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Newsette – August 23, 2023

This week I’m including a reminder about the Branching Streams List-Serve, a mourning and a celebration, offerings and news from three sanghas, a fall class from the Shogagu Institute, and a teacher search from a cousin (Katagiri lineage) sangha.

Please consider joining the Branching Streams List-Serve if you would like to more easily share resources, request information from other sanghas, and work together on issues of mutual concern. It was created after the 2022 Branching Streams Conference in Austin, using Google Groups, and is available to readers of these Newsettes. If you’d like to join this separate group email,  please sign up here. You don’t need a Google account or gmail address to join; any email will work. If you have any questions, please contact Jon Voss, our Branching Streams webmaster.

In the last weeks, memorial services were held at Chapel Hill Zen Center, San Francisco Zen Center, and Green Gulch Farm for Curtis Fabens, Daishi Zenkai: Great Resolve, Complete Openness, who passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, August 10. Curtis began practicing at the CHZC in 2006, after visiting Tassajara for several weeks. He returned to Tassajara to begin his monastic training in 2010, where he was ordained as a priest by Zenshin Greg Fain. Curtis received Dharma Transmission at Berkeley Zen Center from Greg on the evening of Friday, June 28, 2023. Curtis is survived by his wife, Caitlin, and their seven-year-old daughter.. Cards and packages may be sent to Caitlin’s home address: 2171 Burton Dr Cambria CA 93428. She has set up a Go Fund Me Page.

Mazel Tov and Great Congratulations to Nomon Tim Burnett and Raizelah Bayen who were married on July 22, 2023, with Hoka Chris Fortin (a teacher at Everyday Zen in the S.F. Bay Area) officiating. Nomon is the guiding teacher of Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham WA. He writes: “It’s a great thing to practice relaxing as family and friends gather to celebrate and support our marriage, and to feel the incredible support of sangha. Amazing!”

Beginners Mind Zen Center in Northridge CA, whose founding and guiding teachers are Peter and Jane Schneider, will have a Shukke Tokudo ceremony on Saturday August 26 for Spencer Levy and Chris Burnham.

Brooklyn Zen Center writes, “We’re overjoyed to share that we now have a new Brooklyn Zen Center website. The website goes along with our new logo and brand identity. We got excited about our new look and decided to go a step further—we are very happy to unveil our BZC T-shirt campaign, featuring our new kechimyaku design by Cathleen Tseng!

When I visited Ashland Zen Center last September the first thing that caught my eye as I drove up was their Little Farm Stand. A lavender sachet I brought home with me is still fragrant! I was happy to read in their August Newsletter, “the Sangha Farm Stand is humming along! Numerous people have contributed potted plants, handmade crafts, gardening books, cookbooks, and treasures with a country flair. The Farm Stand, with the help of many hands, is proving to be a great fundraiser and an important outreach to the community.

Shogaku Zen Institute is announcing its Fall 2023 class: – Preaching the Dharma Practicum taught by Steve Kanji and Daishin McCabe, ONLINE for 11 Tuesday evenings, October 24, 2023 to January 9, 2024, 6:00 to 7:30 pm, Pacific Time. The fee is $600. To register, email For more information, email the instructors at or

Several months ago, members of Nebraska Zen Center reached out to speak with me as they were discerning how they might find a priest to lead their sangha. They recently finalized a plan to invite a Resident Teacher for a four to six-month period, rather than looking for a Guiding Teacher immediately. Here is the  NZC | Resident Teacher Blurb and the NZC Resident Teacher Position Description.

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Newsette August 17, 2023

I have enjoyed compiling this Newsette, which includes a range of topics, including a new affiliate, book launchings, retreat offerings, a Pilgrimage to the South, and a request from our Branching Streams affiliate in Medellin, Colombia. I hope you will enjoy reading it.

Welcome to Great Spirit Sangha in San Francisco, whose founding and guiding teacher is Cynthia Kear. Cynthia received dharma transmission from the late Darlene Cohen. She writes, “Our form of practice is firmly rooted in the Suzuki Roshi lineage of Soto Zen Buddhism, in the dharma of our immediate ancestor, Darlene Cohen (Su Rei Ken Po, Great Spirit Manifesting Dharma).” Great Spirit Sangha is open to and respects the inherent Buddha Nature of all beings, is very LQBTQI and recovery friendly.

Lien Shutt, founding and guiding teacher of Access to Zen in Oakland, CA is celebrating the release of Home is Here,  Practicing Antiracism with the Engaged Eightfold Path on Tuesday August 22 at 7 p.m. at Books Inc in Berkeley. She will be in conversation with Zen Priest Dana Takagi.


Paula Arai, the author of Women Living Zen and Bringing Zen Home, and a professor at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA will launch The Little Book of Zen Healing with a reading at Book Shop Santa Cruz on Monday August 28 at 7 p.m.

Houston Zen Center is offering a 4-day Teaching Retreat with Kokyo Henkel focusing on Menzan Zenji’s Self-Enjoyment Samadhi.  The retreat begins at Houston Zen Center the evening of Thursday, August 31 and continues from Friday September 1 to Sunday September 3 at Auspicious Cloud Temple in Chappell Hill, Texas.  “In this retreat, we can examine together and discuss some highlights from the treatise on Self-Enjoyment Samadhi by a great 18th century Soto Zen teacher. It was written for his devoted lay disciples to clarify the practice of zazen.”

Practicing with Water, a three-day Sesshin led by Zenki Kathleen Batson is offered at Chapel Hill NC Zen Center from Friday September 29 to Monday October 2. “In this sesshin we will explore the theme of water in some of Dogen’s writings, consider what stories we tell ourselves about water, and how to engage with water as part of our practice in everyday life.”

Nine Buddhist practitioners affiliated with the Racial and Social Justice as Dharma Practice Group (RSJD) will make a Pilgrimage to the South from September 5 to 10. They will journey to Alabama to “witness, learn, and practice within the context of the lived truths of the institution of slavery, the growth of systemic racism, the Civil Rights Movement, and the ongoing work of racial and social justice as currently manifesting in the South,” visiting sites of historical significance in Brimingham, Selma, and Montgomery .RSJD is co-led by Chris Fortin of Everyday Zen and Dharm Heart Zen and Doralee Grindler Katonah of Valley Streams Zen Group in Sacramento CA.

Montaña de Silencio in Medellin, Colombia requests our support! Their board president, Engyoku Nidia Gil writes: “We are wholeheartedly working here to make this center more available to practice and study Dharma. Last month we launched a campaign to raise funds to guarantee the sustainability of this organization. We are currently being supported by donations that come from our members, that today are 28.” Here is the link to their campaign:

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Interview with Rev. Shundo Aoyama Roshi and Abbot Konjin Gaelyn Godwin

This feature is shared with permission from the Houston Zen Center July 2023 announcement.
Among Abbot Gaelyn Godwin’s many activities, one of the highlights for her was the opportunity to meet with the great teacher Aoyama Roshi, the Abbot of Aichi Senmon Sodo, a monastery for women in Nagoya, Japan. Aoyama Roshi is the first woman priest to hold the position of Seido at either of the head temples of Soto Zen. She is the Seido of Sojiji, the temple founded by Keizan Zenji. Rev. Godwin is the first woman to be appointed to the position of Director of the International Center of Soto Zen Buddhism, North America.

Interview with Rev. Shundo Aoyama Roshi and Abbot Konjin Gaelyn Godwin
Soto Zen headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, brought two important women teachers together in March 2022 at Aoyama Roshi’s monastery in Nagoya, Japan, to discuss the issue of gender equality in Soto Zen. This remarkable interview was edited into 5 parts and released in March 2023. It will be required viewing for Soto Zen training priests in Japan.

Gender equality is one of the important facets of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which Soto Zen headquarters in Japan has been fully supporting and promoting.

You can view the full 5-part series on the Houston Zen Center website here.
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Newsette August 5, 2023

Dear Branching Streams teachers and leaders,

Patrick Teverbaugh, guiding teacher at Santa Cruz Zen Center, and I visited Villa Maria del Mar, the oceanside retreat center where we’ll hold the  2023 Branching Streams Gathering in September. I stayed overnight to get acquainted with the layout of the buildings, the breakout rooms, and the meals. I could hear the waves breaking on the beach below as I fell asleep. The deadline for registration is rapidly approaching! If you plan to attend and haven’t yet registered, please do so this week.

Ceremonies past and future:

On July 30, Hakusho Ostlund, who founded Brattleboro Zen Center in Vermont during the pandemic, received Dharma Transmission from Senior Dharma Teacher Furyu Schroeder at Green Gulch Farm. The photo below was taken by Reirin Gumbel, the guiding teacher of Milwaukee Zen Center, who came to assist with her dharma brother’s ceremony.

During that week, at Berkeley Zen Center, Hannah Meara and Carol Paul received dharma transmission from Hozan Alan Senauke and Curtis Fabens received dharma transmission from Zenshin Greg Fain. Hannah’s dharma name is KiJin SeiSho/ Resolute Love Clear Illumination. Carol’s is ShiKen SeiGetsu/ Clear Intention, Serene Moon, and Curtis’s is DaiShi ZenKai/ Great Resolve, Complete Openness. The photo was taken by BZC sangha member Dean Bradley.

Keido Les Kaye’s Stepping Down Ceremony as Abbot of Kannon Do Zen Center in Mountain View CA will be held at 10 a.m. PDT on Monday September 4 (Labor Day). It’s possible to attend virtually or in person. If you’d like to RSVP for the ceremony please do so very soon, using this form.

I’m attaching a flyer for a six-month Mindful Leadership Training co-led by Marin Zen’s founding and guiding teacher Marc Lesser at Spirit Rock. The six-month training begins later in August.

And the Enso Village team is sharing news about Enso Verde, a second Zen-inspired senior living community they are developing in southern California. There will be several in-person and virtual meetings in August and September for those interested in learning more. The flyer is attached.

I look forward to visiting Seattle Soto Zen in their new home at Seattle Koyasan Buddhist Temple.  I will meet with SSZ’s spiritual director, Kanshin Allison Tate, and be their guest speaker on Sunday August 27. I will stay with dear cousins and meet the newest member of the family, named Ori, who was born on my birthday.

Bowing deeply,