This past week we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Silent Thunder Order. While I've written and spoken about the Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha's relationship to STO in the past it is time for an update.
Next month we will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha. So we have a wonderful affiliation and realtionship worth noting.
In 2008 I was part of a group Michael Elliston-roshi's students who began developing a network of students and their sanghas into a consortium or network. This consisted of an umbrella association for interconnected training, and sharing of best practices in the lineage of Elliston-roshi's teacher Zengaku Soyu Matsuoka-roshi. See our website to learn more about O'Roshi, falmouthsotozensangha.net , This resulted in establishing a 501c3 not for profit organization in 2010.
Overall there are hundreds of disciples and priests trained by Hojo Taiun Elliston-roshi. The Silent Thunder Order (Mokurai in Japanese) has it's Board of Directors and various committees that do the work of association training and fund development to support the mission of sharing the Dharma. I have served either on the Board and committees for these ten years including five years as Vice Chair of the Board, I currently serve on the finance, retreat and archival committees and am one of four transmitted priests of Elliston-roshi in the Order.
As a transmitted priest I vow to continue to help build the training and assist all disciples and priest currently and those who are on the training path to reach these levels. In essence the more training and practice one has the more they serve the Order as a whole. In this case my service is about 70/30, FSZS-to-STO. This is important as the 30% affords opportunities, see best practices of others and bring these to our Sangha. Indeed we have seen increase contact with my brothers and sisters in the Order since January of this year. A wonderful result is that Chuck Cloutier will be taking initial vows (Jukai) and Mokuo Nancy Sherwood will take vows as a Disciple, which is the first step on a formal practice path, in November. This will be a time for all to celebrate their strong practice and service.
As our Sangha moves into its eleventh year of service, we have shifted to helping others through new processes and procedures based on health requirements related to COVID-19. This has meant creating a robust online presence through Zoom, which has increased our outreach and the number of peoples served by about 25%.
Into the coming year and beyond our Sangha will continue to develop new programs, training, and service options online, and face-to-face as conditions warrant. This can only mean more interaction with other affiliates and training center in Atlanta and the other ten affiliate sanghas of STO in Canada and the USA.
So stay tuned...