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 email@example.com
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 https://www.ancientdragon.org/event/five-day-rohatsu-sesshin/ .
Thank you for all you do to support your communities in this challenging time.