New audio dharma talks from three-day sesshin

The BZC sangha came together in October for a three-day online sesshin  led from Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery by teacher Kosen Gregory Snyder and from California by teacher Teah Strozer. The dharma talks offered during the sesshin are now available on the BZC Audio Dharma Podcast.

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Dharma talk by Kosen Greg Snyder: Sesshin Day 1 (2020/10/16)

Dharma talk by Teah Strozer: Sesshin Day 2 (2020/10/17)

Dharma talk by Kosen Greg Snyder: Sesshin Day 3 (2020/10/18)

New audio dharma talk by Kosen Gregory Snyder

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Audio dharma by Kosen Gregory Snyder (2020/09/19)

 

New audio dharma talk by Ian Case

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Audio dharma by Ian Case (2020/06/20)

New audio dharma talk by Yoko Ohashi

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Audio dharma talk by Yoko Ohashi (2020/02/15)

New audio dharma talk by Kosen Gregory Snyder

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Audio dharma talk by Kosen Gregory Snyder (2018/03/17)

New audio dharma talk by DaRa Williams

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Dharma talk by DaRa Williams (2020/09/20)

Embodying Refuge: the 2020 online fall practice period

A message from the BZC dharma teachers:

Dear Sangha,

We are very excited to begin our Fall 2020 practice period on Wednesday, October 14th. We will be opening with a ceremony at 7:30pm that evening and hope all can join.

The theme of the practice period this semester will be Embodying Refuge. We aspire to collectively drop this intention into the center of our hearts, bodies, and practice in order to discern it for ourselves and live it for others.

As with all elements of our practice, refuge cannot be fully realized without the clarifying and harmonizing coming together of sangha. Sometimes this meeting is felt as joyous, easeful, and intimate. Other times it is experienced as frustrating, painful, and distancing. May we always welcome honest dialogue and allow the sangha to be a mirror to our minds that grasp our views as the limits of who we are in the world.

As always, we encourage our sangha to live in accord with the six paramitas, sixteen precepts, and four brahmaviharas. These intentions that anchor the bodhisattva path offer an opportunity to align our views, moral behavior, and emotional habits with the dharma of liberation. These are the bedrock of our community, and so our devotion to them is critical to illuminating refuge.

We recognize a practice period in this time will be all the more challenging as the upcoming months will likely continue with words and actions that cause pain, conflict, and violence. We know from speaking with you all that this leaves many of us with a sense of heartbreak, confusion, anger, and hopelessness.

We also know that your practice and relationships with one another have allowed connection and joy to penetrate these wider difficulties. Each of you independently and all of you collectively have been an inspiration and deep motivation for the both of us as well. We want to celebrate your commitment to one another and the dharma, carrying it forward into this next practice phase of our lives together. We have no doubt we will all need one another. We also have no doubt we will do our very best to be fully and lovingly present with one another.

Ours is a time for sangha. It is a time for leaning into the cultivation of a community devoted to courageous dialogue, compassionate action, and liberation. It is a time to take the backwards step and clarify our views, intentions, and values all the way to the bone so we can step into the fire of this life with clear discernment and fearless love for all beings without exception.

The months to come will not be without fear. They will not be without a desire to coat our minds in distraction. They will not be without impulses to attack those seen as dangers. They will not be without flashes of purposelessness and despair. However, because of our sangha we know they will also not be without courage, without forgiveness, without truthful conversations about how to alleviate suffering, and without a desire to hold one another in love and a shared commitment to be free.

So let’s never forget that returning an urgent text or phone call might be the difference between despair and courage. We have to remember that our presence at a sit or a dharma talk or a class provides the strong undercarriage of another’s practice. Let’s keep a compassionate eye out for sangha siblings who might have lost work and be struggling with an electric bill or rent, so we can meet that struggle with meaningful support. Let’s make sure all those who wish to be connected are connected to this community, that no one is left wondering how to enter. It will take each and every one of us living out our bodhisattva vow as attentive action for this to be so.

We will certainly make mistakes and miss opportunities for offering refuge. So let’s vow now together to return to one another when we do. Let’s make sure we are attending to all who are wanting to be in this sangha together. Let’s do our best to live the refuge we ourselves so deeply need. To this end, we will be offering the opportunity for everyone to join practice period dharma groups to study and to be in more intimate community together. When communicating your intentions regarding the practice period, please be sure to let us know if you want to be a part of a dharma group.

Per usual, we invite you to fill out the Practice Period Commitment Form. Deliberately clarifying your intentions and having them witnessed by dharma teachers provides the gift of accountability and bolsters our commitments to the three jewels. We are always inspired by your efforts and look forward to reading your practice commitments for the upcoming months. Please submit the Practice Period Commitment Form by no later than October 11th.

We look forward to practice together and hope to see all of you, whether online or in person, in the months to come. We are grateful to our ancestors for their efforts and love in making this possible for us. May each of you remain safe and healthy, find joy and ease as we move forward together in practice.

With love and appreciation,
Laura and Kosen

New audio dharma talk by Ian Case

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Dharma talk by Ian case (2020/07/18)

New audio dharma talk by Yoko Ohashi

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Dharma talk by Yoko Ohashi (2020/05/23)

New Audio Dharma from August Three-Day Sesshin

This summer, the BZC sangha came together for a three-day online sesshin led from Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery by teachers Kosen Gregory Snyder and Laura O’Loughlin. The sesshin, with the theme Taking Refuge in Original Heart, followed a gentle schedule, alternating periods of zazen (sitting meditation), kinhin (walking meditation) along with guided meditation practices, soji, service and dharma talks.

Dharma by Kosen Greg Snyder: Sesshin Day 1 (2020/08/14)

Dharma by Laura O’Loughlin: Sesshin Day 2 (2020/08/15)

Dharma by Kosen Greg Snyder: Sesshin Day 3 (2020/08/16)

Mutual Aid Kitchen Practice at BZC

During the last few weeks, sangha members were busy making some classic BZC recipes to support Brooklyn Saints, a mutual aid group that provides food, water, and other supplies to support the social justice rallies and marches in our community, as well as to homeless shelters.

This was an opportunity to come together as a sangha (in limited numbers, of course) and to use the kitchen space for the last few weeks before the closing of Boundless Mind Temple, our spiritual home in the heart of Brooklyn for the past decade.

Here are some images and words from the Mutual Aid Kitchen Practice at BZC.

It has been both heartwarming and bittersweet to be back in the Boundless Mind kitchen and practicing in person with sangha again.  It has also been very rewarding to put our soup skills to use in feeding the hungry at this difficult time for so many in the Brooklyn community– I feel like this is my final exam after studying for so many hours as a fukuten preparing meals for the sangha!  That kitchen was built to train us in compassion, and it’s deeply moving to see it’s final meals be used to deliver compassion to those who need it most right now.

Don Rider, Fukuten (pronouns he/him)

It was such a gift to be back in the kitchen at BZC, being present with the joys and difficulties that arise in each moment of practice. The generosity at the heart of the BZC kitchen has had such a meaningful impact on my life. Learning to bring gentleness and care to every aspect of preparing the meal, from chopping vegetables to ladling soup to drying dishes, helps connect me to the body’s wisdom. Practicing in the kitchen with other sangha members, feeling my feet on the floor as I walk, and the water on my hands as I wash them, I become more intimate with that wisdom, trusting it more and more.

Leila Mohr (pronouns she/hers)

“I have found kitchen practice in this time to be an opportunity to work with impermanence in a deeply multifaceted way. It is the simple impermanence that comes with preparing and consuming food. It is a reminder of the current precarity of our collective situation that inspired Don and Kayla to organize this practice. And, finally, it is the bittersweet chance to spend some last time in the 505 Carroll space before beginning a time of transition as a sangha.”

Owen Bell

 

the soup

prepared with warm hands to

warm hands

Daniel Bachrach (pronouns he/him)

Schedule updates

Please note that our online meditation schedule is suspended for the Labor Day weekend (Saturday, September 5, through Monday, September 7). After this, our morning and evening sessions will only take place Monday through Friday, although there will be a meditation period before the dharma talk on Saturdays. Please see the complete online meditation schedule below.

In addition, we will now be offering meditation instruction every second Saturday of the month at 9am. The Well-Being Service will resume September 8. Saturday dharma talks will resume September 12, with a talk by visiting teacher DaRa Williams.

To join these online offerings, please contact Flo Lunn here in advance.

Please note that Undoing Whiteness and Oppression (UWO) will not be holding meetings this fall. During this time, UWO will be developing a more formal curriculum, which will hopefully be available at the beginning of 2021. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to UWO here with any questions or concerns.

Online meditation schedule 

Please note that all times are NY EST

Monday-Friday

Morning meditation:

7:15am — session opens

7:30am — zazen (sitting meditation)

8:00am — Robe Chant and Short Service (PDF available here)

8:15am — session ends

Evening meditation:

6:15pm — session opens

6:30pm — zazen (sitting meditation)

7:00pm — session ends

Saturday

9:00am – meditation instruction (second Saturday of the month only)

10:20am – zazen

10:50am – break

11:00am – dharma talk

If possible, please try to “arrive” 5 minutes before zazen begins, although you are welcome to join anytime during the period.

New audio dharma by Laura O’Loughlin

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Audio dharma talk by Laura O’Loughlin (2020/07/25)

New audio dharma by Yoko Ohashi

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Audio dharma by Yoko Ohashi (2020-06-27)

New dharma talks by Tenshin Reb Anderson

For the past few years, Tenshin Reb Anderson has come to Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) to offer dharma talks and to guide our sangha in meditation retreats. Traveling all the way from California, where he is based, Reb has been a steady supporter of our community, holding us in practice each year for five-day sesshins during the month of June. This year, unfortunately, he was not able to come to Brooklyn, as it was planned, due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic.

We would like to invite you, nevertheless, to practice with Reb by listening to the dharma talks he offered during the 2019 sesshin at BZC. Last year’s retreat was focused on Zen Practice and Buddha Activity:

“An old time buddha said, “earth, grass trees, all living beings are engaged in buddha activity.” Buddha activity is the unceasing process of freeing all beings so they may live in peace and harmony. The Buddha ancestors called this Buddha activity zazen. In this retreat we will study, practice and realize this great activity.”

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. A $10 donation per audio dharma talk is encouraged. Thank you!

About Tenshin Reb Anderson

Tenshin Reb Anderson is a lineage-holder in the Soto Zen tradition. Born in Mississipi, he grew up in Minnesota and left advanced study in mathematics and Western psychology to come to San Francisco Zen Center in 1967. He practiced with Suzuki Roshi, who ordained him as a priest in 1970 and gave him the name Tenshin Zenki (“Naturally Real, The Whole Works”). He received dharma transmission in 1983 and served as abbot of San Francisco Zen Center’s three training centers (City Center, Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center) from 1986 to 1995. Tenshin Roshi continues to teach at Zen Center, living with his family at Green Gulch Farm. He is author of Warm Smiles from Cold Mountains: Dharma Talks on Zen Meditation and Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts.

To find out more about Tenshin Reb Anderson, please visit his website here.

New audio dharma by Kosen Greg Snyder

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Audio dharma by Kosen Greg Snyder (2020/07/11)

New audio dharma talk by Teah Strozer

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Audio dharma talk by Teah Strozer (2020/04/25)

In this talk, Teah made reference to a book – ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ by Robin Wall Kimmerrer – and to a video – A Letter from the Coronavirus – available here.

New audio dharma talk by Chimyo Atkinson

Back in February, our sangha was honored to welcome dharma teacher Chimyo Atkinson to Brooklyn.

Chimyo Simone Atkinson currently serves as Assistant Abbess and Head of Practice at Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple in North Carolina. She was ordained a priest in the Soto Zen Buddhist tradition in 2007 and received Dharma Transmission in 2015. She received her monastic training at Great Tree Zen Women’s Temple and completed Sotoshu International training periods (Ango) in Japan in 2010 and 2011. She also completed training periods at the Aichi Senmon Nisodo in Nagoya in 2012 and Ryumonji Monastery in Iowa in 2014.

Chimyo currently volunteers with the sangha at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institute. She has served on the board of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association since 2017 and helped to draft that organization’s standards for formal monastic practice. She is a member of the Association of Soto Zen Buddhists Jukai-e committee and an SZBA liaison to that organization’s Roadmap Committee.

This is one of the dharma talks she offered at Brooklyn Zen Center.

The BZC audio dharma is available free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

Audio dharma talk by Chimyo Atkinson (2020/02/22)

Summoning Moral Courage

A Message from BZC’s Dharma Teachers

Black lives have once more been taken. We are heartbroken and sickened by murders that are the latest expressions of a culture of white supremacy that from our nation’s inception has sown violence into its soil. We must speak their names – George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery – each torn without the slightest cause from this world, as were so many of their ancestors before them.

Yet it is not enough to speak of these horrific deaths alone when racialized structures ensure black bodies are dying at disproportionate rates in the COVID pandemic. These too are names that should be known, should be spoken for having been unjustly denied their birthright to breathe freely in a country that so boldly claims freedom as its foremost, unassailable value.

It is not enough even to speak their names without recognizing how unemployment too is tearing disproportionately through communities of color. The pain this will cause is still untold. Nor is it enough without recognizing that those who grasp white privilege too often take little responsibility for confused, racialized fears that lead them to pick up the phone and call upon the very racist structures that steal the lives of innocents.

It is not enough to speak of even this without saying clearly that every person who benefits from the racial hierarchy of our nation must take responsibility for these fears, this hatred, this confusion as it arises in minds and behavior, and contributes to the logic and landscape that allows a man to be slain by a knee to the neck before the whole of the world.

As Buddhists, it is not enough to speak of greed, hatred, and delusion as abstractions. They must be named in their historic specificity, as they show up in the lives of this nation. We must name white supremacy as a deluded form of hatred that benefits and fuels the greed of those with power in our racialized society.

In not naming these poisons clearly, whether for fear of politics or offense, we break our own precepts. In abstraction, we are liars. In abstraction, we are thieves. In abstraction, we are killers. In abstraction, we reveal our greed and intoxication with a world that lays privilege at our feet. It is not enough to speak of greed, hatred, and delusion. Every day we must name and work to end the mindsets, behaviors, and institutions that continue to take the lives of our beloved human family.

Whether speaking in religious abstractions or not at all, moral superiority and spiritual aloofness cannot be afforded in our current age.  This is not a time for dualism, not a time for separation, not a time to believe in the delusion of an individual, separate self. It is the silence of those who hold themselves beyond the fray while benefiting from racialized supremacy that forges the conditions for seizing the breath of black people everywhere.

The body of our nation is on fire with greed and hatred and so our streets are on fire with grief and rage. When so many nonviolent gatherings and takings of knees are ignored and berated year after year, who would be surprised when the “enough already” bursts and shatters our cities.

When it comes to the Bodhisattva’s vow of compassionate liberation for all beings, is this a rarified path of fantastical tales woven in the dharma hall? Or is ours a path borne of the unflinching courage to clarify and uproot the causes of violence endemic to our country?

Our community must remain committed to the work of recognizing, clarifying, renouncing, healing, and correcting the racial harm that runs in the blood of our bodies and our nation. With the support of our Buddhist ancestors, may we devote ourselves to the healing of a society so painfully out of harmony with the Dharma. May we endeavor to realize in our bodies, psyches, institutions, systems, and culture, the love we know at base is the interconnected fabric of life itself.

We as a nation must admit and renounce white supremacy once and for all, and summon a moral imagination that paints the first strokes of a different world. Whether such a world can ever unfold will surely pivot on our taking of responsibility for our past, on our honesty about this moment, and most certainly on a shared moral courage toward a future that holds the possibility of a true home for us all.

Kosen Gregory Snyder
Dharma Teacher & Senior Priest, Brooklyn Zen Center

Shingetsu Laura O’Loughlin
Dharma Teacher & Senior Lay Practitioner, Brooklyn Zen Center