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Newsette March 20, 2023

I’m writing on the eve of the Spring Equinox, looking forward to the ceremony tomorrow at which we share words of the season. We’re expecting more rain tomorrow and instead of singing “When the Red Red Red Robbin Keeps Bob Bob Bobbin’ Along” the song may be “Singing in the Rain.”

There will not be a Newsette next week, as I’ll be at Tassajara sitting sesshin with my teacher, Eijun Linda Cutts, who is leading the winter practice period there.

I recommend a just-published book by Alan Senauke, Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center, Turning Words, Transformative Encounters with Buddhist Teachers.  Alan shares stories of moments in which someone’s words, actions, or presence opened his mind and heart in a new way. You can order the book from Shambhala, or from the SFZC Bookstore,

For those at a distance who would like to attend Layla Bockhorst’s memorial service virtually, on Saturday March 25 at approximately 4:00 p.m., here is the Zoom link. James Bockhorst says, “We will also be recording audio, so if anyone would like an MP3 file of the event, we will be happy to send that out. It is also possible that a zoom link may be made available for the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Funeral itself. Should that eventuate that link will be sent out as well.” You can contact James at

If you have news you’d like me to include in future Newsettes, please email me or send me your newsletters at Here are some dharma offerings coming up soon:

The Samish Island Sesshin, an annual retreat organized by Bellingham(WA) Zen Center, will be June 25 to July 1. General registration began on March 19. The site is a church camp on the water on Samish Island in the Skagit Valley. “The retreat includes dharma talks by Zoketsu Norman Fisher and Nomon Tim Burnett, dokusan and practice discussion, sitting and walking meditation, and delicious vegetarian meals.”

On Saturday April 1, Valley Stream Zen Group (Sacramento, CA) is offering a one-day retreat, “Riding in the Same Boat with All Beings,” with guest teacher Kokyo Henkel. The retreat will include alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation, punctuated by morning and afternoon Dharma talks and discussion. The theme of this retreat is Dogen’s essay Zenki.

Houston Zen Center is offering a three day in-person retreat, The Dharma of All Beings, April 14-16, led by Dharma Teacher Mary Carol Edwards and Sanran Maite Leal. “We will explore Zen writings about the dharma of all sentient (and so-called insentient) beings…In the serene rustic surroundings of Auspicious Cloud Retreat Center, we will sit and walk with the moon, stars, and beings of the night, the rising dawn, the dew, the grasses and wildflowers of the prairie, the shade of the forest and beings of the day.”

A four-week in person and online class on the Poetics of Zen Koans will be offered at Houston Zen Center beginning Tuesday March 28  from 6:30 to 8:30 Central Time. The class will be taught by Kishin Eric Arbiter, a member of HZC since 1994 who was ordained in 2008, and recently retired after 45 years of playing bassoon in the Houston Symphony.

May you enjoy the beginnings of Spring and the lengthening days.

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Newsette March 15, 2023

I found a word that was new to me in Eden Heffernan’s Richmond (VA) Zen newsletter: “Enbrightenment”It’s not just that our daylight hours are lengthening right now. There are bright lights shining from coast to coast.”

In this Newsette I’m highlighting some of the many ways of being interconnected and widening our circles – connecting with dharma friends and peers; refreshing a website; launching a new affinity group; growing a sangha’s membership base; renewing our connections with mountains and rivers; and strengthening ethical agreements.

Eden wrote, “I am very happy to share the news that several good Dharma friends are serving as Shuso for their respective home sanghas. Our own Ellen Hipppard is currently serving (remotely) for the Practice Period at Appamada, in Austin, TX, where she practiced before moving to Richmond. My Dharma cousin – and roomie at Tassajara in 2019) – Kanyu Neal Shorestein, is Shuso for the Everyday Zen Winter Practice Period in California. And our friends at All Beings Zen Sangha in DC are enjoying Dharma cousin Koryu Naomi Noble as Shuso for their Winter Practice Period. I feel so fortunate to experience their brightening of the Way before I plunge into the role of Shuso in April.”

Zen Center North Shore (north of Boston, MA) just launched their new website: “For the past few months, we have been working on redesigning the Zen Center North Shore website with the intention of making it more welcoming and intuitive for current and new members alike. We are excited to share with you that the new website was finally launched! We hope that the new design will delight your eyes and continue to support and encourage your practice.” Check it out here.

Next week Brattleboro (VT) Zen Center will launch a weekly Meditation and Recovery group, led by a sangha member who has extensive lived experience with substance use disorder and Buddhism. Hakusho Ostlund, the guiding teacher, writes “It has always been my aspiration for the Brattleboro Zen Center to be able to offer a Meditation and Recovery group, something many other Branching Streams sanghas have been offering for many years.”

Brooklyn Zen Center is having a membership drive this month. Their March newsletter explores the meaning of membership, invites participants to reflect on how the sangha nourishes them, and  invites the sangha to several events: an in-person meeting on Membership, Engagement, and Stewarding a Tradition which occurred on March 11, and an online gathering on Practicing with Membership, “for members and non-members alike to share how we relate membership to the practice of dana and stewardship of Soto Zen Buddhism at a socially engaged temple in America. You can find more details here. The final event will be a movie night at the end of March.

Austin Zen Center will have its annual Membership Meeting and brunch on April 15th. At this gathering “current, lapsed, and prospective members will hear from the board and spiritual leaders about the spiritual and financial health of the temple and elect new board members.

Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham WA offers their annual Wilderness Dharma Program , “a series of mindful and ritual journeys throughout our local watersheds, and we warmly invite you to come out for a walk, a hike, or a full backpack. We offer a wide variety of experiences, suitable for a wide range of interests and abilities. We begin the season with our Receiving Water/HIlls and Streams Hike on Saturday, March 25th, timed to coincide closely with the Spring Equinox.”

The Shogaku Institute will partner with attorney Carol Merchasin to offer a no charge, five-class workshop on Preventing Sexual Misconduct: Recognizing, Responding and Recovering. Carol brings legal expertise to prevention through policy and organizational structure designed for Buddhist communities. The Shogaku Zen Institute instructors (Daishin McCabe, Steve Kanji Ruhl, Steven Koshin Tierney and Myoan Grace Schireson) will offer training on creating healthy sangha dynamics through council training, communication, accountability and a recovery/healing process. Workshop participants may ask for a legal review of their community’s ethics/grievance policy (at no charge) by Carol and her assistant. Buddhist teachers, board members, sangha leaders, assistant teachers, and interested students are welcome to attend.  For more information or to register, email .

May we all be nourished by our connections with one another.

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Newsette March 6, 2023

At City Center and Green Gulch Farm we are focusing our attention and energy on preparing for the Mountain Seat Ceremonies that will take place this coming weekend at both temples. All three abbatial seats will change. We will honor those leaving – Central Abbot Ed Sattizahn and Green Gulch Farm Abiding Abbess Fu Schroeder – and those stepping into new roles. David Zimmerman will be the Central Abbot, Mako Voelkel the City Center Abiding Abbot, and Jiryu Rutschman-Byler the Green Gulch Farm Abiding Abbot. Hoitsu Suzuki Roshi and his son Shungo Suzuki will arrive tomorrow to assist with the many rehearsals, and Hoitsu Roshi will be giving the dharma talk on Saturday. All the ceremonies and the dharma talk will be live streamed.

Both Mako and Jiryu have led Branching Streams sanghas, Mako at Austin Zen Center and Jiryu the San Quentin BuddhaDharma Sangha and Montana de Silencio in Medellin, Colombia.

Dharma Eye, a publication of the Soto Zen headquarters, has just celebrated its 50th issue. This issue features the transcript of an interview with Houston Zen Center’s Abbot Konjin Gaelyn Godwin and Rev. Shundo Aoyama Roshi, the Abbot of Aichi Senmon Sodo, a women’s training monastery in Japan. The interview concerned the status of women in Zen and other topics.

Layla Bockhorst, guiding teacher of Mountain Source Sangha in the SF Bay Area and Open Circle in Montana, passed away on November 3, 2022. Her funeral and memorial celebration will be held on March 25, the funeral at 1:30 p.m. at Green Gulch Farm and the reception and memorial at 3:30 at Muir Beach Community Center. A flyer with details is attached.

News of sanghas: Many sanghas are celebrating Black History month and Women’s History month with special programming.

Black Women Zen Teachers will be honored by Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver BC on Wednesday March 25 and 29. Kate McCandless and Michael Newton write, “One of the noted characteristics of Buddhist and Zen sanghas in the West is the increased number of women as fully recognized teachers, and in the last twenty years of Back and other racialized women teachers. These two evenings, in recognition of February as Black History month and March as Women’s History month, will feature the voices and teachings of Black women Zen teachers as part of their regular Wednesday 7 to 9 p.m. PT practice schedule. CLICK HERE FOR ZOOM.

Richmond Zen Center (VA) and Chapel Hill Zen Center (NC) will host an online dharma talk by Rev. Chimyo Atkinson on Thursday March 9 at 7 p.m. ET. Chimyo was ordained as a priest in the Soto Zen Buddhist tradition in 2007. She received her monastic training at Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple in North Carolina where she served as Head of Practice until 2020. Here is the Zoom link: Via computer:, Via phone: (646) 558-8656
Meeting ID: 821 378 615

Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) is continuing the work of Undoing Whiteness through the Bodhisattva Path of Liberation BPOL). BZC has developed an ongoing curriculum to support practitioners identified as white in healing and transforming the social and ancestral causes of racial harm through Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Learn more about the BPOL Program and other related offerings here.

On April 26 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. CT Houston Zen Center (HZC) will offer Do the Work, a two-hour online event for everyone committed to beginning or continuing the work of undoing racism. The event will be facilitated by members of the Antiracism Working Group from four Buddhist temples, HZC, Dawn Mountain, Austin Zen Center, and Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Texas. Their event is based on Do the Work! An Antiracist Activity Book by W. Kamau Bell and Kate Schatz.

Ancient Dragon Zen Gate is offering a workshop on The Work That Reconnects on Saturday March 18 from 1 to 4:30 CT, conducted online by their sangha member Matt Streit. Everyone is welcome. The Work that Reconnects was developed by Buddhist scholar and activist Joanna Macy.  Guiding teacher Taigen Leighton notes: “Joanna Macy’s work is so important in our world now.”

There’s more good news to share and it will have to wait for my next Newsette!