End of Year Appeal: Meeting This Moment as Sangha

Dogen Zenji wrote, “The power of the causal relations of giving reaches to devas, human beings, and even enlightened sages. When giving becomes actual, such causal relations are immediately formed.”

For Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) to meet the potential of this moment, we need your financial support today. After a year of limited fundraising capacity, we are renewing our end-of-year campaign. Our goal for this year is $75,000. These funds will enable BZC to re-establish a temple in Brooklyn, sustain and expand Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery in Millerton, and stabilize our sangha for the next, exciting chapter in our 15-year history.

Please consider making a gift today.

Your giving will be felt throughout the sangha and beyond and is not separate from the very practice we are cultivating. Your gift connects you to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, to the ancestors who have passed down our practice, and to numberless beings we vow to free.

Thank you for your generous support!

Audio dharma by Kosen Gregory Snyder (2021/09/18)

Audio dharma by Kosen Gregory Snyder (2021/09/18)

Our programs are given free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. If you would like to support Brooklyn Zen Center, please visit the “Giving” section of this website. A suggested donation of $10 per audio dharma talk is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

It’s Giving Tuesday!

Today, November 30th, is Giving Tuesday–a worldwide celebration of generosity, fueled by collaboration and community.

I invite you to join this giving stream by spreading the word and making a donation to Brooklyn Zen Center in support of our end-of-year campaign.

Your participation in the campaign will bolster BZC’s mission of supporting personal and collective liberation through the cultivation of just relationship with all beings. In fact, acts of generosity set this mission in motion. Your gift will also help us meet this pivotal and auspicious moment as we re-establish a temple in Brooklyn, stabilizing the sangha as we enter into the new year.

Please consider making a gift today that will support all of us.

Thank you very much for your generosity, and Happy Giving Tuesday!

via GIPHY

End of Year Appeal: Meeting This Moment as Sangha

Dogen Zenji wrote, “The power of the causal relations of giving reaches to devas, human beings, and even enlightened sages. When giving becomes actual, such causal relations are immediately formed.”

For Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) to meet the potential of this moment, we need your financial support today. After a year of limited fundraising capacity, we are renewing our end-of-year campaign. Our goal for this year is $75,000. These funds will enable BZC to re-establish a temple in Brooklyn, sustain and expand Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery in Millerton, and stabilize our sangha for the next, exciting chapter in our 15-year history.

Please consider making a gift today.

Your giving will be felt throughout the sangha and beyond and is not separate from the very practice we are cultivating. Your gift connects you to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, to the ancestors who have passed down our practice, and to numberless beings we vow to free.

Thank you for your generous support!

New audio dharma by Charlie Pokorny

Audio dharma by Charlie Pokorny (2021/07/24)

Our programs are given free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. If you would like to support Brooklyn Zen Center, please visit the “Giving” section of this website. A suggested donation of $10 per audio dharma talk is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

New audio dharma by Teah Strozer

Audio dharma by Teah Strozer (2021/09/25)

Our programs are given free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. If you would like to support Brooklyn Zen Center, please visit the “Giving” section of this website. A suggested donation of $10 per audio dharma talk is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

New audio dharma by Ian Case

A new audio talk by BZC  director and Zen priest Ian Case is now available on  the BZC Audio Dharma Podcast!

Audio dharma by Ian Case (2021/07/17)

Our programs are given free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. If you would like to support Brooklyn Zen Center, please visit the “Giving” section of this website. A suggested donation of $10 per audio dharma talk is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Letters from the Garden: Compost for the Year

Dear Sangha,

This will probably be my last letter of the year. The garden is winding down for the season, and we have spent the last couple of weeks clearing out the beds so that they are ready to plant again in the spring. Most of what remains for harvesting is kale and collards, as well as the leeks and some herbs. We got our first frost on Tuesday night, and that marked the end of the last flowers that were still blooming.

This is the time of year to make compost. A good compost pile needs to be layered with the right balance of high-nitrogen “greens,” including vegetable scraps and fresh clippings, and high-carbon “browns,” such as straw or dry leaves. Aside from being plentiful in autumn, leaves are incredibly rich in nutrients and are a valuable addition to the soil in any form. My main task for October is thus to hoard enough leaves to last for the coming year so that we have a stockpile to layer between additions of kitchen scraps. They do tend to mat, though, so it helps to shred them with a lawnmower or other method before composting. Probably everyone here is sick of hearing me talk about nothing but my leaf gathering operations at every staff meeting for months, but I have not yet reached the point where I understand the meaning of “too many leaves.”

A team of leaf bodhisattvas

It’s a poignant feeling to be pulling out all of the dying tomato plants and chopping the vines into pieces to put back into the compost. I started these plants from seeds in my bedroom last March. I watched them grow from fragile little lovingly-tended babies into a jungle of monsters by July, and then we feasted on pounds and pounds of red tomatoes in August and September. The slugs and the hornworms received their offerings of tomatoes as well. And now it’s my job again to thank these plants for the gift of their lives, and to help their stems and leaves return back to the soil that gave them the nutrients to grow. My body, as well, is now made of these tomatoes. After all of this, being part of their death feels very intimate. I feel a little sad, but more than that I feel deep respect for being part of the turning of the seasons and the birth and passing of everything in its time.

Digging up the roots of fall gobo (burdock)

Being entrusted with this garden has been one of the biggest gifts of my life. Working outside every day has given me back to myself, given me back to my ancestors, and given me back to the land. I have learned so much about plants, about soil, about weather, about insects and voles, and about Sangha, and still I know I only scratch the surface. Thank you for letting me share some of it with you in these letters. I hope reading them has given you some fraction of what writing them has given to me.

And now the winter is a time for rest and the silence of deep snowfall, so that we all can do it again next spring.

Lots of love,

Sansei

October turns the big oak tree

 


Letters from the Garden: Autumn Rituals, October 21

Letters from the Garden: Apple Time, September 19

Letters from the Garden: August, August 6

Letters from the Garden: Living by Vow, July 26

Letters from the Garden: Full Bloom, July 9

Letters from the Garden: Digging, June 25

Letters from the Garden: Harvest, June 4

Letters from the Garden: Warm Days, Warm Nights, May 23

Letters from the Garden: Permission to Be, May 8

Letters from the Garden: Work Week, April 17

Letters from the Garden: Planting Good Seeds, April 3

Letters from the Garden: Dharma Blossoms, March 20

Letters from the Garden: The First Birdsong, March 6

New audio dharma by Kosen Greg Snyder

A new audio talk by BZC  visiting dharma teacher Chimyo Atkinson is now available on  the BZC Audio Dharma Podcast!

Audio dharma by Kosen Greg Snyder (2021/06/20)

Our programs are given free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. If you would like to support Brooklyn Zen Center, please visit the “Giving” section of this website. A suggested donation of $10 per audio dharma talk is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

2021 BZC Membership Drive: a Testimonial from Amy and Nyoden

Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) is having a membership drive during the month of October! Of course there is still time to join! If you have not done so yet, we encourage you to become a member today!

During the membership drive, we have been sharing testimonials from current BZC members here and here. Today, we are sharing the final testimonial, from Amy and Nyoden.
Thank you all for your generous support!

“We have been active members of Brooklyn Zen Center for several years and feel grateful for this community. The pandemic has led to severe challenges for the sangha, including having to give up its practice space in Brooklyn.

Despite those challenges, this community has remained a source of support and refuge for us. The sangha held us in our darkest moments when we lost family members and through the joyous time when we became parents.

Ultimately the sangha is each of us. For our family, membership is a way of nurturing this sense of community. We are grateful to be able to contribute to Brooklyn Zen Center in this way.”

— The Chou-Sheikh Family

Buddhist Action to Feed the Hungry

Kosen Gregory Snyder, Brooklyn Zen Center‘s (BZC) co-founder and dharma teacher, is inviting the sangha to take up a dana practice for Buddhist Global Relief’s annual fundraiser.

Their mission is to “reduce the suffering of chronic hunger and poverty, educate children in need, support sustainable agriculture, and empower vulnerable women.” Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi is the chair, and they are advised by many leaders in our socially engaged buddhist family. You can read more here about their food assistance work—emergency COVID relief, hot meal programs, and more.

Kosen Snyder will be speaking at their Online Gathering this Saturday, October30, 1–3pm EST. It’s free and all are welcome to attend!

We’ve created a fundraising page for BZC. Please consider giving!

Letters from the Garden: Autumn Rituals

Dear Sangha,

Fall is here and I’m savoring all of my favorite rituals to mark the turning season. The garage is full of drying onions, volunteer pumpkins have taken over the compost pile, and we’re eating the last of the tomatoes and peppers, knowing the frost is coming soon. Our snow pear tree has been extraordinarily prolific, producing huge golden fruits that we can’t eat fast enough. They’re normally delicacies in the markets, but we’ve been turning them into pear sauce along with all the apples, just to get through the bins of them. This week we started the work of collecting and shredding leaves to start maturing overwinter for the compost next year.

I don’t have much to say this week, but here are some photos from the last month. Every season here is beautiful, but autumn is really something special.

Red and yellow onions drying for storage
Acorn and butternut squash monsters came up by themselves in the compost bins and did far better than anything I planted
Self-portrait of the gardener with baby eggplant and Long Island Cheeses (destined for pumpkin pie)
Late-season garden overgrown, but the kale is still going strong

I was going back through old notebooks and found a poem I wrote a year ago, now.

carpet of golden leaves turned brown by the first snow
bitter november wind blows hard in from the north
nothing in this life is guaranteed
why should I stay bound to what the world says
I should be?

Lots of love,

Sansei


     Letters from the Garden: Apple Time, September 19

Letters from the Garden: August, August 6

Letters from the Garden: Living by Vow, July 26

Letters from the Garden: Full Bloom, July 9

Letters from the Garden: Digging, June 25

Letters from the Garden: Harvest, June 4

Letters from the Garden: Warm Days, Warm Nights, May 23

Letters from the Garden: Permission to Be, May 8

Letters from the Garden: Work Week, April 17

Letters from the Garden: Planting Good Seeds, April 3

Letters from the Garden: Dharma Blossoms, March 20

Letters from the Garden: The First Birdsong, March 6

 

2021 BZC Membership Drive: a Testimonial from Cat

Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) is having a membership drive during the month of October!

During this month are are sharing testimonials from current BZC members, like the one below, from Cat Von Holt. We encourage you to consider joining us and become a member today!

I think and worry a lot about aligning my actions with my values. I often feel anxious and uncertain about how well or how poorly I’m accomplishing that goal. And this makes sense! My life is messy, just like everyone’s. Amidst this messiness, the Brooklyn Zen Center sangha provides me much-needed joy, love, and clarity. I’ve also found it useful to remember that, for better or for worse, much of my “action” in this world is monetary in nature: how I spend money is a big part of my impact on the world around me. My BZC membership is one of the best ways I’ve found to align my action in the world with my values and with my heart. Giving a little bit every month allows me to acknowledge and express gratitude for the light that is this sangha. It strengthens my practice and reminds me that I am part of this beautiful, larger community that I have come to love so deeply in such a short period of time. It helps me say “thank you.”

– Cat Von Holt

You can become a BZC member here. Thank you all for your generous support!

Zen Priest Ordination

Earlier this month, at the end of a three-day sesshin, our sangha came together to celebrate the Zen priest ordination of Jefre Cantu, a long time BZC member.

On the grounds of Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery in Millerton, NY, in a ceremony officiated by BZC‘s root teacher Soshin Teah Strozer, Jefre Cantu was surrounded by dharma teachers Kosen Gregory Snyder and Laura O’Loughlin, as well as monastic and lay practitioners who joined in person and online from around the world. It was a very joyous day for our community!

2021 BZC Membership Drive: a Testimonial from Bianca

Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) is having a membership drive during the month of October!

During this month we’ll be sharing testimonials from current BZC members, like the one below, from Bianca Ozeri. We encourage you to consider joining us and become a member today!

I joined BZC in 2019, after studying under Kosen Greg Snyder at Union Theological Seminary. My decision to become a member had as much to do with Kosen’s teachings as with the many inspiring people I met through BZC in those three years. I had found a group of people who, like myself, were committed to healing—and to doing so beside one another. It was this—far more than being or feeling like a Buddhist—that really drew me to membership. I wanted to be a part of and help support a community in which each and every member was working toward self-discovery. The deeper I’ve entered into this community (which has been a challenge for me, considering my conditioning), the more I’ve witnessed the truth of that sentence. The commitment, care, and devotion that people at BZC show to one another and to their practice is astonishing; the kindness is breathtaking! And what’s more is how my own membership has deepened that commitment in me—in a way, it is a vow, and I have seen it work on me in the last two years. Maybe it sounds grandiose, but I honestly feel like supporting this community monetarily helps to elevate the energy of money itself, in a time when that energy is quite low. My relationship to the identity of capital-B Buddhist remains complex, but this feels beside the point—I have neither regrets nor reservations about making these monthly payments. If you have tasted even just a morsel of what I’m talking about here, please come and join us in membership!

– Bianca Ozeri

You can become a BZC member here. Thank you all for your generous support and your consideration.

2021 BZC Membership Drive: Meeting the World as Sangha

The theme of this fall’s practice period is “meeting the world as sangha.” Reflecting on this now, I realize that this phrase can be understood in two ways. In one sense, in meeting the world (or in any encounter) there is the possibility of seeing those whom we are meeting as not separate from us. We are immediately included in the community of all beings, and we all wake up together. The world is the sangha.

In another perhaps more relative understanding, our activity of meeting a suffering world is supported and bolstered by the strength and upright friendship that we find in spiritual community. We are not in this alone.

Of course, as is often the case in Zen, we come to see that both frames—the nondual and the relative—are true at the same time.

I find that membership at Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) can be experienced in the same way. By practicing generosity in an ongoing way like this, we enter into an intimate and ethical relationship with a universe that is always and ever giving and receiving. It is a great reminder of our fundamental interconnectedness with all life.

On the relative and practical side, BZC membership is a way of supporting the community that supports you. It is a tangible act that reaffirms our commitment to practice and to all those who are supporting us on the path. From a strictly financial perspective, membership is BZC’s most reliable ongoing source of income and is essential to sustain our community and programs. To paraphrase Dōgen, we could say that membership is the “skin, flesh, bones and marrow” of Brooklyn Zen Center.

And so we will be having a membership drive during the month of October. Our goal is to raise an additional $1000 per month in membership revenue, which corresponds to about 15 new members. I invite and encourage you to consider joining us and become a member today.

Thank you all for your generous support and your consideration. May we all continue to meet the world as sangha.

With gratitude,

Ian Case
Director, Brooklyn Zen Center

The Bodhisattva Path of Liberation program: application deadline extended

Due to a great deal of interest in the past few days, we are extending the application deadline for The Bodhisattva Path of Liberation: Racial Suffering and Collective Transformation. Applications will now be accepted through October 9. The first meeting will begin on October 17.

This program is a ten-month immersive group experience oriented towards transforming racial harm and suffering through the Bodhisattva path. Participants meet monthly in an online format, balancing intimate small group exploration of racial conditioning and trauma-based somatic practices within a Dharma framework of liberation.

Participation is limited to practitioners who identify or are identified as white. Mixed race participants with European ancestry who wish to explore their relationship to whiteness and white supremacy are also invited to participate, with the understanding that this will be a predominately white space.

More information and registration is available here.

New audio dharma by Kosen Greg Snyder

A new audio talk by BZC dharma teacher and co-founder Kosen Gregory Snyder  is now available on  the BZC Audio Dharma Podcast!

Audio dharma talk by Kosen Greg Snyder (2021/06/19)

Our programs are given free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. If you would like to support Brooklyn Zen Center, please visit the “Giving” section of this website. A suggested donation of $10 per audio dharma talk is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Letters from the Garden: Apple Time

Dear Sangha,

Welcome back to fall. The nights here are starting to be a bit chilly, and a few of the trees are starting to think about changing colors. I had to wear socks during study period for the first time last week, and today we went swimming in the quarry for probably the last time this year. It was quite brisk.

The garden reached that point around late August where everything was overgrown and out of control, and I gave up trying to keep on top of it all. We’ve still been harvesting a ton of tomatoes, peppers, and greens, but things are winding down in these last few weeks before the frost comes. Even though I’m not planting anything new, we’ll still be picking cold-hardy greens like kale, collards, chard, and spinach through at least November.

A variety I’d never grown before called Double Red Sweet Corn.
It was both beautiful and delicious — nutty and creamy, and the kernels were white inside!

The big excitement of the fall here is picking and processing all of the apples from the orchard. Last year we had so many apples to peel and cook down that it became a running joke about advertising for some “apple interns” who could be paid in the hot new currency of apples.

We do two, well, three main things with all these apples. The first is to eat the nice ones for breakfast, the second is to cook the less-nice ones down into applesauce or apple butter, which we also freeze and eat for breakfast, and the third (my favorite) is to wheedle the tenzo into allowing a special day-off baking of apple cake. The apple cake tradition began last fall, when we were overwhelmed with apples and I baked a different apple dessert every day off for about six weeks straight…until the practice period started and we had to renounce cake.

Rahel is not an apple intern

Baby, it is September again and we are back in apple cake season, and I am here to spread the love of apple cake. This recipe was one of our favorites from the great apple cake trials of 2020, and it has become something of a house recipe. Or, at least something of a Sansei recipe. It reminds me a lot of my grandma, who was from a Pennsylvania Dutch farming family and was always making very German things with lots of cinnamon and buttermilk. I don’t know why it’s called Apple Grunt, but I like to think it’s because it’s so good that you lose the capacity for higher speech when eating it.

Apple Grunt
*recipe adapted from the Mennonite Community Cookbook, by Mary Emma Showalter, which is a bountiful source of classic apple dessert recipes

Batter
¾ cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, softened
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour (I like to make one cup whole wheat, for added body)
1½ tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1½ cups buttermilk (may need to add extra until you reach a pancake-batter consistency)
6-7 cups apples, cut in about ¾-inch chunks, don’t need to be peeled

Topping
3 tbsp butter, very soft
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream the sugar and butter together in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Separately mix the dry ingredients together, and add to egg mixture in alternation with the buttermilk. Stir just to combine, then mix in the apples. In a small bowl, beat the topping ingredients together until well combined, and scatter small dollops all over the top of the cake. Bake in a greased 9×13” pan at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden on top and baked all the way through. It’s a very snackable cake, not too sweet, and delicious for breakfast or warm with vanilla ice cream.

Lots of love,
Sansei



Letters from the Garden: August, August 6

Letters from the Garden: Living by Vow, July 26

Letters from the Garden: Full Bloom, July 9

Letters from the Garden: Digging, June 25

Letters from the Garden: Harvest, June 4

Letters from the Garden: Warm Days, Warm Nights, May 23

Letters from the Garden: Permission to Be, May 8, 2021

Letters from the Garden: Work Week, April 17, 2021

Letters from the Garden: Planting Good Seeds, April 3, 2021

Letters from the Garden: Dharma Blossoms, March 20, 2021

Letters from the Garden: The First Birdsong, March 6, 2021