One of the gifts of this challenging time is the ease with which we can visit distant sanghas, hear their dharma talks, take part in their classes, one-day sittings, sesshins, and ceremonies. I am currently participating in a study group offered by Houston Zen Center and will be co-teaching a class at Mid-City Zen in New Orleans this fall – with no travel needed.
As I mentioned in a recent Newsette, Brooklyn Zen Center decided not to renew the lease on their Brooklyn home of many years. Laura O’Laughlin, (Laura and Greg Snyder are the guiding teachers) describes their process of grieving and celebration: “We have been going through a month-long process with the sangha of grieving our city temple (about two years ago BZC purchased land outside the city). We have had a few zoom evenings of recollection and the BIPOC community made a short video and another sangha member made a longer video .Folks in the city are visiting the space in small groups and next week Greg and I will do a ceremony to close the space. It has been such a powerful, beautiful practice space and our sangha grew substantially in that space, especially with the kitchen. Kitchen practice is still happening once a week until the end, creating soups and food for protestors and those in need.”
Laura also shared a 30 minute video. She describes it as “a beautiful and generous offering to our community, capturing our practice in our Brooklyn temple. It includes snippets of teachers’ talks at BZC and chanting.” Here’s the link: https://vimeo.com/450607102 password snowy2328.
I’ve signed up for a second election retreat. It’s not too late if you’d like to join other Buddhists in September or October for four hours of practice (zazen and a dharma talk) and letter writing to encourage people in swing states to register and vote. On September 13th you can join members of Houston Zen Center, San Francisco Zen Center, and Upaya Zen Center. Roshi Joan Halifax will give the dharma talk that day. Here’s the link for information about these election retreats: https://mailchi.mp/1325076a5ced/september-october-retreats?e=d3485a4663
Douglas Floyd, Board Chair of Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago, and I are working on a survey we will be sending you soon to learn how Branching Streams Zen Centers and sanghas have been affected by Covid-19 — what decisions you’re making about your practice spaces, how you’re offering the dharma, how your membership and finances may have changed. I’ve received many questions about what sanghas are thinking about renewing leases, reopening, amplifying online offerings, surviving financially. We will be able to share the survey results on our website.
Branching Streams is in search of a new Webmaster. After several years of maintaining the Branching Streams website, our wonderful webmaster, Eric Jonas, of All Beings Zen in Washington, DC, needs to pass on the baton. Please let me know if you or someone in your sangha would like to be our next webmaster.
Here’s an invitation to join Jon Voss’s weekly Zoom drop-in clinics, Wednesdays at 11 a.m. Pacific time if you need Zoom advice, support, or encouragement.
May you find ways to nourish yourselves and to connect with others this week. I hope to see some of you at the Soto Zen Buddhist Association Conference September 3rd and 4th.