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Newsette 4-5-2022

I’m looking forward to the Branching Streams Conference, hosted by Austin Zen Center at Ancient Yoga Center in the Texas hill country, April 25 – 28. Forty people have registered. We will accept late registrations until April 10. Here is the link for more information and the registration form.

Many of you have written about the ways in which you will gather to enjoy Buddha’s Birthday, celebrated by Buddhists throughout the world this month:

Zen Heart Sangha in Woodside, CA, celebrated Buddha’s Birthday on April 1st and 2nd this year with a hybrid retreat.  (Friday on-line, Saturday in-person and on-line).

Santa Cruz Zen Center (CA) had a Buddha’s Birthday Ceremony and Celebration on April 3, which will be followed by a 4-day in-person sesshin April 7–10. (photo from Santa Cruz ZC).

On Saturday April 9 from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. Berkeley Zen Center will “follow the Japanese tradition of symbolically bathing the baby buddha represented by a small statue ensconced in a flower-covered bower.” Their ceremony with be in the courtyard following a short talk by Abbot Hozan Senauke.

Also on April 9, at 12:15 p.m. Austin Zen Center (TX) members will listen to a short reading of the story of the Buddha’s birth before circumambulating and bathing the baby Buddha with sweet tea in his flower pagoda, all while chanting the Shin Gyo and strewing flower petals! This ceremony will be in-person and outdoors.

On April 10 from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Mountain Rain Zen Community invites members to come and help decorate a flower pavilion for the baby Buddha, hear the story of the Buddha’s birth, and join in the ceremony of washing the baby Buddha. Tea and Buddha’s birthday cake to follow.  In Japan, Buddha’s Birthday is called Hana Matsuri, Flower Festival. This year our celebration coincides with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s Sakura Days Japan Fair at Van Dusen Gardens. Sangha members are welcome to attend and meet up there after morning practice. 

Valley Streams Zen Sangha in Sacramento, CA is hosting a Buddha’s Birthday celebration and picnic on Saturday, April 16, 10:30 to 2 p.m.Join Valley Streams Zen Sangha and our families in the Lumbini-like grove of oaks and sycamore trees along the American River for a celebration of Buddha’s birth and a remembrance of his mother, Queen Maya. We will bathe the baby Buddha and read Norman Fischer’s wonderful Buddha’s Birthday poem/play, followed by a picnic.” Families are invited.

Houston Zen Center (TX) notes thatShakyamuni Buddha was born nearly 2645 years ago, in about 623 b.c.e., in Lumbini in Northern India. On April 17 at 11:30AM, after the dharma talk, they will celebrate the birth of Shakyamuni Buddha. The ceremony includes birthday cake.

On another note, you may be interested in a class offered by the Shogaku Institute, a Soto Shu dharma talk, and news of a possible Zen-inspired senior living community in Southern California.

The Shogaku Institute (SZI) is offering an online 3-session class in Preventing and Addressing Sexual Misconduct in Zen Communities on May 13, 20, and 27 from 12 noon to 2 p.m. PDT. SZI has licensed Faith Trust Institute materials and has received a grant to offer this class with psychologist and Zen teacher Grace Schireson and attorney Carol Merchasin to address specific situations in our communities. The class is offered by donation. Here is the link for more information.

Gyokei Yokoyama from the Soto Zen Buddhism North America Office asked me to spread the word about a Dharma Talk with Rev. Kosai Ikeda. Rev. Kosai is one of the so-called Tokufa Fukyoshi, a special delegate from Soto shu.Rev. Kosai will speak on the Special Dissemination of Soto Zen Buddhism on May 12, 2022 at 6:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 898 3030 5254

Zen-Inspired Senior Living Community in Southern California: As you may already know, San Francisco Zen Center, in partnership with Kendal Corp (a Quaker-based nonprofit senior living community developer) has been creating a new paradigm for aging – a Zen-Inspired Senior Living Community. “Our initial offering, Enso Village, will be opening in summer of 2023. Because of its success, we are welcoming input on a potential 2nd site in Southern California. If you think this might be of interest to people in your sangha, please feel free to share this link to a short, 5 minute survey: The link will be live until mid April. 

May this Newsette find you in good health and good spirits.

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