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December 1, 2016

3

Not Harming and Doing Good (in the Long Now)

A Statement from the Abbatial Leadership of San Francisco Zen Center

 

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We, as the abbatial leaders, would like to express our gratitude for the many expressions of appreciation and concern that we have heard since putting out our post-election statement calling for unity, mutual respect, and loving-kindness. Thank you. The true body and mind of San Francisco Zen Center are made up of all of us together who care about this community and the world.

 

San Francisco Zen Center Sangha members have expressed many positions, all of which we appreciate and welcome. Examples of these are in the comments section of our Post-Election Statement, and others can be found here and here. The wider Buddhist community has also expressed a diversity of viewpoints, for example, those found here and here.  We have also shared some of our own further thoughts publicly in Dharma talks at Green Gulch Farm, City Center, and Tassajara — the audio recordings of some of those are in our Dharma Talk Archives, and others will be available in the coming weeks.  We are energized by and appreciative of this broad conversation.

 

We would specifically like to acknowledge the heartfelt concerns that our initial statement did not strongly enough reiterate our community’s values of diversity, inclusion, and environmental stewardship, and our commitment to San Francisco Zen Center being a safe space for all people who seek the Dharma. While we acknowledge a range of political positions and worldviews in our Sangha, hateful speech and hateful acts are not tolerated at SFZC. We will continue as a Sangha to work on diversity and inclusion, environmental justice, and other issues.

 

In our “Post-Election Statement,” we proposed non-reactiveness — a pause, to remind ourselves of what we stand for and what we sit for. And now? How shall we act? We don’t need to know the full answer. Our resolution, though, is clear: to act for the benefit of all beings, for human rights and dignity, and for care of the planet and all its inhabitants.

 

We sincerely invite further discussion of the role of SFZC post-election, whether in the comments section of this post, with the other comments on the last post, or in person.

 

Eijun Linda Cutts, SFZC Central Abbess,
Rinso Ed Sattizahn, City Center Abbot,
Furyu Nancy Schroeder, Green Gulch Farm ZC Abbess,
and Ryushin Paul Haller, Urban Dharma Teacher

 

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(Photos: Teaching Stick by Florian Brody, In the Kaisando with Suzuki Roshi by Shundo David Haye)

 

_______________________________________

A Post-Election Statement from the Abbatial Leadership

(published on November 10, 2016)

 

“Even if the sun rises in the west
the Bodhisattva has only one way.”
– Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

 

There was a wonderful moment near the conclusion of one of the Presidential debates. When, after countless harsh criticisms and accusations, the candidates were asked to say something complimentary about each other. They paused, the world of political rivalry stopped spinning, and then they both expressed words of praise for their fellow presidential candidate. Then politics whirled back into action, bitter and acrimonious.
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Today our country feels divided into red and blue, success and failure, and we wait with hope or dread for what will unfold. Yet, in the midst of division, we can pause and realize the undivided US and let it instruct us on how to move forward together. How often powerful moments are a mix of opportunity and danger.

May this election and all that it might bring be an opportunity for each of us to rediscover our all-inclusive vow of practice that isn’t swayed by the winds of change. May our perspective and actions not be defined by the fearful dictates of animosity and division.

May this election and all that it might bring be an opportunity for each of us to rediscover our all-inclusive vow of practice that isn’t swayed by the winds of change. May our perspective and actions not be defined by the fearful dictates of animosity and division.

May all beings be free from suffering and realize the liberation of awakening.

Eijun Linda Cutts, SFZC Central Abbess,
Rinso Ed Sattizahn, City Center Abbot,
Furyu Nancy Schroeder, Green Gulch Farm ZC Abbess,
and Ryushin Paul Haller, Urban Dharma Teacher

(Photo: Detail from photo of Suzuki Roshi at Tassajara in 1967. Photographer unknown.)

______________________________

The leadership offers this poem by William Stafford.

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dike.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider —
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

 

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. sara poggi davis
    Dec 2 2016

    i appreciate your consideration of the impact of your post-election statement and am encouraged your receptive and thoughtful response.
    i wish to share a resource that might help us collectively wrap our minds around the basic questions you raised:
    “and now? how shall we act?”
    i am looking forward to working together more closely.
    http//leadwithlove.vision/
    warmly bowing,
    sara poggi davis
    green gulch farmer

    Reply
  2. Shannon Bryant
    Dec 4 2016

    Dear Abbatial Leadership,

    It is encouraging that you are offering a response to the feedback that you received regarding your initial statement in response to the election. It shows that you are actually listening to the community which you represent. But it appears from this second statement that you are only listening.
    When I read the statement “San Francisco Zen Center Sangha members have expressed many positions, all of which we appreciate and welcome” I expected you to demonstrate how the feedback from the community had changed your initial response to the election. But as I read on I saw no evidence of change.
    I ask that you clarify how the feedback from the community affected your response. As it stands it seems that it did not change you: your response to the election appears the same. This leads people to believe that though you appreciate and welcome feedback you do not use it to inform your practice nor do you see it as equal in validity to your own opinions and beliefs. I don’t think this is the message you intended with this statement.

    Sincerely,
    Shannon Bryant

    Reply
  3. Dec 7 2016

    In my mind I see appropriate response as appropriate action. This is preceeded by contemplation of wholesome View (as informed by 4 truths recognized by noble ones), wholesome Intention and wholesome Speech. Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path is an advanced teaching given to create greater alignment of body, mind and speech. All mis-action and reactiveness come from misalignment.

    Reply

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