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April 22, 2021 Newsette

This is the first time I’ve sent two Newsettes in one week!

Today is Earth Day and I would like to share a stunning setting of “Let Them Not Say,” a poem by Jane Hirshfield, who read at our December “Ten Thousand Joys and Ten Thousand Sorrows” gathering. I’d also like to alert you to two time-sensitive offerings, the start of a one-month practice offered by our two Canadian affiliates, which begins on Saturday, and a European Conference, also taking place on Saturday.

Jane Hirshfield, who sent me the video this morning, says: “If you have the four minutes to watch this — a Scottish composer who gives away all his work related to climate change for free released a video today of my “Let Them Not Say”. The music is one of the most beautiful settings I’ve ever heard of my work. But the graphics… educational, harrowing.”  I cried when I watched it.

Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver and Calgary Soto Zen are collaborating on a month-long Spring practice intensive on “Life Koans, led by their guiding teachers, Shinmon Michael Newton and Myoshin Kate McCandless with Baizan Tim Sampson

As we look towards the future and imagine a post-pandemic life, while still living daily lives in the midst of pandemic conditions, core questions arise about life and death, sickness and health, right and wrong, self and other. Questions about making difficult choices, about how we manifest our practice in our daily lives. These are what we’re calling life koans. During this practice intensive we will investigate how the teaching stories and dialogues of the classical Zen koan tradition support practicing with our personal and collective life questions.

The practice intensive will begin the weekend of April 24-25 and end May 29-30.  For a detailed schedule click here. 

All events are by donation to Mountain Rain Zen Community and/or Calgary Soto Zen.
No formal registration is required, but to help you set your intentions we invite you to fill out an informal registration form, which will go to the teachers. This will help us to get a sense of what your life koans are! Register here.

I have been reaching out to Branching Streams teachers in Europe and learned that Dario Girolami, the Abbot of Centro Zen l’Arco in Rome, is co-organizing an online public conference sponsored by the European Buddhist Union this Saturday, April 24th on Death and Dying from a Buddhist Perspective. The speakers include Ven. Lama Ngawang, a Spanish Tibetan teacher, Dario, Roshi Joan Halifax from Upaya Zen Center, and Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison from the New York Zen Center, plus panel discussions and Q&A. You can learn more at

May you find ways to cherish and be nourished by the earth this weekend.

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