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Newsette – June 28, 2022

I am happy to welcome a new Branching Streams Sangha, Twining Vines Zen Centre, Katto-An Temple, in Canberra, Australia. This combined Soto Zen/Diamond Sangha temple is led by Neti Mushin Parakh. Neti was ordained as a priest by Kokyo Henkel in 2017 at Santa Cruz Zen Center and received dharma transmission from Kokyo in 2021 She was authorized to teach in the Diamond Sangha lineage by Daniel Terragno Roshi in 2009.

In case you missed this in last week’s Newsette, we have created a Branching Streams list-serve (using Google Groups) that is available to readers of these Newsettes. Jon Voss, who set up the list-serve, says, “You will more easily be able to share resources, request information from other sanghas, and work together on issues of mutual concern. If you would like to join this separate group email list, please sign up here. You do not need a Google account or gmail address to join, any email will work.” If you have any questions, please contact Jon Voss directly.

Ariane Lampe, a member of Akazienzendo in Berlin, wrote that she has successfully raised funds through  a Go-Fund-Me campaign to publish a German translation of Jarvis Master’s book Finding Freedom. Jarvis Masters is a Buddhist practitioner on Death Row in San Quentin, near San Francisco, CA. He recently gave a dharma talk from San Quentin with Lee Klinger Lesser. The recording is available at

On the Soto Zen Buddhist Association Forum (SZBA’s list-serve) many Branching Streams teachers shared their responses to the Supreme Court’s ruling last week overturning Roe v. Wade.

Reirin Gumbel, guiding teacher of Milwaukee Zen Center, will be joining an interfaith group of clergy at a press conference on July 6 in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Milwaukee to show faith support for reproductive justice. 

In Washington State, the Faith Action Network, an interfaith statewide partnership “striving for a just, compassionate, and sustainable world through community building, education, and courageous public action,” issued a statement in response to the Roe decision.

Please share your thoughts, feelings and/or actions you, or members of your sangha, are considering or planning in the Branching Streams list-serve or send them to me for the next Newsette.

This seems like a perfect time to revisit the work of Joanna Macy, and I was happy to receive the news that Upaya Zen Center has rescheduled a micro-training with. Joanna Macy, who is healthy again after a bout with Covid. “She will help guide us in meeting a world on fire. Please join us on July 17th for A SPECIAL AND IMPORTANT INVITATION: Joanna Macy and Our World (Online 2022).” Stephanie Kaza, Wendy Johnson, and Roshi Joan Halifax will join Joanna in this micro-training.”

I appreciate Thich Nhat Hanh’s name for July 4th – Interdependance Day. May we feel our intercon-nectedness with all beings.

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Newsette June 23- 2022

Thanks to the work of Jon Voss, the Branching Streams webmaster, and San Francisco Zen Center’s IT department, as was mentioned a few weeks back, we have created a Branching Streams list-serve (using Google Groups) that will be available to readers of these Newsettes. You will more easily be able to share resources, request information from other sanghas, and work together on issues of mutual concern. If you would like to join this separate group email list, please sign up here. You do not need a Google account or gmail address to join, any email will work. If you have any questions, please contact Jon Voss directly. 

Here are some recent celebrations and mournings:

Austin Zen Center had a Guiding Teacher Installation Ceremony on June 18 for Choro Antonaccio. Choro had moved to Austin from Chapel Hill, NC, several years ago and was Austin Zen Center’s Tanto.

Sojun Mel Weitsman’s funeral was held at Green Gulch Farm on June 25th. Sojun was both an Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center and the founding teacher and Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center. Many of Sojun Roshi’s deshi (dharma-transmitted students) lead Branching Streams sanghas.

Other news:

Richmond Zen Group (in Virginia) is launching a Women of Dharma Study & Discussion Group, focusing on  the history and teachings of women in the Buddhist tradition. The group is live, and for those who are interested in this topic and don’t live in Richmond, “a resource web page with recommending readings is in the works. A wonderful introduction can be found in this four-part series of talks on the Eihei Koso Hotusganmon and the meaning of ancestors in Zen by Jaune Evans and Chris Fortin, both of whom are teachers in the Everyday Zen sangha. Find the first talk here >>. You can also listen to a talk by Choro Antonaccio, guiding teacher of Austin Zen Center, on the same text here.

Konjin Gaelyn Godwin, Abbot of Houston Zen Center, asked me to share the following: “On June 25, 2-4 pm PDT, the Bay Area Buddhist Association is hosting an important and informative panel discussion with Rev. Dr. Tomon Marr, a Soto Zen Priest and palliative care physician, and Rev. Dr. Carmela Javellana, a Jodo Shinshu priest and psychiatrist. They will address the question: What can we do now for our future? The SDG Goal 3: Good Health and Well Being, from a Buddhist perspective.The event is free.” Here is the link to register.

I am looking forward to Pride weekend, as San Francisco Zen Center will again have a contingent in the parade. We will be joined by sangha members from Hartford Street Zen Center and Berkeley Zen Center. The theme of this year’s parade is Love Will Keep Us Together, an important message for these times!

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Newsette June 14-2022

Some good news:

Bernd Bender, co-founder and guiding teacher of Akazienzendo in Berlin, wrote that the sangha celebrated their 10th anniversary on Saturday, June 11 with a summer party.

Brooklyn Zen Center announced that Dojin Sarah Emerson and Korin Charlie Pokorny are moving this summer to Brooklyn and have offered to support sangha life at BZC’s Boundless Mind Temple.

Inryu Ponce-Barger, guiding teacher of All Beings Zen Sangha in Washington, DC, and Koryu Naomi Knoble shared their account of the April Branching Streams Conference, including a few photos you may not have seen.

If you’re interested in the teachings of Charlotte Joko Beck, Houston Zen Center is offering a live and online class, Ordinary Wonder, on Tuesdays from July 5 to August 2, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Central Time.Ordinary Wonder is the title of a collection of Joko Beck’s essays which focus on how Zen practice is centered in the experience of our daily life. The class will be led by Shindō Neely Atkinson, a long-time member of HZC, who was a long-distance student of Joko from 1994 until 2007.

The Soto Zen Buddhist Association is offering a free, four-part series of conversations on Understanding Buddhist Ethics. The series began on Sunday, June 12. The remaining sessions are June 26, July 10 and July 24 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. All will be recorded.

This week we celebrate both a full moon and the summer solstice. I’m enjoying the long days and waking up at dawn instead of in the dark.

May you be well.

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Newsette 6-7-2022

June is Pride month, and Market Street in San Francisco is aglow with rainbow flags. Yesterday, Sunday June 5, I celebrated Pride by joining Santa Cruz Zen Center and Ocean Gate Zen Center at an “Out in Our Faith” interfaith service and marched with them in the Santa Cruz Pride Parade. Despite a steady drizzle bordering on a light rain, the streets were lined with people of all ages wearing rainbow shirts and scarves and waving rainbow flags as we walked by. It was joyful – in contrast to the sorrow of so many lives lost through gun violence in recent weeks.

The photo features Ocean Gate Zen Center’s “song-ha” performing at the Out in Our Faith service.

In response to recent events, Taigen Leighton wrote in Ancient Dragon Zen Gate’s June newsetter: “Our Soto Zen meditation and devotional practices and our strong teaching traditions of compassion and insight are more important than ever in our situation today. In last month’s message I spoke of supporting peace in the Ukraine. The courageous Ukrainian people still need and deserve peace. But now, after the horrifying mass murders of Black grandparents in Buffalo, and the mass murder of fourth grade children in Uvalde, Texas, we need to work for peace in the United States…This is not at all about “politics” but about basic human decency and ethics. We must speak out and oppose the purveyors of American mass murder.”

In recognition of the critical importance to the U.S. of the upcoming midterm elections, the Engaged Buddhist Election Retreat group (many are members of Berkeley Zen Center) is once again offering, in partnership with Vote Forward, a series of online letter writing retreats beginning Saturday, June 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. PDT. For more information, please go to the Election Retreat website.

Branching streams is about to launch a list-serve that will be available to readers of these Newsettes. You will more easily be able to share resources, request information from other sanghas, and work together on issues of mutual concern. I am working on the instructions for using the list-serve with Jon Voss, our Branching Streams webmaster, and we will share them with you soon.

Thank you to the sanghas who have sent their annual contributions, which are starting to trickle in. You can make an electronic payment on the Branching Streams website membership page. or send a check payable to San Francisco Zen Center, attention Tova Green, with your sangha’s name on the memo line, 300 Page Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.

Ian Case, Tanto of Brooklyn Zen Center, described his experience at the April Branching Streams Conference in Austin, TX in the BZC newsletter. Click on his comments to read more and to see some photos.

This summer many sanghas are offering sesshins, both indoors and outdoors, in person and online.

Houston Zen Center is offering a 5-day sesshin from Tuesday evening June 21 to Sunday June25, both in-person and via their cloud zendo. Deepen meditation practice and gather the mind during this 5-day intensive meditation practice led by Abbot Gaelyn Godwin and Shuso Sengetsu Tricia McFarlin.

Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham WA is having their annual sesshin on Sammish Island from June 20 to 26. All are welcome to join the sesshin dharma talks by Founding and Guiding teacher Zoketsu Norman Fischer and Guiding Teacher Nomon Tim Burkett by Zoom:
Samish Island Dharma Talks:

If you live in or near Chicago, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate is offering a three-day camping sesshin from July7 to 10 that will combine traditional Zen forms and Dharma teachings within the natural setting provided by Illinois Beach State Park.

As summer solstice approaches, may you find ways to enjoy the longer days, the shade of trees, the bright colors of flowers, and the sweetness of summer fruits.