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Newsette 3-21-2024

I wasn’t planning to send a Newsette this week, as I’m leaving for Medellin tonight, but there are two very time-sensitive matters that you may want to know about.

Some of you may have heard that a Tassajara student, Carolyn Meister, has been missing for several days since leaving the valley on a hike. There are many people involved in search and rescue efforts. We are doing daily wellbeing ceremonies for Caroline. Please hold her in your thoughts.

I want to share with you a message from Abbots Mako Voelkel and David Zimmerman: “We wanted to be sure that you knew of Kaiji Jeffrey Schneider’s passing, and that you receive an invitation to his Memorial. His practice at San Francisco Zen Center spans decades, and so many of you might remember Jeffrey.

“Held by Jeffrey’s family, there will be a Memorial on Saturday, March 23rd in the Parish Hall of St. Francis Lutheran Church,152 Church Street in San Francisco. The doors will open at 9:30 am, and service is from 9:45–11:00 am. 

“There are many ways to honor Jeffrey in his passing – there is a fundraising effort to install a memorial bench in the San Francisco Botanical Garden, and also several local organizations that Jeffrey significantly cared for.  More information about the Memorial and ways to give are found here. 

May all the ways that Jeffrey gave of himself lighten the heart and continue.”

And I want to note a correction to my last Newsette: The guiding teacher of Red Cedar Zen Community is Nomon Tim Burnett. Tim Burkett is a Senior Teacher at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis. I

May you be well.

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Newsette 3-15-2024

Today I will be attending May We Gather, a national pilgrimage to honor our Asian American Ancestors. It will be held in Antioch, CA, a small city in the East Bay, starting at 1 p.m. PDT, and will be livestreamed.

Why Antioch? Their website explains: “When our Chinese immigrant ancestors came to the United States in the 19t century, we faced acts of exclusion and destruction. We remember the scapegoating of Chinese women that incited the burning of Antioch Chinatown in 1876, and the subsequent loss of a temple on Wyatt Street. In 2021, Antioch became the first city in the United States to sign a formal apology acknowledging its history of discrimination against its Asian American Community.”

From the Pacific Northwest, two celebrations and a mourning:

Seattle Soto Zen’s guiding priest Allison Tait and Nomon Tim Burkett, the guiding teacher at Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham WA, held a Jukai Ceremony in Seattle on February 25 for Susan Hautala, whose new name is Kaikyo Zenshin, Ocean Mirror, Whole Heart and Chris LaTerza, whose new name is Myozan Junshin, Wondrous Mountain, Sincere Heart.

On March 3, Mountain Rain Zen Community held a Jukai Ceremony for five students. Co-guiding teachers Shinmon Michael Newton and Myoshin Kate McCandless officiated. “Because we have a relationship with the Vancouver Buddhist Temple, a Jodo Shinshu Temple founded in 1906, and Rev. Aoki, he generously let us hold the ceremony in their spacious main hall, so that we didn’t have to limit attendance. Like weddings, some people weep with joy, and many renew their vows along with those receiving the precepts. 

The students and their new dharma names are Moe Zakzouk, Shiryū Daishin, Branching Stream, Magnanimous Heart; Wynnie Smithies, Jifū Kūdō, Compassionate Wind Boundless Way; Seph King, Myōshin Shinkyo, Bright Forest, True Abode; Jason Dunphy, Myōrin Sōyū Bright Presence, Original Friend; and Nik Bladey, MyōKai Tetsugen, Wondrous Ocean, Penetrating Source

A message from Red Cedar Zen Community: “Our senior priest Edie Norton died in the early morning on March 5. She passed peacefully at home with family nearby. At Edie’s request, a few members of the sangha sat with her body the day that she died, sometimes meditating in silence, sometimes sharing stories, gratitude and laughter. Edie was dressed in her exquisite hand-sewn priest’s robes.”  

The next offering in the Soto Zen Buddhist Association’s monthly presentations in the series Celebrating the Voices of Women in Buddhism is The Body as a Doorway to Practice

on Saturday April 13, from 3:30 to 5 pm ET. Click here for more information

San Francisco Zen Center is hiring an AR & AP Specialist to work at our Page Street location. See this job description. Interested candidates can send a cover letter and resume to

On the Spring Equinox, March21, I will be going to visit Montana de Silencio Zen Community in Medellin, Columbia. I’ll be assisting guiding teacher Jiryu RutschmanByler (who is the Abiding Abbot at Green Gulch Farm) and resident teacher Sanriki Jaramillo with a Jukai Ceremony, a priest ordination, and a sesshin. I’m looking forward to meeting sangha members and practicing with them – as well as visiting a city and a country I’ve never been to. I will be back on April 2, and will send my next Newsette that week.

May you thrive as buds unfold, spring flowers blossom, and the days grow longer.

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Newsette 3-6-2024

It’s the beginning of Women’s History Month. Many sanghas are offering ceremonies honoring Mahapajapiti this month, our first woman ancestor, some in conjunction with International Women’s Day on March 8.

This Newsette begins with an update about Hozan Alan Senauke. Many of us are holding Hozan in our thoughts and including him in our well-being ceremonies.

I’ve included news from Branching Streams centers in Belfast, Northern Ireland; Vancouver, BC; Chicago, and New Orleans, a message from the Buddhist Election Retreat Organizing Committee, and descriptions of two residential retreats happening this summer in the U.S., one on the East Coast, the other on the West Coast.

This update about Hozan Alan’s Senauke’s condition was written by Laurie Senauke on February 19: “It’s been eight weeks since Abbot Hozan Aan Senauke experienced a cardiac arrest while being hospitalized for complications from surgery. After spending most of January unconscious, Hozan began to wake up – first with eye contact and hand squeezes, then by gradually finding his voice again and interacting more and more fully with visitors. Silvie, Genpo, and I are very encouraged by the progress he has continued to make.” Hozan is now at Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital in Marin County. To keep up with the latest developments, visit the “Journal” section at Hozan’s CaringBridge site.

Paul Haller will be visiting Black Mountain Zen Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland from April 23 to May 5. He will lead a sesshin at Ards Friary, April 23-28, which still has places available: click here for more information, and will teach two workshops and participate in the BMZC schedule during his visit. All events will be both in person and online. For more information, check their calendar.

In the Mountain Rain Zen Community (Vancouver, BC) newsletter, co-guiding teacher Myoshin Kate McCandless describes a way in which their sangha encourages a wide range of voices to be heard. Sangha members are invited to give “Zed talks,” 20-to-30-minute informal talks about how they take their practice into everyday life through work, activism, art, teaching, parenting or other ways.

Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago will be hosting an online Dharma talk with Paula Arai, on the topic “Women Wielding Liberating Power,” on Sunday March 17, following zazen, from 9:30 to 11:30 CT. Dr. Arai, a prominent Buddhist scholar, heads the Soto Zen Program at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley.

On February 28, Mid City Zen in New Orleans LA joined an interfaith prayer vigil and press conference in Baton Rouge to call for an end of the death penalty in Louisiana. Read the statement from Mid City Zen Board regarding the death penaltyhere.

The Buddhist Election Retreat organizing committee is devoting themselves this year, as they have since 2004, to getting out the vote for Democratic candidates in swing states. Their Zoom kickoff event is Sunday, March 24 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. PT. Here’s the link to their webpage.

Looking ahead to summer here are two retreats:

Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham WA recently announced their annual Samish Island sesshin, which will be led by Zoketsu Norman Fisher from June 14 to 22.

Kosen Gregory Snyder and Shingetsu Laura O’Loughlin will co-lead Brooklyn Zen Center’s annual week-long summer retreat at the Watershed Retreat Center, “an opportunity to deepen practice through living communally on a 73 acre farm adjacent to a state forest. The retreat will culminate with Shukke Tokudo (priest ordination) for two sangha members.

With gratitude for our shared practice,