SZBA Statement in Response to the attack on Congress of January 6th.

As Zen Buddhist clergy, we condemn the attack on the United States congress on January 6th. We acknowledge the anguish and rage it has brought. At the center of our tradition is the understanding that violence leads to violence, compassion to compassion, ignorance to ignorance, and insight to insight. Although countless conditions led to the attack at the capitol, we see that the violence at the capitol was deeply tied to the white supremacy that has characterized this nation since its inception. 

White Supremacy was a founding principle of the United States, and remains one of the hierarchical conditions on which this nation operates. Until this country fully acknowledges and repairs the damage of the horrific violence and day to day inequities of its racist systems, we will continue to reap its fruit. We must recognize the poison of racism not as an evil committed by terrible people, but as a part of the fabric of our collective karma which we must unravel together if we want to be truly free.

We witnessed the confederate flags carried at the capitol attack. We witnessed, too, the Nazi imagery there. A host of other structural oppressions are deeply tied to this attack, including a rejection of truth itself. Part of this rejection of truth is denial of the racism that permeates this country. As we watched the attack on the capitol, we witnessed the stark differences in the way law enforcement treated these protestors and protestors at Black Lives Matter protests last summer. We recognize that future violence is a very real possibility.

Buddhism teaches us that there is always the possibility for healing and liberation. To be free of the violence of white supremacy and other modes of systemic oppression, we must acknowledge them fully, collectively, and individually as an ongoing practice, and from this acknowledgment, find the way to fundamentally transform our society. 

We, the undersigned, ask that as religious leaders, Zen clergy commit to justice, accountability and ethical action based in the teaching of Buddhism. We call on the clergy to address structural oppression within themselves, their sanghas and their nations. With compassion alive in our hearts, and the courage to face the truth, let us move into liberative action.


Sosan Theresa Flynn, President, Soto Zen Buddhist Association

Marc Lesser, Vice-president, Soto Zen Buddhist Association

Inryu Bobbi Ponce-Barger, Secretary, Soto Zen Buddhist Association

Dokai Georgesen, Treasurer, Soto Zen Buddhist Association

Koshin Paley Ellison, New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care/Board Member, Soto Zen Buddhist Association 

Gyozon Royce Johnson, Soto Zen Buddhist Association 

Annalisa Rakugo Castaldo, chair, SZBA DEIA committee

Rev. Ben Connelly, Minnesota Zen Meditation Center

Hoka Chris Fortin, Everyday Zen, Dharma Heart Zen

Rev. Jisan Tova Green, San Francisco Zen Center

Charlie Korin Pokorny, Stone Creek Zen Center

Teresa Bouza, Kannon Do Zen Center

Rev. Genjō Sam Conway, Clouds in Water Zen Center

Rev. Joan Jiko Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center 

So On Jim Hare, Valley Streams Zen Sangha

Dosho Port, Vine of Obstacles & Nebraska Zen Center

Rev. Myogo Mary-Allen Macneil, Bodhi Oak Zen Sangha

Rev. David Jindo Butler, Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center

Rev. Shodo Spring, Mountains and Waters Zen Community

Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate

Rev. Kisei Amy Costenbader, Zen Community of Oregon