Monthly Archives: November 2013

SZBA Newsletter November 2013

November 28th, 2013

SZBA Quarterly Newsletter
November 2013
Welcome to Your New SZBA Newsletter!
The quarterly member-to-member announcements have been upgraded to this Quarterly Newsletter in order to keep you up to date on the activities of your organization, and to encourage your involvement in it. It will be sent out in February, May, August and November.Be sure to check out the following sections:

Greetings from Your New Administrative Coordinator
As many of you know, the SZBA’s long-time Administrative Coordinator/Director, Charlie Pokorny, recently resigned in order to focus on other service to the Dharma.As your new Administrative Coordinator I am excited about supporting the SZBA in its endeavors. Our organization is quite young and still figuring out how it can best serve Soto Zen priests, Sanghas and the Dharma. I hope you will help guide the formation of an organization to which we are all grateful and proud to belong. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions – and keep your contact and ordination information up to date with us! You can reach me at – Gassho, Domyo Burk
Developments: 2014 Conference
The 2014 National Conference will be held at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, Oregon, Wednesday, October 1st through Sunday, October 5th.Dr. Paula Arai has agreed to be the keynote speaker at the conference. Dr. Arai is a respected scholar and practitioner of Soto Zen, and is author of Women Living Zen: Japanese Sōtō Buddhist Nuns (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999) and Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Women’s Rituals (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2011).The main theme of the conference will be ritual. This could include talks and workshops on rituals oriented towards lay Sangha engagement as well as creative approaches to developing new rituals. The Board decided to try having only one keynote speaker this year and leave more time in the schedule for other things, such as break-out group offerings (these were very popular in 2012).Be thinking of a break-out group offering you might be able to present! Potential sessions include trainings in particular rituals or other topics of interest, such as distinguishing between pastoral care, Sanzen and therapy.
Proposed Membership Standards to Be Sent to Members in January
The Board recently reviewed a second revision of the proposed Membership Standards from the Standards Committee. After one more revision, the Standards will be sent to the membership for review in January. Suggestions for improvements to the standards will be accepted from the membership until mid-February, when they will be compiled for further Board consideration at a meeting in March. (So be sure to look over the draft in January and send in any suggestions you have!)BACKGROUNDThe first draft of Membership Standards were created by a committee that arose out of the 2010 conference. The committee was composed of four priests representing what was identified at the conference as the primary modalities of training: monastic, residential, temple-centered and ministerial. The committee first conducted an extensive survey of the membership that presented an exhaustive list of different kinds of training and asked members to indicate whether they would require that kind of training for their own ordained students.At the 2012 conference this draft of Standards was discussed extensively by conference participants. A second committee was formed to further revise the Standards and incorporate suggestions that came out of the conference. There was widespread agreement that, while standards are a difficult issue that runs the risk of dividing the organization or excluding sincere priests, there were many valuable reasons to adopt basic standards for Soto Zen priest training.THE PROPOSED COMMON STANDARDS FOR FULL MEMBERSHIP IN THE SZBA WOULD:

  • Provide certification of a definable level of training on which society can rely.
  • Ensure that a SZBA full member priest is prepared for the responsibilities they may face in society.
  • Protect the common Soto Zen tradition.
  • Provide guidance to a teacher in the training of a student priest.

The standards for priest ordination, training and Dharma Transmission within lineages remain the responsibility of individual teachers, and it is expected there will always be great variation in approaches. The standards being developed by the SZBA are for full membership in the organization and at some point would be used by a membership committee when reviewing new applications for full membership. The committee would have room to consider alternative methods of training that allow someone to meet a particular standard.

Improving the Tone of the Listserves
There are two listserves, or yahoo groups, available to SZBA members: one for full members, and one for associates. This format has proven very useful to members who want to make announcements or ask other members specific questions. The following is offered by the Board in the interest of the listserves continuing to be self-moderated.

The Dharma of Beneficial Speech:
Communication Agreement for the SZBA Listserves

In our communications, in person and online, it is assumed that SZBA members agree:

  • To avoid speech that is intentionally hurtful. Speaking with this principle in mind we can create safety in relationship, knowing that any hurt we may experience is a matter of misunderstanding or ignorance, not intention;
  • Not to use harsh language, which includes name-calling and ad-hominem attacks;
  • That if we are hurt or angry, we will wait before we respond and think about the impact and usefulness of our words, as the Buddha explains in the suttas;
  • That as a community we will try to be helpful and truthful to our dharma sisters and brothers. If we can’t be helpful, we can at least be silent.

Click here to see the full text of the Communication Agreement.

If you do not belong to the listserve but would like to, please email Domyo at Please note: if your email address has changed, you need to subscribe to the listserve with your new email.

Report from Your Board
The Board held a face-to-face meeting at San Francisco Zen Center October 11-12, and a teleconference on November 18th. The minutes of these meetings, as usual, are (or will be) available on the website. (Email Domyo at for the simple login username and password if you don’t know it – you’ll learn it quickly!).In addition to the usual housekeeping items, the meeting included the following activities:

  • A financial report showed the SZBA is in on track with the budget.
  • The hiring process for the new Administrative Coordinator was completed.
  • The nominating committee will be asked to provide a new pool of potential Board members well before the 2014 conference in order to replace Domyo Burk (now off the Board), Daijaku Kinst and Ejo McMullen (whose terms will end as of the conference).
  • A Quarterly Report will be sent to the membership to keep them informed about SZBA and Board activities. It will be combined with the Member-to-Member Announcements (and here it is!).
  • A topic was decided for the 2014 Conference (see here), and plans were made for the next steps in conference preparations.
  • There were some complaints from SZBA members that the discussions on the SZBA listserves (yahoo groups) sometimes take on a negative, argumentative tone. It was decided that it was best (and simplest) for the listserves to remain self-moderated, but that right speech guidelines would be adopted (see here).
  • The Board spent a fair amount of time going over the most recent Proposed Membership Standards Document from the Standards Committee (see here).
Member-to-Member Announcements
Thanks for your submissions!Included here are items that may be of special interest to SZBA members.
Returned from the Compassionate Earth Walk – I just spent 3 months walking through the Great Plains, along the KXL route, and am extremely grateful at all the support I have received from fellow priests. If people want information, they can contact me at; website is by Shodo Spring

Dharma Transmission – SFZC alumnus Myogen Kathryn Stark received Dharma Transmission in Sept. from Zen Center teacher Shosan Victoria Austin. Daijaku Kinst and Shinshu Roberts, who served as instructors for the ceremony, are the guiding teachers for Ocean Gate Zen Center in Santa Cruz. Kathryn began the process of dharma transmission in July at City Center, with Myozen Joan Amaral and Keiryu Liên Shutt, continued the process in August at Santa Cruz Zen Center and completed it September 20 at Tassajara. Kathryn began formal Zen practice in 1990 and received priest ordination in 2003 from Sobun Katherine Thanas, Abbot of Santa Cruz Zen Center.– submitted by Myogen Kathryn Stark

Dharma Drive Across America – Since many of our Treeleaf members are unable to attend a typical retreat or Sesshin due to health or age, work, family and serious economic burdens, our Sangha announces our annual Dharma Drives. The Sangha and Teachers will come to them.As part of these events, I (Jundo Cohen) hope I might have the honor of visiting some of the Zen Sanghas of some our SZBA and AZTA members, if anyone wants to provide a peripatetic priest with a place to sit Zazen and sleep (please email me). We consider this a modern version of traditional Henzan (徧參).I will spend a month or so driving across America by car from Maine to California (and a bit of Canada) going door to door, visiting our members who are homebound. Full or half day “living room” retreats will be offered from folks’ homes or local convenient facilities, inviting all our members and others from the surrounding area. Each retreat will be simulcast over the internet with two-way video to allow our members far away to join in and sit with us.The following year, 2015, we anticipate that the events will move to Europe, with a “Dharma Drive” by car from France to Germany and Sweden via the UK. We are hoping that this will become an annual celebration, alternating between US/Canada and Europe each time.– submitted by Jundo Cohen
Book Releases

The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened WomenThe Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women is a collection of one hundred koans about women from the time of the Buddha until the present, each illuminated with a reflection by a contemporary women teacher.Click here for information on the Release Celebration from 7-9 pm on Saturday, November 23rd at the San Francisco Unitarian Universalist Church (1187 Franklin Street at Geary). Co-editors Reigetsu Susan Moon and Florence are also available to speak or lead workshops on the book during the winter and spring of 2014, when they will be traveling the country.
– submitted by Zenshin Florence Caplow

KAKURENBO Or the Whereabouts of Zen Priest Ryokanby Eido Frances Carney with translations by Nobuyuki YuasaTemple Ground Press, 2013. ISBN-13: 978-0985565114Written for a general audience, this is an exploration of the life of the Zen priest-poet Ryokan interwoven with memoir of the author as she observes Ryokan’s life during her own training as a Zen priest in Japan and encounters Ryokan in contemporary life as a model for learning and renewal. Ryokan loved the game Hide-and-go-Seek, Kakurenbo in Japanese, and this provides a metaphor as the author seeks to uncover the mysterious pathway of the hermit priest. The book includes a generous amount of Ryokan’s poetry by the award- winning translator Nobuyuki Yuasa.Available at Amazon or your local bookstore.– submitted by Eido Frances Carney
Requests & Suggestions
Support for Tomoe Katagiri through Retired Leaders’ Fund – Hokyoji Zen Practice Community is responsible for administrating the “Retired Leaders’ Fund” which supports retired leaders or their spouses who were the abbot of MN Zen Meditation Center from 1972-1990. This essentially would mean, Katagiri-Roshi or his wife Tomoe. Since Roshi is with us no longer with us, this means supporting Tomoe Katagiri.Tomoe-san has touched many peoples’ lives in the maha-sangha of American Soto-Zen, through her friendship & dedicated teaching of Nyoho-e sewing as well as her time spent at San Francisco Zen Center in the late 60s and early 70s and in the Twin Cities since then.Tomoe-san is now 82 and just a few months ago she finally retired from active teaching of Nyoho-e sewing. So now more than ever we would like to broadly ask for those who have known her to help support her in whatever way they can. For more information or to make a donation please use this link:– submitted by Dokai Georgesen and Myo On Susan Hagler

Consider Joining California Interfaith Power and Light –I am writing to ask that you and your sangha consider becoming a member of the interfaith organization, California Interfaith Power and Light. I sit on the CIPL’s Steering Committee, and I am confident that this non-profit organization is succeeding in its mission to engage the interfaith community in the effort to protect our climate by conserving energy, using it more efficiently and going the route of renewable energy where possible. CIPL is doing a great deal to help our communities lower their carbon footprints throughout California.Recently a member of the IPL (Interfaith Power and Light) also started a group called One Earth Sangha which is becoming active. I think there is so much more our sanghas can do to respond to climate change.Membership in CIPL is entirely free of charge to houses of worship, churches, temples, meditations groups, mosques etc. With membership, CIPL is able to provide your congregation with resources and educational materials to help it on the path to energy efficiency and to strengthen existing environmental initiatives. Your congregation will also be part of an important movement to spread the message that as stewards, we must care for the environment.To join CIPL, simply follow the link to join CIPL as a member: you have any questions about California Interfaith Power & Light, please contact Greg Bedard in Northern California at 415-391-4214 or or Allis Druffel at 310-752-3436 or– submitted by Linda Ruth Cutts
For brevity and relevance, events are limited to something an SZBA may want to attend personally, or to which they may want to send an ordained student in order for them to receive training they cannot obtain at their home temple. Thanks!
Release Celebration for The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened WomenOn Saturday, November 23rd, from 7-9pm, there will be a public celebration of the release of a new book of Buddhist women’s teaching stories. The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women is a collection of one hundred koans about women from the time of the Buddha until the present, each illuminated with a reflection by a contemporary women teacher.The celebration will be at the San Francisco Unitarian Universalist Church (1187 Franklin Street at Geary), where we will have a program of performance, readings, discussion, and book-signings with the co-editors Zenshin Florence Caplow and Reigetsu Susan Moon, and many of the prominent contributors, including Sylvia Boorstein, Joanna Macy, Jane Hirshfield, Natalie Goldberg, Merle Kodo Boyd, and Bobby Rhodes, as well as many SZBA members. The event is by donation, and books will be available for purchase and signing by contributors.For more information, of if you would like to publicize this event at your center with a flyer, please contact SZBA associate member Zenshin Florence Caplow at Sue and Florence are also available to speak or lead workshops on the book during the winter and spring of 2014, when they will be traveling the country.
– submitted by Zenshin Florence Caplow

Buddhist Contemplative Care SymposiumNOVEMBER 6-9, 2014 at Garrison Institute, Garrison, NYNew York Zen Center for Contemplative Care & The Garrison Institute are launching the second semi-annual Buddhist Contemplative Care Symposium to give practitioners tools and insights to provide the most effective palliative and end-of-life care possible. Join leading Buddhist teachers and clinicians at this dynamic symposium. This groundbreaking gathering encourages leading researchers, physicians, spiritual care providers and patient advocates to learn from each other and grow as healers. Participants will share contemplative best practices and experiential teachings, while collectively beginning work toward common standards of practice.OUR REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS IS NOW OUT! PLEASE CLICK THE ‘PROPOSAL’ TAB FOR INSTRUCTIONS, THE APPLICATION IS DUE JANUARY 15, 2014.– submitted by Koshin Paley Ellison
In this IssueUpdates:

New Coordinator

2014 Conference

Membership Standards

Listserve Guidelines

Board Report

Member Announcements:


Book Releases

Requests & Suggestions


Proposals for the Board?
The SZBA Board is committed to listening to the membership and being responsive. If you have a proposal that you would like the Board to consider, please email the SZBA coordinator ( should receive a timely response indicating your message has been received. The Board will consider whether/when to put the item on the agenda for an upcoming board meeting. Most SZBA decisions are made at board meetings which are held about every 6 weeks, so please be patient. Thanks!Who are your board members? Click here for profiles. (You need to log in to SZBA website to see these things; email the coordinator for login instructions if you don’t know them.)
Don’t Forget Our Website!
The members’ section of our website has board minutes, committee updates, history, member directories, resources and more! Go to is a simple username and password for the members’ section – but don’t let that stop you! Email Domyo at for the simple login information if you need it. It’s easy to remember it if you make a habit of checking out the website.
Save the Dates!October 1-52014 SZBA Conference