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Newsette 6-7-2022

June is Pride month, and Market Street in San Francisco is aglow with rainbow flags. Yesterday, Sunday June 5, I celebrated Pride by joining Santa Cruz Zen Center and Ocean Gate Zen Center at an “Out in Our Faith” interfaith service and marched with them in the Santa Cruz Pride Parade. Despite a steady drizzle bordering on a light rain, the streets were lined with people of all ages wearing rainbow shirts and scarves and waving rainbow flags as we walked by. It was joyful – in contrast to the sorrow of so many lives lost through gun violence in recent weeks.

The photo features Ocean Gate Zen Center’s “song-ha” performing at the Out in Our Faith service.

In response to recent events, Taigen Leighton wrote in Ancient Dragon Zen Gate’s June newsetter: “Our Soto Zen meditation and devotional practices and our strong teaching traditions of compassion and insight are more important than ever in our situation today. In last month’s message I spoke of supporting peace in the Ukraine. The courageous Ukrainian people still need and deserve peace. But now, after the horrifying mass murders of Black grandparents in Buffalo, and the mass murder of fourth grade children in Uvalde, Texas, we need to work for peace in the United States…This is not at all about “politics” but about basic human decency and ethics. We must speak out and oppose the purveyors of American mass murder.”

In recognition of the critical importance to the U.S. of the upcoming midterm elections, the Engaged Buddhist Election Retreat group (many are members of Berkeley Zen Center) is once again offering, in partnership with Vote Forward, a series of online letter writing retreats beginning Saturday, June 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. PDT. For more information, please go to the Election Retreat website.

Branching streams is about to launch a list-serve that will be available to readers of these Newsettes. You will more easily be able to share resources, request information from other sanghas, and work together on issues of mutual concern. I am working on the instructions for using the list-serve with Jon Voss, our Branching Streams webmaster, and we will share them with you soon.

Thank you to the sanghas who have sent their annual contributions, which are starting to trickle in. You can make an electronic payment on the Branching Streams website membership page. or send a check payable to San Francisco Zen Center, attention Tova Green, with your sangha’s name on the memo line, 300 Page Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.

Ian Case, Tanto of Brooklyn Zen Center, described his experience at the April Branching Streams Conference in Austin, TX in the BZC newsletter. Click on his comments to read more and to see some photos.

This summer many sanghas are offering sesshins, both indoors and outdoors, in person and online.

Houston Zen Center is offering a 5-day sesshin from Tuesday evening June 21 to Sunday June25, both in-person and via their cloud zendo. Deepen meditation practice and gather the mind during this 5-day intensive meditation practice led by Abbot Gaelyn Godwin and Shuso Sengetsu Tricia McFarlin.

Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham WA is having their annual sesshin on Sammish Island from June 20 to 26. All are welcome to join the sesshin dharma talks by Founding and Guiding teacher Zoketsu Norman Fischer and Guiding Teacher Nomon Tim Burkett by Zoom:
Samish Island Dharma Talks:

If you live in or near Chicago, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate is offering a three-day camping sesshin from July7 to 10 that will combine traditional Zen forms and Dharma teachings within the natural setting provided by Illinois Beach State Park.

As summer solstice approaches, may you find ways to enjoy the longer days, the shade of trees, the bright colors of flowers, and the sweetness of summer fruits.

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Newsette 5-25-2022

Many of you probably received the same message I did today from Siobhan Cassidy, Program Director at San Francisco Zen Center:

Tassajara began this summer season with much optimism and enthusiasm as we once again welcomed guests and students back to the valley. Sadly, we have had to make the very difficult decision this week to closeTassajara for the remainder of the summer. This means your sangha week is now cancelled, I am so sorry to have to deliver this news.

“There are many reasons why we’ve come to this decision, including several cases of Covid among the students, maintenance and supply chain problems, as well as severe staffing shortages and other complexities. Because of this, we are simply unable to provide our guests with the high level of care and attention that we want to offer while also taking care of our staff and students.

“This decision was not made lightly nor without much discussion. This is a very sad moment for all of us and we are deeply sorry for how this will affect your plans for the summer. In the middle of this constantly shifting, impermanent world, may you and all living beings everywhere be happy, peaceful, and free from suffering.”

I know that many of you were looking forward to being back at Tassajara with your sangha, had booked plane tickets, and made the necessary arrangements with family members and workplaces in order to go. This is especially disappointing, as Tassajara was closed for the last two summers due to the Covid pandemic. I share your grief, as I was planning to co-lead a LBGTQIA+ sangha week again this summer and a Zen and writing workshop.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to talk about how this is impacting you.

Many of you may also be grieving the shooting of ten African Americans in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York and the shooting of nineteen children and two teachers at an elementary school whose students and faculty are primarily Latinx in Uvalde, Texas.

Two Streams Zen in Western MA is mourning the Buffalo victims of racial violence with a 49-day remembrance. They will have an online community sitting and chanting for 7 consecutive Sundays, beginning May 29 through July 3 from 9 to 10 a.m. EDT. Here is the Zoom link.

At City Center we have had two memorial services this week for those who died in Buffalo and in Uvalde. Please let me know of ways in which you are responding to the cries of our world.

A friend sent me a poem by Kim Stafford today which I find encouraging and will share with you.

Advice from a Raindrop
by Kim Stafford

You think you’re too small
to make a difference? Tell me
about it. You think you’re
helpless, at the mercy of forces
beyond your control? Been there.

Think you’re doomed to disappear,
just one small voice among millions?
That’s no weakness, trust me. That’s
your wild card, your trick, your
implement. They won’t see you coming

until you’re there, in their faces, shining,
festive, expendable, eternal. Sure you’re
small, just one small part of a storm that
changes everything. That’s how you win,
my friend, again and again and again.

Kim Stafford, “Advice from a Raindrop” from Singer Come From Afar. Copyright © 2021 by Kim Stafford.

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Branching Streams Flow Together

Branching Streams group

Branching Streams 2022 participants

By Tova Green

Branching Streams, a network of over seventy Zen Centers and sanghas in the Shunryu Suzuki Roshi lineage, hosted biannual conferences prior to the Covid pandemic. The last conference was hosted by Milwaukee Zen Center in 2019. During the last two years the group had several “mini-conferences” via Zoom to maintain connections. It was very joyful to meet again in person April 25 – 29 at spacious Ancient Yoga Center near Austin, Texas.

The conference was hosted by Austin Zen Center. There were 40 participants from 20 Branching Streams sanghas from all corners of the U.S., Vancouver, and Berlin. The Conference theme, Healing Relationships, was intended to provide opportunities to connect with ourselves, one another, and our planet after two challenging years. A program committee of seven sangha leaders met monthly for nearly a year to plan the program, and a local committee of Austin Zen Center staff and members worked on the logistics.

Several attendees wrote about the conference in their recent sangha newsletters.

Eden Kevin Heffernan, leader of the Richmond, VA Zen Group, noted, “In addition to spending time with old and new friends from other Zen sanghas in our Suzuki Roshi lineage, the program included three powerful workshops: Healing Circles, introduced by Jaune Evans, The Work That Reconnects led by Stephanie Kaza, and From Deep Places, a writing workshop with Naomi Shihab Nye. We learned a lot and were vivified by everyone who attended.”

Hakusho Ostlund and Reirin Gumbel

Upon returning to Brattleboro, Vermont, Hakusho Ostlund wrote: “Other than the heart-to-heart connections, what was moving to me was to get to experience how many others are making efforts such as ours, establishing and caring for a community of Zen practitioners, training in forms and ceremonies, and extending practice and care beyond the realms of the temple. Though all Sanghas faced unique challenges during the pandemic (several lost their physical meeting spaces), my sense was of a vitality of practice as new and creative ways for practicing together have emerged.”

Reirin Gumbel, guiding teacher of Milwaukee Zen Center, wrote: “This year’s theme, Healing Relationships, seemed to be poignant for our time of enforced separation and estrangement on many levels. The Branching Streams program committee and the Austin Zen Center local logistics committee had been spending many hours over the last two years to finally come together again in person and enjoy live workshops that were heartwarming, enlightening and fun, and to experience the intimacy of sangha again every morning and evening during zazen and service.”

Inryu Ponce-Barger, guiding teacher of All Beings Zen Center in Washington, DC compiled a Gatha from words of participants, which she read during the closing portion of the conference.

May we together with All Beings
Cultivate broad view
Reaffirm connection
Remember the beauty of the sound we make together
Look after our new friends and old friends
Keep the vitality we feel
and be encouraged for the benefit of All Beings in the Ten Directions.

Affiliated Sanghas who attended the Conference: All Beings Zen (Washington, DC), Ancient Dragon Zen Gate (Chicago, IL), Austin Zen Center (Austin, TX), Akazienzendo (Berlin, Germany), Berkeley Zen Center (Berkeley, CA), Brattleboro Zen Center (Brattleboro, VT), Brooklyn Zen Center (Brooklyn, NY), Everyday Zen Foundation (SF Bay Area and beyond), Heart of Compassion (Pt. Reyes, CA), Houston Zen Center (Houston, TX), Mid-City Zen (New Orleans, LA), Middle Way Zen (San Jose, CA), Milwaukee Zen Center (Milwaukee, WI), Mountain Rain Zen Community (Vancouver, B.C.), Richmond Zen (Richmond, VA), San Antonio Zen Center (San Antonio, TX), San Francisco Zen Center (San Francisco, CA), Santa Cruz Zen Center (Santa Cruz, CA), Tuscaloosa Zen (Tuscaloosa, AL), Zen Center North Shore (Beverly, MA).

Program Committee Members: Choro Antonaccio (Austin Zen Center), Teresa Bouza (Kannon Do Zen Center), Jaune Evans (Heart of Compassion and Everyday Zen), Douglas Floyd (Ancient Dragon Zen Center), Reirin Gumbel (Milwaukee Zen Center), Michael Newton (Mountain Rain Zen Center), Inryu Ponce-Barger (All Beings Zen), and Tova Green, Branching Streams Liaison.

Austin Zen Center Logistics Committee (LOCO): Choro Antonaccio, Karen Laing, Wendy Salome, Pat Yingst, with support from Head Teacher Mako Voelkel and staff members Jess Engle and Maida Barbour.David Z, Tova G, Sozan M

David Zimmerman, Tova Green, and Sozan Miglioli attended from SFZC

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Newsette 5-16-2022

I rewrote my brief report on the Branching Streams Conference for SFZC’s Sangha News. It was published today with a few photos. It also includes a list of participating sanghas, the members of the Conference Program Committee and the local Austin Logistics Committee and staff who wonderfully supported the conference. We have already begun to discuss the timing and location of our next Conference! Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

I am making my first request of 2022 for your annual contribution to Branching Streams. Here’s the link to the Branching Streams website membership page. You can make an electronic payment on that page (the amount depends on the size of your sangha) or send a check payable to San Francisco Zen Center, with your sangha’s name on the memo line, 300 Page Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.

Some offerings and news that may be of interest to you:

Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago is offering an online seminar by Taigen Leighton, their guiding teacher, on Dogen’s Extensive Record, Eihei Koroku on Saturday, May 21 from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. CDT. Taigen will introduce the text and will discuss selected excerpts from it. For more information, contact info@ancientdragon.org.

On May 28 Austin Zen Center will have a ceremony for Unzan Doshin, Mako Voelkel, upon the occasion of her stepping down as Head Teacher. A reception will follow the ceremony, “an opportunity to express our profound gratitude and well wishes to Mako for her many years of guiding the AZC sangha and strongly supporting practice in the lineage of Suzuki Roshi.”Read  More & Register.

There will be an online Jizo Ceremony for Those Who Have Died on June 5 from 2 to 5 p.m. PDT led by Chris Fortin, Founding and guiding teacher of Dharma Heart Zen in Sonoma County CA and Jennifer Block, Interfaith Minister and Buddhist Chaplain. “Jizo fearlessly shepherds those who are crossing realms: from life into death, from birth into life, from a place of the known into the unknown.  In this ceremony, we will draw upon the power of Jizo as we turn fully towards the deep process of grieving and letting go of loved ones who have died.”

Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver will hold an in-person Mountains and Waters Sesshin July 22 -`29, led by their guiding teachers Michael Newton and Kate McCandless. “After two pandemic year of being unable to practice together in this way, we are happy to offer this retreat again in the beautiful setting of Sea to Sky Retreat Centre, on the shores of Daisy Lake.” Registration details online.

Inryu Ponce-Barger, guiding teacher of All Beings Zen Sangha in Washington, DC, was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal in a review of an exhibit called “Mind over Matter: Zen in Medieval Japan” at the Freer Gallery of Art. Inryu was invited to write commentaries from her perspective as a Zen priest, on some of the works of art displayed in the exhibit.

May you be supported by our shared practice and by the colors of leafing trees and blossoming buds.

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Newsette – 5-9-2022

I returned from the Branching Streams Conference over a week ago, and it has been difficult to write this Newsette, to convey the richness of the experience of being together with forty of you in person at a spacious retreat center near Austin, Texas. Several people who attended the Conference did write about it in their sangha newsletters and I will quote several of them.

I want to thank Austin Zen Center for hosting the conference, and for the generous and warm-hearted support of spiritual leaders Mako Voelkel and Choro Antonaccio, the AZC staff, residents, board members,  and wider sangha for attending to the myriad details and hosting a reception at Austin Zen Center after the Conference.

During the Conference, SFZC’s City Center Abiding Abbot announced that Mako will become the next City Center Abiding Abbot in spring of 2023. All three of SFZC’s Abbatial leaders will change at that time, as David will move to the position of Central Abbot, Jiryu Rutschman-Byler will become the Green Gulch Farm Abiding Abbot, and Ed Sattizahn and Fu Schroeder will step down after many years of service.

The basic facts: there were 40 participants from 20 Branching Streams sanghas from all corners of the U.S., Vancouver, and Berlin. The Conference theme, Healing Relationships, was intended to provide opportunities to connect with ourselves, one another, and our planet after two challenging years.

Quoting Eden Kevin Heffernan, leader of the Richmond VA Zen Group, “In addition to spending time with old and new friends from other Zen sanghas in our Suzuki Roshi lineage, the program included three powerful workshops: Healing Circles, introduced by Jaune Evans, The Work That Reconnects led by Stephanie Kaza, and From Deep Places, a writing with Naomi Shihab Nye. We learned a lot and were vivified by everyone who attended.”

Upon returning to Brattleboro, Vermont, Hakusho Ostlund wrote: “With the Brattleboro Zen Center the newest Sangha represented at the conference, I was eager to learn more about how other Zen centers have established themselves in their communities, how they handle administrative responsibilities and leadership structures, what their physical zendos are like, how they’ve navigated the pandemic, etc, etc. Though the program for the conference had been well crafted by the planning committee, it was always the relationships and strengthening of supportive networks that attracted me to attend. I have to confess that the joy I experienced of practicing with old Dharma friends and meeting new ones (especially after two years of limited physical contact with other practitioners) was such that I neglected to seek answers to many of the questions that I arrived with. What is the best place to buy a mokugyo (wooden drum) from? I’ll be connecting with the people I was with in the weeks and months ahead to try to find the answer to my questions.

“Other than the heart-to-heart connections, what was moving to me was to get to experience how many others are making efforts such as ours, establishing and caring for a community of Zen practitioners, training in forms and ceremonies, and extending the realm of practice and care beyond the realms of the temple. Though all Sanghas faced unique challenges during the pandemic (several lost their physical spaces of practice), my sense was of a vitality of practice as new and creative ways for practicing together have emerged.”

Reirin Gumbel, guiding teacher of Milwaukee Zen Center, wrote: “This year’s theme, Healing Relationships, seemed to be poignant for our time of enforced separation and estrangement on many levels. The Branching Streams  program committee and the Austin Zen Center local logistics committee had been spending many hours over the last two years to finally come together again in person and enjoy live workshops that were heartwarming,  enlightening and fun, and to experience the intimacy of sangha again every morning and evening during zazen and service.”

Inryu Ponce-Barger, guiding teacher of All Beings Zen Center in Washington, DC compiled a Gatha from words of participants, which she read during  the closing portion of the conference.

May we together with All Beings

Cultivate broad view

Reaffirm connection

Remember the beauty of the sound we make together

Look after our new friends and old friends

Keep the vitality we feel

and be encouraged for the benefit of All Beings in the Ten Directions.

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Newsette – 4-19-2022

“In the face of impermanence and death, it takes courage to love the things of this world and to believe that praising them is our noblest calling.”

― Joanna Macy, from A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke

The quote above appeared in Richmond Zen’s recent newsletter.

Sanghas in many places are celebrating Earth Month and Earth Day (April 22) in unique ways, some of them involving their wider communities.

Richmond (VA) Zen Center members gathered on April 16 in a local park where they planted trees in November 2019. After sitting with all beings, they chanted the Heart Sutra and shared poems. The invitation was to “bring a favorite poem that speaks to you of our inextricable bonds with the planet that supports us.”

Members of Houston Zen Center (TX) painted on the sidewalk, and a beautiful Buddha emerged. Via Colori supports Houston’s Institute for Spirituality and Health. During the event on April 2-3, local artists, underwritten by sponsors such as Houston Zen Center, paint squares of the plaza or sidewalk in front of the old main post office building. You can view photos of their creation here.

Brattleboro (VT) Zen Center’s Eco-sattva group meets twice a month. The group’s purpose is three-fold: to support the individual environmental work of each member, to review what we might take on as a group, and to provide support for other groups.  Topics of discussion are broad and range from social justice to light pollution to civil disobedience action. 

The group has collected signatures for 350.org, and hosts a silent meditation for the earth and all beings every Saturday in downtown Brattleboro. This month the group will participate in 350.org‘s Earth Day event in Brattleboro on 4/22, by sitting in silent meditation and then marching in the parade.

Jeff Bickner, a Senior Dharma Teacher at Everyday Zen Foundation in the SF Bay Area, gave a lecture in a public health course at U.C. Berkeley on Faith and Sustainability on April 4 to 280 students.

On Saturday April 23, members of Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver, BC will walk together in silent witness to Trans Mountain’s oil storage facility on Burnaby Mountain. They will “mindfully walk along the gentle footpath that borders six hundred meters of the Federal Government’s facility. In this walk we honour the spring, its creatures (including us), and our hope that soon the storage facility will shrink, rather than expand, as now planned by the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.”

Mountain Rain is also organizing a two-week Earth Care Market, with a focus on “gently used books, crafts, and art.” Proceeds from the market will be donated to the Circle of Eagles Society, which “supports Indigenous Brothers and Sisters leaving federal institutions and those dislocated from society to reintegrate into Community by providing wholistic services and culturally safe spaces.”

Alan Senauke, Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center, writes: “Berkeley Zen Center is beginning to explore principles and plans for environmental sustainability as a practice place. If you have established protocols and policies, can you share them with me at asenauke@gmail.com ?”

There are so many ways in which we can express our connection to planet Earth and all beings!

Mid City Zen in New Orleans, in partnership with the Jumpslide Artist/Activist Residency, is welcoming a guest teacher (or teachers) to New Orleans this June and July to help support our sangha in terms of practice and organization, and also enter into conversation with our sangha and our city around the many topics unique and amazing to this place (from social justice and climate change to music and masking). We are currently without a resident priest and are a peer-led sangha (with lots of help from supporting priests). We have a lovely zendo and currently offer zazen 3 mornings a week and have a Sunday morning program that includes beginner instruction, service, 2 periods of zazen, and study group. We can offer free housing (the main Jumpslide house), use of a car, and a small honorarium of $50/wk up to $200, and people can stay longer than 4 weeks if they like. Please contact Jon Voss at jon.voss@midcityzen.org if you’re interested.

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Newsette – April 11, 2022

This month is both Earth Month and National Poetry Month. If you enjoy poetry, you may wish to participate in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 29th.

I’m reminded of a short poem by Jane Hirshfield, which Austin Zen Center has printed on the back of their t-shirt:

            Everything changes

            Everything is connected.

            Pay attention.

Gaelyn Godwin, Abbess of Houston Zen Center, is updating her presentation on Soto Zen in the U.S., which she showed at the 2019 Branching Streams Conference and will be showing at this month’s conference in Austin. She is requesting photos of your meeting places, in particular:

  • Several outdoor photos of your place
  • Several photos of a ceremony or gathering of members

Please send them to gaelyngodwin@gmail.com, and, if you would, copy me at branchingstream@sfzc.org so we can include some photos on the Branching Streams website.

Earth Month: Please let me know of any teachings or programs that your sangha is offering related to Earth Month, which I will feature in next week’s Newsette.

You may be interested in a rare brief online training on social and environmental transformation with Joanna Macy, supported by Stephanie Kaza, and Wendy Johnson. offered by Upaya Zen Center on May 15 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 Mountain Daylight Time. The training is free and donations are welcome.

Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center in Mountain View, CA has two offerings for Branching Streams sangha members: a free downloadable printable image of the precepts  and Kannon Do’s Oryoki Instruction pamphlet prepared by Les Kaye. The dual interpretation of the Buddhist precepts offered through their website was created by Kobun Chino, the first teacher at Kannon Do, and Les Kaye, the current abbot. Kobun contributed the traditional, prohibitory precepts in green, while Les provided the updated version in black, representing how practice needs to be expressed in the modern world.

This week ends with Good Friday, Passover, and Easter, opportunities to celebrate life and renewal in a country and world in which there is so much suffering.

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Newsette 4-5-2022

I’m looking forward to the Branching Streams Conference, hosted by Austin Zen Center at Ancient Yoga Center in the Texas hill country, April 25 – 28. Forty people have registered. We will accept late registrations until April 10. Here is the link for more information and the registration form.

Many of you have written about the ways in which you will gather to enjoy Buddha’s Birthday, celebrated by Buddhists throughout the world this month:

Zen Heart Sangha in Woodside, CA, celebrated Buddha’s Birthday on April 1st and 2nd this year with a hybrid retreat.  (Friday on-line, Saturday in-person and on-line).

Santa Cruz Zen Center (CA) had a Buddha’s Birthday Ceremony and Celebration on April 3, which will be followed by a 4-day in-person sesshin April 7–10. (photo from Santa Cruz ZC).

On Saturday April 9 from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. Berkeley Zen Center will “follow the Japanese tradition of symbolically bathing the baby buddha represented by a small statue ensconced in a flower-covered bower.” Their ceremony with be in the courtyard following a short talk by Abbot Hozan Senauke.

Also on April 9, at 12:15 p.m. Austin Zen Center (TX) members will listen to a short reading of the story of the Buddha’s birth before circumambulating and bathing the baby Buddha with sweet tea in his flower pagoda, all while chanting the Shin Gyo and strewing flower petals! This ceremony will be in-person and outdoors.

On April 10 from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Mountain Rain Zen Community invites members to come and help decorate a flower pavilion for the baby Buddha, hear the story of the Buddha’s birth, and join in the ceremony of washing the baby Buddha. Tea and Buddha’s birthday cake to follow.  In Japan, Buddha’s Birthday is called Hana Matsuri, Flower Festival. This year our celebration coincides with the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s Sakura Days Japan Fair at Van Dusen Gardens. Sangha members are welcome to attend and meet up there after morning practice. 

Valley Streams Zen Sangha in Sacramento, CA is hosting a Buddha’s Birthday celebration and picnic on Saturday, April 16, 10:30 to 2 p.m.Join Valley Streams Zen Sangha and our families in the Lumbini-like grove of oaks and sycamore trees along the American River for a celebration of Buddha’s birth and a remembrance of his mother, Queen Maya. We will bathe the baby Buddha and read Norman Fischer’s wonderful Buddha’s Birthday poem/play, followed by a picnic.” Families are invited.

Houston Zen Center (TX) notes thatShakyamuni Buddha was born nearly 2645 years ago, in about 623 b.c.e., in Lumbini in Northern India. On April 17 at 11:30AM, after the dharma talk, they will celebrate the birth of Shakyamuni Buddha. The ceremony includes birthday cake.

On another note, you may be interested in a class offered by the Shogaku Institute, a Soto Shu dharma talk, and news of a possible Zen-inspired senior living community in Southern California.

The Shogaku Institute (SZI) is offering an online 3-session class in Preventing and Addressing Sexual Misconduct in Zen Communities on May 13, 20, and 27 from 12 noon to 2 p.m. PDT. SZI has licensed Faith Trust Institute materials and has received a grant to offer this class with psychologist and Zen teacher Grace Schireson and attorney Carol Merchasin to address specific situations in our communities. The class is offered by donation. Here is the link for more information.

Gyokei Yokoyama from the Soto Zen Buddhism North America Office asked me to spread the word about a Dharma Talk with Rev. Kosai Ikeda. Rev. Kosai is one of the so-called Tokufa Fukyoshi, a special delegate from Soto shu.Rev. Kosai will speak on the Special Dissemination of Soto Zen Buddhism on May 12, 2022 at 6:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89830305254
Meeting ID: 898 3030 5254

Zen-Inspired Senior Living Community in Southern California: As you may already know, San Francisco Zen Center, in partnership with Kendal Corp (a Quaker-based nonprofit senior living community developer) has been creating a new paradigm for aging – a Zen-Inspired Senior Living Community. “Our initial offering, Enso Village, will be opening in summer of 2023. Because of its success, we are welcoming input on a potential 2nd site in Southern California. If you think this might be of interest to people in your sangha, please feel free to share this link to a short, 5 minute survey: http://www.promatura.net/survey/sfzc.htm. The link will be live until mid April. 

May this Newsette find you in good health and good spirits.

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Newsette 3-28-2022

Emerging from sesshin, messages from Branching Streams friends heightened my awareness of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Bernd Bender, guiding teacher of Akazienzendo in Berlin, wrote, “Here in Berlin, the war feels very close. Every day, hundreds of refugees arrive. Akazienzendo was offered a large, empty apartment for one year to give people from the Ukraine a home. With a small group of people from the zendo, we worked hard to furnish it and make it welcoming, so that people can feel safe there and start to heal. Last weekend, a family of five moved in; a woman with a child will possibly join them soon.”

Hozan Alan Senauke, Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center sent the following:

Dear Friends, If you are able to address the daunting humanitarian needs flowing from the invasion of Ukraine, please see the attached message from Zen friends in Poland. Their Paypal link and bank transfer information are near the end of the attached document. If you wish to make a U.S. tax-deductible donation, feel free to send funds through Clear View Project, noting on your check or Paypal that your donation is  designated to humanitarian aid for Ukraine. https://www.clearviewproject.org/support/

I’m including a message from David Treleaven, author of Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness, on Trauma-Informed Resources for Ukraine, as some of you may have sangha members from Ukraine or who have family members or friends there. “Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost one month ago, some of you have requested TSM resources to support those directly impacted by the conflict, including humanitarian workers. One of the best documents I’ve seen so far is “Mental Health and Psychosocial Support • Humanitarian Response in Ukraine and Neighbouring Countries” which includes resources in English, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, and Ukrainian.:

If those of you in Europe are interested in David Treleaven’s work, he will be offering Trauma-Sensitive workshops in May and June in Germany, Switzerland, Ireland ,and the UK, including an advanced weekend with the Oxford Mindfulness Center also available online. Here are the dates (with registration links):

May 21st-22nd • Berlin, Germany
May 28th-29th • Zurich, Switzerland
June 3rd-5th • Freiburg, Germany
June 10th-12th • Cork, Ireland
June 25th-26th • Oxford, UK (in-person and online)

In the U.S., several sanghas are offering new programs:

Brooklyn Zen Center is offering a new online 8-week class on the Samdhinirmocana Sutra, a central text of the Yogacara tradition, beginning April 5 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. EST, taught by Ian Case and Jefre Cantu.

At Houston Zen Center, Yuho Wade Maggert will teach How to Be a Buddhist, a six-week class beginning April 26from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. CST. This class is an integration of both book study and practical application. This class will thoughtfully examine and discuss the texts: The Way of the Bodhisattva by Santideva and Entering the Mind of Buddha: Zen and the Six Heroic Practices of Bodhisattvas by Tenshin Reb Anderson.

Chapel Hill Zen Center is hosting an in-person sesshin led by Daitatsu Tom Wright from Friday night June 10 to Wednesday, June 15. Daitsu Roshi, who will be traveling from Hawaii to lead the sesshin, will speak on his understanding of zazen practice and the connection between zazen and daily life, as informed by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, as well as the role of the bodhisattva.

In closing, here is a message from The SZBA Board of Directors and the SZBA DEIA Committee: “The application deadline for the Soto Zen Buddhist Association BIPOC Scholarship Fund is Thursday, March 31st. BIPOC SZBA members, and BIPOC students of SZBA members are welcome to apply for funds to support their Zen practice including events, classes, conferences, retreats, and travel costs. We ask that you share this message with your students and sangha members as well. “This year, we have $4,000 available to BIPOC members and encourage you to apply for grants that do not exceed $350 so that we are able support as many BIPOC members and their BIPOC students as possible. To apply, please send your application to info@szba.org by March 31.” 

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Newsette 3-15-2022

Today, March 15, is the deadline to register for the Branching Streams Conference hosted by Austin Zen Center at Ancient Yoga Center near Austin, TX from April 25 to 28. We invite you and your sangha members to our first in-person gathering since Fall 2019. The conference theme is Healing Relationships. Here is the link for more information and the registration form.

Whether or not you plan to attend the conference, there is still time for you to make a short video about what supported you during the pandemic, which Teresa Bouza will weave into a video of many voices and images. Teresa writes: “We would like to know how you kept practice alive and in what ways practice was supportive during this challenging time. We invite you to record a short video or audio clip with your cellphone and share it with me ( tbouza@gmail.com ) by March 21st. If you have any questions, please contact Teresa.

Many of us are deeply concerned about the war in Ukraine. Zen Center North Shore’s recent newsletter features an interview with Emily Dashawetz, a Zen student whose family is Ukranian. This interview is also posted on the Branching Streams website.

Les Kaye, the Abbot of Kannon Do Zen Center in Mountain View, CA wrote a letter to his sangha in which he encourages us to stand up with Ukraine. He writes, “Although we cannot personally stand alongside people in Ukraine on their soil, we can join them in their fight against ignorance and injustice wherever we are right now…We can join in spiritual solidarity…and if an appeal or opportunity on behalf of them comes to us, we can respond with a generous mind.”

Duncan Williams, author of American Sutra, is hosting an event at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, CA, virtually and in-person Saturday, April 2, 2022|5:00 PM-6:30 PM Pacific Time: Interlinking Past and Present: A Conversation and Reading about Race, Religion, and American Belonging in conjunction with the Sutra and Bible exhibit. The exhibit which depicts the role of faith in the Japanese American incarceration, is open until November 27.

The change to Daylight Savings time in many states, the approach of the Spring Equinox. and budding or blossoming trees alert us to the change of seasons. May Spring bring renewed energy to all of us.