On January 30th 2020 almost 100 seekers gathered in the Dweck Auditorium at the Brooklyn Public Library in Prospect Heights.
Guest speakers included Rev. Konrad Ryushin Marchaj, MD who is a Zen priest in the tradition of Zen Buddhism and and Rob Heffernan of Chacruna.net who along with Colin Pugh of the Brooklyn Psychedelic Society discussed the synergies and conflicts of pursuing plant medicine alongside a serious engagement with the Buddhist Dharma.
Born in Warsaw, Poland, Rev. Konrad Ryushin Marchaj, MD immigrated to the United States in 1967. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Yale University in 1976. He received his medical degree from Albany Medical College in 1980, working first as a pediatrician in Portland, Maine, and then serving in the US Navy as a physician for three years. He then returned to Albany for postgraduate training in psychiatry. After completing his residency, he served as medical director for a community psychiatric outreach program, the Mobile Crisis Team, which served Albany County’s disenfranchised and homeless population. He entered full-time residential training at the Monastery in 1992. In addition to his roles as the Monastery’s Abbot and Director of Operations, he explored contemplative practices in higher education, collaborating with several liberal arts educators and administrators in the Northeast to look at ways for college students to engage religious practice as part of their education.
He has been practicing Buddhism since 1983. Drawing on his background as a physician and psychiatrist, Ryushin’s infectious interest and thorough training in the workings of the mind, combined with his skill at translating complex concepts into the accessible, everyday language, characterize his unique teaching style.
Rob Heffernan has been practicing Buddhist Dharma for decades in various Theravda, Zen and Tibetan traditions. He has been deeply involved in Insight/Vipassana practice for many years. For the last ten years he has been involved in a Thai Forest lineage as well as the growing non-sectarian inquiry into early Buddhism (as we know it from the Pali Cannon, Chinese Agamas and various historical studies) and the social contexts in which the Dharma arose and evolved.
He has been participating in the vegetalisimo and Santo Daime ayahuasca traditions for almost 20 years as well as being familiar with other sacred medicines. He is a independent researcher and activist and a key member of Chacruna’s Council for the Protection of Sacred Plants
He is also a certified Shamanic Breathwork facilitator and Certified Sound and Music Practitioner. He uses these modalities as integration tools for both dharma and sacred medicine practice.
The musical guest for the evening is COLECTIVO MÍSTICO, a New York City-based sacred music collective represented by Carlos Ancalmo, Nelia Vishnevsky, Alex Nero, Andreika Jarry, Slava Yasser, Alexandr Kazachkov, and Talgat Khasenov.
Their music is a transmission of consciousness deeply rooted in spiritual traditions from around the world. It spans various languages and cultural landscapes while exploring the healing power of sound to create a shared space of open-hearted connectedness, amplifying individual intentions in the community of fellow beings.