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Recent Articles


Gratitude for Huey Johnson (1933-2020)

San Francisco Zen Center, Marin County and, indeed, anyone concerned about the environment, lost a great friend and benefactor with the death of Huey Johnson on July 12, 2020. Read more


Green Gulch Residents Display New Banner and Offer July 4th Sitting in Support of Black Lives

By Steph Blank

On July 4th, Green Gulch residents gathered again at the bell tower to bow together in silence and process to the top of the Green Gulch driveway at Highway 1. There, we sat zazen beneath a new Black
Lives Matter banner. The original banner that we had displayed had been removed without the community’s support.
For many years, July 4th has been a vibrantly celebrated holiday at Green Gulch – recognized as INTERdependence Day and celebrated with music and farm festivities. This year, seated silently on cushions and chairs alongside the steady traffic of Highway 1, we quietly offered our love and prayers for the freedom of all beings.

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New Solar Panels Installed on Page Street

There has been an array of solar panels on the roof of Beginner’s Mind Temple at 300 Page Street since 2005. These panels produce 40-50% of the electricity used in the building, based on the available square footage for the array.

Late last year, with the availability of rebates from the City of San Francisco, and with the help of Interfaith Power and Light, a nation-wide environmental non-profit that works with religious institutions, San Francisco Zen Center hired Luminalt, a local firm, to install panels on the four other buildings that Zen Center owns on Page Street. (Abbess emerita Linda Ruth Cutts is a former board member of IPL.) Read more


ZMC Closure Statement

This week San Francisco Zen Center’s leadership made the difficult but necessary decision to close Tassajara for the remainder of the Guest Season and to cancel the Fall Work Period. While this is disappointing news, the health and safety of our guests and community is too important to risk.

The closing of Guest Season offers us a unique opportunity to address important and much needed fire prevention measures. Tassajara’s Fire Marshal Rob Thomas has friends in the wildland fire community who are interested in making Tassajara a safer place for residents, guests, and future emergency responders. We’re planning for a group of 5 to 10 people who can take crucial steps towards preparing the area for the high-alert fire seasons that are unfortunately expected this year and in the future.

The crew will work on a number of fire safety projects and begin clearing the surrounding underbrush to reduce flammable material.

Tassajara is grateful for your love and support as we navigate this extraordinary time. We look forward to when we can open the gates and share this beautiful valley with you once again. Read more


Interview with New Tanto Nancy Petrin

Sangha News speaks with Nancy Petrin (Horin Raika, Dharma Forest/ Bringing Harmony), recently appointed as tanto (head of practice) at Beginner’s Mind Temple/City Center.

Sangha News: Hi Nancy. Thank you for agreeing to this interview and congratulations on your new position.

Nancy: You’re welcome. And thank you.

SN: Before we go into more personal territory, let me ask you a general question. The tanto position is defined as the head of practice for a temple. But what does being tanto mean to you?

N: Before I accepted the position I asked to see a job description because although I had known many tantos I didn’t know exactly what the job would entail. The first job of the tanto is “keeper of the forms”––the forms of the zendo and of ceremonial practice. I loved reading that because I love our forms and was drawn to practice largely because of them.

The second task is to “bring everyone along together.” This involves inviting speakers and scheduling classes and doing my best to include everyone in the practice––teachers and residents and non-residential practitioners. And that is what I really want to do, to find ways to support people as individuals and help them show up for practice as themselves, both here and in the world.
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Emergency Fund Update: Thank You!

Eleven weeks ago, we reached out to San Francisco Zen Center’s community of friends, practitioners, and supporters asking for their help. It was a time of great uncertainty and distress and you responded with generosity, warmth, and care. We heard from over 1750 people in 25 countries, some giving for the first time and some for the first time in several years. We also heard from our long-time donors whose steadfast support is so critical.

Today we are pleased to announce that thanks to your generosity, we have exceeded our goal at 1.1M. These funds make it possible for us to take care of our communities and to continue to offer the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha Way to the wider sangha. We are deeply grateful and humbled by your overwhelming response. Read more


Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind Turns 50

“When Shunryu Suzuki first saw a published copy of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, he looked it over for a minute and commented, “Good book, I didn’t write it, but it looks like a good book.” That was fifty years ago, the summer of 1970. He and a few students were in the foyer of the San Francisco Zen Center’s City Center standing around some boxes of the newly published hardcover.” — David Chadwick, from the new afterword of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind turns 50 this summer, with a beautiful new cover and updated afterword by David Chadwick. We were in the beginning stages of planning a big celebration when the pandemic hit but hope to have some events online this coming fall.

David Chadwick has devoted an extensive section of his website to the history of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, including a chart annotating his new afterword.

To purchase a copy of the 50th Anniversary edition, contact the SFZC bookstore at or call 415-354-0397. Read more


Meditation in Recovery Turns 20

On the last Monday of June in 2000, Meditation in Recovery met for the first time in the City Center Buddha Hall. At the time it was an experiment to see if enough people would be interested in exploring the similarities between Buddhist teaching and practice and recovery from substance and behavioral addiction to make it a viable program. Twenty years later it remains a lively and important offering, which has introduced thousands of people to Buddhism and to San Francisco Zen Center. Some of these participants have gone on to receive the precepts as laypersons or as priests. Some have become residents and staff. Some have gone on to lead similar groups. Read more


Sheltering in Practice

By Steph Blank

Pandemic Response Part I

Sheltering in Practice (with Children)

During the first few days of Shelter in Place Practice at Green Gulch, our children had the idea to build a raft. It was a comforting activity. We harvested a piece of bamboo from the farm and cut it into equal lengths. We wrapped and tied each of the pieces together with rainbow-colored nylon string. With a little putty from the shop we secured an upright mast in the middle with a bamboo leaf for the sail. “Where can we sail it?” they wondered.
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