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Recent Articles

22
Mar

Green Gulch Farm Apprenticeship Program Returns

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

16
Mar

Sunday Tea Gatherings Resume

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, on  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

10
Mar

Speaking Out Against Anti-Asian Violence 

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

10
Mar

Young Urban Zen Meets the Pandemic

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

3
Mar

Tassajara in the Pandemic

Photo Credit: Goyo Piper

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. 

An expression that captures the spirit of life at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center during this winter of the Covid-19 Pandemic is the phrase “continuous practice.” Goyo and Linda commented on how “we continue practicing here, regardless of the circumstances or the numbers.” 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.  Read more

2
Mar

New Information on Tassajara Summer 2021

Dear Friends:

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 Center’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

23
Feb

Receiving the Precepts Mid-Pandemic

By Tova Green

On a cool afternoon in mid-February, Green Gulch Farm held San Francisco Zen Center’s first Lay Initiation ceremony since the Covid-19 pandemic began nearly a year ago. The ceremony took place outdoors, on a large lawn near the zendo. The participants wore masks and were physically distanced, as were the sangha members who came to witness and support the ceremony.

The day before the ceremony Eijun Linda Cutts spoke about the meaning of Jukai in her Sunday Dharma talk. She referred to it as a Bodhisattva initiation and described the mind of a person entering an initiation as open and receptive, like the mind of the Buddha.

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23
Feb

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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18
Feb

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

17
Feb

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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