As Bay Area Covid-19 risk assessment tiers turn from orange (moderate) to yellow (minimal), the SFZC staff and leadership have been working to determine when the three temples can safely open to the public again. We have been hearing from people who are understandably eager to return to sitting in the zendo, listening to and being present for live Dharma talks, or dipping their feet into the cool waters of Tassajara Creek. They are wondering when they can return to the places that they love and find so nourishing and inspiring.
In the beginning of the pandemic, SFZC quickly assembled a Health & Safety Committee that met weekly to determine the best path forward. Today the committee consists of the Directors of City Center, Tassajara, and Green Gulch Farm, the SFZC President, and a group of medical professionals who have a better understanding of the latest thinking on the science behind the pandemic and its spread. It is this group that has been setting the policies and cadence of our opening plan and has been in on-going dialogue with the local county health departments.
By Tova Green
For Chenxing Han, the Month of May, which is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, has been bookended by two events, the May We Gather National Memorial Ceremony for Asian American Ancestors on May 4 and the Dharma talk she will be giving at City Center with Rev. Dana Takagi on May 29. She will also, with co-organizers Duncan Williams and Funie Hsu, be speaking about the May We Gather Memorial Ceremony in an online SFZC program on June 26.
Chenxing is the author of Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists published by North Atlantic Books in January 2021. Her articles have appeared in Buddhadharma, Journal of Global Buddhism, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, and elsewhere. She was formerly a Buddhist chaplain; after studying chaplaincy at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, she worked in spiritual care at a nearby community hospital.
In our interview, Chenxing spoke of the connections between her book, the May We Gather event, chaplaincy, and her upcoming Dharma talk at SFZC. Read more
By Tova Green
Pamela Ayo Yetunde, a Community Dharma Leader, Zen practitioner, chaplain, and author, was living in St. Paul when George Floyd was tortured and murdered. She experienced the unrest in the Twin Cities and elsewhere in the weeks and months after this event and paid close attention to the George Floyd/Derrick Chauvin trial in March. She was concerned that if Chauvin was found not guilty it would have serious repercussions for the safety of communities of color. She could not have just sat on her cushion without finding a way to respond.
Ayo, along with BIPOC Zen and Insight practitioners in the Twin Cities, founded Buddhist Justice Reporter: The George Floyd Trials to address the role Buddhists could play in criminal justice reform. This project is the focus of an online SFZC program Ayo is offering on Thursday, June 10, from 4 to 6 pm PT. She will engage participants in a discussion with an aspiration to tap into the compassionate and creative energies that already exist in Buddhist communities. Read more
During the last several months, the residential community at Tassajara has been very small. Yet the residents have maintained a daily schedule, and are following health and safety protocols.
While there won’t be a guest season this summer, Tassajara is accepting applications for a limited number of work practice summer students from May 4 to September 13. Unlike typical summers when they are assigned a specific crew, the work practice students will be working on a variety of different tasks.
Tassajara Director Goyo Piper says it will be most beneficial to have students join for the entire summer or for extended periods of a month or longer, although two-week stays are possible. There is no deadline to apply.
Tassajara will offer a Fall Practice Period led by Senior Dharma Teacher Ryushin Paul Haller, from September 13 to December 12.
The intense schedule and atmosphere of a traditional Zen Ango (Practice Period) support practitioners to go beyond their usual sense of self and enter the wide open life of the Buddha. Kindness and love for one another will be our watchwords as we negotiate the way together for these precious few months. Read more
by Tova Green
A line in the Sandokai (Harmony of Difference and Equality) of Sekito Kisen (700 – 790), one of Suzuki Roshi’s favorite poems, reads”the branching streams flow on in the dark.” Branching Streams has become the name for the network of Zen Centers and Sanghas in the United States and 9 in other countries in the Suzuki Roshi lineage.
These groups, which vary greatly in size, age, and location, are led by teachers who trained at San Francisco Zen Center and departed to found or to join fledgling Zen groups. The earliest are Bay Area groups: Berkeley Zen Center, founded by Sojun Mel Weitsman in 1967 in the attic of an old house, and Haiku Zendo Meditation Center, started by Suzuki Roshi in 1966 in a private home in Los Altos, which later became Kannon Do in Mountain View, led by Les Kaye. Read more
On Wednesday, April 21, in a ceremony at Green Dragon Temple/Green Gulch Farm, three initiates received the precepts and Dharma names from Tenshin Reb Anderson. Drew Schaffer was given the name Hi Ryu Zen Ho/Compassion Dragon, Complete Liberation; Sam Ridge was given the name Ho Ko Myo Chi/Dharma Light, Wondrous Wisdom; and Julian Minuzzo was given the name San Rai Shin Ki/Mountain Thunder, True Refuge. This is the second jukai initiation ceremony since the Covid-19 restrictions were put into place. The earlier ceremony was held outdoors and required social distancing and wearing masks; this one was also outdoors, but distancing and masks were not necessary.
Congratulations to the initiates! Read more