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Newsette – August 23, 2023

This week I’m including a reminder about the Branching Streams List-Serve, a mourning and a celebration, offerings and news from three sanghas, a fall class from the Shogagu Institute, and a teacher search from a cousin (Katagiri lineage) sangha.

Please consider joining the Branching Streams List-Serve if you would like to more easily share resources, request information from other sanghas, and work together on issues of mutual concern. It was created after the 2022 Branching Streams Conference in Austin, using Google Groups, and is available to readers of these Newsettes. If you’d like to join this separate group email,  please sign up here. You don’t need a Google account or gmail address to join; any email will work. If you have any questions, please contact Jon Voss, our Branching Streams webmaster.

 In the last weeks, memorial services were held at Chapel Hill Zen Center, San Francisco Zen Center, and Green Gulch Farm for Curtis Fabens, Daishi Zenkai: Great Resolve, Complete Openness, who passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, August 10. Curtis began practicing at the CHZC in 2006, after visiting Tassajara for several weeks. He returned to Tassajara to begin his monastic training in 2010, where he was ordained as a priest by Zenshin Greg Fain. Curtis received Dharma Transmission at Berkeley Zen Center from Greg on the evening of Friday, June 28, 2023. Curtis is survived by his wife, Caitlin, and their seven-year-old daughter.. Cards and packages may be sent to Caitlin’s home address: 2171 Burton Dr Cambria CA 93428. She has set up a Go Fund Me Page.

Mazel Tov and Great Congratulations to Nomon Tim Burnett and Raizelah Bayen who were married on July 22, 2023, with Hoka Chris Fortin (a teacher at Everyday Zen in the S.F. Bay Area) officiating. Nomon is the guiding teacher of Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham WA. He writes: “It’s a great thing to practice relaxing as family and friends gather to celebrate and support our marriage, and to feel the incredible support of sangha. Amazing!”

Beginners Mind Zen Center in Northridge CA, whose founding and guiding teachers are Peter and Jane Schneider, will have a Shukke Tokudo ceremony on Saturday August 26 for Spencer Levy and Chris Burnham.

Brooklyn Zen Center writes, “We’re overjoyed to share that we now have a new Brooklyn Zen Center website. The website goes along with our new logo and brand identity. We got excited about our new look and decided to go a step further—we are very happy to unveil our BZC T-shirt campaign, featuring our new kechimyaku design by Cathleen Tseng!

When I visited Ashland Zen Center last September the first thing that caught my eye as I drove up was their Little Farm Stand. A lavender sachet I brought home with me is still fragrant! I was happy to read in their August Newsletter, “the Sangha Farm Stand is humming along! Numerous people have contributed potted plants, handmade crafts, gardening books, cookbooks, and treasures with a country flair. The Farm Stand, with the help of many hands, is proving to be a great fundraiser and an important outreach to the community.

Shogaku Zen Institute is announcing its Fall 2023 class: – Preaching the Dharma Practicum taught by Steve Kanji and Daishin McCabe, ONLINE for 11 Tuesday evenings, October 24, 2023 to January 9, 2024, 6:00 to 7:30 pm, Pacific Time. The fee is $600. To register, email For more information, email the instructors at or

Several months ago, members of Nebraska Zen Center reached out to speak with me as they were discerning how they might find a priest to lead their sangha. They recently finalized a plan to invite a Resident Teacher for a four to six-month period, rather than looking for a Guiding Teacher immediately. Here is the  NZC | Resident Teacher Blurb and the NZC Resident Teacher Position Description.

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Newsette August 17, 2023

I have enjoyed compiling this Newsette, which includes a range of topics, including a new affiliate, book launchings, retreat offerings, a Pilgrimage to the South, and a request from our Branching Streams affiliate in Medellin, Colombia. I hope you will enjoy reading it.

Welcome to Great Spirit Sangha in San Francisco, whose founding and guiding teacher is Cynthia Kear. Cynthia received dharma transmission from the late Darlene Cohen. She writes, “Our form of practice is firmly rooted in the Suzuki Roshi lineage of Soto Zen Buddhism, in the dharma of our immediate ancestor, Darlene Cohen (Su Rei Ken Po, Great Spirit Manifesting Dharma).” Great Spirit Sangha is open to and respects the inherent Buddha Nature of all beings, is very LQBTQI and recovery friendly.

Lien Shutt, founding and guiding teacher of Access to Zen in Oakland, CA is celebrating the release of Home is Here,  Practicing Antiracism with the Engaged Eightfold Path on Tuesday August 22 at 7 p.m. at Books Inc in Berkeley. She will be in conversation with Zen Priest Dana Takagi.


Paula Arai, the author of Women Living Zen and Bringing Zen Home, and a professor at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, CA will launch The Little Book of Zen Healing with a reading at Book Shop Santa Cruz on Monday August 28 at 7 p.m.

Houston Zen Center is offering a 4-day Teaching Retreat with Kokyo Henkel focusing on Menzan Zenji’s Self-Enjoyment Samadhi.  The retreat begins at Houston Zen Center the evening of Thursday, August 31 and continues from Friday September 1 to Sunday September 3 at Auspicious Cloud Temple in Chappell Hill, Texas.  “In this retreat, we can examine together and discuss some highlights from the treatise on Self-Enjoyment Samadhi by a great 18th century Soto Zen teacher. It was written for his devoted lay disciples to clarify the practice of zazen.”

Practicing with Water, a three-day Sesshin led by Zenki Kathleen Batson is offered at Chapel Hill NC Zen Center from Friday September 29 to Monday October 2. “In this sesshin we will explore the theme of water in some of Dogen’s writings, consider what stories we tell ourselves about water, and how to engage with water as part of our practice in everyday life.”

Nine Buddhist practitioners affiliated with the Racial and Social Justice as Dharma Practice Group (RSJD) will make a Pilgrimage to the South from September 5 to 10. They will journey to Alabama to “witness, learn, and practice within the context of the lived truths of the institution of slavery, the growth of systemic racism, the Civil Rights Movement, and the ongoing work of racial and social justice as currently manifesting in the South,” visiting sites of historical significance in Brimingham, Selma, and Montgomery .RSJD is co-led by Chris Fortin of Everyday Zen and Dharm Heart Zen and Doralee Grindler Katonah of Valley Streams Zen Group in Sacramento CA.

Montaña de Silencio in Medellin, Colombia requests our support! Their board president, Engyoku Nidia Gil writes: “We are wholeheartedly working here to make this center more available to practice and study Dharma. Last month we launched a campaign to raise funds to guarantee the sustainability of this organization. We are currently being supported by donations that come from our members, that today are 28.” Here is the link to their campaign:

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Interview with Rev. Shundo Aoyama Roshi and Abbot Konjin Gaelyn Godwin

This feature is shared with permission from the Houston Zen Center July 2023 announcement.
Among Abbot Gaelyn Godwin’s many activities, one of the highlights for her was the opportunity to meet with the great teacher Aoyama Roshi, the Abbot of Aichi Senmon Sodo, a monastery for women in Nagoya, Japan. Aoyama Roshi is the first woman priest to hold the position of Seido at either of the head temples of Soto Zen. She is the Seido of Sojiji, the temple founded by Keizan Zenji. Rev. Godwin is the first woman to be appointed to the position of Director of the International Center of Soto Zen Buddhism, North America.

Interview with Rev. Shundo Aoyama Roshi and Abbot Konjin Gaelyn Godwin
Soto Zen headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, brought two important women teachers together in March 2022 at Aoyama Roshi’s monastery in Nagoya, Japan, to discuss the issue of gender equality in Soto Zen. This remarkable interview was edited into 5 parts and released in March 2023. It will be required viewing for Soto Zen training priests in Japan.

Gender equality is one of the important facets of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which Soto Zen headquarters in Japan has been fully supporting and promoting.

You can view the full 5-part series on the Houston Zen Center website here.
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Newsette August 5, 2023

Dear Branching Streams teachers and leaders,

Patrick Teverbaugh, guiding teacher at Santa Cruz Zen Center, and I visited Villa Maria del Mar, the oceanside retreat center where we’ll hold the  2023 Branching Streams Gathering in September. I stayed overnight to get acquainted with the layout of the buildings, the breakout rooms, and the meals. I could hear the waves breaking on the beach below as I fell asleep. The deadline for registration is rapidly approaching! If you plan to attend and haven’t yet registered, please do so this week.

Ceremonies past and future:

On July 30, Hakusho Ostlund, who founded Brattleboro Zen Center in Vermont during the pandemic, received Dharma Transmission from Senior Dharma Teacher Furyu Schroeder at Green Gulch Farm. The photo below was taken by Reirin Gumbel, the guiding teacher of Milwaukee Zen Center, who came to assist with her dharma brother’s ceremony.

During that week, at Berkeley Zen Center, Hannah Meara and Carol Paul received dharma transmission from Hozan Alan Senauke and Curtis Fabens received dharma transmission from Zenshin Greg Fain. Hannah’s dharma name is KiJin SeiSho/ Resolute Love Clear Illumination. Carol’s is ShiKen SeiGetsu/ Clear Intention, Serene Moon, and Curtis’s is DaiShi ZenKai/ Great Resolve, Complete Openness. The photo was taken by BZC sangha member Dean Bradley.

Keido Les Kaye’s Stepping Down Ceremony as Abbot of Kannon Do Zen Center in Mountain View CA will be held at 10 a.m. PDT on Monday September 4 (Labor Day). It’s possible to attend virtually or in person. If you’d like to RSVP for the ceremony please do so very soon, using this form.

I’m attaching a flyer for a six-month Mindful Leadership Training co-led by Marin Zen’s founding and guiding teacher Marc Lesser at Spirit Rock. The six-month training begins later in August.

And the Enso Village team is sharing news about Enso Verde, a second Zen-inspired senior living community they are developing in southern California. There will be several in-person and virtual meetings in August and September for those interested in learning more. The flyer is attached.

I look forward to visiting Seattle Soto Zen in their new home at Seattle Koyasan Buddhist Temple.  I will meet with SSZ’s spiritual director, Kanshin Allison Tate, and be their guest speaker on Sunday August 27. I will stay with dear cousins and meet the newest member of the family, named Ori, who was born on my birthday.

Bowing deeply,


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Newsette July 24, 2023

We have extended the registration deadline for the  2023 Branching Streams Gathering to August 8. If you haven’t registered, please consider attending!  Fifty-five people have registered so far. We have room for up to 15 more participants.

Welcome to a new Branching Streams affiliate, Autsit: Meditation for people on the autism / neurodiverse spectrum, based in Fairfax, CA. Autsit was co-founded by Anlor Davin, a priest ordained by Norman Fischer, guiding teacher of Autsit and founder and guiding teacher of Everyday Zen.

Josho Pat Phelan, Abbess of Chapel Hill Zen Center (NC) writes, “I am so pleased to announce that Richmond Zen, VA, with the Chapel Hill Zen Center, NC, completed a 90-day Kessei Ango, or Practice Period, that was registered with the Soto School in Japan. Eden Kevin Heffernan was Shuso. Konjin Godwin Roshi and Zenki Nishimura represented the Soto Zen International Center, and visiting teachers Teijo Munnich of Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple, Inryu Ponce-Barger of All Beings Zen Sangha, Kuden Boyle of Forest City Zen Group, and Choro Antonaccio of the Austin Zen Center, attended the Shuso Dharma Inquiry Ceremony on June 15.”

Konjin Gaelyn Godwin and others from Soto Zen International Center sent this Save the Date: “In honor of the important 700 year anniversary and commemoration of Keizan Zenji’s life and teaching, your center is invited to participate in the ceremonies. We have organized a tour, April 21-24, 2024. You might want to arrive in Japan before the tour or stay on after it ends.

“We will start April 21st at Fukui station near Eiheiji, where we will practice together, and stay in a nearby onsen/hot springs hotel. April 22nd and 23rd will be at Sojiji, where there will be ceremonies to honor Keizan Zenji. We will stay in a nearby hotel. The final day, April 24th, includes a symposium on Shobogenzo, at the Tokyo Grand Hotel. Important Shobogenzo scholars will make presentations, which will be a very fortunate opportunity for us.”

More details, including costs for the trip, and an informative poster, will be available soon.

Tassajara and Green Gulch offerings:

The due date for applications for the Fall 2023 Practice Period at Tassajara, led by Ryushin Paul Haller, is August 10th. Here’s the link on the SFZC website.

From Tassajara’s Director: “Nourish the community and your heart-mind by practicing as a member of the Tassajara kitchen crew during the 2023 fall practice period. Deepen your understanding of Zen while learning essential cooking skills with a tight-knit crew of monks. Apply now! If you’re accepted, you won’t have to pay for the practice period. You would be welcome to arrive September 1 and stay through the practice period. Please email by Sept. 9 to find out more details.”

Tassajara Zen Mountain Center welcomes applicants for the position of plant manager, with a start date in autumn 2023.  Please contact Jamie at if interested.

Tenshin Reb Anderson Roshi has accepted an invitation to lead the 2024 January Intensive, a residential practice intensive to be held at Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center from January 6 to January 27. The window for the period of application is now open. More information about the intensive and the process for application may be found at this Information Link. Everyone who is interested is warmly welcome to apply.

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Newsette – July 6, 2023

Last week I was at Tassajara, co-leading a Queer Dharma Sangha Week. Two other Branching Streams teachers and groups were also there – Hogetsu Laurie Belzer with Ancient Dragon Zen Gate and Ryushin Andrea Thach with Berkeley Zen Center. Our sanghas mingled with one another and with residents – over meals, in the zendo, and on work crews – creating a joyful sense of one large sangha.

The deadline for registrations for the 2023 Branching Streams Gathering is July 15. About 30 people have registered thus far. We’d like to have a wide range of sanghas represented. Please consider attending! The capacity of our venue, Villa Maria del Mar, is 70 participants.

In my last Newsette, I made a mistake in how I described the leader of our new Branching Streams affiliate, Sky Island Zen in Tucson, AZ. Corrected description:

In my last Newsette, I made a mistake in how I described the leader of our new Branching Streams affiliate, Sky Island Zen in Tucson, AZ. Corrected description:  Mary Koopman is the founding priest and student of Chris Fortin. Chris is the guiding teacher of SIZ, a senior teacher at Everyday Zen and founding teacher of two groups in Sebastopol CA.  

Sorrows and Joys

I and many others who knew Keith Wiley, were saddened by his recent death. Keith was the resident priest of Crystal Springs Sangha in San Mateo, CA. He was a student of Sarita Tomayo-Moraga , who was a dharma heir of Darlene Cohen. You may have met Keith at a Branching Streams conference or online, as he attended many of Jon Voss’s Zoom clinics during the pandemic. A retired physician, Keith was devoted to his sangha and his teacher.  Keith was the first person to register for this September’s Branching Streams Gathering. In his last email to me he said, “I am looking forward to Santa Cruz this fall.”

On a joyful note, Josho Phelan, Abbess of Chapel Hill Zen Center, wrote, “I am so pleased to announce that Zenki Kathleen Batson will be installed as Vice-Abbess after zazen on September 17th, followed by a reception. Everyone is warmly invited to attend.”

Misha Merrill, guiding teacher of Zen Heart Sangha in Woodside CA ordained two priests on May 13th, Kathleen Dickey – Hoshin Ushun, Dharma Heart/Rain (of) Spring and Sylvia Hawley – Jizan Seishin, Compassion(ate) Mountain/Sincere Heart.

Berkeley Zen Center recently completed its first Many Communities, One Sangha program led by Rhonda Magee. “Over the course of ten months we met in small and large groups to discuss how to build a more inclusive community by exploring mindful responses to racism in ourselves, our sangha, and the greater world.” The program will continue for a second year.

Brooklyn Zen Center/Ancestral Heart Temple writes, “We’re overjoyed to announce the opening of the Millerton Zendo, a meditation space in Millerton, NY. Please join us for our opening on Saturday, July 22, at 10am EST. Starting Saturday, July 29, we will be offering weekly Saturday morning programs of zazen instruction, zazen, service, and dharma discussion. Please find more information and the schedule here. All are welcome.

Zen Center North Shore in Beverly MA has officially initiated a property search “for a location to call home. The time has come to consider locations where we can unpack, settle in, and continue to practice, learn, and grow our intentions to each other and the community.”

A Grant Program that may be of interest:

In 2024, Lenz Foundation grants will cover the emergent, broad-based field of women’s leadership in Buddhism, bringing women to the foreground in innovative ways and creating programming for empowering women. The window to apply for a grant is open until September 30, 2023.” If you know of people whose work may align with our grant theme, please refer them to our Grant Policy page and encourage them to write us.”

And a SFZC online program on Soto and Rinzai Zen you may want to explore:

Jiryu Rutschman-Byler, Abbot of Green Gulch Farm, and Meido Moore, Abbot of Korinji monastery in Wisconsin, will each be teaching a four-week online class on Soto and Rinzai Zen, respectively. These series will feature a conversation between the two Abbots on Saturday, July 15 — The Zen Spectrum: Bridging Soto and Rinzai through Dialogue and Understanding.
This conversation is part of a greater exploration of Zen traditions taking place in The Spirit of Soto Zen, July 10 to July 31, and The Way of Rinzai Zen, July 13 to August 3.

May you enjoy these long days of summer.

With bows of appreciation,


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Newsette – April 24, 2023

As May approaches, I am looking forward to visiting several Branching Streams groups on the East Coast. Inryu Ponce-Barger, guiding teacher of All Beings Zen Sangha in Washington, DC invited me to give a talk on May 11 and assist her with preparations for a Shuso Ceremony May 13. From DC I will go to Boston to join Joan Amaral and Zen Center North Shore in a one day sitting on May 14th, and then visit Hakusho Ostlund at Brattleboro Zen Center in Vermont, giving a talk on May 16th.  I will end my trip back in Boston, to meet with John Bailes, who leads One Heart Zen in Somerville.

Today’s Newsette highlights news from two European teachers, and a request from Vancouver.

Dario Girolami, Abbot of Centro Zen l’Arco in Rome, is organizing the first conference on European Buddhist Chaplaincy in Rome on June 24 and 25, both at Sapienza University and online. There will be pre-conference workshops on June 23. The conference is sponsored by the Italian Buddhist Union (UBI) and by the European Buddhist Union (EBU). “The purpose of the conference is to develop, organize and support Buddhist chaplaincy in Europe to provide support, training opportunities and materials for those engaged in Buddhist chaplaincy, to identify spiritual and pastoral needs within Buddhist communities and to encourage broader community cohesion and social integration.”

Bernd Bender writes that Akazienzendo in Berlin’s summer sesshin is scheduled from July 12-16. The sesshin will take place in a small village close to the Polish border, about 90 minutes east of Berlin. Bernd is also organizing a retreat this fall in Greece, in the tradition of Suzuki Roshi, where English will be the spoken language. Here is a link to the retreat.

Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver BC is looking for “an experienced Administrative Director to provide administrative support in managing our growing organization. This is a one-year contract position, renewable after 12 months depending on funding. Click here for a job description and contact details. Please share this information widely.”

We are nearing the end of National Poetry Month in the U.S. Thursday April 27 is Poem in Your Pocket Day – a day to share poems with family members, friends, storekeepers, etc.I will close with a poem:

“Small Kindnesses” by Santa Cruz poet Danusha Laméris, from her book Bonfire Opera:

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”

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Newsette April 4, 2023

It’s a clear, sunny day in San Francisco, though cooler than usual in April. I returned from a week of sesshin at Tassajara on Saturday, in time for the City Center Shuso Ceremony.  Our Shuso was Dan Gudgel. Dan has practiced with Mountain Source Sangha in Marin County CA  since 2006 and was invited to lead the sangha by Layla Bockhorst before she died.

This Newsette features several new books and book-related events, two offerings in Europe (Sweden and Germany), and an online introductory meeting for the Sati Buddhist Chaplaincy Training.

New books and a book tour:

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, guiding teacher of Still Breathing Zen Sangha, recently published Being with Darkness: Eight Gateways for being with the Absence of Light in Troubling Times. “In darkness, we become devoted to clarity, courage, peace, and harmony. We discover the basic goodness of all humanity when we experience darkness together,” Zenju Earthlyn Manuel writes. “Life itself is a dark experience—a magical experience.” She will be offering a three-part Dharma talk series based on these teachings at Upaya Zen Center.

The guiding teacher of Mill Valley Zen, Marc Lesser, is about to release his fifth book,
FINDING CLARITY: How Compassionate Accountability Builds Vibrant Relationships, Thriving Workplaces, and Meaningful Lives.
Marc writes: “I think we all want and need more clarity in our relationships, in our work, and in all parts of our lives. Finding Clarity explores the principles and practices of compassionate accountability – the skillful art of facing conflicts head-on and aligning with your personal aspirations of vitality, wellbeing, and success – to help you deepen your understanding, enhance your flexibility, and amplify your effectiveness.”

Chenxing Han, author of Be the Refuge, has a second book coming out on April 11, one long listening: a memoir of grief, friendship, and spiritual care. She writes, “I think of this memoir as a multilingual love letter to the patients, family, staff, and spiritual care team at the hospital where I served [as a Buddhist Chaplain] for a life-changing year.”

Ben Connelly, a teacher at Minnesota Zen Center, will be talking about his newest book, Vasubandu’s Three Natures, a Practitioner’s Guide to Liberation, at Zen Centers in Colorado, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, and Montana, including many Branching Streams sanghas. Let your friends know he’s coming! Here’s the link to his itinerary.

Offerings in Europe:

Bernd Bender, resident teacher at Akazienzendo in Berlin, writes: “Allow me to draw your attention to an upcoming online event with Lama Rod Owens. On April 24th at 7:30 pm CET, Lama Rod will speak about ‘Love and Anger: The Path of Liberation through Anger.’ The event will be held in English with German translation available.” To learn more, please visit this link.

For those of you in Europe, or those who may travel to Europe this summer, Eijun Linda Cutts will be leading a seven-day retreat at Svartbäcksgården, Rimbo in Sweden from July 8 to 15. She writes, “A Zen Retreat is a time to enter silence and stillness in all our activities, sitting, walking, receiving and eating our meals, listening and voicing and sharing the Dharma. Together we will support each other to find our mountain seat, settle the body-mind, and practice compassion with all beings—”practicing suchness without delay”.”  For more information, or to apply, email

On April 22nd, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PST, the Sati Center in Redwood City CA will be holding a half-day online Introduction to Buddhist Chaplaincy led by Jennifer Block and Vanessa Able. The Sati Center has provided annual in-person training for Buddhist Chaplains for many years. This year they are launching an online version of the training for remote participants. All are welcome. No pre-registration is necessary. Location: Virtual, by Zoom. Password: compassion

I am saving some other good news for next week’s Newsette.

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Newsette March 20, 2023

I’m writing on the eve of the Spring Equinox, looking forward to the ceremony tomorrow at which we share words of the season. We’re expecting more rain tomorrow and instead of singing “When the Red Red Red Robbin Keeps Bob Bob Bobbin’ Along” the song may be “Singing in the Rain.”

There will not be a Newsette next week, as I’ll be at Tassajara sitting sesshin with my teacher, Eijun Linda Cutts, who is leading the winter practice period there.

I recommend a just-published book by Alan Senauke, Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center, Turning Words, Transformative Encounters with Buddhist Teachers.  Alan shares stories of moments in which someone’s words, actions, or presence opened his mind and heart in a new way. You can order the book from Shambhala, or from the SFZC Bookstore,

For those at a distance who would like to attend Layla Bockhorst’s memorial service virtually, on Saturday March 25 at approximately 4:00 p.m., here is the Zoom link. James Bockhorst says, “We will also be recording audio, so if anyone would like an MP3 file of the event, we will be happy to send that out. It is also possible that a zoom link may be made available for the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Funeral itself. Should that eventuate that link will be sent out as well.” You can contact James at

If you have news you’d like me to include in future Newsettes, please email me or send me your newsletters at Here are some dharma offerings coming up soon:

The Samish Island Sesshin, an annual retreat organized by Bellingham(WA) Zen Center, will be June 25 to July 1. General registration began on March 19. The site is a church camp on the water on Samish Island in the Skagit Valley. “The retreat includes dharma talks by Zoketsu Norman Fisher and Nomon Tim Burnett, dokusan and practice discussion, sitting and walking meditation, and delicious vegetarian meals.”

On Saturday April 1, Valley Stream Zen Group (Sacramento, CA) is offering a one-day retreat, “Riding in the Same Boat with All Beings,” with guest teacher Kokyo Henkel. The retreat will include alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation, punctuated by morning and afternoon Dharma talks and discussion. The theme of this retreat is Dogen’s essay Zenki.

Houston Zen Center is offering a three day in-person retreat, The Dharma of All Beings, April 14-16, led by Dharma Teacher Mary Carol Edwards and Sanran Maite Leal. “We will explore Zen writings about the dharma of all sentient (and so-called insentient) beings…In the serene rustic surroundings of Auspicious Cloud Retreat Center, we will sit and walk with the moon, stars, and beings of the night, the rising dawn, the dew, the grasses and wildflowers of the prairie, the shade of the forest and beings of the day.”

A four-week in person and online class on the Poetics of Zen Koans will be offered at Houston Zen Center beginning Tuesday March 28  from 6:30 to 8:30 Central Time. The class will be taught by Kishin Eric Arbiter, a member of HZC since 1994 who was ordained in 2008, and recently retired after 45 years of playing bassoon in the Houston Symphony.

May you enjoy the beginnings of Spring and the lengthening days.

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Newsette March 15, 2023

I found a word that was new to me in Eden Heffernan’s Richmond (VA) Zen newsletter: “Enbrightenment”It’s not just that our daylight hours are lengthening right now. There are bright lights shining from coast to coast.”

In this Newsette I’m highlighting some of the many ways of being interconnected and widening our circles – connecting with dharma friends and peers; refreshing a website; launching a new affinity group; growing a sangha’s membership base; renewing our connections with mountains and rivers; and strengthening ethical agreements.

Eden wrote, “I am very happy to share the news that several good Dharma friends are serving as Shuso for their respective home sanghas. Our own Ellen Hipppard is currently serving (remotely) for the Practice Period at Appamada, in Austin, TX, where she practiced before moving to Richmond. My Dharma cousin – and roomie at Tassajara in 2019) – Kanyu Neal Shorestein, is Shuso for the Everyday Zen Winter Practice Period in California. And our friends at All Beings Zen Sangha in DC are enjoying Dharma cousin Koryu Naomi Noble as Shuso for their Winter Practice Period. I feel so fortunate to experience their brightening of the Way before I plunge into the role of Shuso in April.”

Zen Center North Shore (north of Boston, MA) just launched their new website: “For the past few months, we have been working on redesigning the Zen Center North Shore website with the intention of making it more welcoming and intuitive for current and new members alike. We are excited to share with you that the new website was finally launched! We hope that the new design will delight your eyes and continue to support and encourage your practice.” Check it out here.

Next week Brattleboro (VT) Zen Center will launch a weekly Meditation and Recovery group, led by a sangha member who has extensive lived experience with substance use disorder and Buddhism. Hakusho Ostlund, the guiding teacher, writes “It has always been my aspiration for the Brattleboro Zen Center to be able to offer a Meditation and Recovery group, something many other Branching Streams sanghas have been offering for many years.”

Brooklyn Zen Center is having a membership drive this month. Their March newsletter explores the meaning of membership, invites participants to reflect on how the sangha nourishes them, and  invites the sangha to several events: an in-person meeting on Membership, Engagement, and Stewarding a Tradition which occurred on March 11, and an online gathering on Practicing with Membership, “for members and non-members alike to share how we relate membership to the practice of dana and stewardship of Soto Zen Buddhism at a socially engaged temple in America. You can find more details here. The final event will be a movie night at the end of March.

Austin Zen Center will have its annual Membership Meeting and brunch on April 15th. At this gathering “current, lapsed, and prospective members will hear from the board and spiritual leaders about the spiritual and financial health of the temple and elect new board members.

Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham WA offers their annual Wilderness Dharma Program , “a series of mindful and ritual journeys throughout our local watersheds, and we warmly invite you to come out for a walk, a hike, or a full backpack. We offer a wide variety of experiences, suitable for a wide range of interests and abilities. We begin the season with our Receiving Water/HIlls and Streams Hike on Saturday, March 25th, timed to coincide closely with the Spring Equinox.”

The Shogaku Institute will partner with attorney Carol Merchasin to offer a no charge, five-class workshop on Preventing Sexual Misconduct: Recognizing, Responding and Recovering. Carol brings legal expertise to prevention through policy and organizational structure designed for Buddhist communities. The Shogaku Zen Institute instructors (Daishin McCabe, Steve Kanji Ruhl, Steven Koshin Tierney and Myoan Grace Schireson) will offer training on creating healthy sangha dynamics through council training, communication, accountability and a recovery/healing process. Workshop participants may ask for a legal review of their community’s ethics/grievance policy (at no charge) by Carol and her assistant. Buddhist teachers, board members, sangha leaders, assistant teachers, and interested students are welcome to attend.  For more information or to register, email .

May we all be nourished by our connections with one another.