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Newsette 1-30-2024

At City Center, our Winter Practice Period led by Abbot Mako Voelkel began last week. As renovation of 300 Page Street is underway, we had our first one-day sitting of 2024 at Unity Church, a block down Page Street, transforming their worship space into a zendo and bringing bag lunches.

I am looking forward to spending next week at Austin Zen Center, where I will meet with students and board members, lead a one-day sitting, give a dharma talk, and co-host a Queer Dharma evening. Choro Antonaccio, their guiding teacher, and I will visit Houston Zen Center for their Sunday program on February 11, and I hope to connect with the new guiding teacher at San Antonio Zen Center, Karen deCotis.

I’m compiling the responses from sanghas that are offering public responses to the conflict in the Middle East and will share those later this week.

This Newsette includes news from sanghas in western Massachusetts, Brooklyn, New York, and Vancouver, B.C. as well as a source for handmade ceramic oryoki bowls, and a request from SFZC’s Meditation in Recovery steering committee.

Two Streams Zen in Westhampton, MA thanks those who contributed to their successful fundraiser to provide full scholarships for ten young adult activists to attend a weeklong retreat, Meditación en Acción: Espiritualidad y Creación de Mundos Sustentables. The retreat will be co-led by Ryūmon Baldoquin, co-guiding teacher of Two Streams Zen, and Venerable Thubten Saldon (  from March 24 to 31 at Ilumina Centro in Cuidad de Minas, Uruguay. The weekend before, they will offer a public talk at Parque Roosevelt in Montevideo.

The speaker for the February 17 program in the Soto Zen Buddhist Association’s yearlong series, Celebrating the Voices of Women in Buddhism: will be Rev. Chimyo Atkinson. Her topic is Women in Buddhis Monasticism: Women in Community. Her talk will be given in person at Brooklyn Zen Center’s Boundless Mind Temple as part of their Saturday morning program, and will be livestreamed and recorded.

Other programs at Brooklyn Zen Center in the month of February that may be of interest are: a one-day Qigong Workshop with Sally Chang on February 24, and a BIPOC one-day in Person Sit with Kaira Jewel Lingo on February 25. The sit is open to all BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) practitioners. “This is the perfect opportunity for newer practitioners to try longer sitting and to build BIPOC sangha, as well as for long-term practitioners to recommit to their practice.”

Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver, BC is offering a Dogen Intensive in the month of February, with dharma talks by their guiding teachers and practice leaders. They will work with Dogen’s teachings on Continuous Practice, “exploring what it means for us as lay practitioners in the 21st century to have practice permeate every aspect of our lives.”

Cynthia Kear, co-guiding teacher of Great Spirit Sanga in San Francisco, and a member of the SFZC Meditation in Recovery steering committee, writes: “Meditation in Recover (MiR) is interested in connecting with Branching Streams sanghas that offer a recovery-oriented program. If your sangha hosts such a group, please respond to Brent Haas ( with the name and email address of the contact person and a brief description of the program.

Peter Goettler, a ceramic artist and Zen student in Germany, specializes in handcrafted earthenware oryoki bowls. He is able to ship them to the U.S. and elsewhere. You can visit his informative website for photos and more information. We will add this resource to the Branching Streams Resource page soon.

Thank you all for your practice.