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March 2, 2021 Newsette

A year ago, in early March, I was beginning a two-week trip to Texas to visit San Antonio, Austin, and Houston Zen Centers. While I was on the road, Covid-19 was designated as a pandemic and the first cases were being reported in the cities I visited. I gave the last “live” talk in Austin before the Zendo closed and the first online talk in Houston before flying back to San Francisco on a nearly empty plane to enter two weeks of quarantine.

Today is also the beginning of Women’s History Month in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. International Women’s day is celebrated on March 8th in many countries around the world.

For International Women’s Day, Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver, BC is “Honouring Mahapajapati, our first woman ancestor with a talk and a ceremony on March 7th. This talk is part of our regular Sunday morning practice schedule. Everyone welcome!”

Most sanghas are being cautious about reopening their zendos despite the increasing availability of vaccines. As spring nears and temperatures rise,  more outdoor programs may be possible.

Here is San Antonio Zen Center’s plan for an outdoor “hybrid” experience: On Saturdays March 6 and 27, we will attempt to have outdoor in-person zazen here at SAZC. This will be contingent upon weather and San Antonio’s Covid numbers. We will monitor this closely and there will be a go/no-go announcement before the event. If we can hold the Saturday program in person, it will also be broadcast on Zoom.

Taigen Leighton, guiding teacher of Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago writes: “We continue doing the mysterious, challenging work of sustaining our practice and our teaching tradition. Just to continue this dignified practice of upright sitting and life expression is a wonderful gift to our world, to each other, and to ourselves. We continue even through the current challenges of pandemic, climate breakdown, and our historical karma of slavery and now violent white supremacy. Just to sustain caring and attention provides possibilities for healing.  Though we are now a homeless sangha, we are beginning the process of locating a new permanent Chicago home where we can also include our new widespread zoom sangha folks.”

Sunday morning March 14th from 9:30 to 11 Ancient Dragon will host Pamela Ayo Yetunde in their series of Black women teachers. Ayo is a college professor who teaches pastoral care, counseling, and comparative religion, with connections to Vipassana and Soto Zen communities. To access the room, click here.

Emily Dashawetz, the Ino of Zen Center North Shore in Beverly, Massachusetts, writes in their newsletter, “We may feel the hope of the vaccine and an end in sight to the conditions of this pandemic – not because our hope is held elsewhere, in some other, unattainable place, but because we can expand ourselves wide enough to know all things must shift and change. We do not know the timetable, or the events to come, but change itself is unremitting.” ZCNS is offering several dharma talks by guest speakers this month:

Thursday, March 4, 6:30 – 8:30 pm ET: Zazen and Dharma Talk by Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel on The Shamanic Bones of Zen
Thursday, March 11, 6:30 – 8:30 pm ET: Zazen and Conversation with Chenxing Han on Be The Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists
Thursday, March 18, 6:30-8:30pm ET: Zazen and Conversation with Rev. Andre Bennett and Rev. Myozen Joan Amaral on The Sacred Work of Justice 
Thursday, March 25, 6:30 – 8:30 pm ET: Zazen and Guest Talk by Rev. Bernadette Hickman-Maynard on Liberation

Bernd Bender describes a project conceived by members of Akazienzendo in Berlin as a response to their longing, during this time of meeting in digital space, for physical contact and analog exchange. They are individually copying by hand one or more pages of Suzuki Roshi’s “Zen Mind, Beginner Mind.” Sangha members are invited to add drawings, collages, photos or whatever arises from their own creativity and the desire for expression in connection with the book. At the end, the handwritten and designed book will be put together and made into a jointly developed whole.

 Fushin Susan Schoenbohm at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago sends “a very heartfelt thank you to all the folks who have responded to our request for information regarding how your sanghas have conceived and organized sangha care. It’s been very helpful as we have begun to formulate how we will proceed.”

Jon Voss’s weekly Zoom drop-in Clinic continues on Wednesday, March 3rd, from 11 a.m. to 12 PST. Here’s the Zoom link or Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode: 057143.

I want to thank Hiro Ikushima in SFZC’s Communications department for formatting this Newsette.

May you be well, and may you be encouraged by the strength, persistence, and creativity of dharma friends around the world.

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