Yesterday I hosted a second online gathering of European Branching Streams leaders, with participants from England, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Finland, France, Italy, and Germany. The conversation focused on how European sanghas are meeting the complexities and uncertainties of the Covid pandemic, and in particular the tensions around reopening and vaccinations. The group will meet again in February, 2022.
In the light of the recent climate summit in Glasgow, several sanghas are focusing on the climate crisis.
Brattleboro Zen Center (Vermont) members are engaging in their first climate change action with a table outside the Brattleboro Co-op. They are sharing information and asking people to sign postcards calling on the Vermont Climate Council and legislators to bring about transition from fossil fuels to a just and climate-resilient Vermont, working with 350 VT. Founding teacher Hakusho Ostlund writes: “This is the first step in an exploration of how we as a Sangha may bring the ethics, concentration, and wisdom of our tradition into concrete beneficial action in the world.”
Ava Stanton, guiding teacher of Just Show Up Zen Sangha in Santa Monica CA, invites other Branching Streams leaders to sign a letter drafted by Green Faith, a global faith community organization working for climate justice: https://fossilfueltreaty.org/faith-letter
Good news from Brooklyn Zen Center (New York): “We are very pleased to announce that starting in January 2022, we will have an ongoing place to practice in person together in Brooklyn. We will be renting the Parish house at Christ Church in Cobble Hill every Saturday from 8am to 6pm. We are excited to be partnering with Father Mark and his community who share our commitment to justice and love. This auspicious turn of events affords us the opportunity to be together for our Rohatsu retreat this year.
More good news from Chicago’s Ancient Dragon Zen Gate: Guiding Dharma Teacher Taigen Leighton writes, “Due to Covid, at the end of last year our Ancient Dragon Zen Gate sangha sadly had to abandon our Irving Park Road temple after twelve years. We have sustained a robust program on Zoom, with a great many fine participants joining our sangha from more than a dozen states and several countries overseas. Many of our former regular participants have yearned for opportunities to again practice together in person. I am delighted to announce that starting Sunday November 21st, our Sunday morning and Monday evening events will be in-person at Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Northside Chicago at 1650 W Foster Avenue.” Their events will be available on Zoom as well.
Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham, Washington shared a haiku by Jack Kerouac in their recent newsletter with an invitation to sangha members to submit haiku poems on the theme of “Awakening.” Some of the poems will be included in their next newsletter, which will be published during Rohatsu week. Here is Kerouac’s haiku:
The taste/of rain/why kneel? – Jack Kerouac –
As we head into the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, I’d like to share Taigen Leighton’s words, from his Ancient Dragon Zen Gate newsletter: Thanksgiving “derives from the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock, which I visited as a child. But that event is a tragedy heralding a holocaust for Native Americans, starting with those same pilgrims who repaid the generosity of nearby native peoples with brutal violence. Nevertheless, separate from that history I have celebrated Thanksgiving as an American Buddhist holiday, honoring the practices of gratitude and generosity…Gratitude naturally inspires generosity, the first transcendent bodhisattva practice of offering support to those around us.”
I wish you a nourishing Season of Gratitude and Generosity.