’s decades-ago generosity toward a semi-starving young artist has changed the practice for all of her brothers and sisters in the Dharma. The roster for the second week-long sesshin at the Black Scorpion was filled just days after the dates for the retreat were announced, and plans for a summer-long training period in Santo Domingo are already taking shape.
“There is no difference between the Hazy Moon and the Black Scorpion,” Hosso says. “They are two aspects of the same place.”
Contact us to learn more about the Black Scorpion and to receive notification about upcoming retreats. You can also visit the Black Scorpion’s web site for a closer look at the temple and its programs.