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Newsette 3-28-2022

Emerging from sesshin, messages from Branching Streams friends heightened my awareness of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Bernd Bender, guiding teacher of Akazienzendo in Berlin, wrote, “Here in Berlin, the war feels very close. Every day, hundreds of refugees arrive. Akazienzendo was offered a large, empty apartment for one year to give people from the Ukraine a home. With a small group of people from the zendo, we worked hard to furnish it and make it welcoming, so that people can feel safe there and start to heal. Last weekend, a family of five moved in; a woman with a child will possibly join them soon.”

Hozan Alan Senauke, Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center sent the following:

Dear Friends, If you are able to address the daunting humanitarian needs flowing from the invasion of Ukraine, please see the attached message from Zen friends in Poland. Their Paypal link and bank transfer information are near the end of the attached document. If you wish to make a U.S. tax-deductible donation, feel free to send funds through Clear View Project, noting on your check or Paypal that your donation is  designated to humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

I’m including a message from David Treleaven, author of Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness, on Trauma-Informed Resources for Ukraine, as some of you may have sangha members from Ukraine or who have family members or friends there. “Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost one month ago, some of you have requested TSM resources to support those directly impacted by the conflict, including humanitarian workers. One of the best documents I’ve seen so far is “Mental Health and Psychosocial Support • Humanitarian Response in Ukraine and Neighbouring Countries” which includes resources in English, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, and Ukrainian.:

If those of you in Europe are interested in David Treleaven’s work, he will be offering Trauma-Sensitive workshops in May and June in Germany, Switzerland, Ireland ,and the UK, including an advanced weekend with the Oxford Mindfulness Center also available online. Here are the dates (with registration links):

May 21st-22nd • Berlin, Germany
May 28th-29th • Zurich, Switzerland
June 3rd-5th • Freiburg, Germany
June 10th-12th • Cork, Ireland
June 25th-26th • Oxford, UK (in-person and online)

In the U.S., several sanghas are offering new programs:

Brooklyn Zen Center is offering a new online 8-week class on the Samdhinirmocana Sutra, a central text of the Yogacara tradition, beginning April 5 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. EST, taught by Ian Case and Jefre Cantu.

At Houston Zen Center, Yuho Wade Maggert will teach How to Be a Buddhist, a six-week class beginning April 26from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. CST. This class is an integration of both book study and practical application. This class will thoughtfully examine and discuss the texts: The Way of the Bodhisattva by Santideva and Entering the Mind of Buddha: Zen and the Six Heroic Practices of Bodhisattvas by Tenshin Reb Anderson.

Chapel Hill Zen Center is hosting an in-person sesshin led by Daitatsu Tom Wright from Friday night June 10 to Wednesday, June 15. Daitsu Roshi, who will be traveling from Hawaii to lead the sesshin, will speak on his understanding of zazen practice and the connection between zazen and daily life, as informed by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, as well as the role of the bodhisattva.

In closing, here is a message from The SZBA Board of Directors and the SZBA DEIA Committee: “The application deadline for the Soto Zen Buddhist Association BIPOC Scholarship Fund is Thursday, March 31st. BIPOC SZBA members, and BIPOC students of SZBA members are welcome to apply for funds to support their Zen practice including events, classes, conferences, retreats, and travel costs. We ask that you share this message with your students and sangha members as well. “This year, we have $4,000 available to BIPOC members and encourage you to apply for grants that do not exceed $350 so that we are able support as many BIPOC members and their BIPOC students as possible. To apply, please send your application to by March 31.” 

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Newsette 3-15-2022

Today, March 15, is the deadline to register for the Branching Streams Conference hosted by Austin Zen Center at Ancient Yoga Center near Austin, TX from April 25 to 28. We invite you and your sangha members to our first in-person gathering since Fall 2019. The conference theme is Healing Relationships. Here is the link for more information and the registration form.

Whether or not you plan to attend the conference, there is still time for you to make a short video about what supported you during the pandemic, which Teresa Bouza will weave into a video of many voices and images. Teresa writes: “We would like to know how you kept practice alive and in what ways practice was supportive during this challenging time. We invite you to record a short video or audio clip with your cellphone and share it with me ( ) by March 21st. If you have any questions, please contact Teresa.

Many of us are deeply concerned about the war in Ukraine. Zen Center North Shore’s recent newsletter features an interview with Emily Dashawetz, a Zen student whose family is Ukranian. This interview is also posted on the Branching Streams website.

Les Kaye, the Abbot of Kannon Do Zen Center in Mountain View, CA wrote a letter to his sangha in which he encourages us to stand up with Ukraine. He writes, “Although we cannot personally stand alongside people in Ukraine on their soil, we can join them in their fight against ignorance and injustice wherever we are right now…We can join in spiritual solidarity…and if an appeal or opportunity on behalf of them comes to us, we can respond with a generous mind.”

Duncan Williams, author of American Sutra, is hosting an event at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, CA, virtually and in-person Saturday, April 2, 2022|5:00 PM-6:30 PM Pacific Time: Interlinking Past and Present: A Conversation and Reading about Race, Religion, and American Belonging in conjunction with the Sutra and Bible exhibit. The exhibit which depicts the role of faith in the Japanese American incarceration, is open until November 27.

The change to Daylight Savings time in many states, the approach of the Spring Equinox. and budding or blossoming trees alert us to the change of seasons. May Spring bring renewed energy to all of us.

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Standing in Love and Solidarity

We are sharing this newsletter article from Zen Center North Shore. Emily Dashawetz was interviewed for this article by their newsletter editor Jireh Shaazi, and we are reposting here with their permission.

As a spring tradition, Ukrainians make and exchange these eggs called “pysanky,” which shares a root with the Ukrainian word for “to write.” The different patterns, colors, and designs celebrate Ukraine’s rich beauty and culture, which our sangha member Emily’s family directly shares. Emily made the red egg with the wheat motif at top right, and the rest were made by her mother-in-law (Anna Kurniawka’s) church friends at Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Church in Jamaica Plain, MA.

Dear Sangha,
Two weeks into the invasion of Ukraine, our eyes and hearts have opened to this beautiful country of strong, creative, brave, and hard-working people. People who are, and have been, fighting for their sovereignty for many, many years.

In our effort to fully open to what is unfolding before our eyes, we turn to sangha member Emily Dashawetz whose family is Ukrainian. She graciously shares:

What I would want everyone to know about Ukrainians is exactly what the entire world is feeling right now: their passion, their resourcefulness, and a culture that honors the truth of interdependence in community. Ukrainians today carry the full strength of their generations of ancestors before them. Those ancestors knew that fertile earth intimately, and they fiercely protected their communal traditions in the midst of incredible suffering. Their stories, songs, dances, embroidery, and so much more have been passed on for centuries, so that they would stay alive to sustain them in times such as these. From my husband Markian, his immediate family, and their Ukrainian friends, who are our family, we extend love and gratitude to all those standing in solidarity with Ukraine, and a wish for peace.

How you can help:

In this link tree you will find both places to donate as well as resources for education, including links to various films, like Winter on Fire which we highly recommend for a basic understanding of the current situation.

Thank you for getting informed, getting involved, and mostly, for keeping your heart open.

May the Ukrainian people be protected, and may this aggression end immediately.

In Love & Solidarity,
ZCNS Leadership

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Newsette 3-9-2022

Last week I learned that my friend, Buddhist peace-worker Paula Green, has died. I find these words of hers so relevant these days: “Our survival depends on a significant portion of the human race accomplishing a change in worldview, from one of patriotic and tribal loyalties to loyalty to life itself.”

The registration deadline for the Branching Streams Conference is March 15, next Tuesday! Please register! The conference, hosted by Austin Zen Center at Ancient Yoga Center in the Texas Hill Country, begins on April 25 and ends April 28. The theme is Healing Relationships. We are looking forward to a very interactive conference and to the joy of being together again after two years of the Covid pandemic. Here is the link for more information and the registration form.

Teresa Bouza, from Kannon Do Zen Center, is producing a video for the conference. She invites sangha members to share personal stories about practicing during the pandemic. “We would like to know how you kept practice alive and in what ways practice was supportive during this challenging time. We invite you to record a short video or audio clip with your cellphone and share it with me ( ) by March 21st. You can share your videos via Google Drive, Dropbox, or another method. If you send audio, please also share some pictures to illustrate what you are saying. You can tell us stories about sitting at home and how that felt, your altars, your virtual sanghas… anything that sustained you during the pandemic.”

In response to the invasion of Ukraine, members of Zen Centers inChapel Hill North Carolina, San Juan Puerto Rico, and Vancouver, B.C. joined the European Buddhist Union’s online meditation for peace in Ukraine last Friday.

Brattleboro Zen Center in Vermont held a special ceremony, chanting the Loving-Kindness Meditation and “directing our hearts, minds, and the positive energy generated in our practice to the people of Ukraine and to victims of war around the world “

Two Streams Zen in Western Massachusetts will chant and sit for peace, love, and compassion for six Saturdays, starting on March 12 and ending on the pink full moon on April 16, 6 to 7 a.m. Pacific, 9 to 10 a.m. Eastern, and 2 to 3 p.m. Western European. Here is the Zoom link.

Richmond (Virginia) Zen Center’s Newsletter says: “We don’t know what will happen in Ukraine, but we do know there are ways to support life and reduce suffering going on there right now:
Nova Ukraine, Razom for Ukraine, World Central Kitchen, and Global Giving.

The Mountain Rain Zen Community, Vancouver, B.C. newsletter quotes H. H. Dalai Lama who calls us to “develop a sense of universal responsibility–of the universal dimension of our every act and of the equal right of all others to happiness and not to suffer, to develop an attitude of mind whereby, when we see an opportunity to benefit others, we will take it in preference to merely looking after our own narrow interests.”

Kate McCandless and Michael Newton add: “The cumulative power of many small efforts is greater than we realize, when we align of our hearts towards peace.”

Thank you for the many ways in which you and your sanghas are aligning your hearts toward peace.