This has been a challenging week for those of us in California, with over 600 wildfires flaring all around the state, many of them close to practice centers and homes of sangha members and causing poor air quality in the Bay Area and beyond. In addition, a tropical storms is on its way to the Gulf Coast, endangering communities in Louisiana and Texas. Such vivid reminders of the climate crisis are impossible to ignore.
Many sanghas have been addressing this issue for several years. Climate justice was a theme of the 2018 Branching Streams Conference, which included a wonderful presentation by Stephanie Kaza on systems theory and the climate crisis. Given the pandemics of Covid-19 and the heightened awareness of racial injustice, the precarious state of our planet may have moved to a “back burner.” Please let me know if your sangha is involved in climate justice actions or study and I will include that in the next Newsette.
As the days grow shorter, even in places that are still experiencing the heat of summer, signs of autumn are unmistakable. School is starting, for most students, from pre-school to college, online. Ancient Dragon Zen Gate’s senior students host a Zen group for students at the University of Chicago, which was recently featured in a Tricycle article, “Buddhists on Campus”.
Many sanghas are planning Fall Practice Periods, some starting as soon as September. Mountain Rain Zen Centre in Vancouver is opening its Fall Practice period with a weekend retreat and will be opening its zendo for up to ten sangha members at a time, physically distanced, as well as offering the retreat online. Guiding teachers Michael Newton and Kate McCandless carefully worked on a zendo reopening plan.
Seattle Soto Zen’s guiding teacher Allison Tait writes, “I am receiving support from the teachers both Bellingham and Vancouver to offer an [online] Seattle practice period! SSZ has only ever had a shuso one time before, so the Sangha is very excited.” This inter-sangha support and cooperation is happening more easily with Zoom.
In case you missed it, I’m mentioning again Thomas Bruner’s Fundraising for Buddhists class, offered by Houston Zen Center, three sessions beginning September 1st. For a description or to register, go to: https://houstonzen.org/events-calendar/2020/9/1-september-fundraising-for-buddhists
Jon Voss continues to generously offer his weekly Zoom drop-in clinics, Wednesdays at 11 a.m. Pacific time.
May you, your loved one, and all beings be healthy and safe.