It’s past mid-summer and many sanghas are finding creative ways to practice together out-of-doors.
This Newsette includes glimpses of Ancient Dragon Zen Gate’s Camping Sesshin and an outdoor work-day at Milwaukee Zen Center. If you have found ways to practice in nature, please share your experiences.
This Newsette also contains an update about the launch of Unpacking the Whiteness of Leadership last weekend and a workshop next weekend with Paula Arai offered by Kannon Do in Mountain View CA.
This is an excerpt from a longer article with photos that will be posted soon on the Branching Streams website: “Since 2016, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago has held an annual three-day Camping Sesshin that combines traditional Zen forms and Dharma teachings within the natural setting provided by Illinois Beach State Park, writes Senior Student Eishin Nancy Easton. “Our sesshin takes place in a sheltered, open-air environment, and opportunities for tent camping are available for overnight participants. Daily Dharma talks, discussions, communal meals and nature walks are offered by our co-leaders Eishin Nancy Easton and Gyoshin Laurel Ross, and other senior students under the guidance of Guiding Dharma Teacher Taigen Dan Leighton. This sesshin offers us an opportunity to bring our practice to an encounter with the natural world, without venturing far from home.
“For Ancient Dragon as a non-residential, urban practice center, Camping Sesshin brings a welcome opportunity to practice together in an extended way, as participants bring their own tents and camp overnight in the land surrounding our tent zendo. Pre-dawn zazen on the shore of Lake Michigan is one of the highlights, along with our extended walking meditation along a trail that precedes the morning’s Dharma talk.
“During the COVID pandemic this year, we have not been able to occupy our zendo, and have similarly not felt that it was safe to offer this practice due to the hazards of communal food preparation. However, plans are currently in the works to offer a half-day or all-day sitting in this format, with participants bringing their own bag lunch. Our spacious tent zendo can easily accommodate 6-8 socially distanced participants, and the outdoor setting adds to our physical safety.
Reirin Gumbel, Guiding Teacher of Milwaukee Zen Center writes about a recent sangha work-day: “Sangha members worked on projects individually and brought their own lunches and water. The work was mostly outdoors, weeding and repair, a couple of members cleaned the basement, and one person with a truck took various items to Goodwill and to the dump. It was lovely to see everyone in person, though at a distance.”
Kannon Do Zen Center is offering a workshop, The Healing Power of Everyday Activities in the Time of Covid-19, on Saturday, August 1st led by Dr.Paula Arai, author of Women Living Zen and Bringing Zen Home. You can find more information at: https://kannondo.org/event/summer-workshop-with-paula-arai/
Branching Streams launched our first online course on Saturday, Unpacking the Whiteness of Leadership, led by Crystal Johnson. 107 participants from 29 different sanghas in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. enrolled in the course. Thanks to Jon Voss of Mid-City Zen and Teresa Bouza for their technical support.
Jon’s Zoom Clinic helped Teresa and me learn how to manage security and create breakout groups on Zoom. All are welcome to join our weekly drop-in clinics, Wednesdays at 11am Pacific time.