Posted on

Newsette 4-10-2024

I sent my last Newsette on March 21, just before I left to visit Montana de Silencio in Medellin, Colombia. In that Newsette I wrote that Tassajara resident Caroline Meister had been missing for several days. On March 22, the day I arrived in Colombia, her body was found after an extensive search and rescue effort. For those of you who knew Caroline, a Buddhist funeral for her will be held on Sunday May 5 at 3:00 p.m. at Green Gulch Farm. It will be livestreamed for those who can’t attend in person. More details to follow.

Caroline was a student of Jiryu Rutschman Byler, the Green Gulch Farm abiding Abbot, as well as the guiding teacher for Montana de Silencio. He and I had planned to travel together and, with local guiding teacher Sanriki Jaramillo, to conduct a priest ordination and a Jukai ceremony, and lead a four-day sesshin. Jiryu felt that he needed to be available to those who were grieving at Green Gulch and to Caroline’s family and postponed the priest ordination to a future time.

I will write more about my stay in Medellin, the grief and the joy. Meanwhile, here are the names of the of the seven bodhisattvas who received the precepts in the Jukai at Montaña de Silencio on March 31: Luz Amparo Hena, HeiGetsu MyoKan, Luna Pacífica Beneficio de la Barrera; Gustavo Adolfo Montoya, JuRiki ShuSo, Poder de la Suavidad Proteger la Sangha; Julian David Posada, JiMon ShuSho, Escucha Compasiva/ Proteger la vidas (seres);Lorena Jaramillo, HeiKai JoKo, Mar pacífico (tranquilo) Realizar los estable; Alejandra Vaquez, GenJu AnShin, Perla oculta Paz del corazón; David Usuga, KanGyo ShoKi, Acción perfecta (completa) Energía de creación; Julio Bueno, JuGyo JoDo, Acción Suave (tierna) Camino Estable.

April is being ushered in by Buddha’s Birthday ceremonies in many sanghas. At City Center we had a festive ceremony, including families with children, in the Conference Center and across the street in Koshland Park.

In the second half of April, teachers and sangha members from many Branching Streams groups will be visiting Japan to attend the 700 year anniversary and commemoration of Keizan Zenji’s life and teaching organized by the Soto Zen International Center. Several will also visit Rinso-In, Suzuki Roshi’s family temple. Please send photos and brief reports for a future Newsette!

Welcome to a new Branching Streams affiliate, Sellwood Soto Zen in Portland OR, whose co-guiding teachers are Cynthia Ziegler and Kirk Phillips. Cynthia and Kirk received dharma transmission in March 2023 from Peter van der Sterre at Oak Street Zendo in San Francisco.

Austin Zen Center is launching a monthly Queer Dharma group. Also, inspired by the offering at Mid City Zen in New Orleans, AZC is offering another Universal Ceasefire Sitting on Saturday April 20. “We invite everyone to support and join us in our commitment to non-violence in ourselves and the world. We will sit zazen in peace and silence, concluding with the Metta Lovingkindness Sutta. We will dedicate our practice to the cessation of hatred and lasting peace everywhereREAD MORE

This month’s event in the Soto Zen Buddhist Associations yearlong series, Celebrating the Voices of Women in Buddhism, Yesterday, today, and tomorrow is The Body as a Doorway to Practice, with four panelists with different embodied experiences: Gyakuden Steph Blank, Dr. Grace Dammann, Karen DeCotis, and Susan Moon. The event is online-only via Zoom. Registration is now open to all who are interested, including your sangha members.

To end on a lighter note, Richmond (VA) Zen Center is having a movie night, screening my own current favorite film, Perfect Days, a film by Wim Wenders. Guiding teacher Eden Heffernan writes, “A perfect expression of Dogen’s teaching on uji, “being time, Wim Wender’s award winning film continues his life-long exploration of the human experience of time and meaning…Wenders’ eye for intimate detail results in films that reveal words using very few words.”

I will be travelling to Rome and Venice from April 14 to 28 and will send my next Newsette in early May.