What does it look like to be a North American Zen practitioner in 2023?

Hello, sangha!

Happy New Year and welcome to your Clouds in Water blog – a space that is yours for spiritual nourishment, deepening community, and support for your Zen practice. Our sangha has been sharing the Dharma and practicing together since 1994 – that’s a lot of collective wisdom to draw from and we’re excited to begin sharing it with the Twin Cities and wider North American Zen community in this new way. 

Throughout each month, we’ll be posting member spotlights, musings from our teacher ryo on the Dharma in everyday life, the intersection of Zen and pop culture, the Zen Kitchen, updates from our sangha, a curation of links and resources, and much more. 

Below is our blog mission statement, which we wrote in order to ground this Dharma offering in the wider efforts of Clouds in Water to be a space for engaged vitality and service in our community:

Our blog supports the ongoing practice of the Clouds in Water sangha with nourishment that aligns with our programming and commitment to non-harming and serves as a rich source of Buddhist teaching in the Twin Cities.

Our sincere intention is that each post is a Dharma gate that members and the wider community can pass through on their journey to wholeness and well-being.

We hope that you will pass along posts to your friends, co-workers, students, and others in your life and share them on social channels. More than anything, we hope you can use this blog as a tool for personal and collective awakening. 

Our editor is Heather Demetrios Fehst, a sangha member, writer, and member of our Development Committee. As part of the Development Committee’s commitment to support Clouds in 2023 as a thriving space where culture, social justice, and Zen intersect, this blog is intended to be fertile ground to explore the ongoing efforts of our sangha to be a leader in American Zen social justice efforts, specifically around diversity, equity, inclusion and access. 

In this time of seismic shifts in the US, we see this space’s potential to meaningfully engage with the challenges of what it means to be a Zen practitioner in the US in the new millennium. On the micro level, we’re excited to see how our Zen practice can be applied to everything from cooking to Netflix to our relationship to technology. 

What does it look like to be a North American Zen practitioner in 2023? That’s what we’d like to talk about. 

May you be happy, healthy, safe, and free in 2023!

With deep bows, 

Heather Demetrios Fehst (she/her) and Araṇya Minna Jain (they/them)

Current Needs

We welcome guest posts on a variety of topics, so if you’re interested in contributing to the blog, please email Heather at heather@cloudsinwater.org. We will be slowly and mindfully curating and editing pieces to align with current programming and efforts at Clouds. Below are our current needs as we build this season of offerings. Please note that not all submissions may be posted. Once your submission is accepted, editing may take place. 

  • Haiku! Do you write haiku or have a personal favorite? Please email Heather to contribute to our Haiku posts to honor this deep and delightful Zen practice. 
  • Personal essays (up to 1000 words) on the dharma in your life. More specifically: how does your practice show up in everyday moments? How did it specifically support you in a particular moment?
  • Dharma / Buddhist History / Zen instructional posts. If you are a member of the teacher ryo, have received jukai, or have a particular lens through which you would like to explore Zen (such as race, history, the environment, etc.), let’s get a post up!
  • Clouds community: If you’re part of an affinity group, volunteering, serving or teaching at Clouds and would like to talk about the work you’re doing, we’d love to share it with our sangha. 

Clouds in Water Zen Center is a vibrant urban community in the heart of Saint Paul, Minnesota. We practice in the Soto Zen Buddhist tradition, dedicated to awakening the heart of great wisdom and compassion. We welcome people of all backgrounds and faiths.

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Clouds runs on the generosity of our supporters and sangha. Donations allow us to provide accessible programming and to serve our community in a variety of ways. Your heartfelt contributions are deeply appreciated. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit and all gifts are tax-deductible.