This is a time of both celebration and mourning, sometimes expressed in ceremonies.
This past Saturday, three sanghas held outdoor Jukai ceremonies. I was able to attend the ceremonies in Austin and Houston by Zoom and received a description of the Jukai at All Beings Zen Sangha in Washington, D.C., written by their Shuso, Shōryū Chris Leader. “All Beings Zen Sangha held their second socially distanced Jukai ceremony this past weekend. The event was held in an open-sided barn at their rural retreat site and was attended by family members of the initiates and several sangha members. The barn was lit by the afternoon sunlight framing their preceptor and slipping through the boards of the ceiling. After the students took their vows and received their robes, each had a chance to step away from everyone, remove their mask, and address those who had gathered to support them. Afterward the ceremony closed with bells that roiled among the rafters, and exclamations of joy from Bodhisattvas and family alike.”
In recent newsletters we’ve spoken about closing ceremonies for beloved zendos. Ceremonies are also healing when loved ones die. Ramana Waymire of Ashland Oregon Zen Center writes: “One of our beloved sangha members, Kakuga Cyndi Grewe, died on September 7th. We held the traditional three-day vigil for her, adjusted for Covid-safety; only four in the zendo at a time, wearing masks and keeping social distance. At 72 hours we held a ceremony with 108 bows, with teachers and priests in the zendo with the windows open so that sangha could bear witness and participate from outside.”
Chris Fortin, guiding teacher of Dharma Heart Zen sangha, will be offering two online events centering Jizo Bodhisattva through San Francisco Zen Center. She writes: “In this time of difficulty and uncertainty, the archetype of Jizo Bodhisattva, an embodiment of fearlessness and great persistence, is a profound resource. Jizo vows to walk into the fires of suffering, and to accompany all beings across to the safety and equanimity of awakening.”
Chris is offering a Jizo Workshop and Ceremony (traditionally done for children who have died, it is relevant to losses of any kind), on October 10th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and an 8-week practice group that begins on October 15th. She says, “All are welcome, especially those in need of compassion, healing, and solace from the many losses, uncertainty, and changes of these times. Here’s a link for More information and registration.
We have received 31 responses to the Branching Streams Covid-19 Survey to date. The survey is designed to provide an overview of how the pandemic is affecting sanghas. If you haven’t responded, here’s the link to the survey. We request that only one person in each sangha respond. It will take 10 minutes or less to complete. Please respond by Friday, October 2nd. We will share the results in a Newsette and on the Branching Streams website.
The last letter writing election retreat will be on October 11th. Enrollment is open until Friday October 2nd. Here’s the link to their website: https://www.electionretreat.org/. In following weeks, election retreats will focus on phone-banking in swing states.
Jon Voss will be offering his weekly Zoom clinic every Wednesday from 11 to noon Pacific time. Bring your questions about hosting Zoom events, sounds for ceremonies, and anything else Zoom-related. Here’s the Zoom link. (Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode: 057143)
Thank you for reading this Newsette. May you find strength and sustenance in ceremonies, in your sanghas, in your families, in nature.