Category Archives: Events

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.

Introduction to Zen Buddhism Class

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Curious about Zen?
Want to learn more about Buddhism?
Looking for guidance in starting a meditation practice?
Wondering what goes on at the Greater Boston Zen Center? 
Hoping to understand Zen forms and practices more deeply?

This four-session class is a perfect way to connect to the vibrant and welcoming contemplative community at the Greater Boston Zen Center and learn what Buddhism is all about. Through a mixture of history, philosophy, context, hands-on practice, and direct experience, you’ll learn about the Zen tools for finding peace—right in the middle of our busy, complicated lives.

Classes led by: Karen McCormack, GBZC Practice Leader and Harry Gordon, GBZC Practice Leader

When: Monday 7/6, 7/13, 7/27, and 8/3 from 7-8:30pm via Zoom

Registration Fee:  $20 for all four sessions (or pay whatever you can)

To inquire, email [email protected].  To register, fill out this Introduction to Zen Registration Form.

Turning Toward

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Turning Toward: White People Working to Dismantle White Supremacy

Who we are: Turning Toward is a group for white-identifying dharma practitioners to hold each other accountable and encourage each other in doing the inner and outer work of dismantling racism and acting in alliance with people of color in a white supremacist society.

We will be reading Radical Dharma by angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah. We will share excerpts in each meeting and attendees are encouraged to read the book as we go along.

Because of the relational and intimate nature of this group's work, attendees are asked to commit to attending at least 2 of 3 sessions (and the first meeting is mandatory for establishing our group together).

When we meet: July 12th, August 9th, & September 13th from 5-7pm (on Zoom)

How you can join: Turning Toward is now accepting new members! We open to new members 3 times throughout the year. Coming to the first meeting of each session isn’t a commitment, it’s an exploration to see if this group is a good fit. 

If you're interested in attending, please email Jill Gaulding and Liz Roemer at [email protected].

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 through July 2020 and starting again in October 2020. It will join the weekly Eco-Anxiety and Pandemic Zoom course from August 3 to October 5, 2020.


July 27, 2020: Suzanne Barrett will lead a discussion of Wabanaki spirituality as practiced by members of the Passamaquoddy tribe.

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 us at [email protected] for details.

Thursday Night Book Discussion Group

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This book study and discussion group meets 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 2019-2020 season, the Thursday night book study and discussion group explored the book Realizing Genjokoan; The Key to Dogen's Shobogenzo by Shohaku Okumura.  A new book will be chosen for Fall 2020. All are invited to join. Drop-ins are welcome! Prior reading is not required and a few books will be on hand to use during the discussion. Come for one discussion, a few of them, or all of them as your schedule allows.


Beginning Sept. 10, 2020. Remaining dates TBA.

Time: 7:15 – 8:45 PM

Suggested donation - GBZC members: $10 / non-members: $15



GBZC COVID-Related Help

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If you or someone in your family is sick with COVID-19, GBZC has offerings that can help. For some of us, asking for help can be hard. And knowing that you’ll be reaching out to a caring and compassionate sangha-mate who can be of help to you can make it a lot easier. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Care and Connection

Sangha Care and Connection at GBZC is one means through which we are able to care for each other and our community at any time, and especially now--in the midst of staying home to protect those who are the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 health crisis.
Whether you’d like:

    • to join a virtual support group with others who are sick or serving as caregivers
    • a pastoral visit (Zoom or phone)
    • to talk with a teacher or Zen priest (Zoom or phone)
    • to request a special dedication to be read during the Sutra service
    • to schedule virtual sits with your dharma siblings
    • help planning a memorial service

GBZC’s Care and Connection group can help coordinate care and support for you during these difficult and heartbreaking times. Please reach out to us at [email protected].

Virtual Programs

Many of GBZC’s programs, including orientations for newcomers, are now offered virtually via Zoom. All are welcome! Visit our Virtual Programming page or the GBZC Calendar for details.

Zoom Tech Help

If you need help connecting and navigating Zoom for our virtual sits, please email [email protected].

Grocery and Pharmacy Deliveries

If you are within the Cambridge/Somerville area and need help with a grocery or pharmacy delivery, please email [email protected]. If you live in a different area and need help with deliveries, please send a note to [email protected]. If you would like to join others who are volunteering to offer this service, please contact [email protected].

Planning for End of Life Care and Funerals

Many people in the sangha collaborated in creating this document containing resources and guidance for planning for end of life care and funerals during the pandemic.

Non-Residential Sesshin

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"Every Day Is A Good Day"

"We can't do it by ourselves, and no one else can do it for us."
--from our liturgy book

Non-residential sesshins at GBZC are a wonderful opportunity to deepen our practice by joining together as a sangha (community) in either 2 or 2.5 days of intensive Zen practice.

You can sign up for the multi-day sesshin or you can sign up for any combination of full and half-days. Non-residential sesshins are scheduled from 8am-6pm over either one regular or one long holiday weekend and include up to 8 hours of zazen (seated meditation) per day, liturgy, oryoki (traditional Zen meal ceremony) and dokusan (private meetings with the teachers).

The non-residential sesshin format allows us to practice together during the day and still spend the evening at home. While we will be chanting and eating together during our lunch meal service, we do not serve food at the Center. We will provide hot water for tea. We ask that participants plan to eat breakfast and dinner at home and plan to bring a bag lunch, a teacup, and whatever snacks they may need. 

GBZC Non-residential sesshins are led by Josh Bartok, Kate Hartland, Laura Wallace, and others, and are scheduled for:

  • May 15-17, 2020: Cancelled
  • Sep 18-20, 2020
  • Jan 15-17, 2021

Lunch: Please bring a brown-bag lunch and teacup to eat Oryoki style.

Suggested donation: $50 for each full day; $25 for each half-day
Sliding scale available. Please never let money keep you away. All are welcome, regardless of means. It is our policy that no one is turned away from sesshin because of financial circumstances. And we really mean this. Because it costs money to run the Zen Center and to support our teacher's time, we do ask that everyone make a contribution in some amount to our shared work. We encourage you to donate what you can, and know that your contribution of any amount is gratefully received.

LGBTQIA+ Zen Group

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The community at GBZC invites you to participate in a monthly sitting practice where our focus is on LGBTQIA+ issues. Our aim is to create a safe space for Zen meditation and dialogue for LGBTQIA+ people and allies.

What to Expect
This is a shortened Zen Buddhist service that will include chanting, seated meditation, walking meditation, and discussion. We will also seek to bring in teachers from the Zen community that can speak to topics affecting the LGBTQIA+ community. No RSVP required.

This is an opportunity to cultivate a diverse community rooted in inclusivity, justice, and compassion. This group is meant to be both an entry point to discovering and practicing Zen and an exploratory practice for LGBTQIA+ people and allies already familiar with Zen.


Currently being conducted via Zoom. Instructions here.

When: Every 4th Sunday from 7:00-8:30 P.M. unless otherwise noted.

Approximate program schedule:
6:30 pm - Early arrival for newcomers that would like an orientation
7:00 pm - Sutra Service (15 min), Walking Meditation (5 min), Sit (20 min), Walking Meditation (5 min), Discussion/Talk (30 min), Walking Meditation (5 min), Closing Service (5 min)
8:30 pm - Out for the evening

Who: All LGBTQIA+ people and allies are welcome.

Questions/Comments: Please contact the group's facilitator, Caroline Murphy, at [email protected]