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Thursday Night Book Discussion Group

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This virtual book study and discussion group meets on Zoom on the SECOND THURSDAY EVENING of the month at 7:15 PM from September through May and is facilitated by GBZC Practice Leader, John Vetrano. Contact John at [email protected] for more information.

During the 2020-2021 season, the Thursday night book study and discussion group will explore the book Stories of the Lotus Sutra by Gene Reeves.  All are invited to join. Drop-ins are welcome!  Prior reading is not required.  Come for one discussion, a few of them, or all of them as your schedule allows.

Dates:  Second Thursday of the month beginning September 10, 2020

Time: 7:15–8:45pm

Location: Via Zoom.  Full instructions here.

Suggested donation: GBZC members: $10 / non-members: $15.  Click here for virtual dana box.


Sep 10:  Chapter 6 - Shariputra
Oct 8: Chapter 9 - Doing the Common Good
Nov 12: TBA
Dec 10: TBA
Jan 14: TBA
Feb 11: TBA
Mar 11: TBA
Apr 8: TBA
May 13: TBA

indras net

Indra’s Net: A Communications Channel for Social Justice Actions

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Indra's Net is a Google Group that allows us to invite others to join us in taking action for social justice.

The whole universe is seen as a multidimensional net. At every point where the strands of the net meet, jewels are set. Each jewel reflects the light reflected in the jewels around it, and each of those jewels in turn reflects the light from all the jewels around them, and so on, forever. In this way, each jewel, or each particular entity or event, including each person, ultimately reflects and expresses the radiance of the entire universe. All of totality can be seen in each of its parts.

—"Indra's Net," as described by Taigen Dan Leighton

We commit ourselves to actively engaging and fully actualizing our bodhisattva vows in the relative world.
We commit ourselves to doing this fearlessly—opening our hearts to suffering and our eyes to oppression, privilege, marginalization, and injustice.

We commit ourselves to doing this inclusively—embodying the ideals of mutuality, interdependence, and democratic process.
And we commit ourselves to doing this humbly—acknowledging the reality of not-knowing, even as we act in urgent service to all beings.

—Fourfold Commitment to Racial and Social Justice, GBZC Sutra Book

Indra's Net is a new communications channel that allows community members of the GBZC mahasangha to take action together as one way to continue actualizing our bodhisattva vows. Several sangha members, with help from the Programming Committee, have set up this channel as a Google Group. We describe below a handful of working principles to get the idea off the ground, but we are eager for participants to co-create the shape of this channel as they use it. Everyone within our extended community (regardless of formal GBZC membership) is invited to join.

This communication channel takes its name from Indra’s Net, an image of interconnection and interdependence within Buddhist cosmology. It is an image, in Thich Nhat Hanh's words, of "interbeing."  It is precisely because of this interbeing that we actively engage our bodhisattva vows, including our Fourfold Commitment to Racial and Social Justice. And it is precisely because of this interconnection, interdependence, and interbeing that we recognize the need to act in urgent service of all beings.

How to Join:

To join the Google Group and receive communications about upcoming actions, please click here and click "Ask to join group."  If you have any difficulties, you can send an email to [email protected] to request to be added directly.

How and What to Post: 

The main principle of Indra’s Net, in order to keep it an action-oriented space, is that users only post actions that they themselves are committed to doing. Users must also be willing to do a bit of organizing work to enable other sangha members to join them in doing the action. What it means to “do” an action may look very different for different actions, especially in this time of social distancing and Zoom meetings. It might mean joining up together (at 6 feet apart!) at a street rally, or it could mean making a phone call or sending an email from home. The requirement that users only post actions that they themselves are doing prevents the list from becoming a channel for information-sharing alone—a worthy purpose but not the purpose of this group.

Actions do not have to be applicable to every possible group member. You are welcome to post an action that is (for example) a women of color space only, or that is only for people living in a certain legislative district, as long as it is something applicable to you yourself and you are planning to participate.

Once you’ve joined, you can post an action by sending an email to [email protected].  The message will automatically go out to all members of the group.  Please include at least the following details in your email:

  • What is the action?
  • When is it? (Is it one specific time/place? Is it something each person does on their own time?)
  • How would you like people to contact you if they are interested in participating?

It’s important for people who are interested in an action to be able to connect with each other— we know that “life happens,” and if the person originally posting the action is for some reason unable to participate, they can keep others in the loop (especially important for an in-person action where others may be relying on having a companion there). Even for an action that involves people doing something individually on their own time, it can be powerful and useful to be connected to others doing the same.

Community members may reasonably disagree about the effectiveness or value of some proposed actions, and that’s okay. We just ask users to be thoughtful about whether the action they wish to post is aligned with GBZC’s values as a community.

Eco-Anxiety and Pandemic

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Beginning Monday, August 3, the EcoSattva group is offering a free interactive 9-week Zoom course called Eco-Anxiety and the Pandemic.  Worrying about climate change and the pandemic can feel overwhelming, but there are ways to help reduce this anxiety and climate breakdown at the same time.  Speakers will include David R. Loy, Newell Lewey, Ivan Fernandez, and more! 

Visit this website for more information, and register here for all or part of this incredible series of classes.

GBZC’s Statement against Systemic Racism

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From Josh Bartok, on behalf of the GBZC Spiritual Direction Committee, the GBZC Board of Directors, and the senior teaching community of GBZC,  drawing from statements from the Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA)

June 7, 2020

In deep grief over the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, let us acknowledge the deep-seated, systemic, and structural racism that poisons life in the United States of America. 

Today, we see and hear the searing pain and anger of Black people, who have endured centuries of oppression and violence in the United States and who, as a community, continue to suffer acts of violence and discrimination, including at the hands of police.  

Those of us who are white fully avow our complicity in perpetuating the harms of white supremacy in all its oppressive forms including police violence and mass incarceration.

With heavy hearts we further acknowledge: 

  • That the colonization of what we call the Americas, and the rise of the United States as a global power, rests upon the enslavement of African people taken violently from their homes and forced to labor under brutal and oppressive conditions. 
  • That we as individuals and communities live in a world in which only some, because of the color of their skin, are accorded safety, as well as social and economic privilege—and we recognize the willful blindness that upholds this privilege.
  • That we as individuals and communities have systematically treated Black people with discrimination, disrespect, cruelty, and violence because of their race—and that we have upheld policing systems that enact this discrimination for us.
  • That we as individuals and communities are complicit in an unfair, classist economic system that divides humanity into winners and losers, exploiter and exploited, and that encourages selfishness and conflict. 
  • That as human beings, we cannot separate the gift of our own existence from the violence being done to Black people in the United States. 

As individuals, as a sangha, and on behalf of all those who came before us, we atone for our participation in all systems that perpetuate white supremacy, domination, violence, greed, and injustice in this world we co-create with all beings.


  • Let us vow to overcome systemic racism, supremacy, and dominator culture in ourselves, our Sanghas, our nations, and our world, in the service of all beings throughout space and time.
  • Let us commit ourselves to the work of untangling racism’s tenacious tendrils and cultivate the blossoming of a more just world. 
  • Let us pledge to face, acknowledge, study, understand, and hold the weight of our collective karma so that we may show up with clarity, vulnerability, and truthfulness. 
  • Let us commit ourselves to continue with renewed urgency our Bodhisattva work and call for a fresh and coordinated effort to dismantle racism at every level of our culture, society, government, as well as in our Zen communities, and our own hearts; 
  • Let us commit to taking individual actions—such as direct financial support to organizations, protests, educating others, advocacy in places we have privilege and power; and 
  • Let us commit ourselves to creating true refuge for all who breathe,
    and for all who cannot breathe. 

The above statement draws from the SZBA Statement & Call to Action on Systemic Racism by Tenku Ruff and the SZBA Board of Directors, as well as from the SZBA’s Statement of Recognition and Repentance, crafted by Koun Franz, Norman Fischer, Greg Snyder, and many participants of the 2018 SZBA conference.
Adapted by Josh Bartok.

For more resources, including related talks and suggestions for responses, see this document.

EcoDharma Classes

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The GBZC EcoSattva Sangha offers drop-in monthly EcoDharma conference call classes on the last Monday of each month from 5:30-6:30 pm starting again in October 2020. From August 3 to October 5, 2020, it will join the weekly Eco-Anxiety and Pandemic Zoom course.


August 3, 2020 to October 5, 2020: We will join the Eco-Anxiety and Pandemic on-line course described here.

If you would like to participate in these free classes, please email [email protected] for details.