Fellow Sanshin Network member Doan Roessler and I attended last month's biennial conference of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA), held in Minnesota for the first time, at Camp Courage. Keynote speaker David Loy, a well-known Zen environmental activist and writer, gave a thought-provoking presentation connecting the bodhisattva path with actions in the world. Three break-out sessions focused on the same theme, including one I led myself.
The “business meeting” concentrated on creating a shared vision for the organization. Peg Syverson, a professional in the field and an SZBA member, led a session using “Appreciative Inquiry,” bringing forth present strengths and future wishes from members. This process showed an amazing amount of harmony, and a committee was appointed to follow up by including every member in the same inquiry.
Additional presentations included a report by Akiba Roshi on progress toward Tenpyozan, the planned North American training temple, a workshop on “right use of power” and a workshop on fundraising. In addition to breakout sessions and “TED-style talks”, the conference included a book-signing event for Temple Ground Press's new book The Eight-Fold Path, to which Hoko Karnegis and I each contributed a chapter. The conference also featured an art show by Byakuren Judith Ragir (Clouds in Water, St. Paul MN), perfect Minnesota weather and walks by the lake, and the traditional Saturday evening “no-talent show” organized this year by Doan.