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Posts tagged ‘SF Zen Center’


Meet Sozan Miglioli, SFZC’s New President

Sozan MiglioliInterview by Tova Green

Sozan Miglioli became San Francisco Zen Center’s President in January 2021, after serving as Vice President for several years. In this interview he spoke of his vision and priorities for his new role.

Sozan sees that “the world is going through a deep spiritual crisis.” When he was invited by the SFZC Board of Directors to take the President position he felt a deep sense of responsibility and also an opportunity to keep deepening his bodhisattva vows. He has asked, regarding SF Zen Center, “What does it mean to be one of the leading Buddhist organizations in the Western hemisphere in the 21st century, and what does it mean in this time, which is marked by a lot of suffering and division?”

Sozan’s focus as President is to keep making SFZC relevant and accessible for the wider community while ensuring that it is internally sustainable, inclusive, and diverse. By accessible, he means that what we offer must be relevant, although this might look different for different people.

“It’s important to find the connection between tradition and skillful means, between the teachings of Suzuki Roshi and understanding what touches people’s lives today. Both communication and deep listening are essential, opening the channel both ways—communicating what we have to offer in a skillful way and listening. Being accessible means that what we offer is available, approachable, people can relate to it. Zoom offerings bring a new light to the meaning of accessible, making it possible for people to participate in zazen, classes, and workshops who live at a distance from the Bay Area, or who are unable to come to the centers for health or other reasons.

“As we move out of Covid, we are asking how we can keep nourishing all the new connections we’ve made in this time of the pandemic. During this time many people have started asking basic questions, such as ‘What is really important?’ This pandemic has changed people’s personal lives. It is important both for individuals and for the organization to stay close to this question.” Read more


Assessing Risk as SFZC Slowly Reopens

Buddhas and grass

by Tova Green

The SFZC Health and Safety committee was formed soon after the pandemic began. Initially it consisted of the SFZC President and the directors of City Center, Green Gulch Farm, and Tassajara. The committee began reaching out by email to Michael Gelfond and Grace Dammann, both longtime Zen students, for medical advice when questions came up in their meetings. The committee soon began to regularly include the two physicians in their meetings. At first the committee met twice a week; now it meets weekly.

Michael and Grace, who are both retired clinicians, also regularly consult with other physicians on behalf of the H&S committee, including Rick Levine, Frances Herb, Andrea Thach, Robert Brody, and Neal Halfon, all of whom have long relationships with SFZC and Zen practice.

I spoke with Michael Gelfond regarding SFZC’s reopening to the public.

Michael said, “We are trying to negotiate the reopening as safely as possible—and there’s a lot that is not yet known about this pandemic. We’ve all tried hard for fifteen months to provide as close as we could to 100% protection for SFZC residents. We really want to open the doors of the temples but want to do it in a way that protects both the physical health and the sense of safety of the people who live in them.”

City Center, Green Gulch Farm, and Tassajara are not simply religious institutions like churches, Michael noted, because they are places where residents live and many of those residents are in high-risk health categories. The world is in a dynamic state with respect to the pandemic.  Some factors are not completely understood or may be changing, for example: How well are vaccinated people protected from new variants? Is it possible for vaccinated people to transmit the virus to those who are unvaccinated? Read more


Solidarity and Allyship with Black Sangha Members as We Work Towards National Healing and Recovery

Statement from San Francisco Zen Center Leadership, in collaboration with the Central DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) Committee and CAIC (Cultural Awareness and Inclusivity Committee)

Since early last year, this country has been battered by a series of ongoing crises and events. We have experienced heartache after heartache from a global pandemic to instances of brutal racial violence to increasing numbers of mass shootings. It has been one year since George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was murdered while in police custody.

At this time, we want to acknowledge that Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by the hardships of the last year and to offer our support.

The economic impact of the pandemic has meant that households of color, already over-represented in low-wage “essential” jobs, have often been first to lose incomes and the last to regain employment. While this has been the case in every economic downturn, the inequality is especially glaring this time since the economic pain of Covid-19 has cut so deep. Today, Black households struggle with the highest rate of unemployment in the US today while being twice as likely to die from Covid-19.

Income inequality has also been coupled with violent policing and an assault on voting rights for the poor and communities of color. Black Americans have also suffered from adverse mental health due to generations of collective trauma. In some areas of the country, suicide mortality among African Americans nearly doubled in the past year while decreasing substantially among white Americans.

These are symptoms of the systemic racism that has been designed into the institutions and culture of our country. While a small measure of justice was served to the family of George Floyd for his murder, his life remains lost, to them and to us.

No one should feel afraid for simply existing. For far too long, economic, physical, and emotional abuses directed toward our Black brothers and sisters have gone ignored. We want to say that we see you, we care about you, and we are committed to cultivating the conditions in which you can feel safe, respected, and at ease anywhere you may wish to be.

We resonate deeply with the words of Lilla Watson, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” However, the real power of encouraging words is not in the feelings they evoke, but in the positive actions they inspire, the commitments we make and uphold, and the work we do together.

Hate is a cycle, but so is peace. Thus we vow to interrupt hate, intolerance, and division wherever we encounter them and instead plant seeds of loving-kindness, inclusion, and unity. Using our voices to speak out, we will bear witness to the suffering caused by systemic racism and to act as allies. May we continuously manifest the truth of our profound interdependency as we work together for the liberation of all beings.

With bows,
San Francisco Zen Center Leadership in collaboration with Central DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility) Committee and CAIC (Cultural Awareness and Inclusivity Committee)

Resources and references…

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Why Hasn’t San Francisco Zen Center Opened Yet?

Three locations - GGF, CC, ZMC

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.

There are several factors and considerations that need to be balanced in order to open, as SFZC is both a congregate living space and a public place of practice. Read more


Virginia Arnone Art and Antique Estate Sale

Saturday, November 2 and Sunday, November 3, 1 – 4  pm
356 Pierce Street, Apartment #3, San Francisco, CA

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Cultural Awareness and Inclusivity Committee (CAIC) Listening Meeting

Thursday, January 24, 7:30 – 9 pm
City Center dining room, 300 Page Street, SF 94102

The Cultural Awareness and Inclusivity Committee (CAIC) is inviting People with Disabilities (PWD) to participate in a listening meeting to discuss our experiences as PWD who practice at Beginner’s Mind Temple, City Center.

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Outreach Report December 2018

Through the generosity of our extended Sangha, the San Francisco Zen Center outreach programs have received on-going support for our efforts on behalf of prisoners, homeless men and women, families in shelter, and other underserved populations.

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Interview with Jack Weller by Laura Burges

On Friday, October 26, Jack Weller will be speaking at San Francisco Zen Center about his memories of Suzuki Roshi and the early days of SFZC. His talk is part of a series of Fourth Friday talks presented for SFZC members only. This article may be of interest to non-members as well as members.

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Leadership Statement Regarding Edward Brown

Dear Fellow Zen Practitioners,

Recently David Chadwick shared on his website, his personal Facebook page, and the Facebook page, a letter that was sent personally to Edward Brown by the San Francisco Zen Center leadership. The letter stated that, after deep consideration, Edward would no longer be invited to teach at San Francisco Zen Center’s three temples.

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Meet Our Youngest Member and Support the Membership Drive

We have one week left of our annual Membership Drive and have welcomed 56 new members to the Zen Center community. That means we’re 44 members away from reaching our goal of enrolling 100 members in 30 days.

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