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I hope you are in good health and finding ways to enjoy the crisper air and changing colors of autumn. This week’s Newsette begins with a poignant ceremony and ends with Halloween. In this and in future Newsettes my aim is to share news from a wider range of Branching Streams groups, and to be less U.S.-Centric. Please help me by sharing your news!

The Stepping Down Ceremony for founding teacher and Abbot Sojun Mel Weitsman at Berkeley Zen Center on Saturday, October 24th, reminded me of the importance of honoring our elders. Many Branching Streams teachers received dharma transmission from Sojun Roshi and were among the 250 people attending this online ceremony. I saw the faces of teachers and members of 25 Branching Streams sanghas from all parts of the U.S. at the ceremony. Hoitsu Suzuki Roshi, Shunry Suzuki’s son, spoke as did Akiba Roshi, bishop of the Soto Shu, and several of Sojun’s senior students.
Sojun Roshi began his comments by offering an apology, saying “I want to wipe the slate clean…I will try harder.” He reflected on his deep gratitude to Suzuki Roshi and his teachings and stated that one of his own goals has always been to create harmony in the sangha.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. The journal Lions Roar recently published an article about the significance of Suzuki Roshi’s teachings with comments from Buddhist teachers including Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, Sojun Mel Weitsman, and Konjin Gaelyn Godwin. Shambhala publishers will issue a special 50th anniversary edition.

You may wonder how students are continuing to sew rakusus in this time of physical distancing. Here is one innovative solution. Joan Amaral, guiding teacher of Zen Center North Shore (MA), wrote, “The semi-virtual sewing retreat this year with Laurie Belzer (sewing teacher and priest at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago) was beautiful and strong.” An onsite sangha member who is apprenticing with Laurie assisted the five sangha members preparing for jukai. “Many laptops and tv monitors made it possible for the people physically together to sew safely. The retreat was held at a sangha member’s home which has many spacious rooms while still feeling cozy. It also gave sangha members a chance to see each other in person since our schedule is currently 100% virtual.”

Teresa Bouza of Kannon Do Zen Center in Mountain View has been organizing a series of talks called Buddhism in Society. The next talk in the series will be given by Mushim Ikeda, a co-founder of the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, CA, on Saturday, October 31st from 10 to 11:30 Pacific Time. Here is a description: “Mushim will talk about how to move forward together in this time of divisiveness and chaos and how to create more diverse, inclusive Sanghas and come closer to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities as allies, practicing cultural humility and respectful curiosity.” Here is the link.

On a lighter note, Hartford Street Zen Center in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood is participating in a Halloween Pumpkin Walk on the afternoon of Saturday, October 31st. Their slogan is “wear your mask and wear a mask.”

You are welcome to attend Jon’s weekly Zoom clinic on Wednesday October 14th at 11 a.m. Pacific time. Here’s the link. Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode: 057143

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