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Newsette 9-27-2021

Perhaps some of you who have gardens are enjoying the last tomatoes, or the first winter squash. Yesterday I participated in an afternoon of gleaning at Green Gulch Farm, one of about forty volunteers who harvested over 300 pounds of collards, chard, kale, broccoli, and cabbage – good nourishing food left in the fields after the commercial harvest to donate to the wider community through several local organizations.

This Newsette features three offerings on racial justice, news from Just Show Up sangha, and a book recommendation.

Hollaback is launching a new training in Bystander Intervention to support Latinx communities in Public Spaces.  We are offering this free, one-hour, interactive webinar, in honor of Latinx Heritage Month (September 15th – October 15th) and to bring awareness to the increase of harassment toward the Latinx community in recent years. Register here. I have participated in several Hollaback bystander trainings in the past year and highly recommend them.

Houston Zen Center and Dawn Mountain dharma center are presenting Myokei Caine-Barrett Shonin speaking on A Story of a Fully Engaged Dharma Life, on Sunday, October 10th from 3 to 4:30 p.m. CST online.  Her talk is part of their ongoing series of events on Dharma and Social Justice

Registration is open until October 1 for the Soto Zen Buddhist Association’s class Many Communities, One Sangha: Exploring the Reality of Equity and Inclusion, with Rhonda Magee, Mushim Ikeda, and Crystal Johnson. The five week online class meets October 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time. You may find it useful to attend with several members of your sangha.

Just Show Up Zen Sangha in Southern California has started an online fall practice period, Seeing the Habits of Heart Mind Using the Five Precepts which goes through December 11th. Guiding teacher Ava Stanton writes, we will each choose a precept to live and practice with.  We will meet in small groups and as a sangha, speak in Practice Discussions and sit a final retreat together.  More information is available at our website.”

Ruth Ozeki is a priest affiliated with Everyday Zen, a novelist and filmmaker. I have been awaiting her new novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, released last week. I find the characters in Ruth’s novels jump off the page and permeate my life long after I’ve turned the last page, and look forward to finding out who I will meet this time.

May you and your sanghas be healthy and strong.

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Newsette September 20, 2021

Although in San Francisco we are experiencing our usual belated summer days, the upper leaves of the Japanese maple in the SFZC courtyard are turning red, and we’ll have an Autumn Equinox ceremony on Wednesday. It’s also the time of the September full moon – the Harvest Moon.

These words were posted on the website of Two Streams Zen in western Massachusetts:

“We cannot see or hear autumn, or hold it in our hands. But when the leaves turn red and the ears of rice turn golden, they signal the arrival of autumn. When we hear the crickets chirping at night, or an autumn shower striking the eaves, or pick ripe apples and persimmons, we embrace autumn. Autumn becomes something to savor.
Shundo Aoyama Roshi, from Zen Seeds: Reflections of a Female Priest,
translated by Patricia Daien Bennage, Roshi

Some good news: Our Branching Streams website is now easy to access from the San Francisco Zen Center’s homepage if you scroll down to the bottom under “locations.”It has also been added to this page which features the three SFZC practice centers.

In this Newsette you will find several online practice offerings. In October, Taigen Leighton will offer another seminar on Dogen, Chapel Hill Zen Center will host a class on Dainin Katagiri’s teachings, Houston Zen Center will launch a class on the precepts, and Two Streams Zen will begin a virtual practice period. Also, Jaune Evans shares information about Healing Circles.

Taigen Leighton, guiding teacher of Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago, is offering a seminar on October 3from 1 to 4:30 CST on Dogen’s teachings about our Environment and its Awakening Capacity, and how Dogen links environmental awareness to devotional practice. For more information or to register, fill out this form:

Chapel Hill Zen Center is launching a study group on the talks of Dainin Katagiri Roshi beginning September 21 from 6:45 to 8:00p.m. EDT. Here’s a link for more information.

Houston Zen Center is offering a series of six classes on The Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts, an intermediate class. It starts on  Monday, September 27 at 6:30 p.m. CST. “The practice of Zen allows each of us to sit upright in the middle of our life as it actually is. When we glimpse our true relationship with all beings, this naturally leads to an ethical way of life.” Here’s the link for more information or to register.

Two Streams Zen’s virtual practice period begins tonight. Their guiding teachers, Ryumon H. Baldoquin and Anraku Hondorp write: “In the spirit of living in awakement, in ease and acceptance with all that arises, we look forward to seeing you at this season’s Full Moon to Full Moon Virtual Practice Period, The Essence of Contentment, starting Monday, September 20 through Wednesday, October 20.

Jaune Evans, founding teacher of Heart of Compassion in Pt. Reyes, CA and a teacher at Everyday Zen hosts Healing Circles for those with cancer and autoimmunity each week. She recommends Healing Circles as a resource to all of us and our sangha members.

May you enjoy the light of the full moon and this season of harvesting.

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Newsette September 14, 2021

I’m happy to tell you that the Fall Practice period at Tassajara, led by Ryoshin Paul Haller, began yesterday with about 40 participants, including members of Austin Zen Center, Chapel Hill Zen Center, and Milwaukee Zen Center.

Ten sanghas have signed up for Branching Streams Sangha Weeks at Tassajara for Summer, 2022. Please let me know if your sangha is interested in going. There are still openings.

As folks seem to have settled into their zoom zendo rhythms, be it virtual or hybrid, we are discontinuing the zoom zendo clinics that Jon Voss has been facilitating. If you have issues you want to work out though, he remains available for free, 30 minute consultations, which you can book online here.

This Newsette highlights several ways Branching Streams groups are appreciating nature and tuning in to the climate crisis, as well as a few other offerings that may interest you.

Akazienzendo in Berlin is planting a 100 meter hedge as a sanctuary for birds, insects, and other beings at the country home of two members who host sesshins for the sangha. Guiding teacher Bernd Bender writes, “It is a sangha project that also aims at overcoming individual feelings of hopelessness, given the magnitude of the climate crisis.” If you would like to contribute to the realization of this project, here is a link to their Go Fund Me page.

September’s Full Moon, the harvest moon, is Monday, September 20th. Bozeman Zen Group in Montana is celebrating it in a unique way, gathering at a member’s house. After a half hour of sitting as the moon rises, they will “view the night sky from a high vantage point over the Gallatin Valley, and enjoy the cool evening with moonlight, firelight and the warmth of our sangha’s heart.” 

Richmond Zen in Virginia is offering a Mountains & Waters Field Trip, an overnight primitive camping trip. October 16-17. They write, “The Buddha and his first followers primarily practiced in forests and fields. We’ll head to a generous member’s forested land for zazen in the wild, nature exploration, and community with the more-than-human world. The land is a two-hour drive from Richmond.”

On September 30, All Beings Zen in Washington DC is hosting a talk by Rev. Konin Gaelyn Godwin (Abbot of the Houston Zen Center) and Rev. Taiga Ito (Soto Zen International) focusing on environmental dharma, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Other events of interest:

Chapel Hill Zen Center announced a concert taking place in Chicago, the world premiere of A Brush With Our Time from composer Andrea Clearfield and librettist Doreen Rao. This piece for four voices, shakuhachi, percussion, and piano is based on the poetry of Zen artist Kazuaki Tanahashi, and explores the tension between peace and conflict.   The concert can be viewed and heard September 19-21.

Chris Fortin, guiding teacher of Dharma Heart Sangha in Sebastopol CA, and Jennifer Block are co-leading an online Jizo practice group, Journeying through Grief and Change with Fearlessness, from October 14 to November 11. “Each session includes Dharma teachings, discussion, small group sharing, and/or creative practices. The final session will be a Jizo Ceremony in which we bear witness to each other’s losses and dedicate our efforts to the healing of grief in our communities and in the world.”

Crystal Johnson, who led last year’s Branching Streams Unpacking Whiteness class will be leading an online White and Awakening Together class at Spirit Rock, on Sundays from October 3 to November 21, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time. “This course is designed as a guided, collaborative exploration for people who self-identify as white, or for whom whiteness is a significant part of their identity. Previous experience with whiteness work and/or meditation is not required in order to benefit from this course.”

May you and your sanghas be well as we head towards the harvest moon and autumn equinox next week.

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Newsette September 7, 2021

Yesterday I returned from a week at Tassajara. It was wonderful to see the sangha there growing and preparing for an in-person Fall Practice Period, which begins September 12. While there I heard of Hurricane Ida’s destructive path through Louisiana to New Jersey and New York. The new home of Mid-City Zen in New Orleans survived the storm with little damage, although parts of New Orleans are still without power.

Offerings from Branching Streams groups this Fall are varied and rich. Here are a few.

“Right Relationship, Healing and Nurturing Connection” is the focus of the Fall Practice Period at Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver, BC.  As part of the practice period co-guiding teacher Myoshin Kate McCandless and Shinsen Reamick Lo are facilitating an eight-week study and practice group, Exploring Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples, “open to anyone of settler/immigrant background, whether recent or generations past, who would like to deepen their understanding of history, culture, spirituality and lived experience of the indigenous peoples of Canada.”

Brooklyn Zen Center is launching a 10-month intensive program, The Bodhisattva Path of Liberation: Racial Suffering and Collective Transformation – “exploring, witnessing, and transforming the individual and collective suffering and harm caused by race and racism, and in particular by the identity of whiteness and the ideology of white supremacy.” This program, which begins in October, is currently limited to practitioners who identify or are identified as white. The schedule, format, cost, and application form are available here.

Roshi Cuca Kosen Montecel, the founder and guiding teacher of Living Water Zen in San Antonio, will lead a three-day online sesshin at San Antonio Zen Center September 19-21 on the theme Practicing with Uncertainty. Roshi Montecel is a teacher in the White Plum lineage. For further information or to register, email


Ancient Dragon Zen Gate’s guiding teacher Taigen Dan Leighton willexplore Dogen’s teachings about our Environment and its Awakening Capacity, and how Dogen links environment to devotional practice in an online seminar on Sunday October 3rd, from 1-4:30 pm Central Time. For a fuller description or to register, click here; for more information, contact

Here’s some good news from Austin Zen Center Choro Antonaccio, AZC’s Tanto (head of practice), will soon be entering a three-week period of ceremonies leading to Dharma Transmission with her teacher Konjin Gaelyn Godwin Roshi, in Houston at Auspicious Cloud Temple. Former Austin Zen Center Director Tim Kroll is now at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center where he will be Shuso (Head Student) for the Fall Practice Period. In a few days he will be priest-ordained by Paul Haller, who will lead the Tassajara Fall Practice Period. Austin Zen Center senior student, Pat Yingst, will also be heading to Tassajara for the practice period.

Today is the first day of the Jewish New Year – ushering in ten days that focus on being in right relationship with oneself, with others, one’s community, and the wide world. A practice I enjoy at this time is dipping slices of apples in honey and saying, “I wish you a sweet and fruitful year.” That is my wish for you.