SZBA Newsletter - Spring 2017
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2016 SZBA Conference:

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President's Report

Dear Dharma Sisters & Brothers,

With the change of seasons, it seems that, here in the U.S., we are moving from winter to the spring of our discontent. A national atmosphere of anxiety and turmoil unsurprisingly seeps into our community and family lives. At this moment, I am so grateful for the practice of zazen. Our teachers shared with us a way of sitting upright in the midst of all circumstances. Wholeheartedly, we share this with those who come to our zendos and meditation halls seeking a way to meet their lives with courage and even with joy.

Later in this newsletter you can read about the autumn SZBA conference — “Responding to the Cries of the World” in the splendid colors around Maple Lake, Minnesota. I am grateful to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Zen communities, and look forward to visiting with them next September when I am out there.
I want to let you know about changes in the SZBA board of directors. Eric Daishin McCabe and Ryushin Hart completed two terms on the board, serving generously and skillfully. I miss having each of them around the table.  Daishin is now the teacher at Zen Fields in Ames, Iowa. He and his partner Sara Jisho Siebert are the proud and busy parents of Malcolm Kenneth McCabe, born in January of 2017. Ryushin Hart is teaching at the Bend Zendo in Bend, Oregon, living and practicing with his partner Kari Kishin Hart. 

Our new board members are Diane Musho Hamiton (SZBA Full member) and Jyoshin Clay (SZBA Associate member). Musho, with her husband Michael Mugaku Zimmerman, co-leads Two Arrows Zen in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jyoshin is a resident priest at Dharma Rain Zen Center in Portland, Oregon. More complete biographical sketches of Musho and Jyoshin can be found on the SZBA website by clicking here.

Several weeks ago the SZBA board had our semi-annual face-to-face weekend meeting in Berkeley, California. Over two days, the board had wide-ranging discussion—many of them very skillfully facilitated by Diane Musho Hamilton—continuing and deepening discussions that have evolved at board meetings and conferences over recent years. We considered the personal and financial resources currently available to SZBA. Despite the encouraging fact that we presently have more than three hundred members, there seems to be a hurdle we need to cross if we wish to be a “professional” organization. 

Considering a tension between broad inclusion and strict standards for belonging, questions regarding organizational standards and assessment have been set aside for the last year. With openness, some differences of opinion, and good will, the board reengaged the question of SZBA standards. In the next few months we will share our thinking with the membership, with the expectation that we can make good progress. There was an encouraging sense that progress on standards will help the whole organization be able to more clearly see itself and offer training and resources that members can use. 

Thanks to the Berkeley Zen Center sangha for hosting and accommodating us, offering a peaceful space for talk and an environment saturated by years of zazen.

Thanks also to SZBA coordinator Shogen Danielson for assembling this newsletter, partnering with board secretary James Ford and board member Jyoshin Clay.  Those of you who attended the fall conference met Shogen and saw him in graceful action. I appreciate working closely with Shogen and with all our board members.

Hozan Alan Senauke

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Proposals or Questions for your Board?

The SZBA Board is committed to listening to the membership and responding. Email your input to the SZBA coordinator at The Board will consider whether/when to put the item on the agenda for an upcoming board meeting. Board meetings are held about every 6 weeks, so please be patient and thank you! Want to learn more about your SZBA board members? Click here for their profiles. 
2016 SZBA Conference

2016 SZBA Conference Report

Eighty members of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association gathered at Camp Courage Conference and Retreat Center in Maple Lake, MN, from Wednesday, 28 September through Sunday the 2nd of October, 2016. This year’s theme — “Responding to the Cries of the World—Soto Zen Priests and Sanghas in an Age of Climate Change and Social Suffering” — reminded us clearly about the unfolding climate crisis, the call for solidarity with Native peoples at Standing Rock, and the upcoming election, whose sorrowful result heightens the need for a principled, non-violent response from all people of conscience. Over the course of four days of plenary presentations, breakout groups and TED-style talks, we addressed a wide scope of practice and action. 

The SZBA board wishes to thank the Program Committee—Myo-On Hagler, Shodo Spring, and Susan Nelson—and we offer particular gratitude to Minnesota sangha members from Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, Hokyoji, Clouds and Water Zen Center, Compassionate Ocean Dharma Center for their myriad and tireless efforts to welcome us and make our gathering comfortable. 
We also express gratitude and to the staff of Camp Courage. This was the SZBA’s first time holding a conference outside of a temple. Doing so presented new and unique challenges, while also giving us the opportunity to welcome a large representation of our Midwestern relatives, many of whom had not previously been able to attend a conference. We hope to continue to embrace the geological diversity of our membership in this way in the future. 

Most of us arrived on Wednesday in time for two simultaneous informal sessions, one for the full members and one for the associate members. After the informal sessions, we had a moving Opening Ceremony.

Thursday began with welcoming words from SZBA president Hozan Alan Senauke, reviewing our 20-year history and acknowledging the strengths and challenges of our present organizational circumstances. The day continued with a workshop on the Right Use of Power led by Peg Syverson & Tenku Ruff. Our good dharma friend Gengo Akiba Roshi, the Soto Zen sokan or bishop, made presentation on the Tempyozan monastery project moving ahead steadily in Clear Lake, California. 

The afternoon session concluded with a memorial service for Shunbo Zenkei Blanche Hartman, Shofu Myozan Dennis Keegan, and Koko Dave Hazelwood, SZBA members who had died in 2016. We chanted the Lotus Sutra’s “Life Span” verses remembering our absent friends’ vivid examples: 

In order to liberate all beings,
as skillful means I appear to have entered nirvana;
yet truly I am not extinct,
ever dwelling here to voice the dharma.

That evening David Loy, scholar, activist, and Zen teacher gave the keynote presentation, “Hearing the Cries of the World,” addressing the intersection of Dharma, ecology, and activism, urging us to commit ourselves to lead our communities into social action.

On Friday morning Peg Syverson and Peter Overton facilitated an interactive visioning session, introducing the Appreciate Inquiry method. The group took some initial steps to discuss and explore the direction and vision of SZBA, based on where we are in our organizational history and in this moment of Zen in the West. Generation X priests met for a breakout session over lunch. Afterwards, Thomas Bruner led a workshop on fundraising for Zen centers. The afternoon featured breakout sessions on the sewing practice and furthering the conversation with David Loy. In the evening Dai-en Bennage offered women members a seldom-seen Ananda ceremony, honoring the monk who opened doors to women monastics during the Buddha’s time. 

Saturday’s business meeting heard reports from standing committees, as well as from Associate members and the Gen-X breakout group.  Two committees were re-staffed for the coming year. 

The Board Nominating Committee for 2017 is: 

Zenku Smyers 
Koshin Paley Ellison 
Sosan Flynn 
Hogen Bays

The Program Committee for our 2018 conference (site to be determined) is:

Konin Cardenas
Myo-On Hagler
Juntoku McCoy
Taiun Ellison

Four TED-style talks included: Hogen Bays—“Nothing is Amiss: the Foundation for Social Action;” Tenku Ruff—“Cultural Competence Across Generations;” Koun Franz—“Race/Diversity/Privilege in the Sangha;” and Ben Connelly—“Working with Police departments with Mindfulness and Meditation.”

On Saturday afternoon we concluded our work with the Dharma Heritage Ceremony and closing ceremony, followed by a banquet and an evening of cultural sharing—songs, poems, skits, and even calligraphy. The Dharma Heritage Ceremony widened our Soto Zen priest circle to include:
Dainei Page Appelbaum, Chimyo Simone Atkinson, Myosho Ann Kyle Brown, Chodo Robert Campbell, Konin Cardenas, Ben Connelly, Seiso Paul Cooper, Kotoku Ray Crivello, Zenki Christian Dillo,
Koshin Paley Ellison, Guy Gibbon, Tova Myocho Green, Prajnatara Paula Hirschboeck,
Wanda Mahadana Isle, Myoshin Kaniumoe, Myozan Kodo Kilroy, Bussho Lahn,
Flying Fish Barbara Murphy, Peter Overton, Christine Koshin Palmer, Margaret Syverson,
Ryushin Andrea Thach, Bonnie VerbonCoeur, Kyoku Tracey Walen, and Steve Weintraub.

And on Sunday we forgot to rest. Some left for long afternoon and evening flights home. Others had a chance to visit Zen centers in and around Minneapolis, deepening friendships and dharma relations. 

A Closing Note
I regret that the board has taken so long to produce a conference report. We could blame Donald Trump, but clearly he has enough on his plate, as do many of us. This report only touches on the rich discourse and warm fellowship of SZBA’s biennial gathering. We recognize as well, that many of our 300 members were not able to attend. We look forward to seeing you in the fall of 2018. Finally I would like to acknowledge the selfless work of SZBA’s (relatively) new coordinator Shogen Danielson and the engagement of all our board members—behind the scenes and in front of the curtain. And, of course, there are many individuals who saw to registration, housekeeping, transportation, ceremonies, equipment, and decoration. This couldn’t have happened without all of you. Thanks so much.

Hozan Alan Senauke
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All We Have To Do -
A Reflection on the Keynote Presentation
by David Loy

Let me begin with a Zen story. A student asks the master: “When times of great difficulty visit us, how should we meet them?” Zen master: “Welcome.” Our path is not about avoiding difficulties. Another Zen story is also relevant: the student asks the master, “What is the constant activity of all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas?” In other words, what is special about how awakened people live in the world, moment by moment? Again the answer is very short: “Responding appropriately.” That may seem simple but it’s not, because in order to respond appropriately, we have to understand the situation that we are in, and is our perspective short-term or long-range? What if “the real calamity is the status quo” (Slavoj Žižek)?

All we have to do to destroy the planet’s climate and biota and leave a ruined world to our children and grandchildren, is to keep doing exactly what we’re doing today, with no growth in human population or the world economy. Just continue to generate greenhouse gases at current rates, just continue to impoverish ecosystems and release toxic chemicals at current rates, and the world in the latter part of this century won’t be fit to live in. But human activities are not holding at current levels. They’re accelerating dramatically. (James Gustav Speth, The Bridge at the Edge of the World, 2009)

We are all in a big bus that’s speeding very fast toward a precipice. In the last election two people were fighting for the steering wheel. The winner plans to step on the accelerator, but would the other have stopped the bus? Maybe she would have slowed down a little bit…

Suppose Hillary had won as expected. Would we have sat back on the bus more comfortably into our seats? Does that point to the silver lining of the horrendous cloud that now hovers over us? We are shaken out of our comfort zone. Indifference is no longer an option.

Or is it? Some practitioners have discovered their own personal solution: when the news makes us anxious, we meditate, letting go of our thoughts and feelings, and after a while we feel much better! 

A more appropriate response is the bodhisattva path, which may be the most important contribution of Buddhism in these difficult times. Bodhisattvas have a two-sided practice. They continue to meditate, cultivating their own self-transformation and equanimity, but not because they are self-centered: that equanimity enables them to respond more compassionately and wholeheartedly to the social and ecological challenges facing us today.

Because of their spiritual practice, they are able to deal better with the frustration, anger, and burn-out that activists are susceptible to.

Most importantly, the bodhisattva path cultivates the ability to act without attachment to the results. This is counter-intuitive – “we need results!” -- and dangerous if misunderstood, because it can encourage half-hearted commitment.

Consider the distinction between a 100-yard dash and a marathon. When you’re running a 100-yard dash, the only thing that counts is getting to the goal line as quickly as possible, whereas with a marathon it’s one step at a time. Tada, “just this!” In each motion nothing is lacking. You are completely one with every moment. You don’t need to be thinking about the goal, but you’re moving in that direction.

That is part of what it means to be nonattached to results, yet there’s more to it. Traditionally, the first vow of a bodhisattva is that “although living beings are numberless, I vow to save them all.” I vow to do something that can never be achieved, which means it’s really about a basic reorientation that replaces our usual self-preoccupation: “henceforth the fundamental meaning of my life is working for the well-being of everyone.” Someone who takes that vow seriously will not be intimidated by the comparatively minor task of working with others to save global civilization from destroying itself. The point is, whether or not we become temporarily discouraged, we don’t give up. We get on with it.

But there’s one more thing to emphasize about the bodhisattva path. We naturally want to know what to do, and whether our actions really make a difference; yet today especially the challenge is so big and intimidating that we just don’t know – which can be discouraging, or even paralyzing. For the bodhisattva, however, “don’t know mind” is essential. Enlightenment doesn’t mean “now I understand everything about myself and the world.” It’s opening up to one’s “don’t know” mind. As Robert Aitken-roshi said, “Our task isn’t about clearing up the mystery, but making the mystery clear.”

When we open up to what’s actually happening, we experience a world that’s fundamentally mysterious. But that doesn’t relieve us from the need to understand and act, as well as we can. Our task is to respond appropriately to whatever situation arises, not knowing if anything we do is going to make any difference whatsoever. It’s okay that we don’t know. Knowing is not part of the job description. We don’t know if what we do is important, but it is very important that we do it. Because it’s what we find ourselves called to do.

(David Loy was our theme presenter at the conference. His doctorate is from the University of Singapore, where his dissertation was on Nonduality. He is also a long time Zen student and has been authorized as a roshi, or senior teacher in Sanbo Zen, a lay oriented koan school. David is a prominent social justice activist, with a particular focus on environmental justice.)

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Right Use of Power
A Presentation by Peg Syverson and Tenku Ruff

This workshop introduced the Right Use of Power training developed by Cedar Barstow, who notes: “Right use of power is one of the most crucial needs of our time and one of the greatest challenges we face in leadership and personal development. We have the capacity for wisdom, skillfulness, and service in the use of our power. Yet we have all been wounded by misuses and abuses of power by those in positions of trust, and we have also inevitably misused or underused our own power. Peace, harmony, and a life-sustaining world depend on the appropriate understanding and use of power, not only by our leaders, but by every one of us.” 

Power is the ability to have an effect or an influence. Every single person has power, but the wise use of our power is not simply a matter of good intentions. We must learn and practice how to use our power skillfully. The right use of power is relational, compassionate, and pro-active. It is a profound teaching on ethics and effectiveness. 

Through a combination of presentation and experiential exercises we explored leadership styles, three forms of power, and the four dimensions of the right use of power: being informed, being compassionate, being connected, and being skillful. We described and experienced the concept of the power differential and its implications for Zen practice and teaching. Finally, we introduced issues in non-ordinary states of consciousness, self-care, and resolving difficulties: tracking for difficulties, the de-resourcing effects of shame, and repair.

For more about the Right Use of Power click here to access their website.

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Appreciative Inquiry
Presented by Peg Syverson and Peter Overton

We were asked to introduce Appreciative Inquiry, a model that could facilitate large-scale discussion among SZBA members to create a shared vision and design for the organization as it continues to evolve. The Appreciative Inquiry model views organizations not as sets of problems to be solved, but as living systems which move in the direction of shared inquiry.  

David Cooperrider defines Appreciative Inquiry this way:
Appreciative Inquiry is the cooperative co-evolutionary search for the best in people, their organizations, and the world around them. It involves the discovery of what gives “life” to a living system when it is most effective, alive, and constructively capable in economic, ecological, and human terms. AI involves the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential. The inquiry is mobilized through the crafting of the “unconditional positive question,” often involving hundreds or thousands of people. AI interventions focus on the speed of imagination and innovation—instead of the negative, critical, and spiraling diagnoses commonly used in organizations. The discover, dream, design, and destiny model links the energy of the positive core to changes never thought possible. 
The questions we ask are fateful: collective attention and energy move in the direction of our inquiry. Fundamental questions about any organization include:
•    What is it?
•    What is our purpose?
•    Who is included, who is excluded?
How will we organize and govern ourselves?
The workshop used both presentation and activities to provide an actual Appreciative Inquiry experience on a small scale. Participants engaged in pairs interviews focused on these questions:
1.    What is it in the SZBA that has the most vitality for you; what do you find most engaging? When have you felt most at home in it? 
2.    Without modesty, what would those who know you well describe as your true gifts
3.    Imagine that you wake up five years from now, and SZBA has evolved into your ideal organization, thrilling, vibrant, and deeply nourishing, so that you look forward to all that SZBA offers and engage with it wholeheartedly. What does that look like? What would you be doing? What would other people be doing? How is the organization relating to the world? What is going on? 
In small groups, participants then shared their interview notes and looked for common themes in these visions. After listing these themes on the wall, we began to discuss possible designs to support the realization of the visions and concrete steps toward realizing those designs. This work reflects the four phases of an Appreciative Inquiry:
•    Discover: an inquiry into the strengths and capacities inherent in the organization
•    Dream: envisioning what might be: our ideal future
•    Design: developing an architecture and a plan that expresses that vision 
•    Destiny: committing to concrete, doable steps to realizing the design

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Cultural Competence:
Communicating Across Generations

Our Zen communities are made up of people from many generations, from retired people, to families with children, to high school students. The majority of SZBA Zen teachers, though, are between the ages of 54 and 73, in the generation known as Baby Boomers.

At the 2016 SZBA conference Tenku Ruff gave short talk on how we can better communicate across generations by understanding some of the general characteristics of each generation. How do generations see the world differently? How do our communication styles differ? If we can increase our knowledge of how people from generations other than our own see the world, we can move into communication based on mutual understanding and respect.  

A generation is defined as a group of people who are living at the same time and who are within a certain age range. These groups of people have witnessed the same historical events and had similar sociological influences. (See linked pdf.) Our generational characteristics are fairly formed by the time we are around twenty years old, which means we have to work much harder to understand differing perceptions as we grow older. Fortunately, Zen practice provides a framework for working with fixed behavior patters and for expanding our views. 

In terms of cultural competence, there are there are 4 components: awareness, attitude, knowledge and skills. Awareness is about becoming consciousness of our personal reactions to people who are different. For example, a Baby Boomer who is aware of their (mis)perception that Generation X members do not work as hard as they do or don’t “have what it takes” has cultural awareness about their reactions to this group of people.

Attitude is how we approach our differences. We should ask ourselves whether we want to learn more, or simply for “them” to be like me? We can ask ourselves, “Am I committed to trying? —and making mistakes?  —and apologizing?  —and learning?  —and trying again?“

Increasing knowledge is an important part of cultural competence. Are our core values consistent with our behaviors? Are we aware of our own blindspots? If so, given that we can’t see blindspots ourselves, who is pointing them out to us and how? Are we actively encouraging feedback—and truly listening to it? Current research indicates that our values and beliefs about equality may be inconsistent with our behaviors, and we may be unaware of it. For example, many people who score low on inherent bias tests tend to do things that exemplify prejudice, like using outdated labels such as "ladies" or "colored”—even though at their core they abhor the idea of treating others with disrespect. 

Though communication is the fundamental tool by which people interact, the way we do it varies. Learning more skills to have in our personal toolkit helps us communicate better across differences. For example, people from the Silent Generation tend to prefer the telephone, while Millennials tend to text. Millennials might consider using their smartphone to dial a number and then speak on the phone, while Silent Generation or Baby Boomer members can learn to text and use emojis—perhaps even to have emotionally challenging conversations via text.

In the realm of the Dharma, there is space for difference. Awareness involves noticing these differences, acknowledging them, noticing our own biases surrounding them, and then working with what we notice. If people are seeing things differently, it needs to be examined. Peace can only arise when awareness can hold the space for everything.

Click here to view a pdf of Tenku's conference presentation.

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TED-Style Talks

Nothing Is Amiss - A brief presentation about some essential aspects of practice, vital for anyone engaged with activism, social service or being fully human.  by Hogen Bays

This moment and our humanness right now is the culmination of an endless stream of cause and effect. One aspect of zazen is to sit in complete acceptance and appreciation of this moment. In this moment as humans we have movement in our lives. We are always moving towards something, e.g.; food, shelter, love, meaning. Part of the total acceptance the world is to recognize its critical needs. It is incumbent upon each of us to respond. But to respond out of reactivity and small mindedness only makes things worse. We must rest in the boundless, pristine, isness of our Buddha Nature in which every thing is whole complete lacking nothing. From this awareness, everything we do impacts the whole world. Each of us has to express our particular way of being for the benefit of everyone. The Bodhisattva Vow is not about fixing the world but offering the only thing we can offer - our life.

Mindfulness with Police by Ben Connelly
No incense, Buddhas, or bells, just a spare conference room and attentive faces of men and women in eight pound kevlar flak vests, with loaded firearms, tasers, extra clips, and I know not what else on their rigid belts. Meditation time. Time to share words about suffering and moment to moment opportunities to do simple practices that promote well-being. There have been some visionary leaders in bringing mindfulness training to police officers, Cheri Maples perhaps foremost, but I was simply fortunate to get a call from a local police department looking to try some innovative wellness programs.

For years I have been troubled by the disproportionate mass incarceration of black people in the US. This first brought me to teaching mindfulness in correctional facilities, then to practicing meditation at Black Lives Matters occupation sites. When I was invited to come to Columbia Heights PD I felt excitement. I sensed this was a chance to cultivate peace in a situation where there was a stress, fear, and violence. I knew that I would have a chance to grow, by practicing meeting officers not through the lens of my prejudice, but through the lens of our shared part in the web of human suffering, and our shared opportunity to take care of it.
I believe hurt people hurt people, and that mindfulness heals us from the very roots of our beings by transforming the patterns of body, speech, and mind that impel us. I am so grateful for my training in Zen, for when I sit down in a prison, or a police station I am often able to realize these are people just like me who want to be well, do good, and who, like me, suffer, and sometimes do harm. Recently, after we finished meditation at the station one of the officers offered to let me try on his bulletproof vest. Driving away I heard on the radio that an officer in NYC had just been shot several times and survived, for he was wearing just such a vest. How can I even imagine what these officers experience?  I cannot know another’s life, but I can listen and share the healing power of presence.  We can cultivate trust in healing through connection.

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In Memoriam

Myozan Dennis Keegan

It will soon be a year since the passing of Myozan Dennis Keegan, and as his students we are grateful for the opportunity to share our remembrances about this very special teacher.
Although we each encountered Dennis in unique ways, we share many common feelings about our time together.  Dennis offered a strong presence, intelligence, and directness that some found initially intimidating, but as our relationships deepened we understood his sincere warmth and wholehearted vow to practice and serve the Dharma. His teaching left indelible impressions upon us all. 

To be with Dennis was a lesson in body practice. He was very particular about adhering to the forms of practice and always shared his upright posture and mind with us. Walking, bowing, talking, reading — Dennis engaged in all his activities with full attention and, in doing so, shared with us a living example of the Zen way.

The more we practiced together, the more we realized the gift of his directness. His attention to detail, whether teaching us how to sauté onions, expounding on his beloved Dogen, or sharing his mind in dokusan, Myozan helped us pay attention.  We didn’t want to miss anything.

Dennis was a wise, insightful, and dedicated teacher who took great joy in teaching. His eyes lit up when it came time to study together. Easy to study with, Myozan welcomed questions and, no matter how simplistic they might seem, created a space no inquiry was too trivial to receive a respectful answer. Myozan was a dedicated scholar, widely read and deeply curious about the exact context and meaning of sutras, poems, and stories of the Dharma, and he absolutely delighted in sharing his knowledge with the Sangha. 

His Dharma talks and workshops always gave us something new to sit with and think about. Dense with information and far-ranging in scope, we would often spend entire sessions discussing just the first few sentences of a sutra, which became a lesson in itself. Without saying so, Dennis demonstrated how the entire world of teaching is contained in that one sentence, just as he showed how all Dharma is manifest in this moment.
Dennis made his experience with cancer a part of his teaching, and his courage in doing so was humbling. We experienced his recurrences and remissions as a group, and Dennis was always willing to tell us exactly what was happening.  He would explain the next steps, and the risks and possible rewards, with great precision.  While he always made clear his hope to see and speak with us again, we also knew that each discussion with Dennis could be our last. Dennis stressed impermanence, and often pointed to the teaching of his own mortality. He simultaneously displayed a steadfast courage to combat his illness, as well as an absolute acceptance of it as well.  His practice, through illness, was a deep lesson for us all.
Now as we think about Myozan, we remember his patience and generosity.  We remember his great gentleness and kindness.  We remember his warmth and his hearty laugh which sounded like it came all the way up from his toes. 
We miss him — his voice, his directness, his smile — and thank him for all that he offered us in our being-time together. And we are profoundly grateful to have had the chance to have practiced with Dennis.  We hope he knows even a small measure of how much we appreciate, and continue to be inspired by, his presence and teaching.

Written by Bruce Honshi Demaree, Jeff Kigyo Silver, Mary Seizan Whittemore, and William Onryu Burke

Submitted by Konin Cardenas

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Joko Dave Haselwood

Dave Haselwood was born in 1931 and grew up in a little farming town in Kansas. He called himself a dreamy boy who loved poetry so he was ripe for a pocket of beat hipness he gravitated to at seventeen at the University of Kansas in Wichita. After a stint with the army in Germany he came out to San Francisco in 1957 with his friend Michael McClure. There he moved into the beat-infested Hotel Wentley and made friends with Lew Welch, Philip Whalen, Joanne Kyger, Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, and other poets, artist, musicians, and lovers of Asian culture and thought. He started a publishing and printing business called Auerhahn Press named after a European grouse. His first book was The Hotel Wentley Poemsby John Wieners. He published Philip Whalen’s first book, Memoirs of an Interglacial Age and McClure’s second.

In Kansas, a jazz musician had given him his first book (he forgets which) on Zen. He said, “Zen? What’s Zen?” He said it was because of poetry that he drew closer. Philip Whalen and others had mentioned a priest called Suzuki Sensei at a Japanese Zen temple named Sokoji on Bush Street and a few friends were going there to meditate, one being Richard Baker whom he knew from his work with poets. So Dave went there one Saturday morning when there was an extended schedule and tried out the meditation. He hadn’t had any instruction so Suzuki helped him situate himself on a zafu. When the cleaning period started Suzuki came to Dave and gave him a shoulder massage. 

Dave stayed with Suzuki for three years. He found Suzuki kind and thoughtful yet at times direct and acerbic. He said Suzuki used “spiritual jujitsu” to diffuse conflict and open people’s hearts. But Dave was having a lot of inner turmoil which he found no help for there, said everyone was on their own, no direction. He went to Suzuki and said he was silently crying whenever he sat and had to leave. Suzuki just said, “You try and try and you fail, and then you go deeper.”

After that, Dave moved to Sonoma county, got into what he called Gurdjieffian karma yoga with Alex North who had a community. He felt he got a lot out of working with psychiatrist Michael Argon. He married, had children, and became a landscape architect.

In the mid 1980s Joanne Kyger was spending a few days in a cabin at Genjoji Sonoma Mountain Zen Center and invited Dave to come visit her and the abbot Jukusho Bill and Laura Kwong whom he’d known at Sokoji. The property had been owned by his old friend Sterling Bunnell with whom he’d gone on nature walks joined by Joanne and Michael McClure. He loved the land and the zendo barn, became a priest and practiced there for fifteen years while continuing to be with his family and landscaping. 

He was the head and only monk under Kwong and was leading study groups but in 2000 he became dissatisfied with the situation. He’d already decided to leave when Jisho Carey Warner came to lunch with Shohaku Okamura. He took them to the Suzuki and Trungpa stupas, they walked around, spent time talking and that was the beginning of his practice with her at her and her Stone Creek Zendo in Gratin. She re-ordained him in 2003 with Kwong’s blessing and Dave became a teacher in her group. Dave also had his own little group in Cotati, the Empty Bowl Sangha which moved to Penngrove and then to meet in Gratin. He gave a number of talks there which were recorded. His old buddy Michael McClure was full of praise for Dave’s talks which Dave would send him.

I didn’t know Dave till the late 1990s. I lived in Sonoma too and used to go visit him in at his rather ramshackle place in Cotati with a couple of old wood houses, a barn and shed. He usually had about 25 sheep. I took care of sheep too so that was one thing we talked about. Took Richard Baker there to see him in 2012. It was always a pleasure. He was a gentle, wise, humble man who had a good and deep life. He died on December 29, 2014 of cancer he’d dealt with for some years. It never seemed to get his spirit down. He was with great spirit and loved by many.
Written by David Chadwick
For sources and more on Dave Haselwood go to <>
Submitted by Myoun James Ford

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John KoGan FukuDen Briggs

Our associate Member, John Alford Briggs, Jr., KoGan FukuDen, Ancient Vow Blessing Field, passed away the morning of October 10, 2016, at the age of 76. He had practiced with cancer for many years before that. John left behind his wife Kären, children David Briggs, John Wordlaw, Chris Wordlaw, and Nicole Beasley, seven grandchildren, and a beloved sister. John worked for the State of California, Department of General Services until retiring in 2005. 

In the last two decades of his life, John fell in love with Zen Buddhism.  He was a founding member of the Valley Streams Zen Sangha in Sacramento and also participated in angos at San Francisco Zen Center’s Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. John received the lay precepts from Tenshin Reb Anderson.

In his last years, he made a strong effort to do the work of a bodhisattva, offering his service to Alcoholics Anonymous, Meals on Wheels, Sutter Hospice, Sacramento Buddhist Meditation Group, Valley Streams Zen Sangha, the Folsom prison sangha and Clear Water Zendo in Vallejo.  In 2012 John was ordained by his teacher Edward Espe Brown. John trained with Zenki Mary Mocine at Clear Water and was shuso there in the fall of 2015. The Clear Water sangha claimed him as its own.

John was an upright person with a smile that lit up a room. He often appeared stern, until he smiled. In fact he was a warm and open man. In his dharma talks with the Clear Water sangha, he was forthcoming and vulnerable and others were encouraged to open up by his willingness to do so. John’s dedication to practice was palpable and contagious.

As his wife, Karen, wrote for his obituary:
John was a most reliable, knowledgeable, and curious man.  He loved beauty, good writing, great food, and genuine people.  He was a sophisticated guy, as comfortable in a funny hat at a granddaughter’s tea party, sitting zazen in a temple, or traveling in a foreign land.  John’s gentle kindness, dry humor, generosity and considerateness will be greatly missed.  May he feel the universe’s loving embrace.

Submitted by Mary Mocine

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Rohatsu at Standing Rock

I spent Rohatsu at Standing Rock. It was the time I could get away. I returned sick – and profoundly altered. 

Sometimes I thought the reason I was there was to go to the river every morning and pray. This is the one consistent thing I did. We woke to a song – a man’s voice singing, for an hour or two before the gathering at the sacred fire for morning prayers. Then women would get water in copper vessels, go around the entire group and offer it to us in little paper cups, and we started walking to the river, chanting, stopping for prayers. When we got close to the river, there were women offering tobacco to everyone – for us to offer with our prayers. After the first time, I brought tobacco so I could share it with others. There was someone with sage, smudging everyone before they went to the river.  And – what moved me the most – all the men would line up along the sides, and the women walked down to the river. The men held out their hands for us to grab, as we walked down the slippery ice steps.

It is literally impossible to describe this. They were freezing. Some of them kept their hands bare, and some had bare heads, standing in the cold to support them. After I got over my “I can do it myself” I came to embrace their support. I would touch every hand, look into every pair of eyes. The bare hands, I would cover with my own hands for a moment. My relationship with men (as a group) is forever changed by those men who stood there in the cold and waited for us to go first.
One at a time (but in two places) we stooped by the river, offered tobacco and water, and said whatever the prayer was. Then we walked away and were offered blankets. After all the women prayed, the men prayed, in the same way, and the women lined the walk and I was so happy to offer what had been given. And then were group prayers, and chanting, and more prayers. “Mni wiconi!” “Water is life!” They called for those words in other languages, and we all said them together in languages from around the world. I offered American Sign Language, and one of the leaders caught it, picked it up, taught it and we did it every day after that. 

It seemed like that was my reason for being there, my gift. Most of my days went to being cold, waiting for food, or trying to find someone. There were 10,000 people there (I was there with the veterans) and it was cold or colder – until the second blizzard. 

Sangha: the mandatory orientation meeting taught us (with great kindness and intimacy) how to be there – so beautifully I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to skip it. Sangha: there were tents and places with coats, sleeping bags, anything you might need; the medic place had herbal teas, medicines, and a warming tent. The night of the blizzard, medics checked every tent several times to make sure nobody froze – and nobody did. Sangha: there were long lines at Grandma’s kitchen (one of several) and they would make announcements about who eats first. Women and children, veterans, elders. 

I was just standing in line quietly, when someone next to me called out “Got an elder here” and they came and grabbed me, made me sit down, and brought a plate of food. I don’t feel like an elder, but in the cold it was pretty nice. And the cold nights, the giant group tents were opened up for anybody who needed to come and be in a warm place. One day, all I could do was try to find warm places. I was not of much use, mostly. 

It was chaotic, but after I learned a few key places I was able to get whatever I needed. Volunteer tent – directions, events, conversation, and often soup or tea. Sacred fire – news. Kitchens – warmth and usually food. The casino (by car) – real warmth, and charge your cell phone. 

So really, the reason I was there was to learn about community. Persistent generosity, while being bombarded by lights, sounds, helicopter surveillance, and threats. Persistent kindness to white people who came – education and welcome. Trust, I think, in extraordinarily high levels. And the medics were dealing not only with stress, exposure, injuries, but occasional mental illness requiring very gentle evacuation. 

It reminded me, a little, of the community I’ve experienced at Tassajara, at Green Gulch, at the Zen centers in Minnesota - which all have to deal with whatever shows up, and which in my experience have usually done so with grace and equanimity. These places taught me how to be in sangha. 

Leaving Standing Rock, I thought this is the dream of community. The thousands of people who lived this dream, for a few days or for months, now carry that dream and that reality into our worlds, into the world of colonization and the three poisons.

Colonization came into my thoughts because, of course, Standing Rock was about colonization. Native arrestees were treated much more roughly than white, given felonies instead of misdemeanors, imprisoned in more unpleasant situations, sometimes not allowed bail. The whole thing, labeled water protection, was a stand against colonization and genocide. So a few words about colonization. 

To successfully colonize a people, there are some standard methods. You have to break the bonds of family, break spiritual and cultural traditions, take away language, break the connection with land and other beings. You create dependency – for food, shelter, life itself – and you offer intoxicants as substitutes for what had been a rich life. All these are easy to see if you look at European settlers’ relations with indigenous people in North America, but you can see them in other places too. 

My own ancestors in Germany were colonized by the Romans two thousand years ago. What happens in a time that long is that you forget. After generations of finding ways to survive the invaders, you learn to blend in, and you become like them. You are no longer connected with your native place, with your old religions, with ways to live off the land. And here we are – would die without grocery stores, electricity and heat from fossil fuels… 

I propose that we remember that we are colonized; that greed, hate, and delusion are not our core nature but the poisons that separate us from ourselves. And I propose that learning sangha, making sangha, allowing the natural generosity and kindness and care to arise among us, is the medicine for colonization.

As the Buddha said to Ananda, 
“Good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship is the entire spiritual life.”  
Submitted by Shodo Spring

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Report from the Women's March

The essential koan for all Zen practice is “What will you do when nothing will do?” Waking up after the November 2016 election, with the newly elected president’s campaign promises sounding off alarms, I faced this essential koan as a potential onslaught of human suffering. We practice not averting from suffering, but also, not wallowing in it to the point of paralysis. Wondering what to do in the face of the essential koan of our current suffering, I saw a Women’s March in Washington DC begin to emerge on social media as a potential faceoff with this koan. The Women’s March was meant to bring support for people and concerns—concerns relevant to our Zen Buddhist vows to protect life. Regardless of political orientation, Zen Buddhists take a stand for the young, the vulnerable, for those with medical needs, for climate change, and for protecting women.

Because I saw the Women’s March as consistent with our Bodhisattva vows, I used our SZBA listserve to announce with Ann Kyle Brown that Zen Women would be attending the March. We were joined by Gaelyn Godwin and her sangha members. The Presidential Inauguration, the day before the Women’s March, caused housing prices in Washington D.C. to soar. I announced on the SZBA website that I would help sponsor women’s housing if they could find their way to DC. Soon several other SZBA women offered to donate to the fund for housing. We began to get Soto Zen women applicants from across the US from Tassajara to New Orleans. In the end we sponsored one apartment for five people, housed several others with DC friends, and more stayed at Inryu Bobbie Ponce-Barger’s All Beings Zen Sangha. We were also contacted by Zen groups from the Midwest, New Jersey, Zen Mountain Monastery, Great Vow and others from the Lay Zen Teachers Association. We had a ceremony at the DC zendo the night before the March; we recited the Female Ancestors Chant and asked our ancestors to bless and protect the March and all beings.

The group had expanded to busloads, and we began to get a sense of the difficulty of the logistics. We collected emails, consulted with our D.C. resident priest, Inryu Bobbi Ponce Barger, chose a distinctive meet-up place near the main activity. We also sent out a summation of safety concerns that were published by the official Women’s March Site.

We chose to meet-up at the Museum of the Native Americans, and some of us we were even able to gather there. The subways were overwhelmed, and wouldn’t stop near the March, but walking back to the March site, progressing with and through the vast crowds, was uplifting and thrilling. There was virtually no space to move in the gigantic Washington Mall with women, pink pussyhats and colorful and humorous signs everywhere. Overall, the mood was jubilant, triumphant and joyous, and even though there was no space—we marched.

There was kindness and happiness in almost everyone I encountered. We were all taking a stand for what mattered to us, and we realized we were not alone—we were in this together. As it turned out, taking on this gnarly koan together with full intention had inspired others across the planet to do the same. Showing up to address suffering kicked off an initial resistance to hopelessness. But we are still working collectively to answer this impossible koan—emptying the ocean of suffering, one teaspoon at a time.

Submitted by Grace Schireson

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Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara

Ben Connelly with foreword by Norman Fischer
Wisdom Publications

Ben Connelly's Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara is a practical, down-to-earth guide to Vasubandhu's classic work "Thirty Verses of Consciousness Only" that can transform modern life and change how you see the world.  Connelly's warm and wise voice unpacks and contextualizes its wisdom, showing us how we can apply its ancient insights to our own modern lives, to create a life of engaged peace, harmony, compassion, and joy.  This is a great introduction to a philosophy, a master, and a work whose influence reverberates throughout modern Buddhism. 

“Through Connelly’s luminous teaching, some of Yogacara’s most vivid and inspiring innovations come to life…Newcomers and adherents to this lesser known Buddhist school alike are lucky to have Connelly as an exceptional guide to the central themes of Yogacara.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)

Ben Connelly is a Soto Zen teacher and Dharma heir in the Katagiri lineage. He teaches at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. Ben is also a professional musician and teaches mindfulness in a wide variety of secular contexts. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Submitted by Ben Nadasattva Connelly

The Zen of You & Me

Diane Musho Hamilton
Shambhala Publications

The people who get under your skin the most can in fact be your greatest teachers. It’s not a matter of overlooking differences, as is often taught, but of regarding those difficult aspects of the relationship with curiosity and compassion—for those very differences offer a path to profound connection. Diane Hamilton’s practical, reality-based guide to living harmoniously with even your most irritating fellow humans—spouses, partners, colleagues, parents, children—shows that “getting along” is really a matter of discovering that our differences are nothing other than an expression of our even deeper shared unity.

"At this time, more than ever, our world needs Hamilton’s insights on difference, and how we can find our way through our judgments, into a more balanced view that recognizes and appreciates both our sameness and our differences. Through intimate personal experiences, and in a warm and encouraging manner, she offers the reader profound insight and compassionate teaching on how to equally navigate our individual and interdependent lives. Like a Zen Master, she encourages and teaches a way to live in the tension of difference and offer our energies to this world we live in today. This is excellent medicine for today’s ills." —Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara, author of Most Intimate: A Zen Approach to Life's Challenges

"Diane is a Zen master, along with everything else. This book is good. It opens windows into the workings of our hearts and minds. And can genuinely help that person who is ready to look. And, you know, it can’t hurt to try and get along with others.” — John Ford,, author of If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break

Diane Musho Hamilton is a Zen teacher in the White Plum lineage and has worked with Ken Wilber and the Integral Institute since 2004. She lives in Utah, where she established Two Arrows Zen, a center for Zen practice, with her husband, Michael Zimmerman, a former Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court. In 2012 she cofounded Integral Facilitator, certifying practitioners in a developmental approach to group facilitation.
Smiling Zen: In Search of the Profound Secret of Life

by Toru Matsui, edited by Rosan O. Yoshida
Xlibris Publications

Smiling Zen, written by Toru Matsui and published by Chobunsha, Inc, Tokyo in 1998, was based on his lecture series broadcast by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization). This English edition was edited by Rosan Yoshida, Abbot of the Missouri Zen Center. 

Matsui tells how to live with smiles (taken from Zen koan of Mahakashyapa’s smile at the Buddha’s holding up a lotus flower) through Zen practice. He explains why and how to practice Zen following Tenda’s Shôshikan (Abridged Version of Cessation and Insight) with his profound experience and explications about questions arising from it so that anyone can understand and actualize.
Toru Matsui (1910-1994), a sincere aspirant and social activist, put his life in the Awakened Way with all. His work with the poor of Tokyo resulted in the best selling book Mary in Ants Town, followed by a popular film with the same title. He published many other books on Zen, Buddhism, etc. For more, go to

This book is for sale at a reduced price for SZBA members thanks to Rev. Yoshida, abbot of the Missouri Zen Ceter: softcover $14 (30% off), hardcover $20 (more than 30% off), shipping and handling included. Please contact and pay via PayPal at

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Board & Committee Reports
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Board Minutes

All SZBA board minutes are available, after approval, on the SZBA website:



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Member Announcements

Events & Opportunities

Interdependence/Intersectionality: Marginalization, Oppression, and American Buddhism

Friday, April 14, 2017, 3:00 - 5:30
Institute of Buddhist Studies
2140 Durant Ave.
Berkeley, Ca

This symposium brings together Buddhist scholars, teachers, and activists to discuss issue of marginalization and oppression related to race, gender, and sexuality both inside and outside American Buddhist communities both historically and at the present. Speakers will discuss such topics as: how did the racialization of Japanese American Buddhists relate to World War II internment? How are Asian and white Buddhist communities in conversation or at odds? How have new Buddhist communities developed or responded to historical or contemporary exclusion related to gender or sexual orientation? How might Buddhism respond to current political climate in the US?

Speakers include:
Ann Gleig, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, University of Central Florida
Funie Hsu, Assistant Professor of American Studies, San Jose State University
Harry Bridge, Resident Minister, Buddhist Church of Oakland
Natalie Quli, Research Fellow, Institute of Buddhist Studies

Atlanta Soto Zen Center to Celebrate 40th Anniversary

40th Anniversary Celebration on July 15, 2017.  For more information contact Lawrell Studstill at or go to

Silent Thunder: The Story of Matsuoka Roshi

The Silent Thunder Order is developing a feature film documentary on the legacy and teachings of American Zen pioneer Soyu Matsuoka Roshi who came to the US in 1939. This documentary is scheduled for release in November of 2017. For more information go to To see a preview of the film click or go to the following link:

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Special Requests

Call for Papers

Temple Ground Press, an enterprise of Olympia Zen Center, has a call for papers for Soto Zen Transmitted women priests to commit to write for an upcoming anthology on the subject of practicing Dharma in a time of challenge and struggle. The essay might find its roots in Dharma talks, practices, trainings, or words of encouragement. Struggle might include dealing with grief, disability, political engagement, death and dying, decision-making, disappointment, aging, divorce, or any life situation that tests us. How does the Dharma respond? 

Temple Ground Press gives opportunities for women priests to develop writing credentials to assist them toward publication with national publishers where women are still underrepresented.  The deadline to commit to writing is May 15th, and the deadline for final submission of your essay is November 1, 2017.  The book will be published in mid 2018. Please send an email stating your intention to commit to writing and to receive guidelines for writing and working with this book’s freelance editor Maura High, a student of Josho Pat Phelan. Reply to:
Submitted by Eido Frances Carney

Would Like To Meet SZBA Members in Western US during August

I will be travelling by train across the western U.S. during all the month of August (exact dates to be determined). I will be Amtrak railing with my 14 year old son for most of it. 

Click here for an Amtrak route map [PDF] and, if there is a station marked, that is pretty much a place I might go.

My son and I would also welcome a place to sleep on a fold out bed or the floor. A healthy home cooked meal is appreciated, and just a chance to sit and talk together. And if someone would like a visiting guest teacher to offer a talk or the like, well, I will have robes and bells at the ready. No donation asked ... just a dry place to stay.

Dates will be set as I try to fit everyone in playing “connect the dots”. If there is some possibility to meet, it would be helpful if you indicate general or most ideal times of availability as far as you know now. I will contact you later and try to firm something up.

Again, the purpose of this SZBA organization is contact and sharing. Living in Japan as I do, it is one of the rare opportunities I have to do something like this. I hope to meet many of you whom I know only by name.  

The best address to contact me is
Submitted by Jundo Cohen

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All announcements are submitted by members. Topics to submit include:
  • In Memoriam - SZBA Members or their students or teachers who have died since the last newsletter
  • Priests Needed - Soto Zen temples in need of priests and teachers
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  • Events and Opportunities - In the interest of space, listings are limited to events and opportunities of special interest to priests, or that provide an aspect of priest training that members may not have available in their area.
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