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
by Tova Green
On March 21, a clear, cool Sunday morning, two residents of Green Dragon Temple (Green Gulch Farm) were ordained as priests by three preceptors: Abiding Abbess Fu Schroeder, Eijun Linda Cutts, the teacher for Kristin Diggs, and Tenshin Reb Anderson, the teacher for Valerian Hauffe. Read more
On most Saturday mornings, following morning zazen, a well-being service is offered at Beginnerâ€™s Mind Temple (and currently held online.) The purpose of the ceremony is to evoke compassion for people who are suffering in body or mind and includes the chanting the names of those who would benefit, such as someone who is ill, in pain, or experiencing a loss.Â
The names to be chanted are submitted by members of the sangha and the list is compiled by the Ino, the temple officer in charge of the meditation hall and ceremonies. A new protocol, which goes into effect on April 1, is that at the beginning of each month names will be removed unless the request for their inclusion is renewed.
Sangha News spoke with Kodo Conlin, the City Center Ino, about the well-being service. Read more
By Tova Green
For Paula Pietranera, a resident of San Francisco Zen Center, the pandemic began just as an exhibit of her paper folding art pieces and her sumi-e paintings was about to open at the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco. The exhibit was installed as the doors to the embassy were closing to the public. Paula wondered how to share her art work and connect with people.Â
â€œIt was a moment when people were struggling so much all over the world,â€ explains Paula.Â She has family in Argentina and Spain and was in touch with friends in Japan and other countries. â€œWe were all going through this pandemic together.â€Â Read more
Since 1994 Green Gulch Farm has welcomed those with an interest in both Zen practice and organic farming to live and work there as farm and garden apprentices. Some of the participants have remained in the community (for example, City Center Tanto/Head of Practice Nancy Petrin first encountered Zen though her apprenticeship) and others have gone on to share their practice and agricultural skills in the wider world. Read more
by Tova Green
Sowing the Moon Teahouse at Green Gulch Farm has resumed monthly Sunday afternoon tea gatherings through Zoom. For two decades, prior to Covid-19, Meiya Wender and her tea students had hosted Sunday teas in this teahouse built in the traditional Japanese style, within the enclosed space of a tea garden. During the past year, Meiya has been learning that it is possible to host tea gatherings virtually. She is looking forward to the first online Sunday Tea Gathering, onÂ 4/11 (sfzc.org)
I met with Meiya to learn about her path to becoming a tea teacher and to hear how it has been to practice tea during the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more
Statement from San Francisco Zen Center Leadership, in collaboration with the Central DEIA Committee and CAIC
With deep sorrow and grave concern, we acknowledge and bear witness to the alarming surge of hate crimes against Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities across the US and in the Bay Area since the start of the pandemic.
In 2020, Stop AAPI Hate recorded nearly 3,000 reports of incidents against Asian Americans nationwide, and there have been over 700 reported attacks on people of Asian descent in the Bay Area alone. We understand that these attacks are vastly underreported by the victims, often due to language and cultural barriers. These attacks of hateful speech and physical harassment include the deaths of two elderly men, as well as the vandalism and burning of a Buddhist temple in LA. Read more
By Tova Green
In the early weeks of 2020, Young Urban Zen (or YUZ), a practice group geared towards people aged 20-40, was filling the City Center Buddha Hall on Tuesday evenings with 90 to 110 participants each week. Many gathered in a cafe afterwards to continue conversations begun in the Buddha Hall and to socialize. Volunteers organized activities including hikes, work days at Green Gulch Farm, and Thanksgiving dinners. YUZ volunteers created a website in 2019. Pre-pandemic, YUZ had eleven dedicated volunteers Read more
By Tova Green
Thanks to Leslie James, Abiding Tassajara Teacher, Linda Galijan, former SFZC President now residing at Tassajara, and Goyo Piper, Tassajara Director, for speaking with me about how Tassajara is doing during the Covid-19 Pandemic and about plans to reopen for guests in 2022.Â
An expression that captures the spirit of life at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center during this winter of the Covid-19 Pandemic is the phrase â€œcontinuous practice.â€ Goyo and Linda commented on how â€œwe continue practicing here, regardless of the circumstances or the numbers.â€ They follow a schedule similar to the City Center schedule, working Monday through Friday with a half-day sit on Wednesday, and are off from Saturday afternoon through Sunday. Everyone is on the same schedule, which allows people to go meet or go on hikes together on days off.Â Read more
This is the time of year when many of you are looking for your Tassajara brochure in the mail, checking our website for opening dates, and setting aside time for your summer visit to Tassajara.
San Francisco Zen Centerâ€™s leadership, along with our Health & Safety Committee, have been meeting for months to discuss the question of opening Tassajara for the 2021 Summer Season. As you may imagine, Tassajara presents many unique and complex challenges in order to open safely during a pandemic. Read more