Buddhist Chaplaincy Speaker Series

Each month, our Buddhist Chaplaincy Training Program invites individuals working in the field of Spiritual Care to share their experiences and inspirations, and to address the most relevant and emerging topics in Chaplaincy and Buddhist Chaplaincy today. This series is open to the public. Scroll down to view and listen to past talks.

Upcoming Talks

Saturday, December 16th 2023
9:00 – 10:00am PST

“How Can I Help?” with Renshin Bunce

You raise your hand and knock on the door, put a smile on your face and enter a hospital room or a private home, find someone young young or old; male or female;  sitting in a chair and chatting, or in a bed and not responding, and introduce yourself – and then what? this is every chaplain’s question. since Buddhism teaches us to greet each moment as it arises, the chaplain who happens to be formed by the Buddha’s teachings will ideally start each visit without a script or agenda. The Patient may be a lifelong Catholic or fiercely atheist , may have set beliefs of their own or never given the world of spirit and the question of death a thought – and what does help look like then?

The question becomes, not what am I supposed to say and do, but how can I keep my heart open to whatever arises. This is where we live the promise that “the whole world is your teacher,” and this is where we learn what help can be, as a chaplain and as a human being

Renshin Bunce is a dharma heir of the late Myogen Steve Stücky. She was priest ordained in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in 2003 by the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman.

After seven years’ residence at San Francisco Zen Center, Renshin worked for 12 years as a hospice chaplain. Retired, she now lives in Eureka CA. She and her sitting groups – Beginners Mind Zen in San Mateo, currently meeting over Zoom three times a week, and Beginners Mind Zen in Eureka, currently meeting in person in Eureka – are affiliated with The Everyday Zen Foundation. Although remote geographically, she offers practice discussion and spiritual counseling over Zoom.

Renshin has written three books: Entering the Monastery, an account of life at San Francisco Zen Center; Love and FearStories from a Hospice Chaplain; and Remembering Myogen Steve Stucky, a collection of stories about the former abbot.

Saturday, February 17th 2024
9:00 – 10:00am PST

Accompanying Living, Accompanying Dying with Kirsten DeLeo

Impermanence, fearless compassion and Buddha nature. Being in the presence of an ill, dying or grieving person, Buddha’s teachings become real and practical. 

Kirsten DeLeo is a meditation teacher, end-of-life caregiver, and spiritual care trainer. Based on her experience supporting dying people, she wrote the award-winning book “Present Through The End. A Caring Companion’s Guide For Accompanying The Dying” (Shambhala Publications). Born and raised in Germany, Kirsten lived for many years in San Francisco and served at the Zen hospice and Maitri.

Kirsten helped to pioneer one of the first training programs in contemplative end-of-life care called Authentic Presence. She was a founding member of the Harvard Buddhist Ministry working group and currently supports the European Buddhist Union Chaplaincy Network. Kirsten trained in the Hakomi mindfulness-based somatic approach to psychotherapy and has been immersed in Tibetan Buddhist study and practice for over twenty-five years, including a three-year retreat.

Kirsten lives in Ireland at the Dzogchen Beara Buddhist Meditation Centre where she teaches and also serves as a Buddhist chaplain at its Spiritual Care Centre. Overlooking the wild Atlantic, Dzogchen Beara’s Spiritual Care Centre offers support to people who are bereaved, ill or facing the end of their lives. Kirsten will reflect on the nature of spiritual care, especially in end-of-life care, and her own experience being a chaplain.  kirstendeleo.com

Saturday, March 16th 2024
9:00 – 10:00am PST

Healthy Compassion in Crises and Disasters with Nathan Jishin Michon

Nathan Jishin Michon (he//they) is a postdoctoral JSPS research fellow at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, Japan focused on Buddhist chaplaincy.  They especially focus on the development of Buddhist chaplaincy training programs around Japan. Jishin previously worked in hospice and disaster care. They previously trained in Zen and Thai Forest Tradition for a number of years, and then ordained both as a Shingon Buddhist priest and as an interfaith minister. Jishin is editor of works such as Refuge in the Storm: Buddhist Voices in Crisis Care, A Thousands Hands: A Guidebook to Caring for Your Buddhist Community, and co-author the Oxford Research Encyclopedia’s entry on Buddhist Chaplaincy, among other works. 

Past Talks

Right Listening — The Chaplain’s Empathic Stethoscope with Pamela Ayo Yetunde

Max Swanger

Learning to Help: A Buddhist Journey into Chaplaincy with Reverend Max Hokai Swanger, M.Div., BCC

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