Friday, September 28, 2012

Salt Spring Zen Circle Web Site

Salt Spring Zen Circle is happy to announce that this week, eleven years after our founding, we finally launched our sangha website, which can be found at SaltSpringZenCircle.Org 

We've tried to include many lovely photos to give the feeling of the beautiful island where we practice, and enough information about our sangha, our teacher, our schedule and its various practice opportunities so you will feel welcome to join us whenever you can. 

Please note that our next sesshin begins on Oct 11th and there are still a few spots remaining. You will be able to find out information or request a registration form at the site itself or by scrolling down on this site to the entry for September 13th.  We do our best to billet those who attend from off island, so please be sure to contact us soon. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Zen courses in October

The Victoria Zen Centre (VZC) has two courses beginning in October 2012.

Intensive Preparation
Saturday mornings, 9:00-11:30 AM
October 6 & 13, 2012
Victoria Zen Centre – Sooke
Open to VZC Members and Associates who have completed the free online Orientation to Zen and a practice assessment.

If you have successfully developed a stable daily practice of Zen meditation, and are wondering how to go further with our Sangha, this course is your next step. Participants will be introduced to the subtleties and differences involved in intensive training, and will receive an orientation to, and experience of, practices that are specific to intensive training in the Zen tradition. The Intensive Preparation course is the gateway to deepening your practice.

For Full members of the VZC, the course fee is included as part of membership dues. For Basic members the course fee is $95 and for VZC Associates the fee is $195. Course fees includes a course manual and materials.

Fundamentals of Zen Practice
Thursday evenings, 7:30-9:30 PM
October 4, 11, 18, and 25, 2012
Victoria Zen Centre – Sooke
Open to VZC Members and Associates who have completed the free online Orientation to Zen and a practice assessment.

Building on the foundation of training established through the Orientation to Zen, you will be introduced to some of the fundamental teachings of Zen Buddhism. Group activities and training assignments ask that we take these teachings out of our head and engage them in the day to day unfolding of our lives.

This course also provides you with the opportunity to explore the ceremony of Jukai, which is commonly considered formally “becoming Buddhist”. The Jukai Ceremony consists of four distinct aspects, each of which is introduced and discussed in an intimate environment of friendship and community. The four aspects are:
  1. Sange (repentance/purification).
  2. Taking the Threefold Refuge.
  3. Receiving the Five Sila (precepts).
  4. The Four Bodhisattva Vows.

For Full members of the VZC, the course fee is included as part of membership dues. For Basic members and Associates the course fee is $295.

For further information about these courses or to register: visit our website or email

Thursday, September 13, 2012


The Salt Spring Zen Circle, which practices in the Soto Zen lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, author of the classic Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, will be offering our annual Autumn Retreat, called sesshin, on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. The retreat is non-residential, and beginning and experienced meditators are most welcome to attend. Free billeting is offered to as many off islanders as we can accommodate.
This traditional retreat, held at the beautiful Gatehouse and gardens on Stowel Lake Farm, begins at 7 PM on Thursday, October 11th, and ends at 3 PM on Sunday, October 14th.
In keeping with our tradition of offering authentic practice for the least possible fee, the cost of the retreat is $130 for the entire sesshin, including all meals, plus voluntary dana (donation) for teachings by poet and founding teacher of the Salt Spring Zen Circle, Eihei Peter Levitt.
Known for the warmth, humour, clarity and depth of his teachings, Peter is an authorised Zen teacher in the Suzuki-roshi lineage. He is also the author of fourteen books of poetry and prose. Recently, he served as Associate Editor of the Zen classic, The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Shobo Genzo (Shambhala, 2010) and in 2013 he and coeditor Kazuaki Tanahashi will be publishing The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master. 
We encourage off-island visitors who may want billeting to register early since billeting will be on a first come first served basis.
For details and to receive a registration form, please contact Ann Colburn at or call coordinator Judith Daylen at 250-537-2062. Judith may also be reached at

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Connecting to Sacred World

Throughout history traditional cultures revered and honored the natural world for its life-giving power. T­he intimate bonds between humanity and the environment can be a source of tremendous inspiration and magic, or of chaos and destruction when the relationship is not respected. The 21st century is marked by urgent messages from the earth calling us to heal our separation from the greater web of life.

The transition to a post-carbon, compassionate society involves not only the movement to a sustainable way of life, but also restoring a sense of interbeing and connection to place. Connecting to Sacred World is an experiential program introducing meditative practices, ceremony and dialog for discovering natural mind and cultivating a direct relationship to the vital energies of the phenomenal world. The program draws on the wisdom of the Shambhala Buddhist teachings and the pioneering work of eco-philosopher Joanna Macy.

This program is open to all interested in deepening a connection to the natural world in everyday life and clarifying one’s unique role as an agent of positive change. Previous meditation experience is recommended but not required; instruction will be provided as needed.

Space is limited to 10 participants. Preregistration is recommended.

Schedule: Four consecutive Thursdays, September 20 – October 11, 7:00 – 9:00 PM; and Saturday, October 13, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM (we will have a potluck lunch and spend part of the day outdoors)

Fee: $75.00. If finances are a concern, please contact Silas Rosenblatt at in advance.

About the facilitator: Silas Rosenblatt has been a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and Shambhala Buddhism for over 10 years. He currently serves as a meditation instructor and assistant director/teacher of Shambhala Training. He is a registered acupuncturist and health coach in Victoria. His interests focus on creating deeper connections to people and place as a path for healing and societal renewal.

Preregistration: To reserve a place, or for more information, contact Silas at

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Beyond Mindfulness: A Monthly Meditation Retreat for Service Providers – Victoria, BC
Sept 23 – Feb 10 (one Sunday each month)

Facilitators – Scott Lawrance (Ed.D., R.C.C.), Brian Dean Williams (M.A., C.C.C.)

This monthly retreat will provide participants with an opportunity to not only develop a personal mindfulness practice, but to extend and enrich this to include the uncovering of what are known traditionally as “the Four Immeasurables”: equanimity, loving-kindness, compassion and joy, and will finish with an introduction to the practice of tong-len, or sending and taking, to deepen one’s capacity for presence and compassionate service. 

Meeting for a full day on one Sunday each month, this opportunity is available to all service providers interested in the burgeoning field of mindfulness-based practices who recognize the need for a stronger experiential foundation in this work.  You may have already worked with ACT, DBT, MBSR, or any of the other mindfulness-based therapies gaining credence, be interested in using these practices yourself to resist brown-out, burn-out, or compassion fatigue - or perhaps you are simply interested in waking up more fully to this life we are given.  Over six months, with an increasing capacity for active attention as a foundation, we will explore the development of the positive emotions, which are the basis for empathic and caring presence with ourselves and others.  Brian and Scott have facilitated with this material alongside service providers in Vancouver, and part of their ongoing practice is to broaden the understanding and context for mindfulness-based practices.  Included will be opportunities for interviews and individual support from the facilitators. 

Scott Lawrance is a therapist who has worked extensively in schools, private practice, wilderness therapy, counsellor education, and EAP.  He has been a practitioner of Vajrayana Buddhism for over 40 years.  In addition to honing his skills as a father and grandfather, Scott is also a poet and writer who has published five volumes of poetry.   

Brian Dean Williams is a therapist from East Vancouver who works in private practice and with a Housing First ACT Team.  Brian trained as a meditation facilitator in L.A. with Noah Levine, and has led mindfulness and meditation training programs for youth and adults in recovery programs.He facilitates a weekly meditation group for service providers in Vancouvers downtown eastside.

Course will be held at Fernwood Community Center, 1240 Gladstone Ave., Sundays, 9:30-4:30. (Sept 23, Oct. 21, Nov. 18, Dec. 2, Jan. 13, Feb. 10)
Cost: For program, $480 plus Dana (voluntary donations), no one refused for lack of financial resources!!!
For information and registration, or  

Saturday, September 01, 2012

 2 Day Retreat with Eva Decker

         "Music and Dharma"  and the Brahma Viharas  

Saturday Sept 29th and Sunday Sept 30th, 2012
9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Goward House 

2495 Arbutus Road

Victoria, BC V8N 1V9

Please use rear entrance at Goward House.  The #11 bus from UVic stops nearby.

Eve Decker
Lovingkindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimitythese are the ‘Brahma Viharas’; also known as the Divine Abodes of the Heart. We will use traditional practices and music (you are invited to sing along or just listen, as you prefer) to deepen our experience of these beautiful states. There will also be periods of silent sitting meditation practice as well as walking meditation.  No musical experience necessary. 
Beginning & experienced meditators are welcome but we ask that you commit to attending both days.  If space allows, two weeks prior to the retreat, we will open registration to those who can only attend one day.  The retreat is from 9:00 am until 4:30  
Beginning & experienced meditators are welcome but we ask that you commit to attending both days.  If space allows, two weeks prior to the retreat, we will open registration to those who can only attend one day.  The retreat is from 9:00 am until 4:30 pm each day.  
Eve Decker has practiced meditation since 1991 and recently completed the Community Dharma Leader training program at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Eve uses traditional Buddhist chants, as well as folk songs and original music, to teach Dharma throughout Northern California. She teaches for regular sitting groups, performs Dharma music, and leads Dharma Music Singing Circles. She released a CD of original songs based on the ‘Paramis’ (a Buddhist list of ten qualities to awaken the heart) in 2006. For more information on Eve, see



Support of our teachers and our organization occurs through the generosity of donations.  This retreat is offered freely and we welcome whatever offering you are able to make.   
The suggested donation to cover organizational costs for this one day retreat is $40.  Donations for the teachings and for VictoriaIMS can be made at the retreat.   Thank you.