This will be my last Newsette of 2022. It has been a year of reopening, joyfully, though slowly and cautiously, for many Branching Streams Zen Centers. Some highlights for me were the Branching Streams Conference in April, hosted by Austin Zen Center, and my road trip to visit sanghas in Arcata, Ashland, Bellingham, and Vancouver in late September and early October.
We celebrated Buddha’s Enlightenment at City Center on Saturday morning, December 12th as did with many Branching Streams sanghas. The leadership of Zen Center North Shore (MA) offered this description in their newsletter:
“On this Rohatsu, we commemorate Shakyamuni Buddha’s attainment of anuttara samyaksambodhi — supreme perfect enlightenment. Across the world, Zen practitioners will be united in practice and joined by our collective aspiration toward awakening. What a beautiful and powerful expression of love and compassion. May you also find deep peace and equanimity at this most precious time.”
We will soon be celebrating the solstice and other holidays involving light, leading up to New Year’s Eve and morning. From Massachusetts to British Columbia, Branching Streams groups will be transitioning from the old year to the new with traditional Zen practices and unique adaptations.
Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver, B.C. is Sitting and Chanting for Peace on New Year’s Eve from 8 p.m. to midnight. “Join Mountain Rain and friends from other sanghas in our annual New Year’s Eve retreat to cultivate peace in our hearts, our families, our communities, and in our world.” Please register for in-person attendance; you can also join on zoom.
Zen Center North Shore will usher in the new year on the morning of January 1 with two periods of zazen, a brief ceremony to welcome 2023, and a courageous, purifying dip in the [Atlantic] ocean!
On another note, Colin Gipson, guiding teacher of San Antonio Zen Center, who will retire in 2023, asked me to share the attached announcement, the result of several meetings with the transition committee and the Board.
If you read stories to children, you may enjoy Laura Burges’s Buddhist Stories for Kids: Jataka Tales of Kindness, Friendship, and Forgiveness, published by Shambhala on December 6. Laura is a seasoned storyteller, children’s educator, and SFZC teacher who received lay entrustment from Eijun Linda Cutts. Laura says, “My wish is for the book to reach as many children and their parents as possible. I wish I could have read this book to my daughter Nova when she was little!” I interviewed Laura for this week’s SFZC Sangha News if you’d like to know more.
I hope to visit Branching Streams groups on the East Coast in 2023. And I look forward to seeing more of you in person at the conference we’re planning in Santa Cruz, September 11 to 14.
I wish you good health and joy in your practice and sangha life.