In These Troubling Times

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“May each and everyone of us be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.”

These meditations and talks are offered to assist you in finding grounding in the midst of these especially troubling times.

Wholeness Meditation
30 minutes

This meditation was given before the Dharma talk on December 18, 2014 at EBMC’s People of Color Sangha. I wanted to offer teachings which could support and encourage POC’s around BlackLivesMatter. There’s also a similar talk for a mixed group. Find them both at:  The Heart Sutra — Buddha’s Enlightenment Means BlackLivesMatter

Compassion / Karuna Meditation
20 minutes

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Love & Compassion: Where’s Selma Here & Now?
A Dharm talk given at SFZC’s City Center 

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We hope these talks & meditations have been of benefit to you. Your generosity will support us to continue to share the teachings with others .
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We Are Orlando

We Are Orlando1

“We Are Orlando”

As part of our The 7 Factors of Enlightenment series. Factor 2 is Investigation of dharmas; specifically of the 3 Marks of Existence:

  • Impermanence / Change
  • Not-self / Not-selfing
  • Suffering / Dis-ease

A Dharma talk framing how our reactions to the shooting in Orlando on Sunday, June 12th, may cause more suffering/harm if we don’t bring awareness to our difficulties with these laws of our existence:

Here are links to the posts mentioned in the talk:

RedState , ThinkProgress and to the List of names for those who died (including the shooter)

Discussions after the talk is off-line for privacy …. And, we did talk about anger as a response. While there is no one “right” answer on what to “do” about anger, I would say that caring for what we might call “the inside” (our own strong emotions and our habitual tendencies at such moments) and what we might call “the outside” (the impact of any speech or behavior) both need to be remembered.

May this Dharma talk, this post, all our practices, and our interactions with each other be for the benefit of all beings.

We Are Orlando 2

Photos: At Civic Center in SF after we marched thru the streets from the rally in the Castro on June 12th. One of many events around the world in response.

“May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.”

Injustice — And Possible Responses

Peace Bell Rays

Injustice — And Possible Responses

A sentencing by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky of only 6 months to ex- Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who had been convicted of three counts of sexual assault for the attack on an unconscious woman in January 2015.

A sangha member writes (and has given their permission to have it on this site):  

Anger. Recently I had posted a message on FB (ooooohhhhhh the FB…such a mine field for so many emotions)…about Judge Aaron Persky being up for re-election, thinking it was possible to vote him out (now I know is not possible since he’s unopposed). Background for anyone not familiar with Judge Aaron Persky, he is the judge who ruled on the Stanford rape case, in which a student raped an unconscious woman. I felt the sentencing was lenient and felt justice was not served. I was angry. Now that that initial reaction has worn off and my FB feed is flooded more angry posts, I have mixed emotions. Zen Buddhists believe there are consequences for actions and I felt like he was somehow escaping consequences for his actions. Now, the anger feels unproductive and the consequences for Brock Turner’s (the rapist) actions surely stretch beyond that of a cell. Also this anger doesn’t serve the survivor. Have any of you followed/read about this case? How do you feel about it?

My response:

I agree with you how it seems very lenient as a consequence! I also go to thoughts of, “If he was poor and a person of color…..!” AND, I want to say that in Buddhism we don’t shun or think we “shouldn’t” have anger — especially when we see what we deem to be injustice. A few thoughts/ideas I’ll offer to be with such strong emotions which may be useful:

1) Just that….What is the emotion which you’re dealing with? Can you be with it completely….AND also care for it in yourself.

2) Similar to when we are strong with our “own” (as in a personal/historical emotions), endeavor to look at and be with the PROCESS that’s happening (wanting to “mouth off,” or “collapse,” or “rage,” etc.

3) After being with it for awhile, can we then bring in wisdom by reflecting upon possible consequences for what WE/I do if I…….(perhaps, continue to “mouth off,” or “collapse,” or “rage,” etc.) Or

4) Where might my energy (especially this one that’s arising from this anger) be BEST place to be useful/appropriate? Either for the “cause” (such as, justice around violence against women — like signing a petition) or for myself in the moment (such as, running a mile to get rid of the comfortableness of anger; or joining a rape crisis center, or…) Those are my thoughts at this moment. May they be useful to you….And, for the ending of suffering for all beings.

PS: Persky was re-elected because he had no challengers on the ballot. However, he can be recalled. Here are a few petitions you’re invited to sign if you choose:

Zenkei Blanche Hartman (1926-2016)


Zenkei Blanche Hartman (1926-2016)

In the Soto Zen tradition, Zen masters compose a death poem:

Breathing in, receiving life
from the entire universe.

Breathing out, returning
the gift with gratitude.

Dearest Hojo-San / Root Teacher,

Thank you for your teachings on devotion to zazen and gratitude — manifested through your own practice which I witnessed these 14 years! And for your lovingkindness: to me and to so many; indeed, to all beings! Your body has gone. Your presence and teachings will go beyond.
Cranes made by Access to Zen sitting group members ….Burnt, along with flower petals, at her cremation this week.

Declumping: Lessons in Conditioning & Compassion Practice

From “The Finger Pointing at the Moon” series of the A2Z Sitting Group, Monday 4/11/2016:

Approximately 10-12 chickens fill each crate at the Richmond, Ca. farmers market. Raymond Young Poultry used to sell over 1,000 factory-farmed birds twice weekly in San Francisco and Richmond farmer's markets, to be slaughtered in people's backyards and small restaurants. Shortly after this photo was taken, live bird sales at RIchmond and San Francisco farmer's markets, were ended. April 21, 2011. deborah svoboda

Click below to hear the talk; with Q&A:

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We hope this talk has been of benefit to you. Your generosity will support us to continue to share the teachings with others .
Suggested donation: $5 -10


Sites mentioned in the talk for more information:

Farm Sanctuary


Taping of talk and photo by Deb Svoboda. Go here for her amazing work!

Buddha’s Birthday & Inter-Connectedness

Buddha’s Birthday & Inter-Connectedness!

From our sitting group’s series “finger pointing at the moon,” the main point this week was:

What if we, perhaps like the baby Gautama, when born, think we are individual and separated….Dis-Connected?

Therefore, our practice is the practice of remembering/accessing interdependence, inter-connectedness!

That we are CONNECTED to ALL of LIFE?


You are invited to join this Friday at Animal Place Sanctuary to “de-clump” (a resultant of being in crowded cages is that they “clump” on top of each other, suffocating each other; especially when going to sleep. We will then help to re-train them by separation them at sunset.)  These chickens who have been saved from being “gassed and trashed” after they were deemed no longer useful at laying eggs for humans to consume:

She-Ra Dustbathing

“Z” is for Zen


“Z” is for Zen

Which brings us to the end of the alphabet…. And, back to our About page….And the question,

“What is Zen?”

Do you know any more after 25 posts??

Let us know what you’ve learnt, thought about, and/or just plain ole share with us! We want to know! Enter a comment here or write us at

photo: “Z” created by Netsui. Go to “Netsui Arts” for her great works!

There’s no “Y” in Zen


There’s no “Y” in Zen

More specifically, I’m fond of saying,

“There’s no ‘Why?’ in Zen.” 

By that I mean, “Why?” isn’t so important in practice. So often we want to know “Why?”

“Why did this happen to me?”
“Why am I/he/she/they like this/that?

The premise I hold is that “Why?” isn’t so useful to our practice. It tends to come with a sense of wanting to FIX it; that there’s a problem.

“How.” or “What.” is much more useful, is my take.

“How” and “What” tends to bring a sense of curiosity; a desire to explore. “How” and “What” tends to bring a sense of curiosity to what’s happening right here, right now:

“How did this come to be?”
“What is going on?” 

I find “How” and “What” more useful because they engender exploration into what’s happening in the present. My take is “How” and “What” tends to open us to what can be vs. what we habitually think is happening.

That’s my take.  What is it like for you?

“‘X’ Marks the Spot!”….


“‘X’ Marks the Spot!”

….As the saying goes.

In Zen, we could re-frame this phrase to say:

“‘X’ marks THIS spot!”

By this I mean, “X marks the intention to stay right here and right now!”

“‘X’ marks THIS here and THIS now!”

Can you do this?

As the day “grows shorter” and the night “grows longer” along with colder mornings and winter rains, it seems to become harder and harder to be engaged; to stay connected to our practice.

It can seem soooo much easier to just snuggle down into your sheets and blankets in bed just a little longer….and then just a little bit longer….Until it’s “too late” to get up to meditate.

Or, perhaps, for you it’s “the other end”….. When it dark after work so it feels like such an effort to get to a Dharma event …..The evening sitting period at the temple or your sitting group or a class….

So, while we hear a lot that we “should practice with a non-gaining mind” this does not mean that no effort is needed!

Perseverance and consistency to “show up” IS the hall-mark of a seasoned practitioner.

Because “showing up” for practice means “showing up” for your life.

Are you “showing up?”

“W” is for Wow! and We….

9-19-15 Jukai_Lien and 5

“W” is for Wow!! We did it!! —- The new Ordinates and their rakusus!

A few pictures from the Jukai/Zaike Tokudo on September 19, 2015



Chanting with their new rakusus 

9-19-15 Jukai_Robe Chant

Wisdom water to purify

Wisdom Water

With Preceptors, teachers and guest monk and nuns from the  Thich Nhat Hanh and Truc Lam Vietnamese Zen traditions

9-19-15 Jukai_All

(L to R) Thich Hue Truc, Diego, Vicki Austin, Lien, Van, Abbot Ed, Ni Sư Thuần Tuệ , Marlene, Emma, Cô Thuần Tỉnh , Susumu, Phương Thiền

Joyfulness is powerful!

Advance Practice

Photos by Deb Svoboda. Go here for her amazing work!

SFZC write up: Here

where the path is available to all