News

Home altars

In these days of physical distancing, the Brooklyn Zen Center sangha, like spiritual communities around the world, has been practicing at home and through our online zendo. In our dwellings, whatever those may be, spaces for meditation and ritual are now even more cherished. Some of these have been set up for a long time now, others have sprouted in these new days of confinement — little corners to sit zazen, modest altars to offer incense, improvised zafus, tabletops with images of ancestors and tokens of nature. Negotiated spaces between book shelves, squares of room once overlooked, keepsakes now taking on new meanings. Flowers, for those who can get them. Or pictures of flowers, candles, images of the Buddha. Mostly in Brooklyn, but also across the country and around the world, these are some of the home altars of the Brooklyn Zen Center sangha.


Kristin Miscall (pronouns she/her), Roselle, NJ

Maryland

Alexandra Gekas (pronouns she/her), Brooklyn, NY

Inzan Rose, Brooklyn, NY

Laura O’Loughlin, Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery, Millerton, NY

My home altar, with some of my ancestors.


Michelle Marwitz (pronouns she/her), Crown Heights/East New York , Brooklyn, NY

I am so grateful for our sangha and virtual zendo during this time! The support I am receiving from all of our virtual offerings is profound. My regular 20 minute morning sitting has grown to a daily practice of at least two 30 minute sits in the virtual zendo, participation in the streaming of the midday service from AHZM and often a little additional sitting, as well. I’ve also started writing a detailed schedule out for each day which I attempt to stick to fairly strictly, but with some increasing room for ease, compassion and flexibility. Included in my schedule are time for my usual gratitude journaling as well as some Zen study. This time is trying for so many different reasons, but the ways in which my home practice is growing are very precious.


Michael Blong (pronouns he/him or they/them), Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY

My home altar is quite familial and personal to me. The photographs on either side of Buddha are of my grandparents – my maternal grandparents on the left and my paternal grandparents on the right. The censer and candle holder are pottery my mother made, and the censer is filled with small granite and quartz stones from my parents’ back yard. This kind of stone is very typical of the foothills and mountains of Southern California where I grew up and to which I feel rooted. Nestled in front of the Buddha is a small ceramic statuette of a cat-person seated in zazen, which is deeply tied to a dear friend – one of my first outside of family – who had profound effect on my life and practice, and who passed a couple of years back.

Bowing each day to this altar and what it represents – my ancestry, my family, my roots, and the Buddha-held dharma that unfolds through all of them – is a grounding practice, and a healing one. It connects me to a contextualized, historical, and full self. It helps me to remember who I am and where I came from in the midst of this capitalistic, white supremacist, patriarchal cultural context that asks me to cut off from those things. By bowing to this altar and offering incense each day, I am more intimately connected with the vast present by recognizing that it is not separate from my past.


Shokuchi Deirdre Carrigan (pronouns she/her), Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

The main altar in my home is the altar that expresses my aspiration to practice the Buddha Way, and represents for me the three treasures of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha..

The Bodhisattva of compassion is represented by the photograph of an 11th century Chinese sculpture, Water-Moon Guanyin in the asana (meditation seat) of royal ease. This is a depiction of compassion, meditating and at the same time ready to respond to the cries of the world.

The statue on the altar represents Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of practice and meditation. Together with Gautama Buddha and his fellow bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, he forms the Shakyamuni trinity in Buddhism. He is the patron of the Lotus Sutra and, according to the Avatamsaka Sutra, made the ten great vows which are the basis of a bodhisattva. He sits upon a white elephant with six tusks. The ten great vows of Samantabhadra given in the Avatamsaka Sutra are:

  1. To pay homageand respect to all Buddhas.
  2. To praise the Thus Come One-Tathagata.
  3. To make abundant offerings. (e.g. give generously)
  4. To repent misdeeds and evilkarmas.
  5. To rejoice in others’ merits and virtues.
  6. To request the Buddhas to continue teaching
  7. To request the Buddhas to remain in the world.
  8. To follow the teachings of the Buddhas at all times.
  9. To accommodate and benefit all living beings
  10. To transfer all merits and virtues to benefit all beings.

The picture of the lotus with the quote from The Lotus Sutra is from my time as Shuso, when the Green Gulch practice period studied The Lotus Sutra. This short verse for me expresses my aspiration in becoming one who offers Dharma teaching.

On either side of Samantabhadra are photos of me with my beloved teachers, Donald Moyer on the left (at his retirement party) and Tenshin Reb Anderson on the right (after my Shuso ceremony-photographer Ren Bunce.) The great gift of these teachers to me, in addition to their wisdom and compassion, is sangha—the sangha of yogis, the sangha of zen practitioners, and the sangha of Yoga and Zen retreat practitioners, who support my practice every moment.


Bobi, Bed Stuy, Brooklyn

Nick (pronouns he/him/his), Bed Stuy, Brooklyn

I offer incense every morning to my ancestors and invite them to sit with me. All the artwork is my grandmother’s. She was my favorite person, a wonderful folk artist, my original teacher. She loved to sculpt her own ancestors. The one pictured is her father, her meditation on the fruit of many lives. She grew up in the depression, her warm feet and hands radiators in a bed shared with six siblings. I loved her onion soup, holding her hands, and watching her draw. A Ukrainian American Jewish woman who bore witness to the holocaust. The mundane joy that hangs still in her art guides me to remain upright and light and creative as an amaryllis, to be in life, to bear the unbearable.


Maya (pronouns she/her
), Brooklyn, NY

Mimi (pronouns she/they), Crown Heights, Brooklyn

My quasi home altar. I offered a peanut butter cup to the Buddha for the duration of the self-quarantine.


Bianca Ozeri, Sunnyside, Queens

All the way on the right is a photo of my ancestors—my great-great grandfather and my great grandparents.


Camille, Kensington, Brooklyn

A basic altar I use for my daily zazen. A folding table the Zen Center gave away when the Shissui cleared out the storage closet, a (once) large lavender candle, a teeny tiny buddha a sangha buddy gave me from their travel to India, a stub of incense (what’s left after 75 mins of sitting), a sprig of flowers. This Quarantine Practice Period has convinced me to get a ‘real’ (larger-sized) buddha for my altar.


Andrew, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, NY

Adriane (pronouns she/her), near West Side Highway, NYC

Ninso & Andrea, Park Slope, Brooklyn

Yoko Ohashi (pronouns she/her), Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

Bin Jung (pronouns she/her), Seattle, Washington

The altar is located in my attic, which I’ve made into a little zendo. I have a sun lamp for the winter mornings when there’s little light, but I’m using it less now that the days are longer. Yesterday I saw that a bird has made a nest in the rafters outside the window — spring has sprung!


 

Dharma talk by Shokuchi Deirde Carrigan (2020-03-28)

A new dharma talk is now available on the Brooklyn Zen Center Audio Dharma Podcast. This talk was offered by BZC’s Tanto (head of practice), Shokuchi Deirdre Carrigan, via our Online Zendo.

Dharma talk by Shokuchi Deirde Carrigan (2020-03-28)

Online dharma offerings

Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) is now offering daily online meditation — all are welcome to join!

Here are the schedule and details to connect:

Morning meditation:
7:15am — session opens
7:30am — zazen (sitting meditation)
8:00am — Robe Chant (PDF available here)
8:15am — session ends

Link to join by computer: https://zoom.us/j/173111572
Or by phone (audio only): call (646) 876-9923 and enter ID: 173-111-572

Evening meditation:
6:15pm — session opens
6:30pm — zazen (sitting meditation)
7:00pm — Pali Refuges Chant (PDF available here)
7:15pm — session ends

Link to join by computer:  https://zoom.us/j/780859370
Or by phone (audio only): Call (646) 876-9923 and enter ID: 780-859-370

A few notes:
• If possible, please try to “arrive” 5 minutes before zazen begins, although you are welcome to join anytime during the period.
• We will be using be the same links and phone numbers for the meditation periods each day.
• Please mute your screen when you join the group and during zazen. This will eliminate background noise and the audio feedback loops that can occur. After each meditation period you can unmute and join in the chanting at the end.

The teachers and monastics at Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery are offering a daily well-being service, except Mondays. If you would like to add a name to the list of names to be chanted in the well-being service, please email ahzmshika@brooklynzen.org by 10 am that day. The well-being service takes place at 12:20 pm: https://zoom.us/j/315177141

We are working to bring more BZC’s programs online via livestreaming, including Saturday morning program dharma talks. Please stay tuned for updates.

Recordings of the morning and evening services at the monastery are now available at the BZC You Tube Channel and can be accessed any time and more recordings will soon be added:

The BZC Audio Dharma Podcast continues to be available to all, with dozens of talks by our dharma teachers, senior practitioners and visiting teachers. New talks, previously recorded, continue to be made available every week.

If you have any questions or difficulties, please contact us at info@brooklynzen.org

Thank you for your compassionate care for yourselves and each other.

Dharma talk by Teah Strozer (2020/03/07)

This dharma talk by Brooklyn Zen Center’s root teacher Teah Strozer was the last talk offered at our practice space in Brooklyn.

In this talk, Teah mentions the practice of R.A.I.N. You can learn more about this practice here.

Dharma talk by Teah Strozer (2020/03/07)

New dharma talk by Teah Strozer – updated version

This dharma talk by Brooklyn Zen Center’s root teacher Teah Strozer, at a time when we have been forced to move our practice online, was particularly special. It was the first-ever BZC live streamed dharma talk – more than 70 people were able to join the talk online, from different parts of the world, as Teah and a small group of monastics sat in the mountain zendo at Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery (AHZM).

This is an updated podcast version of the dharma talk, which includes the Q&A portion of the talk.

Dharma talk by Teah Strozer (2020/03/21) – updated

New dharma talk by Teah Strozer

This dharma talk by Brooklyn Zen Center’s root teacher Teah Strozer, at a time when we have been forced to move our practice online, was particularly special. It was the first-ever BZC live streamed dharma talk – more than 70 people were able to join the talk online, from different parts of the world, as Teah and a small group of monastics sat in the mountain zendo at Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery (AHZM).

Dharma talk by Teah Strozer (2020/03/21)

Online dharma offerings from Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery

The teachers and monastics at Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery are now offering several livestream programs via Zoom:
• A daily well-being service, except Mondays. If you would like to add a name to the list of names to be chanted in the well-being service, please email ahzmshika@brooklynzen.org by 10 am that day. The well-being service takes place at 12:20 pm: https://zoom.us/j/315177141
• BZC’s root teacher, Teah Strozer, will be offering a dharma talk on Saturday, March 21, at 11 am: https://zoom.us/j/537679704

Recordings of the morning and evening services at the monastery are now available at the BZC You Tube Channel and can be accessed any time:
Morning Service
Evening Service

We are working to bring more BZC’s programs online via livestreaming, as well as video recordings via our You Tube channel. Please stay tuned for updates.

In the meantime, the BZC Audio Dharma Podcast continues to be available to all, with dozens of talks by our dharma teachers, senior practitioners and visiting teachers. New talks, previously recorded, continue to be made available every week.

BZC is also offering two daily meditations periods — one period in the morning and one period in the evening — seven days a week, livestreamed via Zoom. More information is available here.

If you have any questions or difficulties, please contact us at info@brooklynzen.org.

Online meditation schedule

Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) is now offering daily online meditation — all are welcome to join!

BZC is offering two daily meditations periods — one period in the morning and one period in the evening — seven days a week, via Zoom.

Here are the schedule and details to connect:

Morning meditation:
7:15am — session opens
7:30am — zazen (sitting meditation)
8:00am — Robe Chant (PDF available here)
8:15am — session ends

Link to join by computer: https://zoom.us/j/173111572
Or by phone (audio only): call (646) 876-9923 and enter ID: 173-111-572

Evening meditation:
6:15pm — session opens
6:30pm — zazen (sitting meditation)
7:00pm — Pali Refuges Chant (PDF available here)
7:15pm — session ends

Link to join by computer:  https://zoom.us/j/780859370
Or by phone (audio only): Call (646) 876-9923 and enter ID: 780-859-370

A few notes:
• If possible, please try to “arrive” 5 minutes before zazen begins, although you are welcome to join anytime during the period.
• We will be using be the same links and phone numbers for the meditation periods each day.
• Please mute your screen when you join the group and during zazen. This will eliminate background noise and the audio feedback loops that can occur. After each meditation period you can unmute and join in the chanting at the end.

If you have any questions or difficulties, please contact us at info@brooklynzen.org.

Thank you again for your compassionate care for yourselves and each other.

Dharma talk by Kosen Greg Snyder: Rohatsu Day 3 (12/13/2019)

A new dharma talk by BZC dharma teacher and senior priest Kosen Greg Snyder is now available.

Dharma talk by Kosen Greg Snyder: Rohatsu Day 3 (12/13/2019)

Brooklyn Zen Center closed until April 13

As many of you know, we have been monitoring the situation and spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in New York. Last night, the Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC) Board and Practice Council met and we decided to suspend all public programming at BZC until April 13.  This is effective immediately, so there will be no public program this evening. We will continue to monitor this changing situation and assess whether it seems safe to reopen April 13 or remain closed for a longer period of time.

This was not an easy decision, but it felt like the best way to care for the health and well-being of our community and also to help minimize the conditions for the virus’s spread at this time. We were strengthened in our decision by knowing that this is what many other religious and educational facilities are doing in the city.

We want to continue to offer opportunities for the sangha to take refuge in each other during this challenging moment while honoring the need for safety.  To that end, here is what we’ve decided so far:
• There will be no public zazen schedule during this time.  We plan to find ways to organize “virtual sittings” through the Insight Timer application.
• Current classes will be offered online. Instructors will follow up with more information.
• The BZC affinity groups (POC, UWO, Undoing Patriarchy, Sacred Feminine, B12) will each self-organize online meetings if desired. Please expect further communications from the various facilitators as they make arrangements.
• We welcome the sangha to consider self-organizing online discussion groups when supportive.
• We also appreciate that this outbreak will affect some people more than others and that some of us may be more vulnerable during this time. We are currently exploring ways that sangha members can respond to each other in this way. Please also expect further communications about this in the near future.

It is during stressful and uncertain times like these that many of us rely on community the most. As a community we have deep faith and trust that we will all find creative ways to support each other and manifest the jewel of sangha in our lives.

If you have any questions, please email Ian Case at director@brooklynzen.org.

As always, thank you all for your patience, attention and care for each other during this time. We have no doubt the sangha will come forward with the loving attention and courage necessary to see all of us through the weeks to come. Thank you for caring for each other and for your practice.

With love and gratitude,

The Practice Council and Board of Directors

Shokuchi Carrigan
Ian Case
Alexandra Gekas
Weishin Huang
Yoko Ohashi
Laura O’Loughlin
Kristin Miscall
Radha Radkar
Kosen Gregory Snyder

New audio dharma talk by Ian Case: Rohatsu Day 2 (12/12/2019)

A new dharma talk by Ian Case is now available!

Dharma talk by Ian Case: Rohatsu Day 2 (12/12/2019)

Community Health Practices at BZC

To support our sangha’s health, we would like to offer some recommendations for community health practices in light of the novel spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • Please wash your hands with soap and water for 20 second when you arrive at BZC, and when you leave. We are providing paper towels for hand drying
  • Use the hand sanitizer and tissues in the entryway
  • Please refrain from using kitchen towels to dry dishes. You may wash cups and dishes and leave them on the rack to air dry
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue (or your inner elbow, as a secondary measure)
  • Please stay home if you’re not feeling well or if you develop symptoms, especially fever, cough, and shortness of breath—and stay home until you are fully recovered

Our Shikaryo heads have disinfected surfaces in our center, and we will continue this practice on a regular basis throughout this critical time. Tissues and hand sanitizer are available. You are welcome to bring your preferred hand sanitizer for personal use.

We are closely monitoring the situation in New York City on a daily basis and we will follow any guidelines from the Mayor’s office on public gatherings, should they occur. Meanwhile, until further notice, and with the exception of our three day retreat which was postponed, we will follow our posted schedule. We will communicate any changes to our schedule via email to the sangha and on our website.

Thank you for your care and cooperation in keeping our community safe and healthy.

New BZC Audio Dharma Podcast episode by Kosen Greg Snyder: Rohatsu Day 1 (12/11/2019)

A new dharma talk by BZC dharma teacher and senior priest Kosen Greg Snyder is now available!

Dharma talk by Kosen Greg Snyder: Rohatsu Day 1 (12/11/2019)

New BZC Audio Dharma Podcast episode by Laura O’Loughlin (01/18/2020)

A new dharma talk by BZC dharma teacher Laura O’Loughlin is now available!

Dharma talk by Laura O’Loughlin (01/18/2020)

Spring 2020 Beginner’s Mind Experience group!

The Beginner’s Mind Experience (BME) is a program that introduces newcomers to the various aspects of community practice at BZC. The Spring 2020 BME program starts on Monday, March 2!

As part of this program, participants have the opportunity to join a peer practice group, try practice discussion, experience various forms of wholehearted activity practice, and, if you are a BZC member, receive special rates on introductory classes (valid for one year). Our intention is that this program provides participants with a sense of the variety and intimacy of Zen practice in the BZC community — and also offer embodied experience with how we can engage these practices in our daily lives.

The registration deadline for the Spring 2020 BME program is Friday, February 28, at midnight.

More information and registration available here.

New BZC Audio Dharma Podcast episode by Teah Strozer (12/09/2016)

A new dharma talk by BZC’s root teacher Teah Strozer is now available!

Dharma talk by Teah Strozer (12/09/2016)

New BZC Audio Dharma Podcast episode by Ian Case (12/14/2019)

A new dharma talk by Ian Case is now available!

Dharma talk by Ian Case: Rohatsu Day 4 (12/14/2019)

New BZC Audio Dharma Podcast episode by Kosen Greg Snyder (10/13/2019)

A new dharma talk by BZC dharma teacher and senior priest Kosen Greg Snyder is now available.

Dharma talk by Kosen Greg Snyder (10/13/2019)

New BZC Audio Dharma Podcast episode by by David Loy – Ecodharma: a new Buddhist path?

A new dharma talk by Zen teacher and author David Loy is now available, covering Buddhist teachings and ecology

Ecodharma: a new Buddhist path? – Dharma talk by David Loy (11/10/2019)

New BZC Audio Dharma Podcast episode by Laura O’Loughlin (10/02/2019)

A new dharma talk by BZC’s dharma teacher Laura O’Loughlin is now available!

Dharma talk by Laura O’Loughlin (10/02/2019)