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Newsette 1-19-2024

The teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have inspired me and many sanghas this week as we work toward creating Beloved Communities locally and internationally.

The Report on the 2023 Branching Streams Gathering is now on the Branching Streams Website. If you were unable to attend the Gathering, the Report will convey the spirit of the Gathering, the program, some nuts and bolts about the planning process, and how feedback from participants will guide Branching Streams in the coming year(s). Thanks to Jon Voss of Mid City Zen, Teresa Bouza of Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center, Jaune Evans from Everyday Zen and Heart of Compassion, and others in the Gathering Program Committee for working on the Report with me.

If you or your sangha is responding to the growing tension and war in the Middle East, please let me know what you are doing or planning, what questions you have, or what teachings or poems have encouraged you. I am working on a blog for the Branching Streams Website, as what I’ve gathered so far is too lengthy for a Newsette.

Welcome to a new affiliate, Thousand Flowers Dojo in Durach, Germany. The resident teacher, Andreas Elsen, a student of Paul Haller, was Shuso at SFZC’s City Center for the Fall 2023 practice period. Andreas, a physician and psychiatrist, practiced at Tassajara for 2 years from 2002-04. He has been joining Black Mountain Zen Centre in Belfast for Paul Haller’s sesshins since then (2004).

If you’re curious about other Branching Streams Sanghas in Germany and Switzerland, read the blog I wrote about my October journey to Zen Centers in Germany and Switzerland, including several photos, which was just published in San Francisco Zen Center’s online Sangha News. Here is the link.

Dario Girolami, Abbot of Centro Zen l’Arco in Rome met with Catholic hospital chaplains in Assisi at the invitation of the Vatican. Dario writes, “Since now only Catholics are hired as hospital chaplains in Italy – chaplains of other religions are called individually at the explicit request of patients – the Vatican raised the question of how Catholic chaplains should address patients of other religions.

“I explained to a group of twenty-five people (mostly male priests, a few monks and two nuns) what the Buddhist perspective on old age and death is. I explained that – unlike Christianity- the Buddhist approach is not theocentric. My talk was received with great interest, enthusiasm and affection. The meeting took place in a large Franciscan institute within walking distance of the Portiuncula, the very first church of St. Francis.Given the success of the meeting, the plan is to organize more meetings to explore the topic in more depth.”

Konjin Gaelyn Godwin, Director of the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center, is extending an invitation to Branching Streams teachers: “In honor of the important 700 year anniversary and commemoration of Keizan Zenji’s life and teaching, our Branching Streams centers are invited to participate in the ceremonies in Japan. We are opening more spaces for participating in this great event, and we have extended the deadline for registration to January 31.

“The International Center has organized a tour for April 21-23, 2024. Please join the tour with your sangha members. If you cannot join, your sangha members will be well-supported by our staff. They will be traveling with fellow Zen practitioners. You might want to arrive in Japan before the tour and join on April 21. Or you can plan to stay on after the tour ends on April 23. The tour includes visits to Eiheiji and Sojiji, and a Soto Zen World Fellowship gathering in Tokyo. The cost for the tour, which includes 3 days of ceremonies together, 2 nights’ lodging, and all food is $650. In addition, $100 donation per temple (total of $200) is requested. We warmly invite you to join the tour with us.  For more details or to register use this link.

Here is a request from Nomon Tim Burnett, guiding teacher of Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham, WA: “We’ll have the great blessing of opening a new zendo late in 2024 and I have an amazing woodworker volunteer. He’s happy to build us an altar and I’m looking for examples, parameters, and theory. Would you be willing to share your understanding of the symbolism of altars and/or snap me a picture of an altar you’re fond of at your zendo?” Nomon’s email is

In the midst of cold weather and storms of many kinds, may we be warmed by our connections to one another.

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Reuniting: Warm Hand to Warm Hand in Germany and Switzerland


In my role as Branching Streams Director, I recently had the great pleasure of visiting Zen Centers in Berlin and the Black Forest in Germany, and in and around Lucerne, Switzerland.

The initial impetus for my journey was an invitation from Tatsudo Nicole Baden, the Dharma heir of Zentatsu Richard Baker, to visit the Zen Buddhist Center in the Black Forest (ZBZS) after ZBZS became a Branching Streams affiliate. I reached out to Branching Streams teachers in Berlin and Lucerne and the trip came together.

I flew to Berlin on October 1 and spent a week there, staying with a Dharma friend, Ursula Richard. Ursula, a Zen priest ordained by Vanya Palmers, shares her practice of the Dharma in writing, teaching, and everyday life. She also translates Thich Nhat Han’s books into German and publishes Dharma books. Ursula met me at the airport in Berlin and demonstrated her familiarity with public transportation, as we changed trains several times to reach her neighborhood. During my time in Berlin we took buses and trains to attend classes, visit museums and see the Botanical Gardens, and after a few days I was able to find my way alone to several meetings with Zen friends.

Bernd Bender, the guiding teacher at Akazienzendo in Berlin, invited me to give a talk there. I had practiced for more than a decade with Bernd, who was ordained and given Dharma transmission by Dairyo Michael Wenger, at Tassajara, Green Gulch Farm, and City Center, and it was wonderful to see him leading the sangha.

Akazienzendo meets in an Aikido dojo which has been transformed into a zendo, with a familiar photo of Suzuki Roshi and black zabutons and zafus in rows. My talk fell on the night of October 3, which was Germany’s Reunification Day, commemorating the reuniting of East and West Germany and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall.

I shared an old Chinese folk tale, which is the focus of Koan 35 in the Mumonkan, The Gateless Barrier (translated and with a commentary by Robert Aitken). The story is also included in The Hidden Lamp, Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women (edited by Florence Caplow and Susan Moon). The story tells of a young woman who is divided between loyalty to her parents and love for a man she has been close to since childhood; it illustrates the pain of separation, the longing for wholeness, and the energy released by reuniting — with forsaken parts of oneself, as well as with others.

The theme of reuniting ran through my entire time in Germany and Switzerland. It was joyful to see Bernd and Ursula again, and, when I got to Switzerland near the end of my trip, to be greeted by YoEn Auriau, with whom I had practiced at Green Gulch Farm and City Center. YoEn is now one of the guiding teachers at Felsentor, a Zen center on the side of a mountain above Lake Lucerne. I also reunited with the part of myself that had once been fluent in German (I studied German language and literature in college and spent nine months in Vienna during that time).

At the end of my week in Berlin, Ursula accompanied me to the train station and I took a train to Freiburg, where Richard Baker met me at the station. I rode with him and Nicole Baden through the countryside to the Zen Buddhist Center Black Forest, formerly called Johanneshof. We were warmly greeted and I was ushered to a room on the second floor which would be my home for the next five days. Nicole asked a long-time sangha member, Beata Aldag, to be my jiko. Beata filled me in on the history of ZBZS and accompanied me to the zendo, her flashlight shining the way in the dark to early morning and evening zazen.

I enjoyed blending in with the daily schedule, going to zazen and service, and participating in oryoki breakfast and dinner, and a study period. There was a talk by Richard Baker in the morning and an interactive seminar led by Nicole Baden in the afternoon. The focus of the seminar was Koan #21 from The Book of Serenity, “Yunyan Sweeps the Ground.” One evening I was invited to talk about what brought me to Zen practice and my work with Branching Streams.

I had several opportunities to speak with Richard Baker and Nicole Baden informally, as well as with a few long-time sangha members. As with many sanghas in the U.S., they were creating new program formats to attract new students to the center. Beata, who is their treasurer, is focusing on increasing the number of paid members. I appreciated the significance of Nicole Baden’s moving into the leadership of ZBZS. She will have a Mountain Seat ceremony and will become the Abbot in September 2024.

Beata kindly gave me a ride to the train station in Basel, and went inside to make sure I caught the train to Lucerne. I took a boat across Lake Lucerne, which is surrounded by mountains, and a funicular up a steep mountain to Felsentor. YoEn Auriau, a Swiss priest with whom I had practiced at Green Gulch Farm and City Center, met me when I descended from the funicular.

YoEn has received Dharma transmission from both Christina Lehnherr and Vanya Palmers, and is now the co-guiding teacher at Felsentor. She had many roles and tasks, including leading the daily staff meetings, teaching, talking with students, taking her turn at feeding the wood stove that heats the water and rooms, doing a dish shift, and welcoming visitors. I blended in with the schedule and enjoyed meeting the residents.

From a deck outside my room I could view the gardens below, the mountains encircling Lake Lucerne and the sky. The light changed continually, as clouds began to gather and rain and fog hid the mountains partially, then completely, then cleared.

Many hikers walk through the grounds of Felsentor on their way up or down the mountain, and stop at a small cafe for coffee or homemade treats baked by residents. Many of the hikers come to the zendo on Sunday evening when it is open to the public. The zendo at Felsentor was constructed by Paul Discoe and brought piece by piece by helicopter to its site in a large field. On the Sunday I was there, YoEn gave a brief talk and zazen instruction as there were some newcomers in addition to residents.

One afternoon, YoEn and I walked down the mountain a short way to visit a farm where two Zen students care for farm animals that have been saved from slaughter, including pigs, long-haired goats, cows, and chickens.

Although I only spent three days at Felsentor, I felt a strong connection with the place. After Sunday evening zazen, YoEn and I left for Lucerne. She introduced me to the Zendo am Fluss, a five-year-old zen center close to the Reuss River, which runs through Lucerne. The guiding teacher, Othmar Wuest, lives in an apartment above the zendo. YoEn was about to move into another apartment in the building, where I spent my last two nights in Europe. Zendo am Fluss is close to a centuries-old stone city wall, and I enjoyed exploring the neighborhood with many old trees and houses.

My roles during this journey were a mix of ambassador/emissary from SFZC, Zen student, Zen teacher, and friend. I am grateful for the warm welcome I received everywhere I visited and the opportunity to practice with four sanghas, urban and rural, feeling so at home in each place.

This article is cross-posted from the Sangha News Journal, please see the post there for more photos from the article.

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2023 Branching Streams Gathering Debrief

Please read the full report summarizing the 2023 Branching Streams Gathering, hosted by Santa Cruz Zen Center with the support of Ocean Gate Zen Center and Monterey Bay Zen Center. The gathering was held at Villa Maria del Mar, a conference center overlooking the ocean in Santa Cruz, from September 18 – 21, 2023.

Participants in the 2023 Branching Streams Conference proposing sessions on Day 2.
Participants share updates from individual sanghas in 2 minute updates we called “Sangha Shorts.”
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Newsette 1-9-2024

We continue to include Hozan Alan Senauke in our well-being ceremonies, as do many Branching Streams sanghas. For updates from Hozan’s family, or to leave messages of support, you can visit his Caring Bridge page at:

This Newsette includes an event that occurred on New Year’s Day in Washington, DC, two book recommendations, a request from a Branching Streams teacher, and news of three wider community offerings that may be of interest.

On New Year’s Day a two hundred sixty-six-year-old temple bell was installed at the National Arboretum in Washington DC. The installation ceremony included the chanting of the Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo by eight members of All Beings Zen Sangha and guiding teacher Inryu Ponce-Barger shared some words. A local TV station televised the event. Here is the link. An inscription on the bell began with these words: “One strike permeates all things.”

Recent books about beloved teachers:

Seeing One Thing Through: The Zen Life And Teachings Of Sojun Mel Weitsman, with an introduction by Hozan Alan Senauke and a forward by Norman Fischer.

Seeing One Thing Through begins with a series of autobiographical memories and reflections going back to Sojun’s boyhood in Southern California, his coming of age as an artist and a seeker in the vibrant San Francisco of the 1950s, and his first meeting with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. The larger portion of the book is a collection of Sojun’s edited talks, his articulation of “ordinary mind,” and his strong belief that Zen as a way of life is available to all. 

Remembering Myogen Steve Stucky by Renshin Bunce

Renshin, the guiding teacher of Beginner’s Mind Zen in Eureka, CA, writes: “In the years since the death of my teacher, I’ve noticed that I repeatedly tell the same handful of stories about him. Also, when I’m around San Francisco Zen Center, students approach me to tell me their stories, to tell me how touched they were by him… Now, in the hope of sharing some part of him with Zen students in the future, I offer this book. The first part is my memories, the second is a collection of stories from friends and family, the third is a collection of his teachings in the three months between his diagnosis and death, and the fourth is his obituary. May it serve to benefit the awakening of all beings.”

Advice requested by a leader of a Branching Streams sangha. He would like to accept donations from sangha members and would like to open a bank account in his Sangha’s name, without becoming a 501(c)3. If you have experience in receiving donations in this way, please let me know and I will connect you and the sangha leader via email.

Community offerings that may interest you:

Dr. Paula Arai will be offering a program, Bowing to Lotuses Blooming in the Mud, Gratitude as an Agent for Change on Sunday January 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The program will be in person at the Institute for Buddhist Studies in Berkeley CA and online. Registration is still open, and a flyer is attached. This program launches the Soto Zen Buddhist Association’s monthly, year-long series Celebrating the Voices of Women in Buddhism; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, planned by the SZBA DEIA committee.

Before the ‘May We Gather’ pilgrimage in March (in Antioch, CA), May We Gather has partnered with the Asian Pacific American Religions Research Initiative, Tricycle Magazine, and an amazing group of panelists to have an online three-part series beginning Wednesday 1/24.

The series is entitled Resilience, Recovery, Repair.

Rev. Lien Shutt is offering a twelve-week online course, The Dharma of Being Antiracist, starting February 6.   The teaching team includes Crystal Johnson, who led the Branching Streams-sponsored Unpacking Whiteness series in 2020. The course will follow the outline of Lien’s new book, Home Is Here: Practicing Antiracism With The Engaged Eightfold Path, where she teaches the practices of the Eightfold Path as a means for healing from the trauma of race and racism. The course is open to all and will alternate between teaching sessions and small affinity group sessions, with readings and exercises in between. You can click here for more information, teacher bios, and to apply. 

May the words on the bell ring true for all of us: One strike/one sound/one breath permeates all things.

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Newsette 1-3-2024

This Newsette is my New Year’s greeting to you and a tribute to Hozan Alan Senauke.

On New Year’s Eve I joined the Berkeley Zen Center Sangha for zazen and a wellbeing service for BZC’s beloved Abbot Hozan Alan.

Hozan is critically ill, in the ICU at Kaiser in Oakland after cardiac arrest last Thursday. His family has set up a Caring Bridge page at: You can find daily updates about his condition there and leave messages of support.

I visited Hozan on December 30with my friend Mushim Ikeda. Both of us have known Hozan since the early 90’s, when he was the director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Hozan has been my mentor and friend ever since.

In the waiting room we visited with members of Hozan’s immediate family, his wife Laurie, daughter Silvie, and son Alex, who filled us in on Hozan’s condition.

Mushim and I sat at Alan’s bedside for a while, mostly in silence. Before we left, Mushim recited Santideva’s prayer, the Dalai Lama’s favorite prayer (see below). Friends who had visited before us wrote on the whiteboard in Hozan’s room, to share with his medical team, “Don’t be fooled by appearances – this man has a brilliant mind and a vast heart…Work: Saving all beings. Hobbies: Entertaining all beings (if you don’t know Hozan, he is a musician).”

On January 2, Silvie posted these words from Laurie: “Yesterday I [came upon] a wonderful quote from Joanna Macy that I wanted to share. Just reading that last sentence I can tell I’m in Hozanland. Please join me there.

“This is a dark time, filled with suffering and uncertainty. Like living cells in a larger body, it is natural that we feel the trauma of our world. So don’t be afraid of the anguish you feel, or the anger or fear, because these responses arise from the depth of your caring and the truth of your interconnectedness with all beings.

“Action isn’t a burden to be hoisted up and lugged around on our shoulders. It is something thing we are. The work we have to do can be seen as a kind of coming alive. More than some moral imperative, it’s an awakening to our true nature, a releasing of our gifts.” 

As we begin the New Year, some of us setting intentions for our practice and our lives, I am adopting a practice I learned of from one of my students – to find a word that I’d like to live with and grow into in the coming year. Mine is Spaciousness.

The Dalai Lama said his favorite prayer is this verse by Santideva:

                     For as long as space exists

                     And sentient beings endure,

May I too remain,

To dispel the misery of the world.

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Newsette 12-19-2023

Many sanghas have sat Rohatsu sesshin, and are now turning toward the solstice and end-of-year ceremonies.

At City Center we had our last talk in the Buddha Hall until January 2025 (due to renovations to our 300 Page Street Building) on Saturday December 16, when Central Abbot David Zimmerman spoke about Transitions. The 300 Page Street zendo and the Conference Center next door will remain open in 2024 and we will continue having zazen and service, dharma talks, and other programs in those spaces. A small video camera has been installed in the zendo so the sangha can also participate online.

After over ten years of living in my room at 300 Page Street, I’m in the midst of moving to an apartment at 340 Page Street which I will share with a Zen friend. You can send mail to me adding San Francisco Zen Center to 300 Page Street, San Francisco CA 94102 or to 340 Page Street, Apartment 207.

In my last Newsette I mentioned the departing ceremony for five City Center teachers who moved to Enso Village. There was also a departing ceremony at Green Gulch Farm for Emila Heller, Meiya Wender, Mick Sopko, and Sukey Parmalee. All are settling into their new homes in Healdsburg.

A correction to my last Newsette: In describing the Jukai ceremony for Terran Campbell at Stone Willow Zen Center in Spokane, WA, I should have used the pronoun they instead of she. I have apologized to Terran.

Sangha News:

On December 16, Colin Gipson stepped down as guiding teacher of San Antonio Zen Center after a decade of leading the sangha. Choro Antonuccio, guiding teacher of Austin Zen Center described his ceremony: “It was an emotional and loving sendoff for Colin. His final dharma talk theme was “what I have learned while guiding teacher.” It was warm and accessible. There was a mondo with his Dharma entrusted students, and statements from invited visitors. Then everyone present, including on Zoom, was invited to speak if they wished. Several Branching Streams and SFZC teachers were present, including Gaelyn Godwin, Steve Weintraub, Joan Amaral, Linda Galijan, Greg Fain, and Karen de Cotis.

Great Spirit Sangha in San Francisco concluded their 2023 fall practice period with a Shuso inquiry ceremony for Ja’nice Hoobler, Dai Toku Jin Zan (Great Devotion Compassion Mountain). 

Ja’nice and her teacher Cynthia Kear

Two weeks later Guiding Teacher Cynthia Kear gave Jukai to three sangha members: Nancy Hale (I Sho Ji Getsu – Awesome Creativity, Compassion Moon), Dean Paquette (I Kan Ki Raku – Healing Mirror, Vessel of Joy) and Jeff Sunshine (Gen Rai E Shin – Subtle Thunder, Wisdom Heart). 

Myoshin Kate McCandless, co-guiding teacher of Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver, BC, wrote a brief article about naming their new temple, Bright Stream, which is posted on the Branching Streams website. In discerning the name, she and the sangha learned about temple names as well as local history.

The Soto Zen Buddhist Association is launching Celebrating the Voices of Women in Buddhism; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, a monthly, year-long speaker series in 2024. This series has been planned by the SZBA DEIA committee and will include Dharma talks, panels, and intimate conversation with Buddhist women and teachers. 

The series will start with an all-day in person workshop with Dr. Paula Arai at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley on January 14. The workshop will focus on healing rituals that generate positive change. Registration is now open to all who are interested, including your sangha members. 

This will be my last Newsette of 2023. I wish you and your sanghas light, joy, and connectedness and look forward to being in touch with you again in January 2024.

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Newsette 11-28-2023

Tonight, at City Center we will have a ceremony for the five senior members of our community who are leaving for Enso Village this week –Arlene Lueck, Barbara Machtinger, Rosalie Curtis, Susan O’Connell, and Teah Strozer, followed by a celebratory dinner. A second ceremony and celebration will be held at GGF on Dec. 3rd for the four retirees leaving Green Gulch Farm and Temple…Meiya Wender, Emila Heller, Sukey Parmalee, and Mick Sopko.  It reminds me of the importance of ceremonies in marking significant transitions in our lives.

I missed reporting on a Jukai Ceremony that occurred at Stone Willow Zendo in Spokane WA on September 29. Founding teacher Daya Goldschlag gave the precepts to Terran Campbell, who received the Dharma name Onryu Ekai, Gentle Dragon Wisdom Ocean. Daya noted, “Terran is a very long-time practitioner, and it was an honor to do that for them.” Daya received dharma transmission from Teah Strozer in September 2022, along with Ava Stanton, who leads Just Show Up sangha in Santa Monica CA, Shogen Danielson who is on the Teaching Council of Monterey Bay Zen Center, and Heather Iarusso who practices and teaches at San Francisco Zen Center.

A Stepping Down Ceremony for San Antonio Zen Center’s founding and guiding teacher Zenka Colin Gipson will be held at SAZC on December 16. After leading the sangha for ten years, Colin “is excited about practicing in a new way.”

Many Branching Streams Zen centers and sanghas are offering Rohatsu Sesshin varying in length from two to seven days, some in person and some hybrid, some residential and some commuting only. I will mention only a few.

Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center and Zen Heart Sangha in Mountain View and neighboring Menlo Park will jointly host a two-day Rohatsu sesshin at Kannon Do. Misha Shungen Merrill, founding teacher of Zen Heart Sangha, will lead the sesshin. Misha received Dharma transmission from Les Kaye, Kannon Do’s teacher emeritus. This sesshin will be held from 8 am – 5 pm each day, with a modified oryoki lunch. 

Brooklyn Zen Center is offering a five day Rohatsu sesshin December 6 – December 10
Wednesday through Saturday: 8am – 8:30pm EST; Sunday: 6am – 1pm EST with Sarah Dōjin
Emerson, Charlie Korin Pokorny, and Kidō Ian Case in their urban Boundless Mind temple. Partial attendance will be permitted; minimum of three days’ consecutive attendance. More information and registration here.

For the first time since 2019, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate “will hold a five-day Rohatsu sesshin to celebrate Shakyamuni Buddha’s Great Awakening, Wednesday December 6th to Sunday the 10th. All are welcome to attend any one to five days, in person or online.” Hogetsu Laurie Belzer and Taigen Leighton will co-lead the sesshin, focusing on the traditional Soto Zen teaching of meditation on the treasury of radiance. If you plan to attend, please register at .

The Zen Buddhist Center Black Forest in Germany and Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver BC will also be sitting Rohatsu sesshin.

I will join the City Center sangha in sesshin from December 2 to 9. It will be wonderful to sit with an awareness of all the Zen Centers and sanghas in the Suzuki Roshi lineage and other lineages who will be turning toward silence and stillness at the is time of great suffering in the world. May our practice radiate peace.

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Bright Stream – Naming a New Temple

by Myoshin Kate McCandless, co-guiding teacher of Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver, B.C.

In October 2022 Mountain Rain Zen Community was approached by the Vancouver Zen Centre guiding teacher, Eshin Godfrey and the VZC board, letting us know that Eshin would be retiring to Quebec, and the VZC would be dissolving as a society. They proposed to transfer their practice centre to MRZC on the condition of providing a retirement stipend to Eshin. This was an astonishing and very generous offer, and we are deeply grateful to Eshin and the VZC sangha. 

The house is spacious and well-kept. Through the labours of the VZC sangha over the last fourteen years it has been developed as a beautiful space of practice. The ground level has a large kitchen/dining area and three rooms for residents. The upstairs has a bright, airy zendo that seats about 20, a meeting room, office, guest room, and two-room teachers’ suite. The garden has been lovingly tended and has shrubbery, fruit trees, berries, herbs, and a path for outdoor kinhin.

Aren’t names curious? We humans probably began naming each other and the things around us very early in our development of language. It’s how we distinguish one thing from another when communicating across distance. Names give cause for endless precision and confusion. Like everything, they are provisional, subject to change. 

The house is on Sherbrooke St., most likely named after a former Governor General of what was then called British North America after the War of 1812. He had a distinguished military and very colonial career. You might be interested to learn how disproportionately white, male and colonial Vancouver city street names are.  Though 38 are named after trees and plants, there is no Red-cedar St. or Salal St. (CBC The origins of all 651 street names in Vancouver). One of our members looked up the etymology of the name Sherbrooke and learned that the name in Old English means either brook/stream of the shire, or bright stream.

Bright Stream – it resonates with the Branching Streams network of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi sanghas, named after the line in the poem by Shitou Harmony of Difference and Equality, “branching streams flow on in the darkness”. Our sangha is one branching stream of many, and each of us a tributary. Maybe in adopting this name we can return the name Sherbrooke to its origins, a bright stream flowing through a valley, a village, on its way to the sea. 

In September, we formally adopted the name Bright Stream Temple (Kōryūji in Japanese) for our new place of practice.

Mountain rain runs down

through myriad bright streams

into the great sea.

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Newsette 11-16-2023

This Newsette is following quickly on the heels of the one I sent last Friday. It includes news of dharma transmission, lay entrustment, and priest ordination ceremonies, a recommendation for a recently published book, a message from Alan Senauke regarding a petition for a cease-fire in Gaza, and a poem.

Everyday Zen founding teacher Norman Fischer gave Dharma Transmission to Flo Rublee and Ruth Ozeki on October 17. Flo’s dharma name is Dai-I JinShin, Great Healer, Deep Faith and Ruth’s is KanShin Do An, Generous Heart, Voice of the Way.

Hannah Sullivan, who practices at Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham WA, received Lay Entrustment from Kathie Fischer on November 5 during a retreat on Samish Island. Her dharma name is SeiU HeiAn, Quiet Rain, Stable Abode.

On Sunday November 12, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, guiding teacher of Still Breathing Zen Sangha and Myokei Caine-Barret, Shonin, Bishop of Nichiren Shu, ordained three priests at Green Gulch Farm. The Zendo was full of loving friends and family, sangha members, and Zen teachers. The new priests are Kaishin Unique Holland, whose new Dharma name is Kaishin Jiso – Ocean Heart, Healing Ancestors; Jozen Tamori Gibson, whose new Dharma name is Jozen Shinmu – Offering Zen, Empty Mind, and MK Abadoo, whose new Dharma name is Ganju Isshin – Wishfulling gem, One heart mind.

Shinshu Roberts, co-guiding teacher of Ocean Gate Zen Center in Santa Cruz CA writes, “I am reading a new book by Rebecca Li, who is transmitted in the Chan lineage of Master sheng Yen and the teacher at Chan dharma Community. The book’s title is Illumination: A Guide to the Buddhist Method of No-Method.  …As a teacher I find her insights helpful… I am recommending this book, which is published by Shambhala in paperback.

Alan Senauke, Abbot of Berkely Zen Center, sent the link to a petition from American Buddhists asking President Biden to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. He writes, “This is something Bhikkhu Bodhi and I have been working on for the last few days, feeling that compassionate Buddhist voices must be heard.  I recognize some of you might disagree with our call for a ceasefire. I respect your views. I know that some of you have already received this petition through other channels and have signed on.  If appropriate, please sign the petition, add a comment, and share it widely with other members of your community.”

To close, here is a poem posted by Two Streams Zen  in Westhampton, MA, whose guiding teachers are Ryūmon Baldoquin and Catherine Anraku Hondorp:

By Aurora Levins Morales

Last night I dreamed
ten thousand grandmothers 
from the twelve hundred corners of the earth
walked out into the gap
one breath deep
between the bullet and the flesh
between the bomb and the family.

They told me we cannot wait for governments.
There are no peacekeepers boarding planes.
There are no leaders who dare to say 
every life is precious, so it will have to be us.

They said we will cup our hands around each heart.
We will sing the earth’s song, the song of water,
a song so beautiful that vengeance will turn to weeping,
the mourners will embrace, and grief replace
every impulse toward harm.  

Ten thousand is not enough, they said,
so, we have sent this dream, like a flock of doves
into the sleep of the world.  Wake up. Put on your shoes. 

You who are reading this, I am bringing bandages
and a bag of scented guavas from my trees. I think
I remember the tune.  Meet me at the corner.
Let’s go. 

As those of us in the U.S. turn toward Thanksgiving, may we give thanks for everything that supports us in our lives. Wishing you a nourishing Thanksgiving

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Newsette 11-10-2023

Last night the City Center Tanto and I held the space for a Healing Circle for residents who wanted to share their thoughts and feelings about the suffering and violence in Gaza and Israel. It was a way of creating a safe enough space to hold a range of experience, pain, and not-knowing.

Many of us are searching for ways to respond, both within our sanghas and in our wider communities, to increasing polarization and difficulty in communicating with others whose views may differ from our own.

Eden Heffernan shared a poem in Richmond Zen Center’s newsletter that points a way to better communication.

The Place Where We Are Right

From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
in the spring.

The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.

But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plow,
And a whisper will be heard in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.

–Yehuda Amichai, translation by Stephan Mitchell

This coming Sunday, November 12, at 11:30 a.m. CT,  Houston Zen Center will offer “an opportunity to gather together in peace, to reflect on the causes of the flaming violence in the world, and to make our wishes for peace explicit.  The practice involves sitting together, writing wishes, sewing small garments, and reflecting on loving-kindness, compassion, and peace.  You are welcome to join for all or part of the ceremony.”

Some programs that are nourishing in other ways include:

Bamboo in the Wind in Sunnyvale CA is holding their Fall Japanese Ceremonial Tea
offerings on Sunday, November 19, 2023.  “This tea ceremony is performed by Tea Masters, one trained and certified in Japan and the other in the US. There are time slots available at 11:00am and 1:00pm.  We limit 6 guests per time slot.  So, for those interested, please register ASAP by emailing   

Brooklyn Zen Center is offering a BIPOC Workshop: Sitting with Ancestors on Sunday, November 12, 1:30 – 4pm EST. “Join us for an afternoon workshop on practices centered around ancestry led by two long-term students at BZC (Adriane Rozier and Ryan Lee Wong). “Ancestry” includes Buddhist ancestors, blood ancestors, and chosen ancestors. This workshop is open to all BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) participants. More information and registration here.”

Looking ahead to December, several sanghas are planning Rohatsu sesshins in person. Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago’s sesshin will be hybrid.

Taigen Leighton writes: “For the first time since 2019, we will hold a five-day Rohatsu Sesshin to celebrate Shakyamuni Buddha’s Great Awakening, Wednesday December 6th to Sunday the 10th. All are welcome to attend any one up to five days, in person or online. Hogetsu Laurie Belzer and I will co-lead the sesshin, focusing on the traditional Soto Zen teaching of meditation on the treasury of radiance. If you plan to attend, please register at .

Thank you for all you do to support your communities in this challenging time.