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As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, the City Center Fall practice period is nearing its close. Rohatsu sesshin begins on Saturday the 28th, ending with a Shuso ceremony for Sozan Diego Miglioni on Saturday, December 5th.

Many Branching Streams groups in the U.S., Canada, and Europe will be spending days in the silence of sesshin and celebrating Buddha’s enlightenment, as the nights grow longer in the Northern hemisphere.

At this pre-holiday time, when we may have more time for reading, I will devote this week’s Newsette to several soon-to-be-released books by Buddhist authors, all connected with Branching Streams sanghas. We (our new webmaster Jon Voss and I) plan to feature reviews of these books on the Branching Streams website.

Guiding teacher of Still Breathing Sangha Zenju Earthlyn Manuel’s new book The Deepest Peace, will be released by Parallax Press on December 1st. Zenju writes in the introduction: “I have testified many times of my suffering. Before I die, I must speak of peace.” “Reading this book is a profound meditation in itself,” says poet Naomi Shihab Nye. “Exquisitely crafted and perfectly paced—you will feel your whole being calming down, responding with layered grace to the rich gifts offered here.”

An essay by Houston Zen Center Priest Gyozan Royce Andrew Johnson appears in Black and Buddhist, What Buddhism Can Teach Us about Race, Resilience, Transformation, and Freedom, edited by Pamela Ayo Yetunde, who was the keynote speaker at this year’s Soto Zen Buddhist Association conference and Cheryl A. Giles. Published by Shambhala, Black and Buddhist will be out on December 8th. Leading African American Buddhist teachers offer lessons on racism, resilience, spiritual freedom, and the possibility of a truly representative American Buddhism. With contributions by Acharya Gaylon Ferguson, Cheryl A. Giles, Gyōzan Royce Andrew Johnson, Ruth King, Kamilah Majied, Lama Rod Owens, Lama Dawa Tarchin Phillips, Sebene Selassie, and Pamela Ayo Yetunde.

San Francisco Zen Center Board member Carla Sterling Walter’s Sacred Dance Meditations, published by North Atlantic Press, will be available on December 15th. This book offers readers 365 dances–one for every day–rooted in traditions from around the globe. Each dance is different in origin and technique but connected in common purpose: as sacred conduits for hope, love, connection, community, and spirituality. Carla is the founder of Dance in the Spirit, an organization that recognizes the value of sacred dance as a daily practice linked with mindfulness, along with its ability to emphasize and anchor us to the present moment. Carla considers herself a perpetual beginner in the Suzuki Roshi Soto Zen practice tradition.

Daijaku Kinst, guiding teacher of Ocean Gate Zen Center in Santa Cruz, California, highly recommends, Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists by Chenxing Han. Chenxing Han was a student of Daijaku’s in the Institute of Buddhist Studies Chaplaincy Program in Berkeley, CA. Daijaku notes, “Not only is Chenxing a excellent scholar, she has the ability to invite people to share their lives and perspectives with her, and this work reflects that skill. She takes special care to include the voices of young Asian American Buddhists.” Be the Refuge, published by North Atlantic Books, is available for pre-order, and will be out in January, 2021. There is more detailed info at, and a list of reviews here.

If you know of other books or articles by sangha members that you’d like to recommend to others, please let me know.

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As the weather cools, with snow in some parts of the U.S. and Canada, the new cases of Covid-19 and deaths are rising. This has delayed the partial reopening of indoor spaces for some Zen Centers in the U.S. and affected sanghas in Europe as well.

This newsletter begins with messages from Branching Streams groups in Slovenia, Belfast, and Berlin. It also includes a message from Jon Voss about his Zoom Clinic, and an invitation to a SFZC online evening event for those interested in racial justice.

Nada Odar writes from Slovenia: “Congratulation to US nation and whole world for the current elections. Here in Slovenia we have a chance to take part in online Sanga with Djinn Gallagher and Paul Haller [in Belfast, N. Ireland], plus Bernd Bender’s Akazienzendo in Germany on Fridays and Thursdays with a Rinzai group here in Slovenia.”

Djinn Gallager, teacher at Black Mountain Zen Centre in Belfast, notes: “The cases in the north of Ireland are, as I’m sure you know, rocketing again, and we tend to stay indoors as much as possible, which is no hardship as the weather is pretty gloomy. I sit online every morning with the Black Mountain sangha and swim every afternoon in a nearby pool that is empty apart from me, so that’s very nourishing. I’ve been participating in Bernd’s Berlin group, which is lovely, and recently gave a talk at Colin Gipson’s group in San Antonio in Texas, so there are many opportunities for connection that were unsuspected before the pandemic.”

And Bernd Bender, guiding teacher of Akazienzendo in Berlin, writes: “We decided to close the zendo again starting November 1st. We have a lockdown “light”, and religious institutions are not affected by it, but we interpreted our bodhisattva vow to support this measure of practicing physical distancing to flatten the curve, and I hope all our online activities remain an ongoing support to most active members.”

Jon Voss will be offering his Zoom Clinic tomorrow, Wednesday November 18th from 11 to noon Pacific time, and then will take a break until the new year. If you have any Zoom questions, large or small, Here’s the link to tomorrow’s clinic. Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode: 057143.

USF law professor and mindfulness teacher Rhonda Magee will be in conversation with SFZC Abbot Tenzen David Zimmerman about The Inner Work of Racial Justice on Saturday November 21st from 6 to 8 p.m. Pacific time. Rhonda Magee teaches embodied mindfulness—the practice of paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations in an open, nonjudgmental manner—as a way to support and inform this important work. Rhonda is the author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness. For more information or to register, here is a link to this event.

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I’m a little late in writing this week’s Newsette due to celebrating the results of the presidential election on Saturday (quietly, as we were in the midst of a one-day sitting here when the news was announced), and my 80th birthday on Sunday. I took yesterday as a vacation day to hike to the ocean at Point Reyes.

At the Branching Streams Conference near Milwaukee in September 2018 Rob Lyons from Berkeley Zen Center (BZC)gave a presentation about election sesshins. This fall many Branching Streams sanghas participated in election retreats, wrote letters to get out the vote, sent texts, participated in phone-banking. And voted. Thank you all so much!

I felt a weight lift from my shoulders when I heard about the news of the new leadership of our country this weekend. This was followed by joy, and then exhaustion, realizing how stressful our current political climate has been for the last four years. It’s not over yet… and change is coming. I am aware that many people in the U.S. are feeling grief, fear, and anger about the results of the election and deep rifts divide this nation. How can we, the dharma, our sanghas, contribute to the process of healing?

I’d like to recommend a dharma talk given by Eijun Linda Cutts at Green Gulch Farm on Sunday November 8th, “Kind Speech turns the Destiny of a Nation.” Here is the link.

Practicing the precepts, zazen, study, ceremonies, all continue to encourage and support us to meet the challenges of these times. Please continue to send me news of what keeps you going.

Ancient Dragon Zen Gate Guiding Dharma Teacher Taigen Leighton invites you to a Lay Entrustment ceremony he will perform for Douglas Floyd on Sunday, November 15th at the time of their Dharma talk, 10:15 am [Chicago time]. This will follow zazen at 9:30. Everyone is welcome. Sign in to their Zoom zendo from [].

Jon Voss, member of Mid-City Zen in New Orleans is offering his weekly Zoom clinic on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Pacific time. Here’s the link. Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode: 057143.

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It’s the morning of election day in the U.S. I think this is a day all of us will remember, no matter where in the world we are living. I am featuring some events offered by sanghas in the U.S. and in the U.K. related to today’s election.

Perhaps some of you are planning to spend part of today as poll monitors or participating in phone-banking. Perhaps some of you would like to meditate with others today. If so, there are two opportunities I’m aware of. You may know of others in your area.

Two Streams Zen in Westhampton, MA are hosting a sitting tonight:

On Election Night in the United States, Two Streams Zen will host a safe online space for those who wish to come together in the spirit of community.
Tuesday, November 3 From 7 pm to 9 pm (US/Eastern)
Meeting ID: 837 0573 7810 Passcode: 102376
Join us from anywhere in the world.
Feel free to come and go as you wish.
Peace, Power, & Love,
Anraku & Ryumon
Two Streams Zen Farm is a dedicated practice space for People of Color where the Teachings of the Buddha are made accessible to all who come through our doors seeking Sanity, Community, Healing, and an End to Suffering.

I will be hosting an open online Zendo at San Francisco Zen Center’s City Center this afternoon between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Periods of Zazen will alternate with periods of walking or movement, and occasional offerings of encouraging words. You are welcome to participate for part or all of the time. Here is the link to the online zendo.

Events tomorrow:

Dear Ballot Bodhisattvas in the San Francisco Bay Area,
(Not in the area? Go to: for other locations and info.)
Join us while we gather, Wednesday 11/4 at noon, at the oak tree to sit together (masked, distanced, etc), meditate and reflect on whatever situation we find ourselves in – at Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza (near 12th St BART).
Look for our banner saying “COUNT EVERY VOTE.”
If you want to join us, please send an email to with your name and mobile phone number so we can create a text group to update you with late breaking news about our gathering.

Friends in the U.K. who have trained with Joanna Macy in The Work That Reconnects are offering a 2-hour webinar/workshop tomorrow, beginning at 11a.m. PST, 7 p.m. GST

Active Hope in Times of Uncertainty with Margo van Greta and Jacqueline Buckingham

We currently are surrounded by challenges, both globally and personally. Is it possible to consider bringing hope into our lives, into the world? Active Hope holds the attitude of hope. It is not just an outcome; it is a process. Whatever you are challenged by: Climate Crisis, Covid-19, Redundancy, US-elections, Black Lives Matter, family and relationship issues, or whatever is up for you, during this participatory webinar Margo van Greta and Jacqueline Buckingham will guide you through a process by way of the spiral of the Work That Reconnects, to help bring you to a place of hope and inspired action. Register Here.

Having come through a several-day power outage due to last week’s hurricane, Jon Voss in New Orleans is offering his weekly Zoom clinic on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Pacific time. Here’s the link. Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode: 057143

May you and all beings be safe in the days ahead. Suzuki Roshi’s teachings on beginner’s mind seem especially relevant at this time.