Vietnamese Nuns Visit Tassajara
The Flourishing of Suzuki Roshi’s Way
Profile: Santa Cruz Zen Center

Vietnamese Nuns Visit Tassajara

by Keiryu Liên Shutt

Liên Shutt is the Teacher of our sister Affiliate sangha, Access to Zen. She has transmission in the Suzuki Roshi lineage through Blanche Hartmann but also studied for a number of years with a Vietnamese zen teacher, Ni Su Thuan Tue. Recently she visited Tassajara with that Ni Su Tue and sent us this report.


The Flourishing of Suzuki Roshi’s Way – Branching Streams Affiliate Sanghas

by Steve Weintraub

The following article by Steve Weintraub was recently published in San Francisco Zen Center’s Sangha News. Here is the complete article, which gives some history and news about Branching Streams.

Suzuki Roshi’s Way is flourishing.

San Francisco Zen Center’s “Branching Streams” Network of Affiliate Sanghas is now comprised of 75 Dharma centers, ranging in size from meeting-once-a-week small sitting groups to established centers with their own Abbesses/Abbots, Boards of Directors, dedicated property, and numerous weekly Dharma offerings.

There are now 65 Affiliates in the United States and another 10 in Europe and Central and South America. Branching Streams—the name comes from a line in a poem by eighth century Zen Master Sekito Kisen—grew out of a recognition, in the mid-80s, that sanghas affiliated with San Francisco Zen Center, around the country and around the globe, were burgeoning, and that they both wanted and would benefit from a closer connection to SFZC and to each other. The mission of the Branching Streams programs is to encourage and support the development of these Affiliate sanghas.

Every other year we hold a large “Gathering of the Branching Streams.” We completed such a conference in early September 2017 in Chicago, hosted by the thriving affiliate, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate.

Branching Streams Gathering, September 2017 (click for larger image)

Forty Branching Streams Leaders were in attendance; we practiced zazen together, had meals together, and informal time. Our two main topics for this particular gathering were the “right use of power” and “Zen practice and social engagement.” There were intense discussions in group sessions both large and small, on these and related topics. People left the Conference feeling more connected to the Dharma and to each other; energized and encouraged.

In addition to the biennial conference, other programs that have been developed in recent years as part of the Branching Streams initiative include:

  • A Fellowship Program that allows senior SFZC-trained practitioners to spend up to six months at a given affiliate, for the mutual benefit of both the senior practitioner and the affiliate.
  • A Tassajara Program that allows a Branching Streams teacher to visit Tassajara during the Summer Guest Season with members of their own sangha, participate in Tassajara practice life and have time as well to meet and study with each other.

    Members of Dharma Vow Zen Sangha (Santa Monica, CA) at Tassajara, Summer 2017

  • A Program that provides lineage documents to Teachers in Branching Streams, for lay and priest ordinations they perform.
  • Branching Streams website to promote communication to and among the Branching Streams Affiliates.

Over the past few years various Affiliates have submitted Profiles of their groups for publication in Sangha News and on the Branching Streams websites. To give a sense of what the Affiliate groups are like, see these three profiles:


Montaña Despierta 10 Year Anniversary Album
Profile: Kannon Do
Stories of Jizo and Tribute to Yvonne Rand

Montaña Despierta 10 Year Anniversary Album

Montaña Despierta, our sister Affiliate in Xalapa, Mexico, led by Sergio Stern, recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary. They compiled a photo album as part of the Celebration. Each of the images is “clickable” to see it full size.

Congratulations, Montaña Despierta, on 10 years of sincere practice!

One of the First Branching Streams

Kannon Do, Mountain View, California

Suzuki Roshi in Haiku Zendo

One of Suzuki Roshi’s original “extensions” of Zen practice outside of San Francisco was a sitting group in Los Altos, which began in the mid-1960s. As one of the very first “branching streams,” this center, in the heart of what would soon be known as Silicon Valley, has been providing opportunities for comtemplative practice for the San Francisco mid-peninsula and South Bay for over fifty years.

Marian Derby

The Los Altos community established a daily practice of zazen that was made possible by the generosity of one of the Sangha members, Marian Derby. Marian generously insisted that the garage of her home be converted into a zendo. Suzuki-roshi and the Sangha did the construction. There was room for seventeen cushions. As seventeen is the number of syllables in a haiku poem, they named the new center Haiku Zendo. (continue reading)

Stories of Jizo: New Jizo Garden at Green Gulch Farm

And dedication ceremony honoring Yvonne Rand

Yvonne Rand and Chris Fortin

Last November a number of people gathered in the Green Gulch Farm garden to dedicate a new Jizo garden, and to honor Yvonne Rand for her decades of influential, formative practice at San Francisco Zen Center and for her development of the practice of Jizo ceremonies. Many people were present—many who have known and been influenced by Yvonne as well as many who have taken part in and benefited from the Jizo Garden and the Jizo Ceremonies for Children and Those Who Have Died. Yvonne was present and spoke at this moving event.

Here are stories about Jizo, the Bodhisattva who is especially known to protect children, women, and travelers; stories of the Jizo Garden; and stories of Yvonne Rand, written by Wendy Johnson, also a decades-long practitioner and co-founder of the Green Gulch garden, and Chris Fortin,who continues to perform Jizo ceremonies regularly and to teach the tradition to others. Included is Yvonne’s own story of her history with Jizo practice, which she wrote in 2002. (continue reading)

Map of Affiliates
From All Beings Zen Sangha: Relief from Screens
Rakusu Kits Available
Branching Streams Gathering/Conference — Dates and Venue Confirmed: SAVE THE DATES!

Map of Affiliates

Click to bring up full-size map.



From All Beings Zen Sangha: Relief from Screens

NPR recently did a segment titled: “Many Look to Buddhism for Sanctuary from an Over-connected World,” which prominently featured one of our sister Affiliates, All Beings Zen Sangha in Washington, DC. Read or listen to the story here.


Rakusu Kits Available

Kyosho Valorie Beer, head of Harmonious Spirit Affiliate sangha, is offering to provide rakusu kits. They contain all pieces necessary to make a rakusu and envelope. Valorie can be reached at Kits are available in blue, black, brown and green.  Black and brown kits also include okesa envelope fabric. Kits do not include thread.

Branching Streams Gathering/Conference — Dates and Venue Confirmed: SAVE THE DATES!

The Fall 2019 Branching Streams Gathering/Conference will be:

Dates: September 16-19, 2019 (arriving Monday and departing Thursday)

Hosted by: Milwaukee Zen Center

Venue: Siena Retreat Center in Racine WI

From the Branching Streams Liaison:

After our last Branching Streams meeting, hosted by Ancient Dragon Zen Gate, Les Kaye and Kannon Do leaders generously offered to host the next meeting. As we worked on this possibility, it became clear that the costs involved were prohibitive — Kannon Do is located in the Silicon Valley area of California, and costs for nearby retreat venues reflect that reality. At that point, Reirin Gumbel and members of Milwaukee Zen Center stepped forward, volunteering to take on hosting for the next meeting. I was able to visit with Reirin and MZC members in early April to further discuss this possibility. MZC itself does not have the facilities to host the meeting in its own space. However we found an excellent nearby venue, the Siena Retreat Center, in Racine, WI, run by Dominican sisters. (The Siena Center is named after Saint Catherine of Siena, a 14th century Dominican “of great religious and spiritual influence”.) Working with the Retreat Center’s availability, we’ve scheduled our meeting to begin on a Monday afternoon, and end Thursday mid-day. There will also be an opportunity to visit Milwaukee Zen Center and take a “Tour of Milwaukee”, led by MZC members, at the conclusion of our meeting.

You can find older items in the News Archive.