New audio dharma talk by Ian Case

You can now listen to a dharma talk offered by Zen priest and BZC Tanto (Head of Practice), Ian Case.

Audio dharma talk by Ian Case (2022/01/15)


The BZC Audio Dharma Podcast is offered free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. A $10 suggested donation per dharma talk is recommended. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you for your generosity!

New audio dharma talk by Sarah Dōjin Emerson!

You can now listen to a dharma talk offered by visiting teacher Sarah Dōjin Emerson.

Audio dharma talk by Sarah Dōjin Emerson (2022/04/02)

The BZC Audio Dharma Podcast is offered free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. A $10 suggested donation per dharma talk is recommended. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you for your generosity!

Zazen in a Teacup

From the BZC May Newsletter, by Emme Blong:

Over the last several years I’ve developed a deep appreciation for tea. Mostly Chinese teas, starting with Sheng (raw) and Shu (ripe) Puerhs, varieties of white teas, and more recently the world of oolongs. Most Monday mornings – our day off at Ancestral Heart Zen Temple – I take a couple of hours to devote to appreciation of tea, often with other residents, comparing the qualities, aromas and tastes that we perceive, where they appear in the mouth or the tongue, when they show up, when they dissipate, what impressions or other associations they bring about, and how these all change throughout the long gongfu-style brewing sessions. Early Summer Apricots? Mushroom funk? Fresh petrichor? Minerality or ocean brine? It is incredible what you can find. The various senses, flavors, aromas, and associations can combine in such a way as to produce an immersive narrative: walking alongside sea cliffs on a perfect sunny day, fresh grass tender underfoot as perfumed air swirls around, and stopping for shade under a lone fruit tree – and then, amidst this narrative, you remember that this is all just tea – Camellia sinensis – with nothing added or mixed in. The flavors and associations are all mental projections: dances between the tongue, the mind, past experiences, and the tea. The scene is an illusion, and yet that illusion is real, and so very delicious to explore, especially with others.

I have been enjoying the class that Jefre Cantu and Ian Case have been teaching on the Samdhinirmocana Sutra – a foundational Mahayana sutra that outlines Yogacara theory of mind – and it struck me that tea practice is just what the sutra is pointing to. In the sutra, various bodhisattvas clarify the relationship between mind and phenomena in dialogue with the Buddha, and while the Ultimate is essentially “of one taste”, it is apprehended through phenomena, which are relationships between senses, mind, experiential “seeds”, and objects. Studying (and enjoying!) the playful illusions that tea conjures up helps me to study and accept the energies, qualities, and feeling of all activity, without believing in their essential realness. They are all real, yet all play. The fear, rage, joy, the ineffable quality of poignancy that arise in zazen that can seem to demand attention and energy – they can all be appreciated and then let go of on the cushion just like the apricot, fresh grass, and ocean breeze of the tea cup.

As the weather warms, Saturday programming is back in person at Boundless Mind Temple at Christ Church, Cobble Hill, and Ancestral Heart is again accepting short- and long-term stays, perhaps we can enjoy the study and play of tea and being together soon!

Emme Blong
Shissui at Ancestral Heart Zen Temple

Sign up to the Brooklyn Zen Center mailing list here and receive the monthly newsletter and occasional special announcements. The BZC newsletter is sent at the beginning of every month with information on our many offerings, program scheduling and other sangha news.

Introducing Our Sangha Harmony Allies

We are thrilled to introduce BZC’s first two Sangha Harmony Allies: Renhō Gerardo Dexter Ciprian and Inzan Monica Rose Smith.

The Sangha Harmony Allies (SHAs) are a new role recommended by the Ethics Working Group as part of the formal Ethics Process, which was approved by the Board of Directors last year. Inzan and Renhō were chosen in consultation between the Practice Council and Sangha Council.

The Sangha Harmony Allies are long-term students tasked with meeting and holding ethical concerns in the Sangha. They will strive for impartiality, fairness, and true communication. Their role is not necessarily to resolve conflicts, but to listen and guide someone through their process, empower that person with agency, and to moderate peer conversations. You can read more about the role here.

We cannot think of two practitioners better suited to this role than Inzan and Renhō, both of whom bring a depth of practice, commitment to our sangha, and compassionate hearts to this work. Please join us in welcoming them.

If an ethical concern or question arises, please don’t hesitate to contact one or both directly (Inzan Monica Rose Smith here and Renhō Gerardo Dexter Ciprian here)

About Inzan Monica Rose Smith

Inzan Monica Rose SmithInzan Monica Rose Smith started practicing Zen meditation in the Taisen Deshimaru lineage when she lived in Ireland. Upon moving back to the States and making her home in Brooklyn, Inzan discovered the Brooklyn Zen Center and has been practicing here since 2006. Over the years, she has held the roles of Tenzo (head of kitchen) and Shika (temple greeter). In 2011, Inzan took the precepts with Soshin Teah Strozer, and in 2015, she completed a three-month practice period at Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery. Inzan received tokudo (priest) ordination from Kosen Greg Snyder in 2018. In the spring of 2020, Inzan graduated from a dual-degree program at Union Theological Seminary and Hunter, CUNY, with Master’s Degrees in Divinity (in Buddhist Studies and Interreligious Engagement) and Social Work. That fall, Inzan moved to Ancestral Heart Temple, where she lived for a year and a half and held the role of Ino (head of zendo). Inzan also holds an MFA in creative writing, which she continues to do in her spare time. She also enjoys reading, cooking, hiking, aikido, and is determined to learn how to garden. Inzan lives nearby Ancestral Heart Temple  and is building a clinical practice as a psychotherapist.

About Renhō Gerardo Dexter Ciprian

Renhō Gerardo Dexter Ciprian (he/him) is a Dominican-American visual artist, educator, and disability justice advocate living and working in the unceded land of the Wappinger, Schaghticoke and Wapinger people, also known as The Bronx, NY. Renhō came across the Brooklyn Zen Center in 2014 by chance and, since then, has been practicing under the guidance of his teacher, Laura O’Loughlin. Renhō received the precepts from Kosen Gregory Snyder in October of 2019. He’s held various roles in the sangha, including Shika (temple greeter) and co-facilitator of the POC Sangha. Renhō is currently teaching a course on disability justice and architecture at The City College of NY, and is an artist in residence at The Bronx Museum of the Arts.

New BZC Survey: Communicating with Sangha

 “This is calligraphed in formal script on a white sheet of paper. Cursive or decorative script is not used. This list is fastened to a paperboard with a flax string, about the thickness of two grains of rice, and hangs like a screen. It is removed at the end of the break from zazen on the fifth day of the fourth month.”
—Eihei Dogen, “Practice Period”

Dear Sangha,

I am thinking of Dogen Zenji as I ask for your participation in our new BZC Communications Survey. The survey will take about five minutes and will support myself, Dulce, and the entire temple in meeting you.

In this passage, Dogen meticulously describes how the participant list for the 90-day practice period should be displayed—details of communication he thought important enough to include in his masterwork, the Shōbōgenzō (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye).

Eight-hundred years later, as we negotiate the minutiae of email formatting and frequency, how and when to use social media, and the layout of our website, I bring to heart Dogen’s loving precision. The fruits of practice are not separate from its rituals and mundane details.

We are in a critical moment of learning how to hold two temples and to strengthen our sangha, while transitioning to a mix format of in-person and online practice. We want to understand how best to communicate our offerings and news: what is working for you, and what isn’t?

Please fill out the BZC Communications Survey by May 8.

Thank you for participating!

BZC Administrative Director

BZC COVID Protocol

We are very happy to share a new BZC COVID Protocol for our in-person gatherings in Brooklyn. The Ethics Committee developed this protocol in conversation with the Board of Directors as a way to support clear communication and the health of our sangha.

We are currently at risk level YELLOW.

Feel free to email the Ethics Committee here with all concerns and feedback.

New audio dharma talk by Laura O’Loughlin

You can now listen to a talk by BZC dharma teacher and co-founder Laura O’Loughlin!

Audio dharma talk by Laura O’Loughlin (2022/02/12)

The BZC Audio Dharma Podcast is offered free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. A $10 suggested donation per dharma talk is recommended. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you for your generosity!

New audio dharma talk by Yoko Ohashi

You can now listen to a dharma talks offered by BZC senior student Yoko Ohashi!

Audio dharma talk by Yoko Ohashi (2022/03/26)

The BZC Audio Dharma Podcast is offered free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive. A $10 suggested donation per dharma talk is recommended. You can donate to BZC here. Thank you for your generosity!

New Audio dharma by Konjin Gaelyn Roshi and Taiga Sensei!

Reverends Konjin Gaelyn Godwin and Taiga Ito visited Ancestral Heart Zen Temple last September and gave a presentation on Soto Zen International’s mission and its alignment with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The 17 Goals address the broadest range of issues: from poverty and inequity to the health of the oceans and forests. Their presentation was an opportunity for us to develop our understanding and encourage each other’s efforts in these areas.

Reverend Konjin Gaelyn Godwin is the Director of the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center (in addition to being the Abbot of Houston Zen Center), and Reverend Taiga Ito is the Assistant Director. Konjin is also a longtime friend and visiting teacher of the Brooklyn Zen Center.

Audio dharma by Konjin Gaelyn Roshi and Taiga Sensei (2021/09/28)

Our New Administrative Director

Dear sangha,

It gives me great pleasure to announce that our search is over and that Ryan Wong will be stepping into the new full-time position of Administrative Director at Brooklyn Zen Center (BZC).

Many of you know Ryan already so it may be somewhat redundant for me to sing his praises, but please indulge me…

Professionally, Ryan brings with him a wealth of non-profit experience from other organizations, including the Asian American Writers Workshop and Kundiman, where he served as managing director from 2015 to 2017. He has also practiced at BZC since 2014 (and for over two years at Ancestral Heart). During that time, he served as shika (guest manager) at both temples and most recently as Kosen Sensei’s jisha, a role where his devotion and attention to detail were on full display. In addition, Ryan serves as a co-facilitator of the Undoing Patriarchy group and also co-chairs BZC‘s Ethics Committee, where he was instrumental in drafting our first grievance policy.

I had the pleasure of practicing and working alongside Ryan at Ancestral Heart for the past year and a half, and I got to witness his deepening practice firsthand. Whether he was greeting a guest, repairing a sink, or working on a grant proposal, he brought the same enthusiasm, care and magnanimous mind to the task.

The role of Administrative Director is actually a new one at BZC, encompassing much of what I did as a part-time director in terms of managing day-to-day operations, but including much more in a full-time position. The new AD will help ensure that BZC‘s mission of collective liberation and cultivating ethical and just relationship shines through in myriad aspects of BZC‘s organizational life, whether it be fundraising, membership or communications. I can think of no one better than Ryan to take on this new role of service to the sangha and to BZC.

It has been a joy and an honor for me to have served as director during the past three years. I leave the position older (and I hope wiser) and with a deep gratitude for this community. I look forward to continuing to practice alongside all of you in the years to come, in Brooklyn and at Ancestral Heart.

Ryan will officially start in his new role this coming Monday, April 4.

Please join me in welcoming Ryan wholeheartedly into this new role.

With gratitude,

Ian Douglass Case

Rohatsu sesshin audio dharma talks now available!

You can now listen to all the dharma talks offered during the 2021 Rohatsu sesshin  (formal retreat) by Brooklyn Zen Center‘s dharma teachers:

Audio dharma talk by Kosen Greg Snyder: rohatsu sesshin day 1 (2021/12/08)

Audio dharma talk by Laura O’Loughlin: rohatsu sesshin day 2 (2021/12/09)

Audio dharma talk by Kosen Greg Snyder: rohatsu sesshin day 3 (2021/12/10)

Audio dharma talk by Laura O’Loughlin: rohatsu sesshin day 4 (2021/12/11)

For more dharma talks by BZC and visiting teachers please visit our Audio Dharma page.

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!

BZC Sangha!

The Brooklyn Zen Center sangha in Brooklyn! At the end of the three-day sesshin,  the sangha came together for the reopening ceremony for Boundless Mind Temple, in which we celebrated our new practice space at Christ Church!

New audio dharma talk by Sarah Dōjin Emerson

In this dharma talk invited teacher Sarah Dōjin Emerson referenced the following resources:

– “Sol Affirmations” podcast with Felicia Gangloff-Bailey and Karega Bailey, which can be found on Apple Podcasts and on Simplecast.

– The book Painting Enlightenment by Paula Arai and the painting by Iwasaki Tsuneo, which be be found here and here.

The BZC Audio Dharma Podcast is offered free of charge and made possible by the donations we receive.  You can donate to BZC here. Thank you!

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)