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Meet Alan Senauke, Berkeley Zen Center’s Second Abbot

Hozan Alan Senauke

Hozan Alan Senauke and I met soon after he became Director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in 1991. Meeting him inspired me to practice Zen at Berkeley Zen Center. I joined the Board of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, and later the staff, and worked closely with him. Hozan became a mentor to me as my commitment to Zen practice grew, and I was delighted to meet with him for this interview.

We met in the Abbot’s room at Berkeley Zen Center, focusing on what it’s like to be the Abbot, his transition to that role, and his vision for Berkeley Zen Center.

Hozan began practicing at Berkeley Zen Center (BZC) in its earliest location on Dwight Way and later established his practice as a student of Sojun Mel Weitsman in the early 1980s. He was ordained as a Zen priest at BZC in 1989 and received Dharma Transmission from Sojun Roshi at Tassajara in 1998. After serving as Tanto (Head of Practice) and then as Vice-Abbot at BZC, Hozan was installed as Abbot in January 2021.

He is the second Abbot in BZC’s 55 years, following Sojun Roshi’s long tenure as founder and teacher. Because he has been practicing at BZC for so long, Hozan was familiar with Sojun’s way, and was well-known by the BZC sangha. When Sojun became ill, he and Hozan created a small group of senior students who helped think through the transition, including the ceremonies of Sojun’s stepping down and Hozan’s mountain seat (Abbot installation ceremony).

Sojun was weakening by the time of an emotional Stepping Down ceremony in late October 2020. He died at home on January 7, 2021. Hozan’s Mountain Seat Ceremony took place three weeks later. Hozan noted, “Because the sangha had seen us working together closely over so many years, members were able to support the change in leadership even while grieving Sojun’s death.”

Taking into account Covid precautions, the mostly online Mountain Seat ceremony was challenging to organize. “However, due to the pandemic, we were already in a hunkered-down mode. The community has pulled together during the pandemic. Things have been stable at BZC over the past year and a half, returning to our traditional practice in the context of safety, although some people may feel we’re too lax and some that we’re moving too slowly.”

Hozan reflects, “It’s hard to take on an abbot’s responsibility for a busy center at age 74. Many of my peers are retiring. It’s not only hard physically, it’s challenging to figure out my/our vision for sustaining practice at this practice place, and how to continue Sojun Roshi’s practice. Our leadership cadre is relatively old. The next generation is here, but the circumstances are different for younger people. They need more money to get by than we needed thirty years ago. It is more difficult [for them] to immerse themselves in practice than when I was coming up.”

Hozan came to Zen practice in his thirties “after seeming to come to the end of the script for my life. I had done many things—working as an editor, driving a taxi, performing music, and doing various low-level jobs that were not particularly satisfying. I felt that I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing. Then I threw myself into Zen practice.” Hozan has been a resident at BZC since 1985.

Around the time he turned forty, a number of things shifted in his life. “I survived a serious illness. I was ordained as a priest in May 1989. I married Laurie later that year and soon became a parent. Then, in 1991, I was hired as director of Buddhist Peace Fellowship.” From that time on, his life and work activities have aligned with his values. Alan and Laurie (who is also a dharma-transmitted priest) raised their children Silvie and Alex, who are now young adults, at BZC.

Coming into the Abbot’s role, Hozan is learning to prioritize and delegate temple responsibilities and there is a strong cohort of senior students who have been practicing together for many years. Some aspects of Hozan’s activities are more difficult to share directly. Like Sojun, he has a long relationship with Sotoshu here in the U.S. Soto bishop, or sokan Gengo Akiba Roshi has been a mentor since Sojun’s passing. Hozan’s commitment to international and interfaith activism is something he longs to share in his extended network of friends and fellow practitioners.

During his years at BPF, Hozan became involved with the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB). Rich friendships and connections through INEB have led to solidarity and support for the democracy movement in Myanmar, teaching in communities of Dalit Buddhists in India, and—here in the U.S.—working in prisons and protesting the death penalty. This work is described in two of Hozan’s books, The Bodhisattva’s Embrace—Dispatches from Engaged Buddhism’s Front Lines and Heirs to Ambedkar—The Rebirth of Engaged Buddhism in India. He is also founding director of the Clear View Project, which works on humanitarian projects in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, India, and the U.S. So far in 2022, Clear View has distributed $60,000 to projects and trusted friends around the world.

Hozan sees his vision for the future of Berkeley Zen Center as an extension of Sojun Roshi’s pioneering commitment to lay Zen practice, learning from our traditional teachers as well as from the diverse communities of the East Bay. In the coming months, BZC is beginning a program developed by East Bay Meditation Center and SZBA entitled “Many Communities One Sangha.” This educational process is aimed at enhancing diversity, strengthening communication skills, examining biases, and gaining confidence in our ability to respond to each other through skillful means.

In the long run, Hozan hopes to encourage a new generation of leadership at BZC, developing younger and BIPOC practitioners to sustain the teaching of Suzuki Roshi’s way and administration of the temple. He would also like to see BZC in relationship with diverse congregations of different faiths in the Bay Area.

Speaking of Branching Streams, the network of Zen Centers and sanghas in the Suzuki Roshi lineage, Hozan says, “The proliferation of Suzuki Roshi’s tradition is astonishing to me.” He is contributing to this, having inspired a practice group in Kerala, India, and given dharma transmission to two students who have a zendo and hospice in northern Germany.

Hozan also makes time to write. His forthcoming book, Turning Words: Transformative Encounters with Buddhist Teachers, will be published by Shambhala in March 2023. And he always takes great pleasure in playing traditional music with good friends.

Berkeley Zen Center is very fortunate to have Hozan as their Abbot.

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Newsette 9-7-2022

Although it’s still early September, the Autumn Equinox will soon be here. With the full moon this coming weekend, we can enjoy the beauty of moonlight and the cooler night air, as many parts of California, the U.S., and the world are experiencing temperatures above 100 degrees.

In the midst of concerns about one another and our planet, I invite you to take a moment to view the images on the website Collecting Fog, by Jaune Evans, founding teacher of Heart of Compassion Sangha in Pt. Reyes, CA. Collecting Fog is also the title of an exhibit of Jaune’s work at Commonweal Gallery in Bolinas, CA from September 12 to November 4. There will be an opening reception on September 18 from 3 to 5 p.m. PDT.

Djinn Gallagher writes from Black Mountain Zen Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, “our much-loved teacher Paul Haller will be visiting Belfast from Thursday, September 8 to Sunday, September 18, and there will be many joyful opportunities to experience his wisdom, good humour and insight. We are offering two workshops, plus a zazenkai, the Sunday morning programme, and lots of online and in-person events. He will also lead an in-person sesshin in Slovenia after his time in Belfast.” Here is the link for dates and times.

Many teachers and sanghas are engaging with social justice issues as well as environmental concerns. I’m including a few of their offerings in this Newsette.

Members of Branching Streams Zen Center, from Brattleboro, VT to Bellingham, WA, are joining with other socially engaged Buddhists to support voter turnout in this fall’s elections. If this is of interest to you, the Buddhist Election Retreat Organizing Committee is organizing four online letter writing retreats this fall. 

Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center is holding a two-day in person interactive and experiential workshop on Right Use of Power (RUP) facilitated by Tenku Ruff on September 10 and 11 from 11 a.m. to 4:30p.m. PDT each day, outdoors at Kannon Do. RUP, developed by Cedar Barstow, is also known as “ethics of the heart.”

Reirin Gumbel, guiding teacher of Milwaukee Zen Center, writes: “Many Zen centers are aware of the state of the death penalty in this country and have protested against it. Right now, executions are on the rise again, and there is a lot we can do about it. Please follow this link and watch the one-minute video!”

Reirin will be giving the dharma talk at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago, IL . as part of the Sunday morning program on October 2 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. CST.

I am sharing again these workshops offered by Valley Streams Zen Sangha in Sacramento, CA. They are co-sponsoring two events with the BIPOC Sangha Sacramento featuring Rhonda Magee, author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice. The first program, Meditation for People of Color, is September 11 at 4:15 p.m. PDT (online only) and is for BIPOC. The second event on September 12 at 7 p.m. PDT is for everyone and is both in person and online (Rhonda Magee will be online).Her topic is “Reflections on Engaged Mindfulness and Social Justice Work.” For more information, see the attached flyer.

Lee Klinger Lesser brings her training in Sensory Awareness and Zen practice together with her concerns about our planet in a nine-month journey of engagement and responsiveness beginning in September: “Relying on Sensory Awareness, Mindfulness and Meditation Practice to Nurture and Sustain Our Ongoing Response to the Climate Crisis.” See the attached flyer for more information.

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Newsette 8-22-2022

There are some wonderful practice opportunities coming up, including opportunities for residential practice in Ashland OR and in forested land north of New York City.

Ashland (OR) Zen Center is pleased to announce openings for student residencies or guest retreats. “Ashland Zen Center is an intimate Soto Zen Buddhist community. “Our sangha is a community of householders from throughout the region including laypeople and priests, led by transmitted Soto Zen Buddhist teachers, two of whom are in residence. The residential sangha is three to ten people. Ashland Zen Center has private and shared housing on an acre of cultivated grounds and gardens at the edge of the small, mountain town of Ashland, Oregon.” For more information about staying at Ashland Zen Center visit

Kosen Gregory Snyder will be leading the first month-long Brooklyn Zen Center intensive Practice Period at Ancestral Heart. Leadership will also include Shingetsu Laura O’Loughlin in the role of supporting dharma teacher and Kidō Ian Case in the role of tanto. Ancestral Heart Zen Temple will partner with their neighbors at The Watershed Center, located on a 73-acre farm adjacent to hundreds of state forest, two hours north of New York City, to offer this practice opportunity. Participants will follow an intensive monastic schedule, eat oryoki meals, sit multiple periods of zazen each day, and engage in communal work and ritual life. Here’s a link and description:

In the near future, here are a few programs that may interest you:

Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham WA will hold a one day sitting, Opening to Joy, on Saturday August 27 from 7a.m. to 3 p.m. PDT, led by Shudo Chris Burkhart and visiting teacher Sensei Amy Diller. This will be both in person and by Zoom.

Valley Streams Zen Sangha in Sacramento CA is co-sponsoring two events with the BIPOC Sangha Sacramento featuring Rhonda Magee, author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice. The first program, Meditation for People of Color, is September 11 at 4:15 p.m. PDT (online only) and is for BIPOC. The second event on September 12 at 7 p.m. PDT is for everyone and is both in person and online (Rhonda Magee will be online).Her topic is “Reflections on Engaged Mindfulness and Social Justice work.” Rhonda inspires us to look deeply inside ourselves and to change how we think, act and live together in a conflicted world. For more information, see the attached flyer.

There are still some openings in the in-person Genzo-e retreat led by Shohaku Okumura Roshi at Chapel Hill Zen Center from September 9 to 14. Here’s the link for more information.

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Newsette 8-15-2022

 Many Sanghas are finding ways to practice in natural settings during these summer months. I found it encouraging to read about the two sesshins described below, one that already took place and the other scheduled for September.

Myoshin Kate McCandless and Shinmon Michael Newton, guiding teachers of Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver B.C. wrote, “Recently twenty-two of us practiced at Sea to Sky Retreat Centre for our first full-week Mountains and Waters sesshin, and experienced the elements, the plant and animal inhabitants of that beautiful environment in a very direct way. Each morning and afternoon we had a period of outdoor practice, meditating while sitting, standing, walking, and lying down in the forest, present and awake to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures around us, and our body/mind responses to them. The koans of mountains, waters, and the great earth from the old Chinese Zen masters, Dogen Zenji and contemporary poets resonated strongly and supported us to go beyond the habitual contracted view of self vs. everything-else.” 

Seattle Soto Zen is holding an in-person five-day Fall Sesshin September 16 to 21 co-led by SSZ’s Kanshin Allison Tait and Red Cedar Zen Community’s Shudo Chris Burkhart, at Camp Indianola on Puget Sound. Logistic details and registration are available on the SSZ calendar. Due to COVID protocols, space is limited to 20 total participants. The 2022 Indianola sesshin will be the first opportunity for many months for the Seattle Soto Zen sangha to join their heart-minds together under the same roof and practice intensively as a community.

On another note, here is an invitation from Jan Chozen Bays at Great Vow Monastery in Oregon to participate in a five-week online course called Healthy Boundaries. This course provides Buddhist leaders with the tools and knowledge to understand the importance of healthy boundaries in spiritual communities and to critically discern the complexities of boundaries, power, and vulnerability in spiritual teacher-student relationships. The course also addresses practices for responding to misconduct by spiritual teachers as well as the importance of self-care and peer support as preventive measures. The course is being offered three times in 2022 and 2023: October 17-November 18, 2022, and January 9-February 10 and March 6 – April 7, 2023. You can register through www.buddhist healthy

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Newsette 8-8-2022

As school reopens in some states, and the upper leaves on the Japanese Maple in the City Center courtyard are turning red, I can sense that summer will soon be coming to an end.

There are several online offerings in the coming weeks that may be of interest to you, as well as an opportunity to attend Tassajara’s Fall Practice Period at no cost.

Black Mountain Zen Centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland is offering a zazenkai – a half-day sitting – guided by Ryushin Paul Haller (who will be in San Francisco) on August 13, from 2 pm to 5pm Belfast time, 6 am to 9 am California time. You can come and sit in person at Black Mountain if you’re in Belfast, or join online via Zoom. This offering is free to everyone; click here for more information, and email Djinn Gallagher, resident priest, at if you’d like to join. 

On the same day, August 13, from 2 to 4 p.m. PDT, Rev. Chimyo Atkinson will give a two hour workshop, Exploring the Life and Teachings of Keizan Jokin Zenji, through San Francisco Zen Center. This event will include a talk about the life of Keizan Jokin Zenji (1268 – 1325), and will cover excerpts from Keizan’s writings including “Zazen Yojinki” and “Denoroku,” followed by a discussion and Q&A.Recommended reading: Zazen Yojinki: Notes on What to be Aware of in Zazen. To register, use this link.

Akazienzendo in Berlin is hosting an online talk on Zen in the age of Climate Change by Kankyo Tannier, a priest in the Deshimaru lineage, on Friday, August 19 from 7:30 to 9pm, Berlin time, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. PDT. She will discuss what the Zen way offers us in these troubled times, when the future for everyone looks difficult. Read more… Here is the  Zoom link for her talk.t

On August 21 from 1 to 3 p.m. PDT Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham, WA will have an in-person open house to celebrate their new home.

Tassajara is offering a free practice period for this Fall (September 26 – December 20), led by Abbess Fu Schroeder, to anyone who has done at least one Tassajara practice period and who would be interested in working in the kitchen. Please email the Tassajara director, Lauren Bouyea, at  before September 9 for details.

In this time of impermanence and change, may you find joy and connection.

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Newsette 8-1-2022

Here are several events that bring me joy:

Heart of Compassion Zen Sangha in Pt. Reyes, CA just celebrated its fifth anniversary and its first Jukai ceremony. Seven students received the precepts from founding teacher Jaune Evens. Also, Wendy Johnson recently joined Jaune as co-leader of Heart of Compassion “Her wondrous dharma presence and ‘rooted practice’ nourishes and inspires our (sometimes) weary hearts and minds,” says Jaune.

Wrapped rakusus, lavender wands, and lineage papers

Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham, WA will be having an open house for their new home on August 21. Board President Joden Bob Rose writes, “Almost two years ago, we “jumped off the hundred-foot flagpole,” and left our home on Forest Street.  We now have come to the place where we will plant our blade of grass.  On August 15, we will close the purchase of 2509 Cedarwood as the new home of the Red Cedar Zen Community.”

On July 30, Reirin Gumbel, guiding teacher of Milwaukee Zen Center, returned from the first Pride event in Watertown, Wisconsin, “a hardcore fundamentalist Christian city. But there are now five churches who are openly affirming,” Reirin writes. “The area was fenced and heavily protected by police. I had a conversation with a group outside who were calling us sinners. I don’t have the illusion that I can change anybody’s conviction, but these people are serious and worthy of attention. I told them I was happy for them to pray for me. To the question if I realized that Jesus was God’s son, I answered that I thought that to be true, and that they also were God!”

Some offerings you may want to know about:

Paula Arai, author of Women Living Zen and Bringing Zen Home, The Healing Heart of Japanese Women’s Rituals is giving a talk via Zoom hosted by Richmond Zen Center on Monday, August 8, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. EST. In her talk, Zen Women’s Wisdom, Paula will share how Japanese Sōtō Zen women, both lay and monastic, have responded to challenges historically, institutionally, and personally by drawing on Dōgen’s teachings and their own wisdom. Please register for the Zoom meeting link. Suggested teaching donation $10 >>(include note: “Arai teaching donation”).

Bamboo in the Wind Zen Center in Sunnyvale CA will launch their Fall class series, “A Living View of the Abhidharma,” taught by Sensei Beth Jacobs. Classes are September 8 and 22, and October 6 and 20, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. PST. Suggested reading is Jacob’s book, Abhidharma, The Original Buddhist Psychology, available online. Here is the link for more details or to register.

For meditators who want to enter Zen deeply, to investigate the mind of daily life, Houston Zen Center offers Entering the Path of Practice (EPP), an advanced program of guided exploration, study, and training, in three modules. The third module begins September 4 and ends October 29. Zen Priest Seirin Tim Schorre, senior HZC member Kyoshin Anna Mastantuono, and Zen Priest Gyōzan Royce Johnson lead the program. The third module focuses on Sangha. Participants entering the program may begin with any one of the three modules. Select here for the application and schedule . $150 is requested for each module. Scholarships are available.

Chapel Hill Zen Center writes that there are still a few in-person openings for the September 9 to 14 Genzo-e sesshin with Shohaku Okumura Roshi.

Okumura Roshi is also offering four online talks on Eihei Dogen’s Chinese Poems, August 4 to 7, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. EDT, hosted by Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple near Asheville, NC.

These offerings lead me to feel a sense of abundance in the dharma realm as I envision them radiating out to benefit all beings.

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Newsette 7-18-2022

Some upcoming study and practice opportunities:

Black Mountain Zen Centre in Belfast launched a 5-week class today (7 p.m. on Mondays in Belfast, 11 a.m. PDT) on the Bodhisattva Vows and the Brahma Viharas taught by their guiding teacher, Ryushin Paul Haller. The classes will be recorded and it’s not too late to sign up. The class description begins with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King: “The formidable challenges in our lives offer the opportunity of education and transformation”. Paul writes, “The first two Bodhisattva vows offer us insights into the education and transformation that Dr King mentions. The other two vows describe the engagement that enacts that teaching. In a practical way we can apply the four Brahma Viharas to our psychological being to enhance our innate caring and help cultivate the sentiments that guide us in caring for all beings. The website link above has more details.

Chapel Hill Zen Center will host an in-person five-day Genzo-e Sesshin (a teaching retreat) with talks twice a day by Shohaku Okumura Roshi offered through Zoom. The dates are September 9 to 14. Space is limited, so if you’re interested CHZC encourages you to sign up now. For more information, use this link. To register, use this one.

The Tassajara Fall Practice Period (September 26 to December 20) led by Green Gulch Farm Abiding Abbess Fu Schroeder, is accepting applications until August 1. “During this practice period we will view Zen practice through the lens of two classic Zen koans: “Does a Dog Have Buddha Nature?” and “Hyakujo and the Fox.” These teaching stories can help to illuminate the two truths about ourselves and the world—the ultimate truth and the relative truth. Understanding and practicing in the light of these truths, the Buddha said, will set us free. For more information click on this link. If you have any questions, you can direct them to Lauren Bouyea,

And here’s a way to do something that may make a difference: The Berkeley based Election Retreat team is hosting another online Letter Writing Retreat Sunday July 24, 10 am to 1 pm, PST. Forty-two people attended their July 10 retreat and wrote over 800 letters. You can register at this link. “Once again we’ll focus our efforts on Nevada, where a Congressional seat, a Senate seat, and a Governorship are all in play. Once you’ve registered, we’ll email you everything you need to participate, including letters, schedules, chants, etc.”

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Newsette – July 11, 2022

I’m happy to let you know that Santa Cruz Zen Center has offered to host our next Branching Streams Conference. The dates are September 18 to 21, 2023. We are returning to the pre-Covid timing, meeting on alternate years to the Soto Zen Buddhist Association’s conference, which will be held this September. We have reserved a wonderful retreat center in Santa Cruz, Villa Maria del Mar, overlooking the ocean. Please save the dates!

It’s time to make your annual contribution to Branching Streams if your sangha has not already done so! You can send your contribution electronically or by writing a check to San Francisco Zen Center with the name of your sangha on the memo line and mailing it to 300 Page Street, San Francisco CA 94102, attention Tova Green. Please contact me if you are unable to make a contribution this year.

Sangha News and Events:

Hozan Alan Senauke, Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center (CA), writes, “On Friday night July 9, in the inner room of Shogakuji/Berkeley Zen Center, I was privileged to entrust the dharma to Nanzan Shunki Harald Schoeklmann and Juen Ryushin Friederike Boissevain. Juen and Nanzan are the priests and teachers at Wind und Wolken (Wind and Clouds) Sangha, a Berkeley Zen Center affiliate in Gettorf, northern Germany, and founders of Hospiz im Wohld, also in Gettorf. We are grateful for wonderful support and assistance from Nyokai Laurie Senauke, Shosan Vicki Austin, and the BZC sangha.”

Nanzan, Hozan, Juen, Nyokai

Santa Cruz Zen Center and Monterey Bay Zen Center will have a 10-year memorial gathering for their Abbot Sobun Katherine Thanas. The gathering will take place outdoors at Santa Cruz Zen Center, 113 School Streat, Santa Cruz, on Sunday, July 24th, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and will include a short ceremony, sharing memories, and enjoying each other’s company with snacks and conversation. All are welcome to attend, and it will simultaneously be zoom- cast.

Santa Cruz Zen Center and Monterey Bay Zen Center will have a 10-year memorial gathering for their Abbot Sobun Katherine Thanas. The gathering will take place outdoors at Santa Cruz Zen Center, 113 School Streat, Santa Cruz, on Sunday, July 24th, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and will include a short ceremony, sharing memories, and enjoying each other’s company with snacks and conversation. All are welcome to attend, and it will simultaneously be zoom- cast.

On June 27,Taigen Leighton, guiding teacher of Ancient Dragon Zen Center, shared comments by Konjin Gaelyn Godwin, Abbot of Houston Zen Center, concerning “the end of reproductive rights along with his own response in an ADZG newsletter.

Richmond (VA) Zen Center’s Difference + Unity Study Group is currently focusing on Asian and Asian American experiences. “Zen Buddhism is a tradition that comes to us from Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese practitioners and the cultures they created to express and transmit the Dharma. Alsoan alarming trend of rising anti-Asian violence in the US makes this an urgent inquiry.

They recommend three resources, the PBS five-episode documentary series released in 2020, Asian Americans, which covers the history of Asian and Pacific Islanders’ immigration to and roles in American history and culture; American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War, by Buddhist priest and scholar Duncan Ryukan Williams, and  this 50-minute podcast episode of On Being in which Krista Tippett interviews poet, novelist, and Zen Buddhist, Ocean Vuong.

Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham, WA is participating in the first annual Sacred Earth Fair on July 31st, 2022 at the Center for Spiritual Living. “The fair will include activities, special guests, and informational booths, all focused on how we can come together to honor and protect our precious planet. The fair is offered by the Multifaith Network for Climate Justice (of which RCZC is a member), and co-sponsored by Earth Ministry of Washington and Interfaith Power & Light. The emphasis of the fair is to encourage everyone to view ourselves as allies of the earth, and to view faith traditions as having an important contribution to make, at this important juncture of climate crisis.” Red Cedar’s Wilderness Dharma Program will host an information table and will offer short mindfulness nature walks through the beautiful mature forest surrounding the center.

I find it encouraging to see Zen teachers speaking and writing about some of the divisive issues in the U.S., as well as finding ways to study Zen’s cultural roots, and to encourage sanghas to work with others to care for our planet.

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Newsette – June 28, 2022

I am happy to welcome a new Branching Streams Sangha, Twining Vines Zen Centre, Katto-An Temple, in Canberra, Australia. This combined Soto Zen/Diamond Sangha temple is led by Neti Mushin Parakh. Neti was ordained as a priest by Kokyo Henkel in 2017 at Santa Cruz Zen Center and received dharma transmission from Kokyo in 2021 She was authorized to teach in the Diamond Sangha lineage by Daniel Terragno Roshi in 2009.

In case you missed this in last week’s Newsette, we have created a Branching Streams list-serve (using Google Groups) that is available to readers of these Newsettes. Jon Voss, who set up the list-serve, says, “You will more easily be able to share resources, request information from other sanghas, and work together on issues of mutual concern. If you would like to join this separate group email list, please sign up here. You do not need a Google account or gmail address to join, any email will work.” If you have any questions, please contact Jon Voss directly.

Ariane Lampe, a member of Akazienzendo in Berlin, wrote that she has successfully raised funds through  a Go-Fund-Me campaign to publish a German translation of Jarvis Master’s book Finding Freedom. Jarvis Masters is a Buddhist practitioner on Death Row in San Quentin, near San Francisco, CA. He recently gave a dharma talk from San Quentin with Lee Klinger Lesser. The recording is available at

On the Soto Zen Buddhist Association Forum (SZBA’s list-serve) many Branching Streams teachers shared their responses to the Supreme Court’s ruling last week overturning Roe v. Wade.

Reirin Gumbel, guiding teacher of Milwaukee Zen Center, will be joining an interfaith group of clergy at a press conference on July 6 in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Milwaukee to show faith support for reproductive justice. 

In Washington State, the Faith Action Network, an interfaith statewide partnership “striving for a just, compassionate, and sustainable world through community building, education, and courageous public action,” issued a statement in response to the Roe decision.

Please share your thoughts, feelings and/or actions you, or members of your sangha, are considering or planning in the Branching Streams list-serve or send them to me for the next Newsette.

This seems like a perfect time to revisit the work of Joanna Macy, and I was happy to receive the news that Upaya Zen Center has rescheduled a micro-training with. Joanna Macy, who is healthy again after a bout with Covid. “She will help guide us in meeting a world on fire. Please join us on July 17th for A SPECIAL AND IMPORTANT INVITATION: Joanna Macy and Our World (Online 2022).” Stephanie Kaza, Wendy Johnson, and Roshi Joan Halifax will join Joanna in this micro-training.”

I appreciate Thich Nhat Hanh’s name for July 4th – Interdependance Day. May we feel our intercon-nectedness with all beings.

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Newsette June 23- 2022

Thanks to the work of Jon Voss, the Branching Streams webmaster, and San Francisco Zen Center’s IT department, as was mentioned a few weeks back, we have created a Branching Streams list-serve (using Google Groups) that will be available to readers of these Newsettes. You will more easily be able to share resources, request information from other sanghas, and work together on issues of mutual concern. If you would like to join this separate group email list, please sign up here. You do not need a Google account or gmail address to join, any email will work. If you have any questions, please contact Jon Voss directly. 

Here are some recent celebrations and mournings:

Austin Zen Center had a Guiding Teacher Installation Ceremony on June 18 for Choro Antonaccio. Choro had moved to Austin from Chapel Hill, NC, several years ago and was Austin Zen Center’s Tanto.

Sojun Mel Weitsman’s funeral was held at Green Gulch Farm on June 25th. Sojun was both an Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center and the founding teacher and Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center. Many of Sojun Roshi’s deshi (dharma-transmitted students) lead Branching Streams sanghas.

Other news:

Richmond Zen Group (in Virginia) is launching a Women of Dharma Study & Discussion Group, focusing on  the history and teachings of women in the Buddhist tradition. The group is live, and for those who are interested in this topic and don’t live in Richmond, “a resource web page with recommending readings is in the works. A wonderful introduction can be found in this four-part series of talks on the Eihei Koso Hotusganmon and the meaning of ancestors in Zen by Jaune Evans and Chris Fortin, both of whom are teachers in the Everyday Zen sangha. Find the first talk here >>. You can also listen to a talk by Choro Antonaccio, guiding teacher of Austin Zen Center, on the same text here.

Konjin Gaelyn Godwin, Abbot of Houston Zen Center, asked me to share the following: “On June 25, 2-4 pm PDT, the Bay Area Buddhist Association is hosting an important and informative panel discussion with Rev. Dr. Tomon Marr, a Soto Zen Priest and palliative care physician, and Rev. Dr. Carmela Javellana, a Jodo Shinshu priest and psychiatrist. They will address the question: What can we do now for our future? The SDG Goal 3: Good Health and Well Being, from a Buddhist perspective.The event is free.” Here is the link to register.

I am looking forward to Pride weekend, as San Francisco Zen Center will again have a contingent in the parade. We will be joined by sangha members from Hartford Street Zen Center and Berkeley Zen Center. The theme of this year’s parade is Love Will Keep Us Together, an important message for these times!