New audio dharma talk by Kosen Greg Snyder

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

Audio dharma talk by Kosen Greg Snyder (2022/01/08)

New audio dharma talk by Teah Strozer

A new audio dharma talk by BZC root teacher Teah Strozer is now available on the BZC Audio Dharma Podcast!

Audio Dharma Talk by Teah Strozer (2022/01/22)

New audio dharma talk by Laura O’Loughlin!

Drawing from the teachings of two recently deceased elders – Bishop Desmond Tutu and Thich Nhat Hanh – BZC dharma teacher shares her reflections of forgiveness.

Audio dharma talk by Laura O’Loughlin (2022/01/29)

The chart outlining the path to forgiveness, referenced in the dharma talk, from The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World, by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu:

Brooklyn Zen Center is Hiring!

We’re excited to be hiring a full-time Administrative Director to implement and support the many projects and plans at Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC).

We’re looking for someone who can embody BZC‘s mission to cultivate intimate, ethical, and just relationships with ourselves and all beings, particularly in these areas:
• Transform organizational aspirations into achievable goals
• Help create a culture of accountability
• Manage areas of Fundraising, Membership, Marketing/Communication, Programming, and Finance
• Organize and manage volunteers in these areas

Please consider applying and sharing with friends and communities in alignment with BZC’s mission and goals!

The full job description is here.

Honoring our teacher, elder, and ancestor Thich Nhat Hanh

In honor of the wisdom. compassion and great example of our teacher, elder, and ancestor Thich Nhat Hanh:

Your teachings on mindfulness, compassion, and interbeing, and your clear presentation of the Yogacara teachings have been interwoven into Brooklyn Zen Center‘s dharma from the very beginning. We will miss your breath and feet on this earth. And yet, as you’ve always reminded us, they will continue.

May we endeavor to be that breath and follow your steps and thus embody their continuation for the benefit of all beings.

New Audio Dharma Talk by Chimyo Atkinson

Audio dharma by Chimyo Atkinson (2021/10/23)

The Window of Gratitude

A message from Ian Case, Brooklyn Zen Center director and resident priest at Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery:

Dear sangha,

I hope this message finds you safe and healthy.

First, it makes me very happy to announce that we raised a total of $75,917 during our end-of-year campaign—so we have successfully met our goal and then some! This amount came from 162 individual donations, truly a collective effort. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed and responded to our appeal. I am deeply grateful and so heartened by this latest manifestation of generosity by the sangha. This also represents a great boost of support for Brooklyn Zen Center as we move into the new year.

I have been reflecting this week on the active power of gratitude. Last week at the monastery I came down with what seemed to be Covid symptoms (another monk got sick as well). All our tests came back negative, but we took no chances. A protocol meeting was quickly convened. It was decided that all the monks would wear masks in public spaces and isolate from each other as much as possible, and the two of us sick monks would quarantine in our rooms until our symptoms resolved.

As many of us have experienced at various times during the pandemic, one’s world can become quite small in such a situation. I became intimate with the four walls closing in on me. My desk marked the horizon, and it was hard to discern where my body ended and my bed began.

At the same time—and this is what saved me—I realized what a radically dependent being I was during those five days. I depended on the community for everything. Three times a day, meals were delivered to a little table outside my door: tofu cabbage, kimchi pancakes, Tuscan white bean soup, all my favorites it seemed. My humidifier was refilled upon request. It was wondrous in a way. A deep sense of gratitude gradually overwhelmed any inclination toward self-pity that I might have entertained. And the gratitude became my lifeline to the rest of the community, reminding me that I was not alone. When I remembered the gratitude, the gratitude grew and the rest of the world was there. It was a window into a field of nonseparation.

Fortunately, we don’t necessarily have to be sick and cooped up in our rooms to discover this (although becoming intimate with the ways we create suffering will ultimately illuminate this truth for us). We are being supported by others in ways both obvious and mysterious, all the time.

May this realization be a source of strength, resilience, and joy as we cross over into the new year.

– January 2022

This message was first distributed in the January BZC Newsletter. If you would like to receive the BZC monthly newsletter in your inbox, please sign up here.

 

New audio dharma talk by Kritee Kanko

The dharma talk offered by visiting teacher Kritee Kanko in November is now available on the BZC Audio Dharma Podcast.

Audio dharma by Kritee Kanko (2021/11/13)

A previous dharma talk by Kritee, offered at BZC in April, is available here.

Kritee (dharma name Kanko) is a climate scientist-activist, grief-ritual leader, meditation teacher, and a Rinzai Zen priest. Kritee is a founding teacher of Boundless in Motion sangha, a co-founder of Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center and a fully ordained priest in the Zen Buddhist lineage of Cold Mountain (Han Shan). Trained as a microbiologist and biogeochemist, she now serves as a senior scientist in the Climate Program at Environmental Defense Fund to implement climate-smart farming at scale in India. She loves teaching at the interface of spirituality and ecology and has served as a faculty for One Earth Sangha, Earth-Love-Go (Lama Foundation), Impermanent Sangha and Shogaku Zen Institute. Kritee believes in identifying and releasing our personal and ecological grief and bringing our gifts into strategic collective actions for societal healing. Kritee also regularly lectures on the inseparability of climate and racial justice at national and international forums including the World Council of Churches. Her articles and interviews have appeared in New York Times, Tricycle, Lion’s Roar, Buddhadharma, Tikkun, public radio and other Buddhist and climate advocacy outlets.

New audio dharma talks by Teah Strozer now available

The dharma talks offered by BZC‘s root teacher Teah Strozer during the October Sesshin are now available on the BZC Audio Dharma Podcast.

Audio Dharma by Teah Strozer: Sesshin Day 1 (2021/10/01)

Audio Dharma by Teah Strozer: Sesshin Day 2 (2021/10/02)

Audio Dharma by Teah Strozer: Sesshin Day 3 (2021/10/03)

 

Our programs are given free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. If can would support Brooklyn Zen Center here. A suggested donation of $10 per audio dharma talk is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

A Message from Kosen and Laura

Dear Friends and Supporters of Brooklyn Zen Center,

We are writing to all of you who value and support the sangha’s work at Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) to ask that you contribute to our end-of-year campaign. We are in a time of transformation. Old social structures and ways of organizing human life are proving increasingly unstable. A human world whose primary economic drivers are self-interest and greed is no longer sustainable. Relations between peoples and nations rooted in fear, exploitation, and hatred are no longer sustainable. Our dear Earth is letting us know that our egocentric and anthropocentric ways of living are failing us and all living beings. Beneath all the noise, we are all feeling our moment as a time of change.

All communities working to cultivate the skills and capacities to live into a different kind of world are critical in this time. We need elders supporting us in embodying our deeply interconnected life as this Earth. We need communities supporting us in recognizing and transforming the hindrances of white supremacy, misogyny, individualism, consumerism, and the oppressive social systems that fuel them. If we are to support life, we must see how these ways of being have changed us and separated us from Mother Earth and all beings. We must realize how they structure our minds and how they cloud our hearts and confuse our basic human wisdom. As Tiokasin Ghosthorse often says, we must each learn again to be a real human being.

For this work of remembering we need community. Not one of us alone can discern and cultivate liberation from delusion within a deluded culture. We rely on the collective, a sangha that includes taking refuge in our ancestors, in Mother Earth, and in each other. We transform the world by transforming the karmic inheritance of a suffering world built on the delusion of separation and by clarifying how it lives in us and between us. We need to be in community to realize that compassion is the nature of the relational universe.

Our sangha continues this work thanks to the efforts of so many people. Our last two years have been difficult. Our closing and reopening was the way our community expressed the deeper transformation that is upending our current world. We are of course not separate from it. By accepting what was real for us, we have opened up tremendous possibilities, even as we are grieving what has been lost.

Now we are in a place of needing to build our temple and the administrative capacity necessary for our sangha to grow and be fully supported. We will be cultivating our Brooklyn temple in mutual support with our training monastery in Millerton. We now have the opportunity to deepen the Zen training passed to us by our ancestors while adapting it to meet the current world in all its struggles.

To do this, we need the financial support of each and all of you. To ensure our community is sustained, we are asking for whatever amount you can offer. Even if you only joined in sangha practice a few times, but feel BZC’s work in the dharma is important, your gift matters greatly. If you are a member, we ask that you give so that we have 100 percent participation from our membership. Every donation matters as it allows us to continue our healing efforts in the dharma.

Our collective effort is to cultivate wisdom, compassion, and liberation for all beings. Together we will ensure this great sangha activity continues!

With love and gratitude,
Laura and Kosen

2021 at BZC: A Year in Pictures

As we approach the end of the year, we look back at the life of the sangha during 2021. As we continued to adapt to the pandemic circumstances, BZC was able to offer a mix of in-person and online offerings, with the return of in-person practice opportunities in Brooklyn and at Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery. This selection of images includes some – but not all – of the highlights of our sangha life during the past 12 months. May we continue to practice together in 2022!

Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery

Monastic practice has entered its third year at Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery (AHZM). There are now twelve long-term residents, and throughout the year nearly 100 visitors have come to partake in zazen, ritual, and communal living. We are currently accepting applications from BZC members only, but planning has started for Phase 1 of the monastery’s build-out and we look forward to expanding the capacity to host more visitors at AHZM.

Robes and rubber boots at AHZM (March 2021)

Black and Buddhist Summit

BZC was honored to be a partner of the Black and Buddhist Summit, an online gathering exploring what Buddhism can teach us about race, resilience, transformation, and spiritual freedom. Over 20 leading African-descended Buddhist teachers offered their wisdom and insights about Buddhist teachings, being Black practitioners, and the possibility of a truly representative American Buddhism.

BZC Ethics Statement and Process

BZC‘s Ethics Statement was presented to our community in early March. These forms, resulted from months of work, discussion, and discernment, with the goal of offering a possible path through which to hold conflict and harm in a loving, transformative way. This process, led by the Ethics Working Group, included the generous input and support of previous and current board members, sangha members, teachers, and other sanghas.


Vegetable Garden

A new vegetable garden was born at Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery! From the snowed fields in early March, to the promise of the first sprouts in the spring, through the abundance of the summer greens and flowers, to the last fall vegetables, we followed the hard work and adventures of the gardening monks and volunteers at AHZM under the guidance of Sansei Simmons Antell, Head of Garden and Grounds.

May We Gather: A National Buddhist Memorial Ceremony for Asian American Ancestors

BZC joined sanghas across the country for a national Buddhist memorial service. May We Gather featured Buddhist chanting and reflections from forty-nine Asian American Buddhist leaders of South, Southeast, and East Asian descent in a communal ritual to honor people who have died from acts of anti-Asian violence in the United States.

In-Person Garden Zazen

As the pandemic eased and the weather got warmer, the BZC sangha set up weekly in-person sits at the Warren St. Marks Community Garden in Park Slope. Week after week, the sangha sat under the Brooklyn skies, surrounded by the urban soundscape and the garden chickens.

Prospect Park BZC Sangha Gathering

For many of us, this was the first time we met in person for the past 18 months! Under majestic trees and beautiful sunlight, we sat zazen and shared food, as well as laughter and tears. The day also included a ceremony welcoming the new babies in the community!


The Bodhisattva Path of Liberation

In September, after a year of planning and development, BZC launched a new program: The Bodhisattva Path of Liberation: Racial Suffering and Collective Transformation. This ten-month program is an immersive group experience oriented towards transforming racial harm and suffering through a Dharma framework of liberation. More than 40 participants joined the program and are have now embarked on this ambitious and unique process to undo racial domination within the sangha and beyond.

2021 BZC Membership Drive

During the 2021 membership drive, 15 new members joined BZC! Of course, you can become a BZC member any time!

BZC members Amy and Nyoden

Zen Priest Ordination

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! Find more pictures of this day here, including a certain four-legged BZC sangha character.


Visiting Teachers

Throughout the year, many visiting teachers joined our sangha to offer dharma talks and workshops. These included Sarah Dōjin Emerson, Charlie Pokorny, Sally Chang, Kritee Kanko, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, James Lynch, Konjin Gaelyn Roshi and Taiga Sensei. Many of their dharma offerings, as well as those from BZC teachers, are available at the BZC Audio Dharma Podcast.

Vising teacher Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

In-Person Rohatsu Retreat

After an online Rohatsu in 2020, the BZC sangha could gather in person and share space for this year’s December retreat. Hosted at the Christ Church Cobble Hill, in Brooklyn, the retreat focused on bringing our effort completely to the physical activity of building the temple. With 51 people in attendance, the sangha was devoted each day to cleaning and caring for this new space, in preparation for regular practice there in the year ahead.

End of Year Appeal: Meeting This Moment as Sangha

Created using the Donation Thermometer plugin https://wordpress.org/plugins/donation-thermometer/.$75,000Raised $73,128 towards the $75,000 target.$73,128Raised $73,128 towards the $75,000 target.

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!