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Newsette 8-22-2022

There are some wonderful practice opportunities coming up, including opportunities for residential practice in Ashland OR and in forested land north of New York City.

Ashland (OR) Zen Center is pleased to announce openings for student residencies or guest retreats. “Ashland Zen Center is an intimate Soto Zen Buddhist community. “Our sangha is a community of householders from throughout the region including laypeople and priests, led by transmitted Soto Zen Buddhist teachers, two of whom are in residence. The residential sangha is three to ten people. Ashland Zen Center has private and shared housing on an acre of cultivated grounds and gardens at the edge of the small, mountain town of Ashland, Oregon.” For more information about staying at Ashland Zen Center visit https://www.ashlandzencenter.org/guest-retreats-student-residencies/

Kosen Gregory Snyder will be leading the first month-long Brooklyn Zen Center intensive Practice Period at Ancestral Heart. Leadership will also include Shingetsu Laura O’Loughlin in the role of supporting dharma teacher and Kidō Ian Case in the role of tanto. Ancestral Heart Zen Temple will partner with their neighbors at The Watershed Center, located on a 73-acre farm adjacent to hundreds of state forest, two hours north of New York City, to offer this practice opportunity. Participants will follow an intensive monastic schedule, eat oryoki meals, sit multiple periods of zazen each day, and engage in communal work and ritual life. Here’s a link and description: https://brooklynzen.org/events/event/january-residential-practice-period/

In the near future, here are a few programs that may interest you:

Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham WA will hold a one day sitting, Opening to Joy, on Saturday August 27 from 7a.m. to 3 p.m. PDT, led by Shudo Chris Burkhart and visiting teacher Sensei Amy Diller. This will be both in person and by Zoom.

Valley Streams Zen Sangha in Sacramento CA is co-sponsoring two events with the BIPOC Sangha Sacramento featuring Rhonda Magee, author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice. The first program, Meditation for People of Color, is September 11 at 4:15 p.m. PDT (online only) and is for BIPOC. The second event on September 12 at 7 p.m. PDT is for everyone and is both in person and online (Rhonda Magee will be online).Her topic is “Reflections on Engaged Mindfulness and Social Justice work.” Rhonda inspires us to look deeply inside ourselves and to change how we think, act and live together in a conflicted world. For more information, see the attached flyer.

There are still some openings in the in-person Genzo-e retreat led by Shohaku Okumura Roshi at Chapel Hill Zen Center from September 9 to 14. Here’s the link for more information.

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Newsette 9-19-2022

As we turn toward the Autumn Equinox later this week, I am preparing to venture out on a road trip to Vancouver. This is a trip I envisioned in 2020, before the Covid pandemic. I will be visiting Branching Streams sanghas, starting with Arcata Zen Group in Northern California, and ending with Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver. I look forward to doing a morning of practice with Ashland Zen Center and to seeing the new home of Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham, WA. I will also be visiting Shasta Abbey and Great Vow Monastery, places I’ve heard so much about and never seen.

When I began serving as the Branching Streams liaison in early 2019, my predecessor Steve Weintraub encouraged me to visit Branching Streams groups, and this has been one of the most rewarding parts of my role. I visited many of the Bay Area groups that first year, as well as Zen Centers in Seattle, Milwaukee, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, New York, and Rome and Belfast in Europe . At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 I was visiting the three Branching Streams Zen Centers in Texas.

Now that many Zen groups who lost their practice places during the pandemic are finding new homes, and sanghas that were meeting entirely on Zoom are reopening to in-person practice, it is possible to visit again.

I will take to the road on Friday, September 23rd, in my Honda Fit. I am preparing for the many hours of driving by taking the AARP Driver Safety online class and pouring over maps to check distances between destinations and decide where to stop for rest breaks.

I look forward to connecting with the teachers, sangha members, and dharma friends I will meet on my journey. I’ll pack my watercolors and journal and hope to find a number of ways to report back. I’ll return on October 9thand will send my next Newsette soon after.

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Newsette 9-7-2022

Although it’s still early September, the Autumn Equinox will soon be here. With the full moon this coming weekend, we can enjoy the beauty of moonlight and the cooler night air, as many parts of California, the U.S., and the world are experiencing temperatures above 100 degrees.

In the midst of concerns about one another and our planet, I invite you to take a moment to view the images on the website Collecting Fog, by Jaune Evans, founding teacher of Heart of Compassion Sangha in Pt. Reyes, CA. Collecting Fog is also the title of an exhibit of Jaune’s work at Commonweal Gallery in Bolinas, CA from September 12 to November 4. There will be an opening reception on September 18 from 3 to 5 p.m. PDT.

Djinn Gallagher writes from Black Mountain Zen Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, “our much-loved teacher Paul Haller will be visiting Belfast from Thursday, September 8 to Sunday, September 18, and there will be many joyful opportunities to experience his wisdom, good humour and insight. We are offering two workshops, plus a zazenkai, the Sunday morning programme, and lots of online and in-person events. He will also lead an in-person sesshin in Slovenia after his time in Belfast.” Here is the link for dates and times.

Many teachers and sanghas are engaging with social justice issues as well as environmental concerns. I’m including a few of their offerings in this Newsette.

Members of Branching Streams Zen Center, from Brattleboro, VT to Bellingham, WA, are joining with other socially engaged Buddhists to support voter turnout in this fall’s elections. If this is of interest to you, the Buddhist Election Retreat Organizing Committee is organizing four online letter writing retreats this fall. 

Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center is holding a two-day in person interactive and experiential workshop on Right Use of Power (RUP) facilitated by Tenku Ruff on September 10 and 11 from 11 a.m. to 4:30p.m. PDT each day, outdoors at Kannon Do. RUP, developed by Cedar Barstow, is also known as “ethics of the heart.”

Reirin Gumbel, guiding teacher of Milwaukee Zen Center, writes: “Many Zen centers are aware of the state of the death penalty in this country and have protested against it. Right now, executions are on the rise again, and there is a lot we can do about it. Please follow this link and watch the one-minute video!”

Reirin will be giving the dharma talk at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago, IL . as part of the Sunday morning program on October 2 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. CST.

I am sharing again these workshops offered by Valley Streams Zen Sangha in Sacramento, CA. They are co-sponsoring two events with the BIPOC Sangha Sacramento featuring Rhonda Magee, author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice. The first program, Meditation for People of Color, is September 11 at 4:15 p.m. PDT (online only) and is for BIPOC. The second event on September 12 at 7 p.m. PDT is for everyone and is both in person and online (Rhonda Magee will be online).Her topic is “Reflections on Engaged Mindfulness and Social Justice Work.” For more information, see the attached flyer.

Lee Klinger Lesser brings her training in Sensory Awareness and Zen practice together with her concerns about our planet in a nine-month journey of engagement and responsiveness beginning in September: “Relying on Sensory Awareness, Mindfulness and Meditation Practice to Nurture and Sustain Our Ongoing Response to the Climate Crisis.” See the attached flyer for more information.