Racial Literacy and Dharma Inquiry Group – Next Meeting Wed. February 17 6-8 pm on Zoom

6:00 – 8:00 pm

All people are raised with cultural conditioning around race. If we were raised in the U.S., and especially if we identify as “white” or “European-descended,” our conditioning tends to include a value for colorblindness, which can make it difficult for to acknowledge, let alone investigate, our racial conditioning and biases. This book group is intended to expand our racial literacy, as Micheal Eric Dyson puts it, to develop a more intimate understanding together of racial oppression and the suffering it causes across color lines in the U.S., and to engage this as our practice in Zen of turning towards suffering as the gate of awakening and liberation.

Pre-registration for the group is requested each month, so that everyone can have the page assignments, articles, and to consider the agreements before each meeting.

To register, or for more information please email:

Facilitated by: Hoka Chris Fortin and Dojin Sarah Emerson

The two teachers facilitating the group identify as white, U.S. citizens, and Zen Buddhist priests. We understand the limitations of our experiences in relation to race, and strive to bring cultural humility to our facilitation of these groups.


Next Meeting: Wednesday  February 17, 6-8 pm:

parts 5 and 6 of  Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson



December 2020 and January 2021- first 2/3 of Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: the origins of our discontents

November 2020: Love and Rage by Lama Rod Owens and beginning Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

October 2020: Love and Rage by Lama Rod Owens

September 2020:

          reading for the first time, or finishing books, on the reading list below

This group has been meeting for almost two years and in that time we have encountered together a number of offerings on race and dharma (see below).  This month, because there are a number of new members, and because we did not have our usual summer hiatus, we are asking everyone to pick a book from the list below to either read for the first time, or finish, if you were not able to previously.

August 2020: My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menaken

July 2020: White Rage by Carol Anderson

June 2020: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Hall Kimmerer

March and April 2020: The Inner Work of Racial Justice by Rhonda Magee

February 2020:  There There by Tommy Orange.

December 2019 and January 2020: How to be Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi

November 2019:

American Sutra by Duncan Ryuken Williams

AND The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates


October 2020: Cancelled due to evacuations- will cover American Sutra in November


September/Summer 2019:


This summer, we want to empower the group to set out some on your own to find resources: books, articles, films, etc. that support us in broadening beyond perspectives of privilege and disrupting our acculturated racism.  So the challenge is to do some research (online or in community…or both!) and read (at least) one non-fiction book, one fiction book, one article, and watch at least one video that supports and fosters your racial literacy and dharma inquiry.

Please email the group what you are reading/ watching, so that we can compile a list collectively (it’s fine if several people read/ watch the same thing).
Then, in September, each of us will synthesize for the group what we watched/ read and how it impacted us.

In case you would like somewhere to start, here are links to just a few antiracist reading/ resource lists:
Antiracist reading/ resource lists

From Goodreads:

By Ibram X Kendi in NY Times:

From White Awake (includes articles and videos):

From Powell’s Books:

From Charis Books (more scholastic):

A reading list For Gov. Ralph Northum by Ibram X Kendi:

And, in addition to these lists, a couple of specific suggestions:

Book: American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 by Benjamin Madley

and Video: “When they see us” an mini-series directed by Ava DuVernay about the “Central Park Five”
available on Netflix-



June 2019:  The reading for June will be “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler, the fifth chapter of “White Fragility” by Robin DeAngelo and “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.


May 2019 readings: Book: “Awakening Together” by Larry Yang, Chapter 4 of “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, and Rev angel Kyodo williams’ article, “Your Liberation is on the Line.”

April 2019 readings: “The Way of Tenderness” by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel and the third chapter of “White Fragility” by Robin DeAngelo.

March 2019 readings: Becoming by Michelle Obama

review first two chapters of White Fragility

article: “Your Liberation is on the Line” by angel Kyodo williams in Buddhadharma magazine, Spring 2019

February 2019 Book:  The 57 Bus by Dashka Slate.

January 2019 book: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.

December 2018 book: Kindred by Octavia Butler.

Book for November 2018: Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora.

Book for Oct. 2018: Mindful of Race by Ruth King

Book for Sept. 2018 : summer reading (see below)


Summer Reading:For July and August, we are suggesting three books: one non-fiction, one fiction, and one Dharma and Race specific.

For the Summer Reading, we are asking that everyone read at least one book…and all three if possible
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
Now and then a book comes along that might in time touch the public and educate social commentators, policymakers, and politicians about a glaring wrong that we have been living with that we also somehow don’t know how to face. The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness…is such a work.” -The New York Review of Books
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Puliter Prize winner for fiction in 1986.A New York Times survey of writers and literary critics ranked it the best work of American fiction from 1981 to 2006. This novel looks at the family of Sethe in the aftermath of escaping slavery.

Radical Dharma, by Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Dr. Jasmine Syedullah
Igniting a long-overdue dialogue about how the legacy of racial injustice and white supremacy plays out in society at large and Buddhist communities in particular, this urgent call to action outlines a new dharma that takes into account the ways that racism and privilege prevent our collective awakening.


June 2018: When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrice Khan-Cullors and asha bandale

May 2018: Homegoing by Ya’a Gyasi

April 2018: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

March 2018: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward and instead of an article, we are asking members to watch the film “I Am Not Your Negro” (available through PBS and streaming through Amazon)

 February 2018 Waking Up White by Peggy Irving

It was decided by the January group that going forward we will read one book per month, so beginning in Feb. and going forward we will read the whole book for each meeting.

January 2018Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

December 2017: Tears We Cannot Stop: a Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson pages 123-end
article: “We’re Still Here”
November/December 2017: Tears We Cannot Stop: a Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

November 8, 2017: pages 1-123

and article: “Waking Up to Whiteness” by Greg Snyder






Silouette Buddha

The Dharma of being Anti-Racist: Accessing Skillful Engagement

ONLINE: 16-weeks Class

Mondays: Aug. 3 – Nov. 23 (no meeting Labor Day, Sept. 7) 7 – 8:30 pm

with Rev. Liên Shutt, Dojin Sarah Emerson, Korin Charlie Porkony, and Patrick Brown

Would you like to have skillful ways to be in the midst of this critical time?

If so, the teachings of the 8-Fold Path directly shows us how we can use our wisdom & heart-mind training to support our behaviors with these qualities:

Wisdom in:

  • Skillful Understanding / View

  • Skillful Thought / Motivation

Enacted through Heart-Mind trainings/meditations & practices in:

  • Skillful Effort

  • Skillful Mindfulness

  • Skillful Concentration

To foster behaviors of:

  • Skillful Speech

  • Skillful Action

  • Skillful Livelihood

These 8 aspects are taught as ways to live an intentional life of non-harming. Each week you’ll be presented with traditional & social justice-oriented contemporary frames to understand & apply these aspects in real & every day ways. You’ll be able to learn & practice how they make sense for you in your life now & not just as theories & concepts.

Inquiring into, understanding, and responding to the causes & conditions that have brought about our collective suffering of racism, this course will offer a variety of instructional/guided meditations, reflective writings, and mindfulness practices along with interactive exercises to support grounding, settledness, & wise action. Connecting to how you have agency/power (in yourself & with your communities) in the midst of racial conditioning is the best “medicine” for these times. We’ll practice skills for staying in discomfort & resilience through cultivating an open-hearted intimacy with suffering, invoking anti-racism to have impact in the world.

Class format will alternate between a session of teachings & a home practice assignment (attended by everyone) with a week to discuss what came up for you in the home practice that week (small groups to foster brave-space intimacy: one for people of color & one for white people).


  • 8 Mindful Steps to Happiness by Bhante Gunaratana

  • Radical Dharma by williams, Owens, and Syedullah

  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (for white-identified)

(Not included. Some scholarships for books available. Please request in your “Basics” application form.)

Suggested books:

  • How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi

  • Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

  • The Inner Work of Racial Justice by Rhonda Magee

Open to those who acknowledge systemic racism & are committed to open engagement in examining the impact of being part of such a structure. Open to all levels of practice. A variety of meditations will be available.

Sangha-Determined Noble-Giving sliding-scale guide: (with income -match guide)

  • Pay-it-Forward: $480 for series (> $75K)

  • Standard: $400 for series ($35 -$75K)

  • Limited Income: $320 for series (< $35K)

  • No one turned away for lack of funds due to economic hardship

PayPal giving to:

Early registration is encouraged as we will cap the class at 40 participants. Registration does not ensure acceptance as we are creating equal access of 50% POCs and 50% whites.

Registration is open until July 13 or when capacity is reached. Early registration is encouraged

Please through the form at the bottom of this page to receive your “Basics” application form:





Myozen Joan Amaral moved to the Boston area in 2012 from San Francisco Zen Center to serve as guiding teacher for the Marblehead Zen Center. In 2014 the Zen Center relocated to Beverly and in 2016 changed its name to Zen Center North Shore.

Joan is a dharma heir of Zenkei Blanche Hartman in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi. Her interest in zazen grew out of a background in modern dance and she continues to be interested in the ways that movement and the cultivation of energy can support the practice of stillness.

Joan trained at Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery for six years. While in residency at San Francisco Zen Center, she formed a dharma group – Dharma en Español – devoted to studying Suzuki Roshi’s Zen Mind, Beginners Mind in Spanish (Mente Zen, Mente de Principiante), in order to provide the opportunity for native Spanish speakers to hear the dharma in their own language. While in San Francisco, she led meditation classes at the County Jail where she also provided one-on-one spiritual counseling for prisoners.

She is a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and also completed the chaplaincy program at the Sati Center in Redwood City, CA, where she studied with Gil Fronsdal, Paul Haller, and Jennifer Block.

Her primary focus as a Zen priest, meditation teacher, sangha leader, and community activist, is on the dynamic relationship between formal practice and everyday, messy human life. In recent times she has been exploring the relationship of zazen and social justice, self-care, and creativity as a path of true happiness.

While the zendo is closed, we will live stream our Sunday Dharma talk at 10:30am PST

Meditation from 10-1030am PST on the same zoom link (see below).

Click here to access Sunday talks livestreamed on our Youtube “channel”.

We will also be streaming the talks through Zoom. Please send an email for the Zoom meeting room link.


Sunday Dharma Talk June 14- Guest Speaker Rev. Liên Shutt

Rev. Liên Shutt is the founding teacher at Access to Zen ( in Oakland, Ca.

Rev. Keiryu Liên Shutt is a  Dharma Heir of Zenkei Blanche Hartman in the tradition of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.

Born into a Buddhist family in Vietnam, she began her meditation practice in the Insight tradition of Spirit Rock. She is a founding member of the Buddhists of Color in 1998. Her Soto Zen training began at Tassajara monastery where she lived from 2002-2005; after which, she practiced monastically in Japan and Vietnam.

While she has placed her trust and faith in Soto Zen, she continues to enjoy the deep silence of Insight practices and has completed retreats in the United States and Thailand. Drawing from her monastic experiences, she endeavors to share ways in which the deep settledness of traditional practices can be brought into everyday life. Liên’s strength as a teacher is in making Zen practice accessible to all.

While the zendo is closed, we will live stream our Sunday Dharma talk at 10:30am PST

Meditation from 10-1030am PST on the same zoom link (see below).

Click here to access Sunday talks livestreamed on our Youtube “channel”.

We will also be streaming the talks through Zoom. Please send an email for the Zoom meeting room link.


Jizo Ceremony for those who are grieving- an online event May 30, 2020

Jizo Ceremony for those who are  grieving

Saturday May 30, 2020, 2-4pm PST

a Zoom-based event

By Donation

Jizo Bodhisattva is the bodhisattva of fearlessly shepherding those who are crossing realms: from life into death, from birth into life, from a place of the known into the unknown.

The Jizo ceremony, traditionally focused on protection and nurturance for children who have died, is one that calls forth the qualities of Jizo: unconditional love, great commitment, and unshakable fearlessness.  In this ceremony, we will draw upon the power of Jizo as we turn fully towards the deep process of grieving and letting go for loved ones who have died, for losses of any kind, and for the great uncertainty we are currently facing.

While traditionally we gather in person for this ceremony, we have adapted this ceremony to an online format to support one another, even as our ability to join together in person is restricted.  The ceremony will consist of three parts:

1) Gathering together to hear about the tradition and archetype of Jizo Bodhisattva and the traditions of this ritual

2) Time to create offerings or renderings of Jizo from items found at home to be used in the ceremony.

3) Coming together again to share what we have made and witness one another’s offerings in ceremony

In preparation, we ask that all participants:

  • Create a space in your home that allows for quiet, contemplative atmosphere for the duration of the ceremony
  • If possible, create an altar with a bowl and candle, and any other objects that are meaningful to you
  • Gather materials you would need to render a Jizo (see suggestions below).  It is important to know you do not need to be “crafty” to participate in this ceremony (we have seen participants of all abilities create offerings in this ritual), but please bring a willingness to engage your creatively with your hands.

Please register by May 28 or ask questions by sending an email to Dojin Sarah Emerson:

We will send you the zoom link once you register.

Suggestions for creating Jizos and materials to have on hand:

  • Sewing, bundling, gathering
  • Using found objects from nature or your home
  • Clay, salt dough, bees’ wax
  • Knitting/ hand-crafting
  • Drawing, painting, etc.
  • Red is the traditional color associated with Jizo, but red materials are not essential


COVID-19 Updates

-March 15, 2020

As recommendations from the California CDC keep evolving, we have been adjusting our policies at Stone Creek in response to the COVID-19 virus.
As of this afternoon. we will suspend ALL events at Stone Creek, and will be in touch as things change, and we will try to post changes on the website as often as we can if you have questions.
SUNDAY DHARMA TALKS: We will continue to work on a livestreaming option for the Sunday talks (and have heard about the challenges for our first attempt on 3/15).  We will try to at very least post the audio file of the Sunday Dharma Talks within a day (the one from this morning is posted). For recent and archived talks, go to:
DOKUSAN: The teachers are still available to meet one-on-one for dokusan by appointment, either in an outside location or via Zoom online.  Please email us directly to make an appointment.
ANGO: The last two Ango evening meetings and the Half Day Sit scheduled for 3/21 will both be postponed. All of the audio files for the Sunday Talks pertaining to Ango thusfar are posted, see the link above.
We had a number of creative ideas brought forward this morning of ways we can stay connected as a sangha, especially if public gatherings continue to be limited beyond the next few weeks.  We will be in touch about these possibilities once the situation becomes more stable.


-March 14, 2020

We want to give you an update about what changes are happening at Stone Creek with regards to the public health concerns around COVID-19.

To begin, we encourage all of us to engage this situation with our practice minds and Bodhisattva hearts. We are making these changes to protect the well being of our community- both near and far- and also to maintain as much of a refuge at Stone Creek as we can, given the constraints of this pandemic.

Please see our original protocols for the center below, with the addition of asking everyone to practice social distancing: keeping a 4-6 foot radius both in the zendo and when we are moving around informally. 

If you are in an at-risk population, please do stay home to protect your well being.


March 15th: The Zen Center will be open this Sunday, 3/15, with a modified schedule- no early morning schedule, no breakfast or soji.

[If there are volunteers who are not in high-risk populations who are able to come on Sunday at 930 to do some cleaning/ sanitizing of the zendo, please do.  Dojin will be there to head up these efforts.]

We will have zazen from 10-1030 (again, observing social distancing)

and a Dharma talk at 1030

We are working on a format for livestreaming the Dharma Talks, and hope to have this in place by Sunday.  If we have it set up by then, we will post the link on our website so you have the option to tune in online.

Sundays after 3/15: The Zen Center will not be open on Sundays, and the Dharma Talks will be solely offered by livestream online. Again please see the website for details and the link.



Morning zazen Monday through Thursday, Monday and Wed. afternoon zazen at Stone Creek, and  Thursday afternoon outdoor sitting group will all continue as scheudled, with the request that everyone attending carefully follow the protocols for limiting the spread of germs, including social distancing.



Jisho, Korin and Dojin will continue to offer dokusan (one-on-one meetings with sangha members), again observing social distancing, and meeting outside when needed.  Please consider emailing one of the teachers about meeting for dokusan as a way to stay connected to Stone Creek and your practice in this time of more limited offerings at the zendo.


Stone Creek COVID-19 Protocols

We are aware of the many concerns surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the public health crisis it creates in our community and around the world. This level of crisis, understandably, generates a lot of fear and overwhelm, and we are grateful to be able to call on our practice to stay grounded and rooted in wisdom to take the best care of ourselves and one another.

Because we want to continue to offer our programs at Stone Creek, as a place of refuge from the confusion and overwhelm, we plan to continue our weekly schedule for the time being, with the following protocols in place to protect from the spread of illness:

1) Stay home when ill: If you are sick with cough, fever, or shortness of breath, we ask that you please stay home. With fever, please wait until you are fever free for a full 24 hours before returning to community events. If you have only a cough and no other symptoms, please wear a mask when attending events.

2) Mindful practice of hand- cleaning: When you arrive at the Zen Center, please wash your hands (for at least 30 seconds with soap and warm water) or use hand-sanitizer upon entering the building and whenever needed thereafter.  This will be a change for many of us in our routine, so please leave a few extra minutes for this practice, and be patient with others as they follow this request.

For more information about effective hand washing, please see:

3) Have tissues on hand: We will provide tissues at the center. If you need to cough or sneeze, please do so into a tissue, discard it, and wash hands as soon after as you are able. If no tissue is available, please cough or sneeze into your elbow, and do all you can to minimize others’ contact with the impacted sleeve.

4) Refrain from physical contact/ Practice bowing!: For the time-being, please do not shake hands or hug others. We have a wonderful practice of offering bows to one another that we can make use of as an expression of our mutual care and regard, while minimizing physical contact.

5) Wiping down surfaces: We will enlist community members to wipe down surfaces and door handles with anti-bacterial spray during the times we gather for events. Please volunteer if you are able.

6) Finally, and most importantly, Please be Generous, Kind, Patient, Thoughtful, Attentive and Wise: This is an excellent time to engage the Bodhisattva paramitas, to go slow and not allow fear to overtake our view, words and actions. We can engage with this crisis as we do with any challenge in our lives: pay close attention to our experience, root ourselves in the dharma, and take good care of ourselves and one another as the manifestation of Bodhisattva activity in this world of suffering.

For updated information about COVI-19, please see the Center for Disease Control’s website:

We will post this announcement at the center, and will send email updates and post announcements on our website if any information changes or if we need to cancel or postpone events.



We will hold a four-day sesshin at Stone Creek Zen Center, including sitting, walking, oryoki meals, dokusan and dharma talks. Partial participation of at least one full day is welcome. Monday, January 20 – Wednesday, January 22, 6:20 am – 8:00 pm and Thursday, January 23, 6:20 am – 4:00 pm. Pre-registration required. Fee: $210 for members, $280 for non-members. One-day participation: $60 for members, $80 for non-members. Reduced fees are available. Led by Jisho and Korin. Local accommodations may be available for those who do not live nearby and wish to stay overnight in the area.

The theme for the talks will be “One Bright Pearl” by Eihei Dogen.