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It’s two weeks before election day in the U.S., and while many sanghas are focusing on practice periods and ceremonies of different kinds, members of many sanghas continue to get out the vote and prepare for the post-election period.

This Sunday I attended the first Jukai ceremony of Centro Budista Zen Soto in Puerto Rico, led by local guiding teacher Sandra Laureano and supported by her teacher Valorie Beer, who was in Northern California. One of the Zoom hosts was in New Orleans, and guests from Twining Vines ZC in New York State joined the Puerto Rican sangha members, the three ordinands, and their friends and family. The collaborative ceremony was conducted in Spanish.

Another example of Branching Streams teachers and leaders collaborating with and supporting other Centers is Austin Zen Center’s roster of speakers for their Fall Practice Period. Guiding teacher Mako Voekel writes: While AZC Practice Leaders will be holding the retreats, practice period gatherings, classes & other events during the Fall 2020 Practice Period, we are grateful for the opportunity (largely provided by the pandemic!) to invite a number of Visiting Teachers to give talks in our Online Zendo – all on the topic of Taking Refuge. These teachers include Eijun Linda Ruth Cutts, former Abbess of San Francisco Zen Center, Josho Pat Phelan, Abbess of Chapel Hill Zen Center, Kokyo Henkel, former Head Teacher of Santa Cruz Zen Center, and Zoketsu Norman Fischer, founder of Everyday Zen and former SFZC Abbot.

In case you missed this in last week’s Newsette, The Board of Directors of Berkeley Zen Center, with boundless gratitude, invites you to the Stepping Down Ceremony and Stepping Into Founding Dharma Teacher position for Hakuryu Sojun Mel Weitsman Roshi: Saturday, October 24 at 3 pm Pacific Time. The ceremony will be virtual; go to and click on the link on the right hand column “Enter the Zendo Now” at the scheduled time. All are welcome.

Houston Zen Center will be having a Ceremony of Lay Dharma Entrustment on October 31, 2020 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Central Time. In this ceremony, Keisen Lynn Snow (Keisen Myōhō, Joyful River, Wondrous Phoenix) will receive entrustment as a Lay Dharma Teacher from Abbot Gaelyn. Lynn has been preparing for several years for the ceremony, while leading a group of Zen practitioners in Alabama. The ceremony will take place outside on the front lawn of the center, with a limited number of friends and family in attendance. Everyone is invited to participate via zoom. This ceremony acknowledges the importance and vitality of Lay Dharma leaders.
Please RSVP to Joy. You can enter the ceremony here.

Regarding pre-election activity, Reirin Gumbel, Guiding teacher of Milwaukee Zen Center, spoke last night at an Interfaith Candlelight Rally to “Light up Milwaukee” on the first day of early voting in a swing state in which there were many obstacles to voters in the primary election several months ago. The focus of the Interfaith Rally was to mobilize people to vote early. Their commitment is “to bring 100,000 souls to the polls.”

The election retreat group writes: Together we’ve written 25,000 letters to voters in swing states, and we urge you to participate in one of our upcoming phone banking retreats as well (October 25 and November 1). They are now turning their attention to the Engaged Buddhist Election Protection Project. “Many of us are deeply concerned that Donald Trump may try to steal this election.

As engaged Buddhists, our goal is simple: to make sure that everyone votes and every vote is counted.” For recommendations about actions we can take, please visit their website.

No matter how complex or simple your Zoom questions are, you are welcome to attend Jon Voss’s weekly Zoom clinic on Wednesday October 21st at 11 a.m. Pacific time. Here’s the link, and Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode: 057143

In this time of heightened spread of Covid-19 in many European countries as well as in many states in the U.S. and heightened tension in the U.S. due to the coming election, I have been appreciating the grounding practices of humming and rocking Resmaa Menakem describes in his book about racialized trauma, My Grandmother’s Hands (pp. 141-147) and recommend them to you.

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