The SZBA Blog

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.

Development of Membership Standards

October 1st, 2014

The Question of Standards
First Committee and Membership Survey
Outcome from 2012 Conference
Revisions Based on Member Feedback
Presentation of the April 2014 Version of the Standards to the Membership
Survey to “Take the Temperature” of the Membership Regarding the Standards Document
Discussion at the 2014 SZBA Conference
Committee to Development an Assessment Process
Proposal of a “Three Gateway” Formal Practice Intensive Standard

Currently, Soto Zen Buddhist priests are eligible for full membership if they have received ordination and dharma transmission in a recognized Soto Zen lineage. A recognized Soto Zen lineage is one that can trace ordination and dharma transmission from teacher to disciple back to a Soto Zen priest that was/is recognized by the Soto Shu in Japan, although the lineage may no longer maintain an active standing with the Soto Shu. It is expected that ordination and dharma transmission ceremonies occur in-person and according to the traditions of the lineage.

Further requirements for full membership are as follows:

1. Submission of an application and registration fee;
2. Payment of annual dues;
3. Agreement to abide by and be held accountable to the SZBA Ethics Statement, and
4. Submission of an Ethics Statement to which the member agrees to abide and be held accountable, and which meets the criteria listed in the SZBA Ethics Statement.

The Question of Standards

Since the SZBA became active in the early 2000s (click here for a history), there have been many discussions about adding standards for membership that would achieve the following goals:

  • Provide certification of a definable level of training for priests
  • Ensure that SZBA full member priests are prepared for the responsibilities they may face in society
  • Support a common Soto Zen tradition
  • Provide guidance to teachers in the training of student priests
  • Help identify needs for training opportunities

There has been much heated discussion about this topic, given that each Soto Zen priest in the west tends to function more or less independently, with the exception of conformance to the expectations of one’s immediate sangha, or to voluntary lineage organizations. Lineages and individuals vary widely in terms of the training they have received, and the training they feel is essential for their novice priests to receive. The adoption of any standards in addition to the ones listed above were seen by many as potentially divisive.

First Committee and Membership Survey

After a discussion about standards at the 2010 national conference, a Standards Committee was formed to study the matter. The committee was composed of four priests representing what was identified at the conference as the four primary modalities of training: monastic (represented by Kokyo Henkel), residential (Domyo Burk), temple-centered/non-residential (Meiren Val Szymanski) and ministerial (Myoan Grace Schireson). Over the next two years, this committee met via teleconference many times to frankly and honestly debate their differing views on priest training, and find a way to move toward additional membership standards that would respect the training of all current SZBA full members.

Standards SurveyThe Standards Committee first conducted a survey of the membership that presented an exhaustive list of different types of training and asked members to indicate whether they would require that kind of training for their own ordained students. Ninety-one of the 103 full members at the time participated in the survey (click here to review the survey results). The committee then drafted a set of membership standards, including only those trainings or skills that at least 70-75% of those surveyed indicated they require of their novice priests (or would require, if they did not yet have ordained students).

Outcome from 2012 Conference

At the 2012 conference this first draft of Membership Standards was discussed extensively by conference participants. A facilitated session allowed members to choose small groups focused on their area of greatest interest, and then meet and draft suggestions for changes and additions to the standards. A second committee was formed to incorporate suggestions that came out of the conference. Jikyo Wolfer chaired the committee, and other committee members were Jerry Tenku Smyers, Zuiko Redding, Hozan Alan Senauke, Tonen O’Connor, and Domyo Burk. This committee presented a draft of the Standards for Board review and edits in early 2013, and after additional revisions presented a final draft to the Board in October of 2013.

Revisions Based on Member Feedback

After approval by both the Standards Committee and the Board, a draft of the Membership Standards was sent to all full SZBA members via email in early January, 2014, for a final, 5-week period of review and suggestions. Extensive feedback was received from eight members and discussed by the Standards Committee; many suggestions were incorporated into the document, and other concerns regarding the assessment and implementation phases were addressed via personal emails and phone calls from the Board president. A revised document from the Standards Committee was reviewed at length by the Board at their in-person meeting in March 2014, resulting in a document ready for the next phase of the process.

Presentation of the April 2014 Version of the Standards to the Membership

The Proposed SZBA Membership Standards (click here) were mailed to full members and emailed to both full and associate members in April 2014. Along with them was a letter that stated the board was on the “threshold of ratifying” the standards, but that members who found the standards problematic were encouraged to provide feedback and be intimately involved in the next phase of the process of adopting membership standards.

Subsequently there was discussion via the full member listserve and email as members raised questions about how the final decision to adopt the standards would be made, and expressing concerns that the standards as they were written might exclude some current priest trainees from full SZBA membership. In response, the Board sent an email to the membership inviting participation in development of the procedures for assessing future applications for full membership, which would have to address the following questions:

Assessment/Evaluation–Component 1

– How will the SZBA support priests in meeting the standards?
– What forms of training meet a standard for full membership?
– Which aspects of the evaluation process will benefit from flexibility while still ensuring a fair and uniform evaluation process for all applicants?
– How can we streamline the evaluation process?

Implementation–Component 2

– What should be the standing membership committee’s procedures?
– When will the standards become effective?
– Will the standards be phased in over time or go into effect all at once?
– To whom do they apply and who will be grandfathered in?

Survey to “Take the Temperature” of the Membership Regarding the Standards Document

In a continued effort to be responsive to the membership, the Board sent out a survey to full members in June 2014 asking one question: “How do you feel about moving forward with the SZBA Membership Standards as they are currently written?” Respondents could indicate (5) I enthusiastically support them; (4) I think they’re a good idea; (3) I’m neutral; (2) I’m opposed to them, but I won’t block them from moving forward, and (1) I’m against them and would considering leaving the SZBA if they remain as written. Through follow-up emails and phone calls to members who had not responded to the survey, a 91% response rate was achieved (142 of 156 full members).

Results: 28 respondents (20%) answered (5); 72 respondents (51%) answered (4); 23 respondents (16%) indicated they were neutral or abstained; 14 respondents (10%) answered (2); and 5 respondents (4%) answered (1). In summary, then, 70% of respondents were in support of moving forward with the standards as they were currently written, while 13% were opposed. Comments were also collected, and most of the concerns of those who were opposed centered on the possible exclusion of good, qualified priests from the SZBA because of the membership standards.

Pie Chart from June 2014 Survey about Standards

Discussion at the 2014 SZBA Conference

There were two sessions at the October 2014 SZBA conference to involve members in further development of standards for full membership. The results of the survey (above) were shared. Discussion was not so much about the details of the standards as currently written, but more about how the standards might be used or applied. It was generally agreed that until an assessment process – the process by which someone would apply for full membership and demonstrate how they have met the standards, and how applications would be processed and assessed – has been clarified, further fine-tuning of the standards as written would be very difficult and of limited usefulness.

An Assessment Committee was formed, including some SZBA members experienced with educational assessment processes: Tenku Ruff (Co-Chair and Board Liaison), Shinsen Couillard (Co-Chair), Tomon Marr (Secretary), Dosho Port, and Mugaku Zimmerman.

Committee to Development an Assessment Process

Since being established at the October 2014 at the SZBA General Meeting, the Assessment Committee has focused on issues around developing an assessment model for the SZBA Standards for Full Membership. The committee has met regularly via phone since February 2015. Their discussions have been rich, addressing deeper issues related to the correlation between standards, assessment models, and the role each plays in the SZBA.

The Assessment Committee’s early meetings produced important threshold questions:

  1. Do the standards function primarily as a benchmark against which priests pass/fail or as a roadmap and curriculum for priest development?
  2. How do we uphold the Soto Zen tradition and affirm and honor the teacher-student relationship, while still providing a set path to full membership?
  3. What will the assessment model mean for the candidate, and what will it demand of the SZBA and its membership at large?
  4. What is the relationship between the standards and the method we use for assessing whether an individual has met them?

In June 2015, the Assessment Committee sent a letter to the SZBA board recommending using the Standards for credentialing, rather than as a gateway for full SZBA membership. The board deeply considered the committee’s recommendation and, after much discussion, clarified that the goal of adopting standards and creating an assessment process is to have an organization of qualified and well-trained Soto Zen priests, as defined by the Standards. To this end, the board decided that the current set of standards should be used as a requirement for full membership in the SZBA and not only for credentialing selected members. The board asked the Assessment Committee to move forward in creating an assessment process and the committee agree to do so.

At this time, the assessment committee has turned its attention to creating an assessment model which requires a candidate to show evidence for meeting the competencies outlined in the Standards. The assessment committee recommended to the board that the SZBA take the time to create an assessment process that honors the richness of the standards as they have been developed over the last six years and creates the desired outcomes for which the SZBA standards were originally developed.

The assessment process will to be developed gradually, with strong member input through a pilot process. Having members try out the assessment process with their students and give feedback will inform the committee about what works and what does not.

Proposal of a “Three Gateway” Formal Practice Intensive Standard by Survey

While the Standards document has met with general approval in polling of membership and at our last conference, it was clear that there were unresolved issues around the Formal Practice Intensive Standard.

The SZBA Board discussed at great length the possibility of significant numbers of current SZBA members resigning if the SZBA adopted a Formal Practice Intensive Standard that required prolonged periods of residential training (longer, that is, than one experiences in sesshin).

The board created a “Three Gateway” standard that, in combination with the other training standards, was designed to create a space where current members and their dedicated students could feel at home and be included in our growing and evolving SZBA. The board recognized that monastic training is a traditional path and for many people has been an invaluable element in their priest formation. At the same time, after visiting centers and witnessing the practice of our diverse communities, the board also recognizes that here in the west there are other approaches to priest practice in which well-trained teachers are developing. This proposal was the board’s attempt to affirm this variety of practice, allowing for all of us to learn widely from each other.

In order to get feedback from the membership on this proposal, the board created an online survey and sent out links to it in late November/early December 2015. Both full and associate members were asked to give their opinion on the following proposal:

To replace the current Formal Practice Intensive Standard as it is set out in “Proposed SZBA Membership Standards” document (last revised April 2014):

  • Standard: A full SZBA member has substantial experience with intensified periods of formal residential practice with sangha.
  • Training: At least one 90-day formal practice intensive that meets the criteria established by the SZBA training committee. Priests-in-training who demonstrate an inability to fulfill the 90 day requirement may alternately complete three one-month formal practice intensives that also meet the criteria established by the SZBA training committee. [Current proposed Formal Practice Intensive Standard]

with a Three Gateway Formal Practice Intensive Standard:

  • Standard: A full SZBA member has substantial experience with intensified periods of formal residential practice with sangha.
  • Training: Recognizing different paths and resources available to trainees and teachers in the West, the SZBA recognizes three practice gateways, any one or more of which can fulfill the Formal Practice Intensive Standard:
    • Honoring a more “traditional” Soto monastic training path, two 90-day formal practice intensives (or “ango”), meeting criteria established by the SZBA.
    • One 90-day formal practice intensive that meets the criteria established by the SZBA. If necessary, this standard many be met with multiple shorter practice intensives of at least three weeks’ duration.
    • Acknowledging members and groups where monastic training is uncommon or unavailable, 200 full days of sesshin practice.

3 Gateways Survey


SURVEY RESULTS: Out of 164 full members, 116 (71%) completed the survey, and out of 124 associate members, 71 (57%) completed the survey. Click here to view the results of the Full Members’ Survey on the Three Gateways Proposal, and click here to view the results of the Associate Members’ Survey. In summary:

Yes, I support the adoption of this Three Gateway Formal Practice Intensive Standard as part of the Proposed SZBA Membership Standards:

  • 66% (76) of full members, 75% (48) of associates

No, I do not support the replacement of the current Formal Practice Intensive Standard with this Three Gateway Standard:

  • 22% (26) of full members, 17% (11) of associates

I am undecided about whether to replace the current Formal Practice Intensive Standard with this Three Gateway Standard:

  • 12% (14) of full members, 8% (5) of associates

The survey also included multiple choice options for people’s reasoning (see the full survey results here and here), plus spaces for written comments. Explanation and comment were not required, but the most commonly chosen explanations are below:

I support the adoption of this Three Gateway Formal Practice Intensive Standard as part of the Proposed SZBA Membership Standards because it is inclusive:

  • 57% (66) of full members and 56% (40) of associates completing the survey

I support the adoption of this Three Gateway Formal Practice Intensive Standard as part of the Proposed SZBA Membership Standards because it gives teachers more freedom to determine the nature of their students’ training:

  • 51% (59) of full members and 51% (36) of associates completing the survey

I support the adoption of this Three Gateway Formal Practice Intensive Standard as part of the Proposed SZBA Membership Standards because substantial sesshin practice is sufficient for training priests; prolonged residential practice is not necessary:

  • 18% (21) of full members and 17% (12) of associates completing the survey

I do not support the replacement of the current Formal Practice Intensive Standard with this Three Gateway Standard; having multiple gateways is unacceptable because prolonged (non-sesshin) residential practice is a necessary part of priest training:

  • 11% (13) of full members and 7% (5) of associates completing the survey

Other explanations for not supporting the Three Gateway Standard were fairly even distributed among multiple choices indicating the Three Gateway Standard requires too much or too little residential practice, or requires too much or too little sesshin practice.

Most respondents added free-form comments, and these covered many topics. Some of the most commonly expressed questions were about implied equivalency between the second and third Gateway, the numbers of practice days involved in the different Gateways relative to one another, and the reasons for inclusion of a two ango option. The board will be carefully reading and discussing all comments in the coming months before deciding next steps to take with respect to the Formal Practice Intensive Standard.

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

2012 National Conference: Audio of Talks

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!