The SZBA Blog

SZBA Board Member Profiles

February 21st, 2018

The Board of the SZBA leads the organization, develops and finalizes policy decisions, represents the membership, and gives thought to future directions for the organization.

The Board seeks to embody a balance of various factors including gender, lineage, geography and approach to training.

The Board members of the SZBA include:


2016 SZBA Conference

July 27th, 2016

2014 Conference Attendees

Wednesday, September 28th (evening arrival) –
Sunday, October 2nd (morning departure)


Camp Courage Conference & Retreat Center

 Maple Lake, MN


Click here to register!

2014 Conference Meeting Hall - SmallerMembers of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, full and associate, are cordially invited to attend the 7th biennial SZBA conference. If you are a Soto Zen priest but not a member of the SZBA, please consider joining the organization!




The conference will include:


  • 2014 Dharma Heritage Ceremony - SmallerThe Dharma Heritage Ceremony, a formal welcoming for full members that have not yet done this ceremony
  • Lots of opportunities to engage with your peers formally and informally
  • Special breakout sessions presented by members
  • Presentation of SZBA projects and activities, with opportunities for feedback and discussion


Responding to the Cries of the World:
Soto Zen Priests and Sanghas in an Age of Climate Change and Social Suffering

One of the themes for this conference will involve exploring the many creative and compassionate ways Soto Zen priests and sanghas are responding to pressing concerns beyond their temple walls. While a priest’s core mission may be to nurture community and support the spiritual practice of individuals, this mission takes place in world with ever-increasing climate disruption, environmental degradation, violence, and social and economic injustice. As Soto Zen Buddhists working in our sanghas and with each other, how can we address the cries of the world to create positive change in society?


Keynote Speaker


David Loy, PhD was the Besl Family Chair of Ethics/Religion and Society at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH from 2006 to 2011. Before that he served as professor of philosophy at Bunkyo University in Chigasaki, Japan from 1991 through 2005. He is an authorized teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan lineage of Zen Buddhism, having studied with Robert Aitken Roshi and Koun Yamada Roshi.

David’s lectures focus on ecological and social issues, and on the encounter between Buddhism and modernity—what each can learn from the other. At our conference, David will speak about “Healing Ecology” to Zen teachers, sharing tools for working with our sanghas, and exploring what Buddhist practice today says about our personal and collective predicament in relation to the rest of the biosphere. David is co-editor of A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency (Wisdom Publications, 2009).

David’s books include, among others: Nonduality: A study in Comparative Philosophy; Lack and Transcendence: The Problem of Death and Life in Psychotherapy, Existentialism, and Buddhism; Money Sex War Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution; The World Is Made of Stories.


Guest Presentation – Successful Fundraising: From Hesitance to Confidence
by Thomas Bruner
TB Head Shot - PBJ
From CEO of a scrappy start up in Texas, to Vice President with the nation’s largest humanitarian organization in Washington, D.C., to volunteer at a Buddhist temple in Portland, Oregon, Thomas Bruner has been helping businesses and organizations do great work for decades. As a fundraiser, Bruner has helped an array of organizations across the country raise $300 million to advance their missions – including the successful completion of the first phase of Dharma Rain Zen Center’s capital campaign.

Thomas will facilitate an interactive, hands-on workshop about how we can raise more funds in our Sanghas in ways that are consistent with our values and principles. We will learn how we can be more successful in our fundraising through following topics:

  • managing our ambivalence about money
  • assessing the giving capacity of our sangha
  • building a compelling case for support
  • mobilizing ordained and lay leaders as “askers”
  • developing action plans and tracking systems
  • recognizing and celebrating our successes



After many conferences on the West coast (and only one on the East coast!) the SZBA conference will be held at Camp Courage, which is a little over an hour from the Minneapolis/St.Paul airport (charter busses will be arranged).


Cost & Registration

The conference is open to SZBA members who have paid 2016 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. There is some scholarship money already available, so if you can’t afford the full conference cost be sure to inquire with the SZBA Administrative Coordinator (coordinator[at] about your interest in attending and how much you would be able to pay.


Conference Fees – Three Options

  1. $375 – Conference Fee + help priests on a limited income attend
  2. $325 – Basic Conference Fee (includes conference, housing and meals)
  3. I would like to come but can only pay $ _____ (we will contact you about this possibility; register but do not submit payment)


Registration – Two Options

  1. Click here to register using our event management software (Wild Apricot).
    From within Wild Apricot, you can
    – submit payment immediately using paypal, or
    – submit your registration information without payment (your registration will still go through), and then send a check or wait for the email invoice. 
  2. Mail in the paper registration form included in the conference brochure that will be mailed to all members in May.

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


Still debating whether to come? Check out these pictures and resources from past conferences!

Remember: if you’ve forgotten how log on to the member’s section of the SZBA website, contact the SZBA coordinator (

2014 Conference resources, including:

2012 Conference Resources
2010 Conference Resources

Soto Zen Buddhist Association Statement on the Orlando Tragedy

June 21st, 2016

SZBA Orlando

Click here to view a downloadable version of the statement

Soto Zen Buddhist Association Statement on the Orlando Tragedy

As members of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association — along with communities and practitioners of all faiths — we stand in solidarity with those who seek to live in peace and nonviolence, and grieve for the loss of life in Orlando. In particular we extend our heartfelt compassion to Orlando’s Latino and LBGTQ communities, their friends and families.


In the Dhammapada Shakyamuni Buddha, says: “Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time. Hatred ceases by love. This is an eternal law.” While we cannot untangle the thoughts and emotions of the shooter, quite aside from political dimensions, this is a crime motivated by delusion. Our world will never be free from conflict, but we yearn for a human culture in which one person’s views will not lead to another’s death.


We reflect, too, that mass shootings in Orlando, Paris, San Bernardino, Aurora, Newton, and throughout the world are facilitated by the ready availability of assault-style automatic weapons. These weapons, designed for military application not for sport, do not belong on our streets.


In the name of those below, and all victims of gender violence, hatred, racism, and homophobia — our sisters and brothers — we call for people and our elected leaders to wake from delusion and vow to resolve our differences with the strength of nonviolence. In this spirit we call the names of the dead in Orlando:


Stanley Almodovar III, 23

Amanda Alvear, 25

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33

Antonio Davon Brown, 29

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25

Luis Daniel Conde, 39

Cory James Connell, 21

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22

Paul Terrell Henry, 41

Frank Hernandez, 27

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25

Kimberly Morris, 37

Akyra Monet Murray, 18

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33

Martin Benitez Torres, 33

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37

Luis S. Vielma, 22

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31

Omar Mateen, 29

With palms together,

Hozan Senauke Signature

Hozan Alan Senauke

President, Soto Zen Buddhist Association




To see photos and read brief stories of those who died at Pulse:


Press Release: A Western Soto Zen Buddhist Statement on the Climate Crisis

April 18th, 2016


April 18, 2016

Today it is our responsibility as Buddhists and as human beings to respond to an unfolding human-made climate emergency that threatens life. 

The statement below offers a Zen Buddhist perspective on the climate emergency, expressing deep concern and pointing towards actions to halt and reverse climate change. It is a first step.

This statement is a unique collaboration among Soto Zen Buddhists in the west. Soto Zen, with its Japanese roots in the 13th century teachings of Eihei Dogen, emphasizes zazen, or seated meditation, developing a down-to-earth awareness of one’s own mind as expressed in all areas of daily life — at home, at work, and in society.

Among the largest of Japan’s Buddhist denominations, Soto Zen was brought to the west by teachers like Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, Taizan Maezumi Roshi, Dainin Katagiri Roshi, Jiyu Kennett Roshi, and other spiritual pioneers creating Zen centers throughout the continent. The members and teachers of these centers are deeply concerned about the fate of the earth, of our children, of their children, and all beings. The statement argues:

There is an uncontestable scientific consensus that our addiction to fossil fuels and the resulting release of massive amounts of carbon has already reached a tipping point. The melting of polar ice presages floods in coastal regions and the destabilization of oceanic currents and whole populations of sea life…Severe and abnormal weather bring devastating hurricanes and cyclones around the world. Eminent biologists predict that petroleum-fueled “business as usual” will lead to the extinction of half of all species on Earth by the close of the twenty-first century.

This statement is signed by Rev. Gengo Akiba, who serves as sokan (or bishop) of the Japanese Sotoshu (or School) in the U.S., and as head of the Association of Soto Zen Buddhists (ASZB), representing more than 100 Zen priests authorized by Shotoshu headquarters in Japan. It is jointly signed by Rev. Hozan Alan Senauke, president of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA), representing western Zen priests recognized in North America. This is the first time these organizations have collaborated on an urgent social issue.

Coming on the heels of the December 2015 United Nations Climate Conference in Paris and Pope Francis’s landmark encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, this statement intends to spur a wider discussion in Zen centers and communities, as well as encouraging denominations and religious communities of all faith traditions to express themselves about the fate of the earth.

Click here to see the Western Soto Zen Buddhist Statement on the Climate Crisis

For further information, contact the Soto Zen Buddhist Association
Hozan Alan Senauke:

2014 Conference Report and Resources

September 5th, 2015

Live Blog of the Conference
Photos & Video
Resources (Audio/Video/Etc.)

From Wednesday evening, October 1st, through Saturday evening, October 4th, 101 SZBA members gathered at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, Oregon, for the 6th biannual SZBA conference. In attendance were 72 full members and 29 associate members, and the schedule was full! SZBA 2014 Conference Schedule 2014 Conference Schedule

Live Blog of the Conference

One of our members, James Ford, did us the favor of live-blogging throughout the conference, so for a personal account of the conference, click here to read his blog (make sure to click the arrows at the top or bottom to read about subsequent days). Note that this is a personal blog, not an “official” SZBA report.

Photos & Video

Many photos were taken as well. Click here to access the photos so generously taken and shared by Hoko Karnegis and Shinsen Troy Couillard. (Please email if you don’t know the member login information.)

Hoko Karnegis also made a lovely slideshow of her photos, including music, that you can view below.

Conference Resources

Click here to access the audio files from the conference (please email Domyo at if you don’t know the login information), including:

  • Dr. Paula Arai’s Keynote Address on Zen Healing Rituals
  • Dr. Paula Arai’s presentation and workshop on Brainstorming Rituals
  • The first of the large group sessions on Membership Standards, facilitated by Hozan Senauke
  • The six “TED-style” talks on “The Continuation of Soto Zen Sanghas through the Generations”
  • The breakout session led by Taigen Leighton and Shodo Spring on Positive Responses to Climate Change

The same link works for all of the audio, they reside in the SZBA Dropbox.