Posted on

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.