April 30th, 2014
Full 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 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)szba.org).
Wednesday Evening, October 1st
Welcome from Board and Host
Thursday, October 2nd
Friday, October 3rd
Memorial Service (for members who have died since the last conference)
Saturday, October 4th
SZBA Business Meeting
Dharma Heritage Ceremony
Sunday, October 5th
Host’s public program
Great Vow Zen Monastery
79640 Quincy-Mayger Rd
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)szba.org.
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 www.greatvow.org.
Paula 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.
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.
Breakout sessions this year are not yet finalized but are likely to include:
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)szba.org) 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.
$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)szba.org) if you have any questions! Thanks.
November 28th, 2013
January 7th, 2013
This directory is designed to be used by those looking for a center which offers intensive practice that meets their needs. The directory is organized in alphabetical order by the center name.
The information is condensed from survey results conducted by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA) Training Committee. The directory only contains information from those centers which are affiliated with the SZBA and which chose to participate in the survey.
Please contact the individual center for program details.
The directory, a PDF file, can be accessed by clicking on this link:
November 30th, 2012
The SZBA Conference took place at the beginning of October at Great Vow Zen Monastery. It was the largest conference we have had so far with 91 participants. There were 68 full members and 23 associate members. It was a great gathering of Soto Zen teachers and priests!
The keynote speakers both offered great talks. Dale Wright spoke on the strengths and weaknesses of Zen as well as challenges for the future. An mp3 of his talk can be accessed by clicking this link.
Duncan Ryuken Williams spoke on the hybridity of “Japanamerican” Zen and in particular, related some deeply moving stories from his research for his forthcoming book, Camp Dharma: Buddhism and the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II. An mp3 of his talk can be accessed by clicking this link.
Both talks are highly recommended!
May 18th, 2012
The SZBA will be holding its fifth National Conference October 3-7, 2012, at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon. The conference will offer participants a chance to connect and develop relationships with fellow Soto Zen teachers and priests of North America and help to build a foundation of mutual respect and trust. The conference is a chance to develop ties across lineages and nurture a collective sense of Soto Zen in North America.
The keynote speakers for the conference will be Professors Duncan Ryūken Williams and Dale Wright.
As we look to the future of Soto Zen in America, what are the most pressing questions facing our tradition and our communities of practice and what is the function of the SZBA in meeting these questions?
At the 2010 Conference, the Standards Committee was formed. Growing out of discussions at the conference, four training modalities were distinguished:
• Monastic (90 day ango practice)
• Residential training at a Zen center
• Temple centered practice (“non-residential”)
• Ministerial training (trainings on ministering to sangha that are not specific to Zen)
The Standards Committee has conducted a comprehensive survey in order to learn from SZBA members what kinds of standards are already in place among the varied sanghas of this organization. The data collected in the survey will provide the basis for further discussion at the 2012 conference, including the possibility of the SZBA adopting training standards to recognize Dharma transmission. It is hoped that establishing a minimum set of requirements for training will strengthen the integrity of Soto Zen in the West now and into the future.
The conference is open to full (dharma-transmitted) and associate (priest ordained) members of the SZBA. The conference will include the Dharma Heritage Ceremony.
September 25th, 2010
The Dharma Heritage Ceremony was developed in the course of preparing for the first National Conference of the SZBA in 2004 at Great Vow Zen Monastery. It is a ritual of affirmation by one’s peers and a welcoming into the circle of Soto Zen leaders in the West. The Dharma Heritage Ceremony was designed, and is performed, collaboratively. The ceremony is structured by a group of “seniors” who welcome the “candidates.” For the first Dharma Heritage Ceremony, the seniors were those who had performed zuisse or haito. For subsequent ceremonies, seniors are those who had previously participated in the Dharma Heritage Ceremony. The first ceremony included 12 seniors and over 30 candidates, the second included around 40 seniors and 9 candidates, and the third included over 40 seniors and 13 candidates.
September 21st, 2010
The SZBA will be holding its Fourth National Conference October 6-10, 2010, at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon. The conference will offer participants a chance to connect and develop relationships with fellow Soto Zen teachers and priests of North America and help to build a foundation of mutual respect and trust to support and benefit each other in opening the Buddha Way to all beings. The conference is a chance to develop ties across lineages and nurture a collective sense of Soto Zen in North America.