In reading your newsletters I have seen that many of you welcomed the New Year on December 31st with outdoor fire ceremonies, zazen by Zoom, and/or ringing a bell 108 times. At City Center we greeted January 1st with a service in the Buddha Hall and a jundo to all the altars, offering light, fragrance and bows, ending on the roof where we chanted the refuges in Pali and toasted the New Year.
May this year bring us closer together as we continue to face the climate crisis, the Covid pandemic, racial injustice and economic inequality, and so many other huge issues.
As we head into 2022 with the uncertainties we are facing, we are still planning to hold an in-person Branching Streams Conference sponsored by Austin Zen Center from April 25 to 28 at Ancient Yoga Center, half an hour from Austin. The theme is Healing Relationships (with ourselves, one another, in our sanghas, and with our planet). The program includes a morning with poet Naomi Shihab Nye and a day-long workshop with Stephanie Kaza on The Work that Reconnects. Please save the dates!
The schedule for this summer’s Tassajara Branching Streams Sangha Weeks is nearly full. There is one 3-night stay in June (June 3-5) that just opened up, and several 3 and 4-night openings: August 8-11, 12-14, 15-18, and September 9-11. Please let me know in the next two weeks if your sangha would like one of those spaces. Anna Malo, from Tassajara Reservations, will be sending a letter to the sanghas that have signed up. She and the Tassajara Reservations team will handle all Sangha Week questions from that point on.
In this Newsette I will focus only on two programs in response to the climate crisis. More news about classes, dharma talks, and other sangha offerings will appear in next week’s Newsette.
Brattleboro Zen Center (in Vermont) is planning weekly in-person meditations outdoors, as a way to engage as a sangha around the climate emergency. Founding teacher Hakusho Ostlund writes, “While meditation isn’t the solution to all the world’s problems and sitting for a specific cause should never be an excuse to abstain from more overt ways of social engagement, I believe there is great power in ritual action.”
San Francisco Zen center is offering a six-week class, beginning January 11, Finding Your Path to Eco-Activism. “This class series is designed to educate, inspire, empower, and activate deeper and more effective Earth activism among its participants.” Each class will include presentations by Tim Ream, a longtime Zen student and eco-activist, and a guest presenter. “Love for the Earth is a prerequisite. No activist experience required.” As this new year begins, may you stay healthy, warm, and nourished by Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha