Monthly Archives: April 2014

2014 SZBA Conference

April 30th, 2014

2014 Soto Zen Buddhist Association Conference

October 1-5

Great Vow Zen Monastery

Clatskanie, Oregon


Location & Travel
Keynote Speaker
Breakout Sessions
Dharma Heritage Ceremony
Cost & Registration


6th Biannual Conference of the SZBA

2014 Conf Informal - MediumFull and associate members of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association are cordially invited to attend the 6th biannual SZBA conference. If you are a Soto Zen priest but not yet a member of the SZBA, please consider joining the organization!

The conference begins Wednesday evening, October 1st, and ends Sunday morning, October 5th. The basic theme will be the Dharma of Ritual, and we will be honored with a presentation by keynote speaker Paula Arai.


The conference will include:

  • A Dharma Heritage Ceremony
  • Facilitated Discussions of issues relevant to SZBA members
  • Special Breakout Sessions presented by members
  • A memorial service for members who have recently died
  • Opportunities to engage with your peers formally and informally
  • A banquet and “non-talent” show

Dharma Heritage Ceremony

2014 Conf DH Ceremony - MediumThe conference includes a Dharma Heritage ceremony, which is a ritual of affirmation by one’s peers, a welcoming into the circle of Soto Zen priests in the West. If you are a dharma transmitted priest and have not participated as a candidate before (even if you have done Zuisse), please consider doing so at this conference! Contact the SZBA coordinator to get on the list (coordinator(at)


Wednesday Evening, October 1st

Welcome from Board and Host

Thursday, October 2nd

Keynote Speaker
Breakout Sessions

Friday, October 3rd

Breakout Sessions
Memorial Service (for members who have died since the last conference)

Saturday, October 4th

Breakout Sessions
SZBA Business Meeting
Dharma Heritage Ceremony

Sunday, October 5th

Host’s public program

Conference Banquet

Conference Banquet

Location & Travel


Great Vow Zen Monastery
79640 Quincy-Mayger Rd
Clatskanie, OR

The monstery is located about 75 miles NW of Portland. Fly into Portland International Airport. Carpools and shuttles are arranged between the airport and the monastery by email, so let the SZBA coordinator know by email if you need help with transportation: coordinator(at)

2014 Conf Travel - Medium

More about Great Vow Zen Monastery

Great_Vow (homepage)Great Vow is a residential Zen Buddhist monastery registered with the Japanese Sotoshu as an official Soto Zen temple. It offers a variety of Buddhist teachings and practice including Soto, Rinzai, Vajrayana, and Theravada. Co-abbots are SZBA members Jan Chozen Bays and Hogen Bays. Find out more at

Keynote Speaker

Paula AraiPaula Arai, PhD, is an associate professor and section head of Religious Studies at Louisiana State University. She is the author of Women Living Zen: Japanese Soto Buddhist Nuns (1999) and Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Women’s Rituals. (2011).

Dr. Arai will be presenting a talk titled “Homegrown Zen Healing Rituals,” presenting a Sōtō Zen healing paradigm that includes ten principles, focusing on experiencing interrelatedness by engaging in ritualized activities. Combining Dōgen’s teachings with ethnographic research in Japan, Arai asserts that healing is the activity of actualizing Buddha-nature. The most compelling activities are homegrown, for they are constituted of and encoded with the textures, sounds, smells, aesthetics, values, assumptions, and idiosyncrasies of the people who create them.

From Dr. Arai’s book, Bringing Zen Home:

“In a worldview where the interrelatedness of all things is the primary point of reference, healing means to be in harmony with this impermanent web of relationships that constitutes the dynamic universe. It is difficult, however, to comprehend – much less experience – something so expansive. Interrelatedness cannot be experienced deliberately. Rituals, however, can be a conduit to an intuitive experience of interrelatedness, based on the body, precisely because rituals can induce modes of being that transcend linear and rational logic and facilitate contact with the ineffable. Rituals can affect a person holistically by entering below the radar of cerebral cognition and bypassing dualistic perception. They permeate the body-mind. Language and cognitive processing, on the other hand, often fall short of or even obstruct the way to experiencing the grandeur of one’s ultimate context. Therefore, rituals that do not explicitly purport to be healing rituals can indirectly facilitate a key dimension of a Buddhist healing activity – a nondualistic experience of reality.”


National conferences are a wonderful opportunity for members to learn about, discuss, and provide feedback on SZBA activities and issues of concern to Soto Zen priests in the West.

This year, discussion will focus on two areas. First, the Board and Standards Committee will update the membership on the process of implementing standards for full SZBA membership. Feedback and participation from members is essential to this process.

Second, the issue of the continuation of Soto Zen through the generations will be discussed in a creative, facilitated format. This may touch on such things as the material support of priests, mentorship of new teachers, temple succession, or the different issues facing priests depending on age or life stage.
Note: some discussion sessions are limited to full members. At such times, the associates will meet separately, either to discuss the same topic or engage in a different activity, as planned by program committee.
2014 Conf Associates - Medium

Breakout Sessions

At the 2012 conference a number of special breakout sessions were offered by members, based on their own expertise and interest. These were very popular, so we’ve decided to bring them back. Several breakouts are scheduled at a time, so members can choose sessions that appeal to them.

2014 Conf Mats - Medium

Breakout sessions this year are not yet finalized but are likely to include:

  • Brainstorming Rituals (with Dr. Arai)
  • Positive Responses to the Climate Crisis
  • The 2013 Compassionate Earth Walk as ceremony
  • Intro to conducting Daihannya and Kshitagarbha Ceremonies
  • Discussion: Dharma Transmission: What, Why, When, How?
  • Great Vow’s Shrine of Vows Ceremony
  • Baika Workshop (Soto Zen’s hymn-singing tradition)
  • Chaplaincy As a Soto Zen Priest
  • Update on the Tempyozan Project
  • Council Process in Sangha
  • Buddhist Pastoral Care
  • Embodied Chanting workshop
  • Successful Leadership Transitions in Temples
  • Heart to Heart, Mind to Mind: Awareness in Practice Discussion workshop
  • Book Release and Author Reception for Turning Words by Temple Ground Press

The Monastery Marimba Band

The Monastery Marimba Band

Cost & Registration

The conference is open to SZBA members who have paid 2014 dues. Full member dues are $125, associate dues are $40, although you can pay less as necessary. The conference fee for full and associate members is the same. Contact the SZBA Coordinator (coordinator(at) if you want to apply for membership or have any questions.

The SZBA makes every effort to keep conference fees low in order to make the conference as accessible as possible, including to the many priests on limited incomes.

Conference Fees

$375 Conference Fee + help priests on a limited income attend

$325 Basic Conference Fee (includes conference, housing and meals)

$225 Alternative Fee: Sleep in Sodo (separate communal accommodations for men and women, on the floor/tan)

$200 Alternative Fee: No housing needed (e.g stay in the nearby town of Clatskanie, OR)

___ I would like to come but can only pay $ _____ (we will contact you about this possibility; register but do not submit payment)


Click here to register using our event management software. This is our preferred method because your registration goes directly into our event management software. Once you are in our Wild Apricot system you will not have to enter your data again.
You can then submit payment using paypal, send a check, or wait for an invoice. However, if you tend to get at all frustrated with learning new technology, you might want to choose one of the options below!

Click here to register using a form on this website.  You can then submit payment using paypal, send a check, or wait for an invoice.

Mail in the paper registration form included in the conference brochure that will be mailed to all members.

Please contact the SZBA Coordinator (coordinator(at) if you have any questions! Thanks.