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FSZS: 10th Anniversary

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

By 2008 I knew Susan and I would be leaving Atlanta to retire in Falmouth (Cape Cod) Massachusetts. We planned the move including a renovation of the house we bought. Our actual move was in July 2010.

Before leaving Atlanta, I had been working with Elliston-Roshi to develop what is now The Silent Thunder Order, the name selected in recognition of Hojo Elliston's teacher Soyu Matsuoka-Roshi.

Hojo and I agreed my move to Falmouth would include a prototype for starting a new Affiliate Sangha of this new Order. Both the STO and the Falmouth sangha celebrate founding in 2010.

Having been a Unitarian Universalist, I met with Rev. Bob Murphy at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Falmouth. While a UU, at Harvard Divinity, his minor was

Buddhism. He and the UU Board agreed that we could rent space for our services and have maintained that relationship to this day.

It took from July to November, 2010, to set-up this agreement and for me to build a framework for the sangha. The choice of a name for the sangha followed the lead of Taiun-Roshi by naming it for city and Soto Zen, hence the Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha (FSZS). Part of the preparation was my speaking to members of UUFF that had an interest in Buddhism. and attending a Korean Zen Buddhist, Kwan Um sangha in Plymouth. I was offered Tuesday night for a two hour period at the UU Fellowship Hall in Falmouth and our first meeting was November 2, 2010. There were five people in attendance one of whom became the first to take Jukai (Buddhist Vows) at our Sangha in 2012.

Over the last ten years we have added, Buddhism Sutra and book study, Zazen (meditation) training for people in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse, short and longer term retreats, Zazen at the local Senior Center, taught courses at the community college, beach-zazen-sitting, created a small library, given dozens of talks on Buddhism and Zen to children and adults, produced a series on community television, and written a book of selected talks and poems from 2010-2015- Like String for Beads. At the same time I continued my formal Priest Path from Senior Disciple (in 2010) to black robe novice (Shukke), ninety days of dedicated Zazen and study (Ango), head student (Shuso) and completion of Shiho, a fully transmitted Soto Zen Buddhist Priest or Brown Robe in September 2020. I also served as vice chair of the STO Board five times and served on numerous committees. Without the support of members, my practice path could not have happened. All-in-all The Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha has touched the lives of hundreds of different people over the decade. This includes twelve who have taken Jukai and one Zaike (becoming a disciple).

Today we have developed a robust online teaching and meditation program enabling people from anywhere to join us each morning in Zazen, follow Dharma notes (teaching) from me via our website and social media outreach, and attend our Tuesday night service. Since we went online (Zoom) in March of this year we have doubled the number of followers and participation in out events.

In addition our Sangha has begun The Women Ancestors Project: The Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha study and celebration of Women Ancestors of our Order. The Mission is Collaboratively research the women ancestors of the Silent Thunder Order. By creating a database that provides a brief biography, writings and contributions of each, as honor to these women in our Order. The Vision is to provide and maintain written documentation of the lives and contributions of the Buddhist women ancestors of the Silent Thunder Order, to be used as teachings for all practitioners in STO and others interested in this rich legacy.

Our future unfolds moment by moment as Sangha members come to know themselves and each other. Day to day we live through vows of reducing suffering in ourselves and others, it is, in a true sense, our livelihood.

It is in deep bowing I offer thanks to all who have supported our sharing the Dharma since 2010.

May all be caring and well, awakening to the meaning of the wonder of existence that is the cosmos...

Unshin Sangaku-Sensei

November 23, 2020


You can read Like String for Beads and see photos of the early years of the Sangha

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