San Francisco Zen Center is a Soto Zen community where the offerings of zazen, study and work practice are available to a diverse population of students, visitors, lay people, priests, and monks. Our practice flows from the insight that all beings are Buddha, and that sitting in meditation is itself the realization of Buddha nature, or enlightenment.
August 1 – 31
San Francisco Zen Center Art Lounge
300 Page Street, SF 94102 Reception: August 9, 7 – 9 pm
Over a thousand connected cranes were folded for this exhibition. One by one, as part of a whole. This is RENZURU origami, an ancient way of folding joined cranes from a single sheet of paper, creating unique patterns of form and color.
I have been studying and teaching origami for many years. While living in Kyoto in 2015 I met Tomita Mizuho, a Renzuru Origami Master, and became his apprentice. This technique inspired my work for “CONNECTION.”
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I graduated as an architect in 2005 and then specialized in Historical Building Conservation and Restoration. My inclination towards Oriental Arts led me to study Sumi-e (ink painting) and Origami in Argentina, Japan, and the US.
PAULA PIETRANERA lives art in oneness with her spiritual path as a Zen student. Her ink paintings and origami express simplicity, depth of clarity and aliveness, creating a vivid experience of caressing the true nature of her art. She currently lives as a resident at the San Francisco Zen Center in California.
Paper crane on an altar at Tassajara. Photo by Romy Senderos.
On July 20, there will be a Buddhist memorial service held at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. Residents at San Francisco Zen Center are folding paper cranes that will be taken to the ceremony and protest.
“Fort Sill is the site of a WWII internment camp that held 700 people of Japanese ancestry, 90 of whom were Buddhist priests. The Department of Health and Human Services announced on June 11 that up to 1,400 unaccompanied migrant children would be transferred from Texas to Fort Sill.”
To Greg Fain and the residents at Tassajara, and the organizers of the guest practice program, Steve, Siobhan, and Minoria,
On behalf of Kannon Do, I offer deepest gratitude for your incredible hospitality, kindness, and practice of the Way. Everyone who came to visit from our sangha was deeply moved by our experience at Tassajara. Thank you for making us feel at home with you.
I began to miss Tassajara before we even left the parking lot. The gush of the river, the sound of the han, the bare feet of monks walking the engawa by orange lamp light, the stars that dazzled like diamonds above the steam of the bath house, the bell that is so large I had to lift the stick with both hands to strike it, it’s deep resonance reverberating through my body, and the audacious frog that kept ribbeting through every zazen. I appreciated the thoughtfulness that was put into every meal, the precision of each ceremony, the patience and encouragement with which Shindo and the work leaders instructed us in our practice, and the poetry and wisdom of Naomi and Paul.
Tassajara seems like a magical place, free from the troubles of the world. It seems like a paradise, where every stone, every tablecloth, every flower, is deeply loved and cared for. Where every human being is safe, honored and cherished. Where there is no need for locks on doors, for computers, for police cars and ambulances. Tassajara is a place where everyone can be themselves.
But I know that Tassajara does not operate by magic. It’s not a fairy tale, a dream, or a place exempt from the laws of physics, weeds, dust, struggle, and the challenges of human life. The magical feeling of Tassajara is generated by the sincere effort and dedicated practice of its residents. It is the people of Tassajara more than anything else that make it a special place. It is rare to find a location on this Earth with so many deeply caring and aware human beings, all working together for the greater good. Please extend our gratitude to every resident at Tassajara. Let them know that we will continue to water the seeds of kindness that they have planted in our hearts. We will do our best to grow these feelings of connection and peace that we have shared together to serve as a lighthouse in the busy cities of Silicon Valley.
We hope to visit you again next year, and please stop by to visit if you ever pass through Mountain View.
July 1 – 31
In the Art Lounge at 300 Page Street, SF
Reception: Friday, July 12, 7:30 – 9 pm
Suelyn’s work asks us to contemplate the recent megafires in California. The Mendocino complex fire of 2018 and Thomas fire of 2017 are the largest fires in California history, burning a combined 740,000 acres, which is about the size of the state of Rhode Island. With this hotter, windier, and drier weather, we are now experiencing the fires of the future.
Ranch fire fireman
The artist zooms in and out from different perspectives to create sweeping portraits of megafires. Painting firenados, drifting smoke, firefighting, and smoldering with oil on wood panels, brings an ironic bent to the series.
Red fire fighting
The use of eerie, yet devastatingly beautiful, colors unearths an unease. A similar unease arises when we confront that “this new normal” is a side effect of our choices for our modern lifestyle.
Suelyn Yu is an artist living and working in San Francisco. Her paintings play on edge of abstraction and realism, inviting the viewer to pause in the tension. Through a micro and macro lens on the natural world, she poses questions about the future we want to live.
Shunryu Suzuki opening a ceremony at City Center/Beginner’s Mind Temple in June 1971. People who met Suzuki Roshi and practiced with him sometimes describe him as “small” – this photo indicates his comparative height to the students who knew him. Photographer unknown.
Saturday, June 15, 1 – 3:30 pm
City Center dining room, 300 Page Street, SF 94102
The Cultural Awareness and Inclusivity Committee (CAIC) is inviting the Greater Sangha to participate in a listening meeting to discuss our experiences as Sangha who practice at Beginner’s Mind Temple, City Center.
The purpose of the meeting is to create a safe space for the Greater Sangha to discuss issues around diversity, equity, and ability at San Francisco Zen Center. The meeting will be lead by POC CAIC members who practice at Beginner’s Mind Temple. We will make a report to the leadership after the meeting, and all comments from the meeting will be anonymized or reported in general ways.
This meeting is the third in a series of listening sessions to prepare for a meeting between CAIC and the Abbots’ Executive Group (AEG), this month, at CAIC’s request. Our goal is to share with AEG the experiences of the Greater Sangha and their suggestions about how to make Beginner’s Mind Temple more accessible and inclusive.
By Marcia Lieberman, the beekeeper at San Francisco Zen Center
Spring arrives and with it the honey bees on the rooftop of SFZC’s City Center/Beginner’s Mind Temple begin to scout and forage for the sweet nectar that is nestled in nearby gardens. There are lots of choices as the bees can fly up to six miles for a source and every gardener has their own preferences. Variety is a key bounty in urban bee keeping.
Alan Hawkins and Marcia Lieberman at the Honey Harvest workshop in 2012
Since 2011, when Zen Center decided to provide a safe haven for bees, we have kept hives of honey bees on the rooftop. Alan Hawkins, my beloved bee teacher, taught me how to handle bees in a gentle and kind way. The early beekeeping was rustic and with minimal equipment. Now we have grown into a more elaborate work style, most of which makes it easier for the bees and for the beekeeper.
Honey bees are good teachers. They each have a particular “task” in their community. They live in a lightless dwelling and communicate with their bodies and the hum of their wings. Gender is a shifting phenomenon in the hive and the category of worker, drone, or queen depends on what the shiny larva is fed. Each hive has one and only one queen; she lives among approximately 80,000 bees who are dedicated to the well-being of the community.
Becoming a beekeeper was a big surprise for me. I didn’t grow up thinking this was how I would spend hours of my time. But with the first glimpse into a frame of honey covered with bees that were focused 100% on their task and happy sharing the bounty, I was heart-struck. And humbled.
Here’s some reasons why:
To make one pound of honey, the bees need to tap two million flowers
A hive of bees will fly 90,000 miles, the equivalent of three orbits around the earth to collect 1 kg of honey
A worker honey bee lives approximately 42 – 45 days in peak season
Honey bees communicate with one another by “dancing”
The honey bee has been around for millions of years
Honey never becomes inedible. It can last forever. And it includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water. It’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin,” an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.
We are lucky. The bees are so efficient at making honey, they often have an excess amount. This excess is harvested by me and then put in glass jars for the bookstore to sell. It’s called BEE ZEN. The proceeds of these sales go to the garden budget—so we can grow and provide more delicious flowers for our bees.
In recent years I’ve had wonderful support and help from Brett White whom I met at the SF Beekeepers Association. His energy and efforts have helped keep our hives healthy and happy. So I’m pleased to be able to publicly thank him.
Repetition and pattern, pattern and repetition. Why do we make things, and why does it matter? A question for the ages. What happens in the making when we let go of our formal expectations? Are we then making to communicate something poetic, something greater, something beyond words and something deeply human?
For the past 36 years, Creativity Explored has given artists with developmental disabilities the means to create and share their work with the community, celebrating the power of art to change lives. Located in the vibrant cultural and dining corridor that crosses San Francisco’s Mission District, Creativity Explored provides a supportive studio environment, including individualized instruction from mentoring artists, quality supplies, and professional opportunities to exhibit and sell their art. The organization establishes these artists’ work as an emerging and increasingly important contribution to the contemporary art world.