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Newsette September 7, 2021

Yesterday I returned from a week at Tassajara. It was wonderful to see the sangha there growing and preparing for an in-person Fall Practice Period, which begins September 12. While there I heard of Hurricane Ida’s destructive path through Louisiana to New Jersey and New York. The new home of Mid-City Zen in New Orleans survived the storm with little damage, although parts of New Orleans are still without power.

Offerings from Branching Streams groups this Fall are varied and rich. Here are a few.

“Right Relationship, Healing and Nurturing Connection” is the focus of the Fall Practice Period at Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver, BC.  As part of the practice period co-guiding teacher Myoshin Kate McCandless and Shinsen Reamick Lo are facilitating an eight-week study and practice group, Exploring Right Relationship with Indigenous Peoples, “open to anyone of settler/immigrant background, whether recent or generations past, who would like to deepen their understanding of history, culture, spirituality and lived experience of the indigenous peoples of Canada.”

Brooklyn Zen Center is launching a 10-month intensive program, The Bodhisattva Path of Liberation: Racial Suffering and Collective Transformation – “exploring, witnessing, and transforming the individual and collective suffering and harm caused by race and racism, and in particular by the identity of whiteness and the ideology of white supremacy.” This program, which begins in October, is currently limited to practitioners who identify or are identified as white. The schedule, format, cost, and application form are available here.

Roshi Cuca Kosen Montecel, the founder and guiding teacher of Living Water Zen in San Antonio, will lead a three-day online sesshin at San Antonio Zen Center September 19-21 on the theme Practicing with Uncertainty. Roshi Montecel is a teacher in the White Plum lineage. For further information or to register, email info@sanantoniozen.org.

 

Ancient Dragon Zen Gate’s guiding teacher Taigen Dan Leighton willexplore Dogen’s teachings about our Environment and its Awakening Capacity, and how Dogen links environment to devotional practice in an online seminar on Sunday October 3rd, from 1-4:30 pm Central Time. For a fuller description or to register, click here; for more information, contact info@ancientdragon.org.

Here’s some good news from Austin Zen Center Choro Antonaccio, AZC’s Tanto (head of practice), will soon be entering a three-week period of ceremonies leading to Dharma Transmission with her teacher Konjin Gaelyn Godwin Roshi, in Houston at Auspicious Cloud Temple. Former Austin Zen Center Director Tim Kroll is now at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center where he will be Shuso (Head Student) for the Fall Practice Period. In a few days he will be priest-ordained by Paul Haller, who will lead the Tassajara Fall Practice Period. Austin Zen Center senior student, Pat Yingst, will also be heading to Tassajara for the practice period.

Today is the first day of the Jewish New Year – ushering in ten days that focus on being in right relationship with oneself, with others, one’s community, and the wide world. A practice I enjoy at this time is dipping slices of apples in honey and saying, “I wish you a sweet and fruitful year.” That is my wish for you.

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Newsette August 23, 2021

I hope you are in good health and finding practice nourishing in these still uncertain times.

Next Monday I will be leaving for a week at Tassajara to participate in work practice. There will be no Newsette next week.

Jon Voss will offer a Zoom Clinic this Wednesday, August 25 from 9 to 11 PDT. Here is the Zoom link or Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode: 057143.

This Newsette includes news from Zen Centers in Columbia, South America; Chapel Hill and Austin; and a job announcement from San Francisco Zen Center.

Montaña de Silencia in Medellin, Columbia “is launching the first (to our knowledge) queer sangha in Spanish for Latin America. The group will officially introduce itself next Sunday at 10:00am through the Facebook page of Montaña de Silencio. It will meet online once a month.” They are looking for a LGBTQIA Spanish-speaking Zen practitioner who could lead one of the sittings every 4 months or so.”

Chapel Hill Zen Center is offering a workshop, Keizan’s Zazen, by Zoom on Saturday, September 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT. Koun Franz will speak on Keizan Jokin’s Zazen Yojinki or Notes on What to be Aware of in Zazen. The day will begin and and with zazen. To sign up or for questions, please contact Josho at info@ chzc.org.

I am intrigued by an online Conversation Cafe practice offered by Austin Zen Center last weekend. It’s described as “a simple and open community-based conversation-practice format for sangha members interested in having dialog with and hearing what really matters from other sangha members.” There are enough details on their webpage to replicate the process, which I’m planning to do at one of SFZC’s monthly Queer Dharma meeetings.

San Francisco Zen Center has an openin for the SFZC Reservations Manger. The ideal candidate for this position would have some experience with the three temples, especially Tassajara. If you know someone who is interested, have them mail their resume and cover letter tp job applications@sfzc.org. The start date is as soon as possible.

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Newsette 8-16-2021

This Newsette contains news from two Texas sanghas, a creative response to encourage Covid vaccinations, a request from a sangha in search of a sewing teacher, a sangha member’s interesting website, and a link to register for the Soto Zen Buddhist Association’s Fall course.

Jon Voss will be offering his Zoom clinic again next week, Wednesday, August 25 at 11a.m. PDT. Here is the Zoom link or Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode: 057143.

Abbot Gaelyn Godwin of Houston Zen Center reports that members are preparing for another Sangha Day at their new retreat center, Margaret Austin Center/Auspicious Cloud West. “A convoy of members will spend the day at the 40 acres, cleaning, painting, and gardening. We are looking forward to it with enthusiasm and joy.” In order to open the retreat center HZC needs funds to purchase a new commercial refrigerator, replace decking around a building, and care for trees on the property. Here’s the link to read more about it or donate.

Choro Antonaccio, Tanto at Austin Zen Center, shared that “Kokyo Henkel and Shoho Kuebast are going to be in residence with us for four months starting this weekend. Kokyo will offer a Genzo-e August 27-31. At this time, we don’t know if we can be in person. He will also visit Houston Zen Center in Sept. for a 3-day retreat at their new retreat center, and lead Rohatsu here in December.”

The Global Vaccine Poem is a global community poem inviting all to share their voices to promote Covid-19 vaccination through the imaginative language of poetry. It is easy to add a verse, inspired by Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Dear Vaccine,” by following this link. Naomi, a poet who lives in San Antonio, Texas, has accepted our invitation to speak at the April, 2022 Branching Streams Conference, which will be held near Austin.

Kannon Do in Mountain View, CA: is looking for a new sewing teacher. Their current sewing teacher, Valorie Beer, will bow out at the end of the year. If you know of a sewing teacher who might be interested in stepping into the role, please have them contact Abbot Keido Les Kaye, medatwork@sbcglobal.net.

Vanessa Able, a priest at Kannon Do, launched a website in 2018 called The Dewdrop. It began as a weekly newsletter in which Vanessa posted Zen texts or interesting reads connected with practice and has grown to include interviews with Zen teachers, poetry, and “book bits.” You may want to check it out!

Registration is now open to everyone for the Soto Zen Buddhist Association’s fall online course Many Communities, One Sangha: Exploring the Reality of Equity & Inclusion with Rhonda Magee, Mushim Ikeda, and Crystal Johnson – a 5-session course that will take place on Saturdays in October from 1 to 3:30 p.m. PT. For more information, visit szba.org/courses. Here is a link to  a flyer. Please help spread the word!

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Branching Streams Newsette 8-9-2021

I am sending this Newsette on August 9, the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. I first went to Japan in 1986, when visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and spoke with Hibakushas (atomic bomb survivors) in Nagasaki. As a way of remembering these days I’d like to share a piece of music called “August 6” composed by a friend, Shinji Eshima.

The headlines today include reports of the largest wildfire in the history of California, wildfires in Greece and Turkey, with extremely hot temperatures. There is a surge of new Covid cases across the United States as well as in other countries. In Austin, TX, there is a shortage of intensive care beds, while the Governor prohibits cities in his state from requiring indoor masking and encouraging people to get vaccinated.

At this time, some sanghas are opening their doors again, some are meeting in person outdoors, and others are continuing a combination of in-person and virtual offerings. Protocols for meeting inside change from no masks to masks, as CDC and local guidelines keep changing.

Myoshin Kate McCandless and Shinmon Michael Newton, guiding teachers at Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver BC write, “As we go forward into the fall, the time when we usually strengthen and intensify our practice, many are noticing the cumulative fatigue and emotional toll the pandemic has taken…As we transition to whatever the next phase of this second pandemic year brings, let’s recognize that we will need to renew our energy, rehabilitate relationships, and recommit to our practice. The home page of their website includes a slide show of photos from members’ gardens this summer – very inspiring!

This Newsette includes some good news from Houston Zen Center, several study opportunities coming in September and October, and a link to my interview with Zenju Earthlyn Manuel on her life-long love of poetry.

Jon Voss’s Zoom clinic resumes this week, on Wednesday August 11 from 11 to noon PDT. Here is the Zoom link or Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode: 057143.

Houston Zen Center recently received the gift of the Margaret Austin Center, which provides a retreat center and 40 acres of land. Their announcement states, “The gift from the Margaret Austin Center board to HZC is … the fruit of a decades-long relationship among the members of Margaret Austin Center and Houston Zen Community, based in mutual respect, confidence, and trust.” . Congratulations to Abbot Gaelyn Godwin, board chair Royce Johnson, and all those who contributed to the unfolding of this gift.

Fall classes:

For meditators who want to enter Zen deeply, to investigate the mind of daily life, Houston Zen Center offers Entering the Path of Practice, an 8-week  advanced program of guided exploration, study and training.  The program begins on September 5.

The Soto Zen Buddhist Association is announcing its Fall course, Many Communities, One Sangha: Exploring the Reality of Equity & Inclusion with Rhonda Magee, Mushim Ikeda and Crystal Johnson. This 5-session online course will take place on Saturdays in October from 1-3:30 pm Pacific Time). Registration for the general public opens on August 13th. I will include registration information in next week’s Newsette.

The Shogaku Institute is offering Honoring Asian American Buddhists an 8-week online class from October 6 to December 10, Wednesdays, 6-8 pm PST, 7-9 pm MST, 8-10 pm CST, 9-11 pm EST. Here’s is a link to a flyer with more information about the course and how to register. The course begins with the history of Asian Buddhist immigration to America and ends with examining ways that we might identify and work to bridge some of the issues that often have kept ethnic and convert Buddhists apart.

Many sanghas have invited Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, founder of Still Breathing Zen to give talks during the last year – and many of us may not know about her life as a poet. Here’s the link to an interview I did with her about the importance of poetry in her life.

In the midst of many reminders of the fragility and preciousness of life on our planet, may our practice continue with persistence, creativity, vigor, and joy.

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Newsette 7-27-2021

This Newsette includes an update on the 2022 Tassajara Branching Streams Sangha weeks, a reminder about Jon Voss’s next Zoom Clinic, a link to an article I wrote about the Zen Buddhist Sewing Teachers’ first practice period, and an invitation to a dharma talk by Rhonda Magee.

Branching Streams Tassajara Sangha Weeks will be available throughout the summer guest season in 2022, from April 29 through September 11. Groups of up to ten participants plus a teacher can attend for 3, 4, or 7 nights. The fee for Sangha Week is $80 per night per person. If more than 10 members of a group wish to attend, they will need to book guest housing, which is more costly. Teacher housing for one teacher is complementary. 2022 Sangha weeks:

  • start on Friday and end of Monday (3-nights/Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
  • start on Monday and end on Friday (4-nights/Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday).
  • seven-night stays will be a combination of a 3 and a 4 night stay.

Please begin speaking with your sangha if you would like to reserve a space, and give me your first, second, and third choice of dates. Sanghas who were planning to attend in 2020 and were unable to due to Tassajara’s closure will be given priority in choice of dates. There should be enough openings for all the groups who would like to attend to do so. If you have any questions, please email me: branchingstreams@sfzc.org.

Jon Voss will be on vacation the last two weeks of July. His next Wednesday Zoom Clinic will be August 11.

If you’d like to learn more about the Zen Buddhist Sewing Teacher’s 6-month practice period, here is the link to an article I wrote for last week’s SFZC Sangha News. Sewing teachers from Branching Streams sanghas in the U.S., Europe, and Canada are participating.

One of my favorite teachers in the area of racial justice, Rhonda Magee, will be speaking online tomorrow, July 28 at 5:30 p.m. MDT/4:30 PDT, 7:30 EDT at Upaya Zen Center: The topic of her talk is Beginning Again: The Four Establishments of Mindfulness as Antidote to Identity-Based Suffering. Called by some the mother of the movement to integrate mindfulness and racial justice efforts, Rhonda is Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco, and has spent more than twenty years exploring the intersections of antiracist education, social justice, and contemplative practices. Here is the link: Live Dharma Talk .

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Newsette 7-20-2021

I have some good news for you this week about Branching Streams programs we’re planning for 2022.

We are planning an in-person Branching Streams Conference April 25-28, 2022 hosted by Austin Zen Center. The venue will be Ancient Yoga Center, a retreat center close to Austin. Please Save the Dates. More details will be forthcoming.

Branching Streams Tassajara Sangha Weeks will be available throughout the summer guest season in 2022, from April 29 through September 11. Groups of up to ten participants plus a teacher can attend for 3 or 4 nights. The fee for Sangha Week is $80 per night per person. Teacher housing is complementary. 2022 Sangha weeks:

  • start on Friday and end of Monday (3-nights/Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
  • start on Monday and end on Friday (4-nights/Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday).

Please begin speaking with your sangha if you would like to reserve a space, and give me your first, second, and third choice of dates. Sanghas who were planning to attend in 2021 and were unable to due to Tassajara’s closure will be given priority in choice of dates. There should be enough openings for all the groups who would like to attend to do so. If you have any questions, please email me.

Last Saturday’s informative Hybrid Zoom Zendo workshop, hosted by Jon Voss, featured presentations from Mid-City Zen in New Orleans; Milwaukee Zen Center; Centro Zen Soto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Berkeley Zen Center; and Bodhi Oak Zen Center in Oakhurst, CA. By popular demand, the workshop was recorded for those who could not attend in person. Here is the link to a blog post with the video and presentations!

Jon will be on vacation the last two weeks of July. His next Wednesday Zoom Clinic will be August 11.

I’m attaching a gift from Kannon Do in Mountain View, CA and their guiding teacher, Les Kaye – an expanded version of the precepts, including both the traditional “prohibitory” style and a more positive rendering, suitable for the modern, western world. The second page provides background on how it was developed.

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Newsette July 6-2021

I hope you found ways to nourish your bodies and spirits during the Interdependence Day weekend. I took a trip to Pt. Reyes yesterday to walk on the dunes, listen to birdsong and the sound of waves, and try to convey the hues of sky, clouds, and sand with watercolors.

Our newest Branching Streams affiliate is Seattle Soto Zen, whose guiding teacher is Kanshin Allison Tait. Kanshin is a student of Norman Fischer who trained at San Francisco Zen Center, both at City Center and at Tassajara.

There will not be a Zoom clinic with Jon Voss this week.

If your sangha/center is reopening while remaining available to participants by Zoom (and it’s not already on your calendar) you may wish to attend:

A Branching Streams Workshop

After Covid — Technology and the Zendo, A Practical Approach

Facilitated by Jon Voss

Saturday, July 17, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. PDT/12:00-1:30 p.m. EDT

 Zoom link or Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode:057143

By popular demand, we’re offering a 90 minute online program to explore how various sanghas are making their temples accessible with technology. We’ll be going behind the scenes at a handful of hybrid zendos to learn what technology solutions people have come up with, from computer and a/v hardware to aesthetic and privacy considerations. We’ll also leave ample time for Q&A so you can ask your own questions about various technology setups. No registration is needed. Please share this invitation with your sangha members.

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Branching Streams Newsette 6-28-2021

Some good news about Tassajara: the 2021 Willow Fire is 73% contained and Tassajara is no longer in critical danger. As Tassajara is still under an evacuation warning status, the Tassajara Fire Crew will remain there until further notice. SFZC thanks all of those who have been following the situation and keeping Tassajara in your thoughts.

Updates about the Willow fire are posted on the SFZC website.

Many sanghas are partially reopening while continuing to make their offerings available via Zoom. If you would like some support with the technical side of this transition, you may wish to attend:

A Branching Streams Workshop

After Covid — Technology and the Zendo, A Practical Approach

Facilitated by Jon Voss

Saturday, July 17, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. PDT/12:00-1:30 p.m. EDT

 Zoom link or Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode:057143

By popular demand, we’re offering a 90 minute online program to explore how various sanghas are making their temples accessible with technology. We’ll be going behind the scenes at a handful of hybrid zendos to learn what technology solutions people have come up with, from computer and a/v hardware to aesthetic and privacy considerations. We’ll also leave ample time for Q&A so you can ask your own questions about various technology setups. No registration is needed. Please share this invitation with your sangha members.

Jon Voss’s Zoom clinic, which was launched in March 2020, is now meeting every two weeks. The next meeting is this Wednesday, June 30, from 11 to 12 PDT. Here is the Zoom link or Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode:057143.

 On Sunday, July 4, Taigen Leighton, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate’s guiding teacher will give his annual Interdependence Day talk, celebrating the intersection of American ideals of freedom with Buddhist liberation. 

I wish you all a nourishing Interdependence Day weekend.

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Branching Streams Newsette 6-21-2021

This has been an eventful week for Branching Streams as well as for many in the U.S.

Last Thursday we held our first online gathering of European/British Branching Streams Teachers and Leaders. The Branching Streams Advisory Group met to plan our next workshop. And many sanghas celebrated the summer solstice as well as the new U.S. national holiday, Juneteenth, a recognition of emancipation from slavery as well as of all the ways in which African Americans still are not free.

You may have heard about the Willow fire, which began on June 17, three miles from Tassajara. Most residents were evacuated the next morning and fire crews are on site. The best way to get updates about the fire is on the sfzc.org website.

The workshop below evolved from the breakout group on hybrid zendos Jon Voss led at our Branching Streams Flow On conference on May 22nd:

A Branching Streams Workshop

After Covid — Technology and the Zendo, A Practical Approach

Facilitated by Jon Voss

Saturday, July 17, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. PDT/12:00-1:30 p.m. EDT

By popular demand, we’re offering a 90 minute online program to explore how various sanghas are making their temples accessible with technology. We’ll be going behind the scenes at a handful of hybrid zendos to learn what technology solutions people have come up with, from computer and a/v hardware to aesthetic and privacy considerations. We’ll also leave ample time for Q&A so you can ask your own questions about various technology setups. No registration is needed. We’ll send a Zoom link closer to the time of the event.

Last week eighteen teachers and leaders from Britain and nine countries in Europe (Austria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Northern Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland), met via Zoom.

Participants discussed ways to build the connections between all the groups represented. There was also shared interest in exploring how Zen training, including chaplaincy training, can evolve in Europe, responses to the climate crisis, and how groups can continue to benefit from the positive aspects of Zoom as in-person meetings become possible again.

Welcome to Branching Stream’s new affiliate, Brattleboro Zen Center in Vermont, whose guiding teacher is Hakusho Johan Ostland. Hakusho trained at Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara and was ordained by GGF Abiding Abbess Fu Schroeder.

Austin Zen Center is seeking a new Administrative Assistant. – to support day-to-day temple management in collaboration with senior leadership. This ~30hr/wk. position requires a consistently warm and welcoming presence, someone technologically inclined and extremely well-organized. Read more…Prospective candidates may apply via our our Indeed Posting

Jon Voss’s Zoom clinic will not meet this week and will be back on Wednesday, June 30th

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Branching Streams Newsette 6-14-021

I’ve had several meetings today regarding Branching Streams and want to share with you two events we are planning.

The first is a meeting of European teachers and leaders in the Suzuki Roshi lineage, which will occur this Thursday, June 17th. There will be about fifteen participants from Zen Centers and sanghas in eight countries. This initial meeting will provide an opportunity for networking and sharing common concerns and resources. I will report on it in my next Newsette.

The Branching Streams Advisory Group met today to debrief our May 22 gathering, Branching Streams Flow On, and to plan our next offering, on “hybrid zendos.” Many centers are beginning to reopen for in-person zazen and other programs, while wanting to stay connected with sangha members who live at a distance. We will have a description of the program and a date soon.

Jon Voss’s Zoom clinic will meet twice this month, on Wednesdays June 16th and 30th from 11 a.m. to noon PDT. Here is the Zoom link or Meeting ID: 222 402 816, Passcode:057143.

Joan Amaral of Zen Center North Shore shared news of an important series, Abuse, Sex, and the Sangha: Conversations for Healing, hosted by Buddhist Currents. On Saturday, June 26, from 3:30 to 5 p.m ET, they will offer “Speaking As, With, and For Survivors” with Lama Willa Miller, Chozen Bays Roshi, Rev. Grace Shireson, and Carol Merchasin. You can register in advance here.

Several years ago, Hakusho Johan Ostland, a San Francisco Zen Center priest, was a Branching Streams intern at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago. Hakusho now lives in Vermont, where he is establishing the Brattleboro Zen Center. He will return to Ancient Dragon to give an online summer solstice talk on June 20th from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. CST.

May you enjoy these days of longest sunshine as we approach the summer solstice.