Edward Brown barred from Teaching at SFZC
Edward Brown page and Edward's Peaceful Sea Sangha Website
page created October 5, 2018

Podcast 🔊 In this 2024 podcast Ed talks about his banishment from doing any teaching at ZC.

click on image to see higher res version

Lichen Browns open letter to the abbots and abbesses of the SFZC - on Google Docs

The letter of complaint: Troubling Experience at Green Gulch - PDF

Letter from SFZC abbesses and abbot to Edward (below)

Ed Brown's response to letter from SFZC abbesses and abbot (below)

Ed writes in referring to Lichen's letter and the enormous response to it, "it was not her intention to hurt or harm anyone, nor is it mine."

10-11-18 - Leadership Statement Regarding Edward Brown

sent out by ZC on Sangha News and shared on Facebook


Comments from Others on this situation

 Green Gulch Farm July 18, 2018 Edward Brown one day sitting audio
 (Transcriptions do not include notation of Ed's frequent laughs while speaking)
     audio 1 - two poems after the first period of sitting (3:31) Transcription (Transcriptions PDF with OCR)
     audio 2 - orientation after first sitting and kinhin (14:35)
     audio 3 - (informal) outside in the former pool area (26:32)
     audio 4 - Dharma talk (48:13) -

Excerpts from the Audio
     Troubling excerpt 1 from Audio 2 -
Bathrooms (1:55) (from about 8:30 minutes in)
     Troubling excerpt 2 from Audio 3 - Zendo Attire (2:00) (follows Jack Elias excerpt below) (from 32:57)

transcript of the troubling excerpts

(see Letter of Complaint for what troubled the writer about these two stories)

     2  bonus excerpts not complained about: Schedule comment (:27)
                                                                   and On Working with Jack Elias (7:57)

Listen to Edwards lectures at his Peaceful Sea Sangha Website

Edward sent this piece of his published in Buddhadharma fall 2013: Rules to Live By

DC offering: Any talk of this decision being permanent is meaningless. Nothing is permanent in Zen Center and I don't mean that in a cosmic way. Any decision can be changed at any time. And this is all obviously in process. I can think of several times when I was permanently banned from this or that at Zen Center and nothing came of any of it. When Kelly was a kid, Baker Roshi got mad at him and told him he could never come back. Kelly didn't cry. They made up the next day.

You Woke? (BBC video) which has been shared with me multiple times on Facebook. ZC is woke!

Letter from SFZC abbesses and abbot to Edward


                                                                              September 26, 2018

Dear Ed,

We have received your emails in response to our request to meet to discuss with you the situation that had arisen due to a complaint that we had received from a person who attended your recent Saturday Sitting at Green Gulch.  We are sorry that it has taken several days to respond to you.

 A small group of us had wished to meet with you to hear from you and discuss this complaint.  However, your response to that suggestion shows us that you do not wish to meet or have these discussions, and that there seems to be a reservoir of anger and acrimony toward those of us in leadership.

 It is with great respect as well as great sadness that we let you know of the following decision of the Abbots Executive Group of Zen Center (Abbatial leadership, Chair of the Board, Tassajara Abiding Teacher, Officers, and HR.) After deep consideration we have come to the agreement that, with this letter, we  are letting  you know that we are no longer inviting you to teach at Zen Center's three temples--especially since the relationship you have now with SF Zen Center seems to be filled with such animosity. This will include any one-day sittings that are currently scheduled.

 Over the years there have been many concerns voiced by students, those attending your retreats and lectures, and teachers, about your deportment from the dharma seat. In the past, you have been informed about a number of these complaints, which Zen Center has needed to respond to on your behalf. In discussion with the leadership of Zen Center, and in consultation with your teacher, Sojun Mel Weitsman, we have now come to feel that your wish and need to express yourself fully, and the way you choose to do so, is not in alignment with the current needs and conditions of our community and what we wish to offer.         

 We do not wish to place unrealistic demands on you for a particular  kind of speech, nor do we wish to dictate or monitor the content of your offerings. If asked we will suggest to those who wish to study with you at SF Zen Center to do so at other retreat sites

 We are very sorry for any unhappiness this decision may cause you. We too are greatly affected by this decision. We thank you for your many years of generosity, and continue to hold you in high regard as a gifted teacher in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi.


Linda Ruth Cutts
Ed Sattizahn
Fu Schroeder

Tenshin Anderson
Sojun Weitsman
Linda Galijan
Steve Weintraub

Ed Brown's response to letter from SFZC abbesses and abbot

Dear Friends,

 Though you have decided that I will no longer be teaching at Zen Center, I have decided to share my heart and mind with you in any case.

 I feel sad about this.

 If I understand correctly your initial communication to me was prompted by a letter from a student who felt unsafe and threatened when I tried to explain the bathroom situation, because she thought that I was making fun of trans-gender people and their needs.

 Later in the day she heard me speaking about an "erection" even though I did not use this expression--as can be verified on the tapes of the day.  Margot has reminded me about this - that you need to be very clear that I did not and would not use that word, so that you do not allow the student's mistaken perception to color your view of me.

I was shocked and hurt by your letter, because it struck me that you were assuming that I was being irresponsible and causing harm with careless speech--without first checking with me or anyone else about what happened that day.  Further I was surprised and puzzled that no one expressed any interest in listening to the tapes to hear what was said and what wasn't.

 It is not my intention to hurt, harm, or threaten anyone, so my apologies for not being impeccable enough about this in my speech.

 My intention is always to listen to the room and what needs I can address.  In retrospect, I did not listen carefully enough in this situation.

 I am willing to study and learn.  I am willing to be much more careful in understanding what is off the table: anything to do with gender or identity issues or sexual matters certainly--and keep it out of my language: no stories, jokes, what-have-you.

We are living in a different era.  I have no problem adjusting my zendo speech accordingly both as to style and content, especially as I realize that I have made poor judgments at times.

I offer teaching and talks where and when I am invited and welcomed to do so.  As caretakers of Zen Center it is certainly your prerogative to decide who teaches there and who doesn't.  So in that regard I place myself in your hands, as I always have.

I may have missed my chance to speak with you. Should you reconsider in the near or long-term future having a meeting with me, I would welcome such an invitation.

We have not seen each other face to face very often, and it would be a shame to have our view of one another based on e-mails, silence, and (unverified) third party testimony.

There is a lot we can all learn in these changing times about how to relate with one another with wisdom, empathy, and compassion.

 Warm wishes for your health and happiness, joy and wellbeing,


 Some lines from Wendell Berry,

   Again, again we come and go,
   changed, changing.  Hands
   join, unjoin in love and fear,
   grief and joy.  The circles turn,
   each giving in to each, into all.