Special Offering

Of Lotuses and Mud: The Subtle Wisdom and Fierce Creativity of Dharma-Driven Female Ancestors

October 18, 2024 – October 20, 2024

Ancestral Heart Temple
87 Kaye Road
Millerton, NY 12546
View map

Three-Day Residential Retreat with Dr. Paula Arai, Sarah Dōjin Emerson,  and Shingetsu Laura O’Loughlin

  • Watershed/Ancestral Heart Temple in Millerton, NY
  •  October 18-20 (arrival by lunch time on Friday, departure after lunch time on Sunday)

While much of Buddhist history as it’s taught today focuses on male monastic practices, women and lay practitioners have always been, and continue to be, the main people who keep traditions alive and contemporarily relevant. Their contributions are integral to religious institutions and the social spheres beyond them in daily lives, homes, and communities.

In these retreats, Dr Arai will share teachings from the lives and practices of these skillful and resilient women ancestors, both historical and contemporary; and the nine principles of liberating power she has distilled from them. We will take time together to reflect on these teachings, as well as the women and feminist archetypes and principles in our own lives; and to engage and embody rituals that emerge from them.

This workshop is supported by The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism, as part of a focus on Women in Buddhism.

Image: Iwasaki Tsuneo (painting detail)

BZC is committed to offering classes, workshops, and retreats on a sliding scale in an aspiration to move towards equity within our sangha. To that end, we offer an equitable pricing model as a mindfulness practice and a mirror of our relations to histories of wealth. Please see the Equitable Pricing Model to determine your registration rate level.

If you’re unable to pay at the lowest rate, please use this form to apply for an exemption.

If you have any questions or concerns about registration, please contact us here.

The registration deadline is October 15.

For weekly updates and upcoming events, request to join the BZC Community List here.

COVID Protocol: We ask that all participants be fully vaccinated and boosted. Masks are optional. Please see the BZC Covid Protocol for more information.


Paula Arai was raised in Detroit by a Japanese mother and did Zen training in Japan. She obtained her Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University in 1993 and is now the Eshinni & Kakushinni Professor of Women and Buddhist Studies at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, California. She is the author of Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Women’s Rituals, Women Living Zen: Japanese Soto Buddhist Nuns, and Painting Enlightenment: Healing Visions of the Heart Sutra.

Sarah Dōjin Emerson’s formal practice in Soto Zen began in 1996. She lived and trained at Tassajara Zen Mountain center and other sites of the San Francisco Zen Center from 1997-2007. She received Dharma Transmission from Abbott Konjin Gaelyn Godwin of the Houston Zen Center in 2015. She has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies, and has worked in the fields of mental health and pastoral care with children and adults. She experiences Bodhisattva Zen practice as deeply supportive to inquiring into, challenging and transforming systems of oppression, particularly racial inequities and the harm they cause within convert Buddhist sanghas, and in U.S. society generally. Sarah has also worked for many years in grief support- clinically, ritually and in community- specializing in child loss. She lives with her partner, Charlie Pokorny (who is also a Soto Zen Buddhist priest), their children (who are her most profound and constant teachers) and numerous pets in Brooklyn, NY.

Shingetsu Laura O’Loughlin is a dharma teacher and co-founder of Brooklyn Zen Center. She is also a clinical social worker in private practice since 2007. Before co-founding BZC, Laura trained and lived in various Buddhist communities since 1997, including Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery, San Francisco Zen Center and Austin Zen Center where she served as Director. Laura received lay dharma entrustment from Teah Strozer in 2017. Laura is interested in how, alongside Zen training, other embodied wisdom modalities can support our collective healing and transformation from histories of racial, patriarchal and ecological violence. Laura co-created and co-facilitates the undoing whiteness program at BZC and leads retreats exploring patriarchal trauma and affirming the sacred feminine.


To request a refund for this program you must notify BZC in writing at least 2 days before the beginning of the program. This supports the organizing effort involved in managing registrations and cancellations.

Watershed Retreat Center and Ancestral Heart Temple are adjacent to each other, and participants may need to take a 5-10 minute walk or short car ride between them. Most of Watershed's housing is in an historic building with stairs, and the zendo will be in a yurt along a gravel walkway. Participants are asked not to wear scents. BZC is committed to meeting participants' accessibility needs—please contact us with any questions or concerns.
Of Lotuses and Mud: The Subtle Wisdom and Fierce Creativity of Dharma-Driven Female Ancestors