I returned home from visits to four Zen Centers in Germany and Switzerland two days ago. This morning my zazen was full of images of people and places I visited and a feeling of great gratitude for our shared practice. I will write more about my trip in a future Newsette.
During my time in Europe (October 1 – 17) the conflict in Israel/Palestine erupted. I am following several news sources and am, as you may be as well, very concerned as more and more lives are severed in Gaza and Israel. Several Branching Streams teachers have shared their thoughts, concerns, resources, and actions.
Hozan Alan Senauke, Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center, wrote, “At Berkeley Zen Center we are planning to have an open council later this week, and we are also looking for good channels to direct aid to those who are experiencing loss. I would love to know what is happening in your sangha around Israel and Gaza. Here is a statement I wrote after consulting with BZC’s priests and senior students. If this is useful to any of you, please use all or parts of it for your own communities. Note that there are valuable resources in the link to Nonviolence International.”
Taigen Leighton, guiding teacher of Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago, IL, writes: “Please consider signing this petition to Congress for a ceasefire. After you sign, there is a link to messages to your own House and Senate representatives. Please share this with others.”
From the organization Demand Progress: 13 House Democrats have now introduced legislation to call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Now is the time to take action. Sign the petition: Demand an immediate ceasefire!
There are two groundbreaking articles by Branching Streams sangha members I highly recommend. Anlor Davin, founder and priest of Autsit in the San Francisco Bay Area, wrote an article, “The Joy of Low Stimulation,” in a recent Lion’s Roar feature “On the Spectrum, On the Path.”
River Shannon’s article, “My Foxy Body, Engaging with Trans Identity through the teachings of the Buddha,” was published in Tricycle on October 3rd. River is a member of Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver B.C.
River, whose dharma name is Myōsen (Shining River), and Yuki David Burke, who practices with Calgary Soto Zen and Mountain Rain Zen, were ordained as priests by Mountain Rain’s guiding teachers Myoshin Kate McCandless and Shinmon Michael Newton on October 15.
On October 14, Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center in Mountain View celebrated the priest ordination of Anna Breckenridge, by her teacher Les Kaye. Her dharma name is Kigen Tokushin (radiant field, sincere heart).
The Tassajara Winter Practice Period (1/10 – 4/4, 2024) will be led by Paul Haller, teaching on The Practice of Awakening. First month option: This Tassajara practice period will offer an opportunity for practitioners to attend the first month only, 1/10 – 2/7/2024 [dates TBC], to include sangha members who would appreciate the opportunity to participate in the forms of a traditional ango but aren’t able to take three months away from their lives or work.For the first month there will be an emphasis on training in the Zen monastic forms and to illustrate the role they play in the practice of awakening. The prerequisite for participating in the first month of the practice period will be to have sat at least one traditional seven-day sesshin. The deadline for applications is December 9, however applying as soon as possible helps Tassajara with the logistics of planning for the practice period; priority of acceptance will be given to those who apply early. Use this link for more information about the practice period.
I’d like to end this Newsette with a quote from an Eko written by Jaune Evans, senior teacher at Everyday Zen and founding teacher of Heart of Compassion in Pt. Reyes CA, for a ceremony she led at Everyday Zen on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, October 9.
“…in these times of worldwide pain and grief, climate catastrophe, insatiable greed, hunger, injustice and war,
May we offer our gratitude for how Indigenous traditional knowledge and sacred teachings
Are so critically important for the survival and resilience of our whole Mother Earth
How Their Original Instructions are so alive today —
So infused with generosity and respect, teaching how to live in peace and generosity,
Courageously saving All Beings, sustaining joy and laughter, in spite of history,
destruction and violence, broken treaties and heavy odds.”