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Newsette 11-28-2023

Tonight, at City Center we will have a ceremony for the five senior members of our community who are leaving for Enso Village this week –Arlene Lueck, Barbara Machtinger, Rosalie Curtis, Susan O’Connell, and Teah Strozer, followed by a celebratory dinner. A second ceremony and celebration will be held at GGF on Dec. 3rd for the four retirees leaving Green Gulch Farm and Temple…Meiya Wender, Emila Heller, Sukey Parmalee, and Mick Sopko.  It reminds me of the importance of ceremonies in marking significant transitions in our lives.

I missed reporting on a Jukai Ceremony that occurred at Stone Willow Zendo in Spokane WA on September 29. Founding teacher Daya Goldschlag gave the precepts to Terran Campbell, who received the Dharma name Onryu Ekai, Gentle Dragon Wisdom Ocean. Daya noted, “Terran is a very long-time practitioner, and it was an honor to do that for them.” Daya received dharma transmission from Teah Strozer in September 2022, along with Ava Stanton, who leads Just Show Up sangha in Santa Monica CA, Shogen Danielson who is on the Teaching Council of Monterey Bay Zen Center, and Heather Iarusso who practices and teaches at San Francisco Zen Center.

A Stepping Down Ceremony for San Antonio Zen Center’s founding and guiding teacher Zenka Colin Gipson will be held at SAZC on December 16. After leading the sangha for ten years, Colin “is excited about practicing in a new way.”

Many Branching Streams Zen centers and sanghas are offering Rohatsu Sesshin varying in length from two to seven days, some in person and some hybrid, some residential and some commuting only. I will mention only a few.

Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center and Zen Heart Sangha in Mountain View and neighboring Menlo Park will jointly host a two-day Rohatsu sesshin at Kannon Do. Misha Shungen Merrill, founding teacher of Zen Heart Sangha, will lead the sesshin. Misha received Dharma transmission from Les Kaye, Kannon Do’s teacher emeritus. This sesshin will be held from 8 am – 5 pm each day, with a modified oryoki lunch. 

Brooklyn Zen Center is offering a five day Rohatsu sesshin December 6 – December 10
Wednesday through Saturday: 8am – 8:30pm EST; Sunday: 6am – 1pm EST with Sarah Dōjin
Emerson, Charlie Korin Pokorny, and Kidō Ian Case in their urban Boundless Mind temple. Partial attendance will be permitted; minimum of three days’ consecutive attendance. More information and registration here.

For the first time since 2019, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate “will hold a five-day Rohatsu sesshin to celebrate Shakyamuni Buddha’s Great Awakening, Wednesday December 6th to Sunday the 10th. All are welcome to attend any one to five days, in person or online.” Hogetsu Laurie Belzer and Taigen Leighton will co-lead the sesshin, focusing on the traditional Soto Zen teaching of meditation on the treasury of radiance. If you plan to attend, please register at .

The Zen Buddhist Center Black Forest in Germany and Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver BC will also be sitting Rohatsu sesshin.

I will join the City Center sangha in sesshin from December 2 to 9. It will be wonderful to sit with an awareness of all the Zen Centers and sanghas in the Suzuki Roshi lineage and other lineages who will be turning toward silence and stillness at the is time of great suffering in the world. May our practice radiate peace.

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Bright Stream – Naming a New Temple

by Myoshin Kate McCandless, co-guiding teacher of Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver, B.C.

In October 2022 Mountain Rain Zen Community was approached by the Vancouver Zen Centre guiding teacher, Eshin Godfrey and the VZC board, letting us know that Eshin would be retiring to Quebec, and the VZC would be dissolving as a society. They proposed to transfer their practice centre to MRZC on the condition of providing a retirement stipend to Eshin. This was an astonishing and very generous offer, and we are deeply grateful to Eshin and the VZC sangha. 

The house is spacious and well-kept. Through the labours of the VZC sangha over the last fourteen years it has been developed as a beautiful space of practice. The ground level has a large kitchen/dining area and three rooms for residents. The upstairs has a bright, airy zendo that seats about 20, a meeting room, office, guest room, and two-room teachers’ suite. The garden has been lovingly tended and has shrubbery, fruit trees, berries, herbs, and a path for outdoor kinhin.

Aren’t names curious? We humans probably began naming each other and the things around us very early in our development of language. It’s how we distinguish one thing from another when communicating across distance. Names give cause for endless precision and confusion. Like everything, they are provisional, subject to change. 

The house is on Sherbrooke St., most likely named after a former Governor General of what was then called British North America after the War of 1812. He had a distinguished military and very colonial career. You might be interested to learn how disproportionately white, male and colonial Vancouver city street names are.  Though 38 are named after trees and plants, there is no Red-cedar St. or Salal St. (CBC The origins of all 651 street names in Vancouver). One of our members looked up the etymology of the name Sherbrooke and learned that the name in Old English means either brook/stream of the shire, or bright stream.

Bright Stream – it resonates with the Branching Streams network of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi sanghas, named after the line in the poem by Shitou Harmony of Difference and Equality, “branching streams flow on in the darkness”. Our sangha is one branching stream of many, and each of us a tributary. Maybe in adopting this name we can return the name Sherbrooke to its origins, a bright stream flowing through a valley, a village, on its way to the sea. 

In September, we formally adopted the name Bright Stream Temple (Kōryūji in Japanese) for our new place of practice.

Mountain rain runs down

through myriad bright streams

into the great sea.

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Newsette 11-16-2023

This Newsette is following quickly on the heels of the one I sent last Friday. It includes news of dharma transmission, lay entrustment, and priest ordination ceremonies, a recommendation for a recently published book, a message from Alan Senauke regarding a petition for a cease-fire in Gaza, and a poem.

Everyday Zen founding teacher Norman Fischer gave Dharma Transmission to Flo Rublee and Ruth Ozeki on October 17. Flo’s dharma name is Dai-I JinShin, Great Healer, Deep Faith and Ruth’s is KanShin Do An, Generous Heart, Voice of the Way.

Hannah Sullivan, who practices at Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham WA, received Lay Entrustment from Kathie Fischer on November 5 during a retreat on Samish Island. Her dharma name is SeiU HeiAn, Quiet Rain, Stable Abode.

On Sunday November 12, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, guiding teacher of Still Breathing Zen Sangha and Myokei Caine-Barret, Shonin, Bishop of Nichiren Shu, ordained three priests at Green Gulch Farm. The Zendo was full of loving friends and family, sangha members, and Zen teachers. The new priests are Kaishin Unique Holland, whose new Dharma name is Kaishin Jiso – Ocean Heart, Healing Ancestors; Jozen Tamori Gibson, whose new Dharma name is Jozen Shinmu – Offering Zen, Empty Mind, and MK Abadoo, whose new Dharma name is Ganju Isshin – Wishfulling gem, One heart mind.

Shinshu Roberts, co-guiding teacher of Ocean Gate Zen Center in Santa Cruz CA writes, “I am reading a new book by Rebecca Li, who is transmitted in the Chan lineage of Master sheng Yen and the teacher at Chan dharma Community. The book’s title is Illumination: A Guide to the Buddhist Method of No-Method.  …As a teacher I find her insights helpful… I am recommending this book, which is published by Shambhala in paperback.

Alan Senauke, Abbot of Berkely Zen Center, sent the link to a petition from American Buddhists asking President Biden to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. He writes, “This is something Bhikkhu Bodhi and I have been working on for the last few days, feeling that compassionate Buddhist voices must be heard.  I recognize some of you might disagree with our call for a ceasefire. I respect your views. I know that some of you have already received this petition through other channels and have signed on.  If appropriate, please sign the petition, add a comment, and share it widely with other members of your community.”

To close, here is a poem posted by Two Streams Zen  in Westhampton, MA, whose guiding teachers are Ryūmon Baldoquin and Catherine Anraku Hondorp:

By Aurora Levins Morales

Last night I dreamed
ten thousand grandmothers 
from the twelve hundred corners of the earth
walked out into the gap
one breath deep
between the bullet and the flesh
between the bomb and the family.

They told me we cannot wait for governments.
There are no peacekeepers boarding planes.
There are no leaders who dare to say 
every life is precious, so it will have to be us.

They said we will cup our hands around each heart.
We will sing the earth’s song, the song of water,
a song so beautiful that vengeance will turn to weeping,
the mourners will embrace, and grief replace
every impulse toward harm.  

Ten thousand is not enough, they said,
so, we have sent this dream, like a flock of doves
into the sleep of the world.  Wake up. Put on your shoes. 

You who are reading this, I am bringing bandages
and a bag of scented guavas from my trees. I think
I remember the tune.  Meet me at the corner.
Let’s go. 

As those of us in the U.S. turn toward Thanksgiving, may we give thanks for everything that supports us in our lives. Wishing you a nourishing Thanksgiving

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Newsette 11-10-2023

Last night the City Center Tanto and I held the space for a Healing Circle for residents who wanted to share their thoughts and feelings about the suffering and violence in Gaza and Israel. It was a way of creating a safe enough space to hold a range of experience, pain, and not-knowing.

Many of us are searching for ways to respond, both within our sanghas and in our wider communities, to increasing polarization and difficulty in communicating with others whose views may differ from our own.

Eden Heffernan shared a poem in Richmond Zen Center’s newsletter that points a way to better communication.

The Place Where We Are Right

From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
in the spring.

The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.

But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plow,
And a whisper will be heard in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.

–Yehuda Amichai, translation by Stephan Mitchell

This coming Sunday, November 12, at 11:30 a.m. CT,  Houston Zen Center will offer “an opportunity to gather together in peace, to reflect on the causes of the flaming violence in the world, and to make our wishes for peace explicit.  The practice involves sitting together, writing wishes, sewing small garments, and reflecting on loving-kindness, compassion, and peace.  You are welcome to join for all or part of the ceremony.”

Some programs that are nourishing in other ways include:

Bamboo in the Wind in Sunnyvale CA is holding their Fall Japanese Ceremonial Tea
offerings on Sunday, November 19, 2023.  “This tea ceremony is performed by Tea Masters, one trained and certified in Japan and the other in the US. There are time slots available at 11:00am and 1:00pm.  We limit 6 guests per time slot.  So, for those interested, please register ASAP by emailing   

Brooklyn Zen Center is offering a BIPOC Workshop: Sitting with Ancestors on Sunday, November 12, 1:30 – 4pm EST. “Join us for an afternoon workshop on practices centered around ancestry led by two long-term students at BZC (Adriane Rozier and Ryan Lee Wong). “Ancestry” includes Buddhist ancestors, blood ancestors, and chosen ancestors. This workshop is open to all BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) participants. More information and registration here.”

Looking ahead to December, several sanghas are planning Rohatsu sesshins in person. Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago’s sesshin will be hybrid.

Taigen Leighton writes: “For the first time since 2019, we will hold a five-day Rohatsu Sesshin to celebrate Shakyamuni Buddha’s Great Awakening, Wednesday December 6th to Sunday the 10th. All are welcome to attend any one up to five days, in person or online. Hogetsu Laurie Belzer and I will co-lead the sesshin, focusing on the traditional Soto Zen teaching of meditation on the treasury of radiance. If you plan to attend, please register at .

Thank you for all you do to support your communities in this challenging time.