Branching Streams organizes a meeting of affiliates approximately every two years. This meeting is a wonderful opportunity for us to practice together, have informal contact with each other, learn from each other, and be inspired by each other. Two recent meetings have been hosted by the Milwaukee Zen Center (in 2019) and Ancient Dragon Zen Gate (in 2017).
In lively discussions, in both large and small grop formats, we have considered and discussed many topics of mutual interest. Here is a sampling of the kinds of questions that we have spoken together about:
- How do we deepen our practice in a lay setting? In what ways are zazen and other activities in tension?
- How do we support couples (where one person might be a practitioner and the other is not), and families; and how do we integrate children of practitioners into our Centers?
- What is our Center’s role in the wider community — local, national and international? What is the place of social activism?
- What practices and programs best promote a diverse community and serve the needs of a diverse community?
The 2019 Branching Streams Conference, held at the Siena Center, a Catholic retreat center on the shores of Lake Michigan near Racine, WI, and hosted by the Milwaukee Zen Center, was a great success. It was attended by 40 participants from 20 sanghas and was a wonderful opportunity for participants to join in our formal practice, have meals and conversations with each other, and discuss issues of importance to Branching Streams sanghas and to our wider community and culture.
The theme, a Buddhist View of Justice, was developed by keynote speakers on prison justice (Rev. Tonen O’Connor), restorative justice (Rev. Michaela Bono), and climate justice (Stephanie Kaza) and in several breakout groups. Other breakout groups focused on issues many Branching Streams groups are exploring including how to welcome newcomers, fundraising, ongoing training for sangha leadership including board members, and the paths of lay entrustment and dharma transmission. The conference included a presentation on election sesshins by Rob Lyons, and a reading by Native American poet Kimberly Blaeser.
The 2015 meeting of the Branching Streams Affiliate Sanghas network was held in May, and was hosted by Chapel Hill Zen Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The overarching theme of the meeting was “Suzuki Roshi’s ‘independency’: sharing the roots and coming into our own.” For a full report of this meeting, click here.
If you would like more information about Branching Streams meetings, please contact Steve Weintraub.