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Posts from the ‘Features’ Category


New Life for Suzuki Roshi’s Orchids

By Tova Green

Many residents of SFZC’s City Center go up to the roof to get a view of the city, find a quiet place to read, or to work out on the stationary bike. On the roof there are several beehives and a protected area with Suzuki Roshi’s orchids. 

These orchids were originally tended by Shunryu Suzuki, who lived at 300 Page Street from 1967, when San Francisco Zen Center acquired the building, until his death in 1971. We don’t know how many orchids there were initially, or how many times they have been divided and repotted over the last five decades but they have lived on the City Center roof all these years. They have been watered twice a month by a succession of Zen student gardeners, and have absorbed nourishment from the water and the moist air.

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Winter Storms Challenge Texas Zen Centers

[Photo credit: Tim Kroll]

by Tova Green

 In a winter when many regions of the United States have experienced fierce storms and freezing temperatures, last week’s extreme cold, snow, and freezing rain in Texas was unexpected and unprecedented. 

On Tuesday of this week, I noticed that Reirin Gumbel, Milwaukee Zen Center’s guiding teacher, posted her concerns about sanghas in Texas on the Soto Zen Buddhist Associations members’ forum. She wrote, “How are you doing in this weather? Are your centers safe? Thinking about all Texans and others in the South. We have a seemingly unending snowstorm here; but Milwaukee is ready for it.” 

This prompted me to reach out to Austin, Houston, and San Antonio Zen Centers, all members of Branching Streams, a group of sanghas in the Suzuki Roshi lineage. Read more


Intimate Discussions: An Interview with Sokaku Kathie Fischer

Kathie Fischer and her husband, Zoketsu Norman Fischer, will be co-leading an online intensive Intimate Discussions: On Dogen’s Zuimonki (March 2-20). She spoke with Sangha News about the text, the intensive, and the nature of teaching at a distance.

Sangha News: Thank you for speaking with us, Kathie. To begin, can you say a bit about the text, the Zuimonki? The translation of the term I found was something like “easy to understand.” Is that correct?

Kathie Fischer: I don’t know about the exact translation, but it is a text I’ve loved and studied for a long time, beginning when I was at Tassajara. A Primer of Soto Zen was an early English translation and I’ve gone back to it repeatedly over the years.
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A New Abbot for Old Plum Mountain Zen Center

By Tova Green

On January 31, 2021 Hozan Alan Senauke became the second Abbot of Old Plum Mountain Zen Center (usually called Berkeley Zen Center). The ceremony was held over Zoom and was attended by over 350 sangha members, Zen teachers, friends, and family from four continents and eight countries. This three-hour event could only have occurred with months of planning and many rehearsals, careful collaboration and coordination, much of it behind the scenes. 

The Mountain Seat Ceremony was the second of a pair of ceremonies. The first, held on October 24, 2020, was the Stepping Down of Berkeley Zen Center’s first Abbot and Founding Teacher, Sojun Mel Weitsman. Sojun died on January 7, 2021, and his absence was felt and noted at the Mountain Seat Ceremony. Read more


A Mural to Greet The New Dawn

Image by Nicole Hayden

By Tova Green

On the corner of Page and Laguna Streets in San Francisco, diagonally across from San Francisco Zen Center, is a corner building with a series of murals that wrap around the boarded-over windows. What unites the several panels is a stream of monarch butterflies, often seen in spring at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, one of SFZC’s three temples. As I walked across the street today I saw a woman on a ladder painting the newest image – a portrait of Amanda Gorman, who recited her poem “The Hill We Climb“ at President Joe Biden’s inauguration less than a week ago. Read more


Taking Refuge

2020 Year-End Campaign


It is the support of Dharma friends that encourages us as we walk the intimate path of awakening together. The refuge of Sangha is what helps us to carry on.
— Nancy Petrin, Head of Practice, Beginner’s Mind Temple

Thank you to those who contributed to our 2020 year-end campaign. This continuing support makes it possible for San Francisco Zen Center to provide refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha and to offer the practice and teachings of Zen.

We are honored to walk this path with you.

With gratitude,

Central Abbot Rinso Ed Sattizahn and President Sozan Miglioli

Image: Paula Pietranera


Statement on the January 6 attack on the U.S. Congress

The impact of the January 6 siege on Congress by a mob incited by the President of the United States continues to reverberate throughout the nation. San Francisco Zen Center condemns the violence that was perpetrated, mourns the loss of lives, and bears witness to the alarm, dismay, and anguish arising from the attack. Disagreements and protests are valid aspects of a free and open dialogue in a democracy; violence and intimidation are not.  

These recent attempts to subvert our democracy have been shocking and heartbreaking. They also highlight the stark contrast between the treatment of the predominantly White rioters and the protesters who assembled in support of Black lives over this past year. The roots of this inequity are found in the history of racism and injustice in the U.S., and are directly tied to the hatred and white supremacy that fueled last week’s insurrection. Read more


Remembering Kyoan Sandra Taylor

Kyoan Sandra Taylor began her study of Buddhism over 30 years ago in the Suzuki Roshi lineage at San Francisco Zen Center. She was ordained as a priest in 2003 with Zoketsu Norman Fischer and served on the board of SFZC. She was also the founder of Seattle Soto Zen.  

Sandy was asked to set up a Retirement Fund and Endowment Fund and chaired the Investment Committee overseeing the assets of both funds. Susan O’Connell, the Spiritual Director at Zen Inspired Senior Living Project says, “As a Board member Sandy devoted her financial skills towards helping Zen Center mature and find responsible ways to invest our funds at a time when we were not as organized around this important issue. I often think that the more detailed and value-aligned approach we now have was seeded by her work.” Read more


New Year’s Day Ceremony

By Catherine Spaeth

On the morning of the New Year, for the first time since the beginning of the Covid-19 protocols, City Center residents sat zazen, bowed, and chanted together in the temple building.  There was a sense of renewal as people, arranged six feet apart, bowed to their seats in the courtyard. Read more


Holiday Gifts for Clara House Children

Clara House, located just down Page Street from City Center, is a family shelter with which San Francisco Zen Center has been involved for many years. It has been our tradition for City Center to host a holiday party for the families where each child is given a gift that was selected, bought, and wrapped for him or her by a sangha member. Due to the shelter-in-place restrictions, we are unable to invite the children and their parents into the temple but we plan to still have a role in their holiday celebrations.

We are inviting 20 participants (individuals or groups), to purchase a $50 gift certificate for one of the families. The request, per discussion with the Clara House director, is that the certificates are from either Target or Visa, as these will give the parent a range of choices. Because the gift cards will be used to purchase holiday gifts for the children, we would like to have them ready to be delivered by November 30 at the latest.

If you would like to make a donation of a gift card, please contact Outreach Coordinator Jeffrey Schneider at Please DO NOT send a certificate until you have contacted him to confirm that there is still a need and that the total has not yet been reached.

Thank you for helping Outreach and City Center to make the holidays at Clara House merry and bright! Read more