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28
Apr

Duncan Ryuken Williams and the May We Gather Memorial

Duncan Williams

Duncan Williams is a Soto Zen priest and the author of American Sutra, which tells of the internment of Japanese American Buddhists during WWII. He works closely with Tsuru for Solidarity, a nonviolent, direct action project of Japanese American social justice advocates working to end detention sites and support front-line immigrant and refugee communities that are being targeted by racist, inhumane immigration policies. He will be offering the online Dharma talk at San Francisco Zen Center on Sunday, May 2, 10 am PT.

Williams, along with co-organizers Chenxing Han and Funie Hsu, has been instrumental in organizing May We Gather, a national Buddhist memorial ceremony that will take place online on Tuesday, May 4 at 4 pm PT/7 pm ET. The ceremony marks the forty-nine day anniversary of the Atlanta shootings in which eight people, of whom six were of Asian descent, were killed, and arose in response to the need for mourning and renewal in the face of ongoing anti-Asian violence. Read more

26
Apr

Dario Girolami Organizes Buddhist Chaplains in Europe

Dario Girolamiby Tova Green

One of the activities that has engaged Dario Girolami, Abbot of Centro Zen l’Arco in Rome, during this year of the pandemic has been developing an organization for Buddhist chaplains in Europe. Dario received Dharma Transmission from Eijun Linda Cutts and practiced at Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center during his training.

The first event, sponsored by the European Buddhist Union, was a daylong online meeting on Sunday, April 25. This event brought together Buddhist chaplains from at least ten European countries. The chaplains serve in hospices, hospitals, prisons, and armies, all places of great trauma. They came together to talk about their experiences, create a network, share materials, and support one another in their roles. Read more

19
Apr

How a Zen Priest Contributed to the Oscar-Nominated Film “Soul”

Daijaku Kinst

Daijaku Kinst

by Tova Green

It is unusual to see the name of a Zen Buddhist teacher in the credits of a Disney/Pixar animated film. Many people have noticed Daijaku Kinst’s name at the end of Soul, a recent release that has been nominated for three Academy Awards. Daijuku is a Zen priest who trained at San Francisco Zen Center. She currently teaches at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS) in Berkeley and co-leads Ocean Gate Zen Center in Santa Cruz. I interviewed Daijaku to learn about her relationship to the film.

A December 2020 review in the New York Times by A.O. Scott describes Soul as “an inventive tale starring Jamie Foxx as a jazz musician caught in a world that human souls pass through on their way into and out of life, Soul tackles some of the questions that many of us have been losing sleep over since childhood. Why do I exist? What’s the point of being alive? What comes after? It’s rare for any movie, let alone an all-ages cartoon, to venture into such deep and potentially scary metaphysical territory.”

About four years ago Daijaku received a call in her office from Pixar asking if she would consult with them about a movie. They wouldn’t say how they found her or what the movie was about. When she visited Pixar in Emeryville, CA, she was invited into a large room with a storyboard on the wall. Peter Docker, the film’s director, and four or five other people were there. She found the staff humble, kind, gentle, welcoming, and really curious. They wanted to know about what Buddhist beliefs are concerning what happens after death. They were speaking with people from different faith traditions about this. The movie was still in the early stages of conception. Read more

12
Apr

A Time to Heal: An Interview with Jenée Johnson

Jenee Johnson

Photo Credit: Mindful Magazine

by Tova Green

“You can be authentic, grow yourself, and claim your right to flourish,” says Jenée Johnson, who will be offering A Time to Heal: Insights on the Path to Healing Racialized Trauma, a four-week online class beginning May 6.

The class will introduce participants to an understanding of trauma, investigate the culture of white supremacy, explore practices to cultivate response-ability and resilience, and engage in the power of envisioning. It will include meditation, music, journaling, and racial affinity break-out groups.

Jenée draws from several spiritual traditions in her approach to healing trauma, including mindfulness, HeartMath practices, Christ-centered ministry, and the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Read more