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Branching Streams Newsette 8-9-2021

I am sending this Newsette on August 9, the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. I first went to Japan in 1986, when visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and spoke with Hibakushas (atomic bomb survivors) in Nagasaki. As a way of remembering these days I’d like to share a piece of music called “August 6” composed by a friend, Shinji Eshima.

The headlines today include reports of the largest wildfire in the history of California, wildfires in Greece and Turkey, with extremely hot temperatures. There is a surge of new Covid cases across the United States as well as in other countries. In Austin, TX, there is a shortage of intensive care beds, while the Governor prohibits cities in his state from requiring indoor masking and encouraging people to get vaccinated.

At this time, some sanghas are opening their doors again, some are meeting in person outdoors, and others are continuing a combination of in-person and virtual offerings. Protocols for meeting inside change from no masks to masks, as CDC and local guidelines keep changing.

Myoshin Kate McCandless and Shinmon Michael Newton, guiding teachers at Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver BC write, “As we go forward into the fall, the time when we usually strengthen and intensify our practice, many are noticing the cumulative fatigue and emotional toll the pandemic has taken…As we transition to whatever the next phase of this second pandemic year brings, let’s recognize that we will need to renew our energy, rehabilitate relationships, and recommit to our practice. The home page of their website includes a slide show of photos from members’ gardens this summer – very inspiring!

This Newsette includes some good news from Houston Zen Center, several study opportunities coming in September and October, and a link to my interview with Zenju Earthlyn Manuel on her life-long love of poetry.

Jon Voss’s Zoom clinic resumes this week, on Wednesday August 11 from 11 to noon PDT. Here is the Zoom link or Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode: 057143.

Houston Zen Center recently received the gift of the Margaret Austin Center, which provides a retreat center and 40 acres of land. Their announcement states, “The gift from the Margaret Austin Center board to HZC is … the fruit of a decades-long relationship among the members of Margaret Austin Center and Houston Zen Community, based in mutual respect, confidence, and trust.” . Congratulations to Abbot Gaelyn Godwin, board chair Royce Johnson, and all those who contributed to the unfolding of this gift.

Fall classes:

For meditators who want to enter Zen deeply, to investigate the mind of daily life, Houston Zen Center offers Entering the Path of Practice, an 8-week  advanced program of guided exploration, study and training.  The program begins on September 5.

The Soto Zen Buddhist Association is announcing its Fall course, Many Communities, One Sangha: Exploring the Reality of Equity & Inclusion with Rhonda Magee, Mushim Ikeda and Crystal Johnson. This 5-session online course will take place on Saturdays in October from 1-3:30 pm Pacific Time). Registration for the general public opens on August 13th. I will include registration information in next week’s Newsette.

The Shogaku Institute is offering Honoring Asian American Buddhists an 8-week online class from October 6 to December 10, Wednesdays, 6-8 pm PST, 7-9 pm MST, 8-10 pm CST, 9-11 pm EST. Here’s is a link to a flyer with more information about the course and how to register. The course begins with the history of Asian Buddhist immigration to America and ends with examining ways that we might identify and work to bridge some of the issues that often have kept ethnic and convert Buddhists apart.

Many sanghas have invited Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, founder of Still Breathing Zen to give talks during the last year – and many of us may not know about her life as a poet. Here’s the link to an interview I did with her about the importance of poetry in her life.

In the midst of many reminders of the fragility and preciousness of life on our planet, may our practice continue with persistence, creativity, vigor, and joy.

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