Monday, June 20, 2016

Settle Into The Bliss: An interview with Shaila Catherine

by Vlad Moskovski

Photo courtesy of Freepik.com.

Shaila begins to speak. Her voice, like her personality, fits her well. It is like a warm whisper that washes over the gathered crowd at this public talk. I am moved by her peaceful and calm demeanor and awed by her experience in meditation and the clarity with which she is able to describe the most subtle of concepts. Shaila has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience and has studied with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand. She has taught since 1996 in the USA and internationally, and is the founder/lead teacher at Insight Meditation South Bay.

Monday, June 6, 2016

In Memory of Zenkei Blanche Hartman (1926-2016)

Zenkei Blanche Hartman from Boundless Life: A Chronicle Dedicated to Zenkei Blanche Hartman

Zenkei Blanche Hartman (1926-2016) was a Soto Zen teacher practicing in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki. From 1996 to 2002 she served two terms as co-abbess of the San Francisco Zen Center. She was the first woman to assume such a leadership position at the center. A member of the American Zen Teachers Association, Blanche was especially known for her expertise in the ancient ritual of sewing a kesa, called Nyoho-e, the practice of sewing Zen ceremonial robes in the lineage of Sawaki Kodo Roshi, which she had learned during the 1970s from Kasai Joshin Sensei, formerly of Antaiji. She taught this unique form of Zen practice to hundreds of students at the San Francisco Zen Center, and played an important role in establishing the practice in North America.

Lou and Blanche Wed from Boundless Life:
A Chronicle Dedicated to Zenkei Blanche Hartman
Born in Birmingham, Alabama to non-practicing Jewish parents in 1926. Blanche was educated in the Catholic school system in the early 1930s, but in 1943 her family moved to California, where her father served in the military. After taking up biochemistry and chemistry at the University of California she married Lou Hartman in 1947, giving birth to four children. In the late 1950s she found work as a chemist, though by 1968 she began questioning the direction of her life. She and her husband began sitting zazen regularly at the Berkeley Zen Center in Berkeley, California in 1969, and in 1972 the two entered Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. The couple lived at all of the other San Francisco Zen Center sites, including City Center and Green Gulch Farm. Shuun Lou Hartman passed away in 2011.