Posted inGeneral News & Announcements

Sangha Meeting – September 17, 2022

September 21, 2022
Tree graphic made by Mark Petrick who presents the new vision for Mountain Cloud in this video
MCZC Mission and Overview

Mountain Cloud Zen Center (MCZC) seeks to foster teachings of Zen Buddhism, as adapted to Western cultural forms and traditions.

Buddhism is constantly adapting to the culture in which it is practiced. There have been many iterations of Buddhism and this will continue to be.
As Buddhism grows in the West, we will rise to meet the unique challenges of our culture.
Since Henry started teaching at Mountain Cloud, we have had a fairly static and traditional Core Zen Program including Thursday Teishos, Daily Sits, and Retreats.

In 2015, Mountain Cloud launched the Rio Grande Mindfulness Institute (RGMI) which began adapting our teachings for educators and health professionals. Then, in 2021, Henry returned from a sabbatical with a new meditation training program, Original Love, which has had a great impact on individuals across the world in its first year.

In the last few months, we have begun to apply all that we learned through Original Love into a new Online Zen program which will focus on traditional teachings offered in exciting new interactive formats.

We are working to…

Reinstate a new and improved residency program led by Assistant Teacher Scott Thornton
Rebuild and strengthen our local Sangha
Add more teachers and programs to our offerings

Watch MARK Petrick’s Introduction Starting at 20:24

Henry’s Vision

I know that some of you have been asking yourselves, what is this all for?

Zen is about bringing the reality of Awakening and Oneness into our lives

Henry Shukman

While our current offerings are wonderful, we need to think about how to bring Zen to Western society. Original Love was our first attempt at this. We are maturing into an institution that can offer continuous programs to support any and all practitioners, no matter what level. We want to start investigating what it would look like to be helpful globally.

There is a great interest in Mountain Cloud coming from Sanbo Zen practitioners in Japan and around the world. The ability to drop into meditation as we are, where we live, has shown to be very beneficial. We don’t know how far this will go, but we do know that increasing access to the Dharma where we are can only be positive. We have tried our best to carry the momentum of Sanbo Zen into what we do. Now, we feel that mission more than ever.

Watch the rest of Henry’s vision starting at 29:15

The Core Zen Program

We can all be supported by the roots while the branches rise up

Valerie Forstman

The Dharma has deep roots at Mountain Cloud

Valerie and Scott feel great joy to be joining the center in Santa Fe.
Prior to COVID, the center was packed for nearly every activity. The spirit of shared investment and caring for this place has always been quite palpable.

While we have had much growth, we now have a new challenge: to reinvigorate our in-person connection.
Valerie sees her work as rooted in this place, with branches reaching out across the entire Sangha.

Learn More about the core zen program starting at 45:47

Online Zen

Online Zen is like a garden

While we can’t schedule the rain, a good irrigation system can help us to deliver water at appropriate intervals.
The rain is the Dharma. We can’t control it, we can only receive.
We hope to be your irrigation system to direct Zen to you in small doses to cultivate your practice over time.

Sarah Giffin has been doing an amazing job starting up our Online Zen program! If you have any ideas for how to improve Mountain Cloud’s course engagement, please email Sarah at

Learn More about ONLINE ZEN from sarah starting at 55:38

Original Love

We plan on launching a new series of Original Love next year. More information coming soon!

Original Love has had an eventful and successful first year. For the very first time, we hosted 18 weeks of courses over the year with a total of over 800 registrants! During this time, participants listened to over 60 new Guided Meditations and participated in more than 20 Q&A’s and 100’s of small practice groups. We hope to bring some of these new technologies back to Mountain Cloud offerings in our new Online Zen program.

Learn More about ORiginal Love From Jeremy starting at 1:01:22


RGMI reaches out to those in helping professions such as teachers and health professionals to offer support where they may need it.

After a sabbatical, RGMI will be resuming its offerings. More information coming soon!

Learn More about rgmi starting at 1:08:54

Introducing Carolyn Klamp – New Board Member

Carolyn Klamp has been a practicing attorney for over 30 years working mostly in the non-profit sector. She has experience working with non-profit Buddhist organizations, including Thich Nhat Hanh’s organization, Plum Village. Carolyn is very interested in becoming an official member of the Mountain Cloud Board after serving as an ex-officio member and the Board Treasurer for the last few months.

Carolyn Klamp was voted to the Board by dues paying members during the September 17 Sangha Meeting.

watch the board vote starting at 1:10:05

Report on Finances

The Mountain Cloud financial situation is on track for the year. As we look towards next year, we are hoping to offer increased benefits to staff, make some improvements to facilities, and continue to offer generous scholarships to all who wish to attend our programs. Our Fall Fundraising Appeal will fund these initiatives. Please refer to the video for additional financial information.

Learn More ABOUT FINANCES starting at 1:13:15

Fundraising Appeal

Dana is the practice of generosity, the first six of the great virtues – paramitas.

We have not had a major fundraising campaign this year and are hoping that our Sangha will consider donating to our Fall Appeal. As a non-profit organization, your donations help us to fulfill our mission and will be used to:

  • Improve the hybrid experience
  • Create new programs – both online and in-person
  • Support more teachers and new staff
  • Continue to offer comprehensive scholarships to all in need
  • Begin deferred facility maintenance

You can donate to our campaign here.

What is coming after Original Love? After having a continuous year of support, where do we go next?

We are developing a full program for 2023 which you will begin to hear about soon! We are also continuously developing new Online Zen programs at Mountain Cloud that Original Love participants might enjoy.

Does Mountain Cloud have a program for “satellite” groups in other locations (not Santa Fe, NM)?

So far, many people have self-organized satellite groups, however we also interact quite regularly with a few Sanghas across the country. We would love to explore how to facilitate this more!

Are there limitations on how many people can attend events in person? Are we planning on having more space?

We are still limited by COVID measures due to the nature of our housing. In the past, we have had multiple individuals sharing cabins in bunk beds, however this has just not been possible. We are hoping to move back to that model once it is safe, however we have aspirations of building some small, individual spaces that would give us more flexibility. Safety and comfort is a top priority and if the interest is there we would love to increase housing opportunities at the center.

As a prospective member, how is Dokusan organized among the teachers?

Currently, Valerie offers Dokusan on Mondays and Wednesdays to all Mountain Cloud students who are working on Koans. For students who want practice guidance or have yet to begin Koan study, Valerie is available for individual sessions that are organized separately. This is all done on Zoom which allows us to be available to anyone, anywhere in the world. Henry offers Dokusan to a very small, select group of students in order to protect his neurology. We are contemplating how to increase these offerings in the face of a growing number of Mountain Cloud Students and Members.

Are there places in Europe associated with Mountain Cloud? Do Henry and Valerie often visit?

Prior to COVID, Henry used to visit Sonnenhof Retreat Center in Germany 3 times a year. Valerie has recently led several retreats in Europe and will be leading at Domicilium near Munich in October and another in Italy in November. Valerie will return to Sonnenhof next May.

Is there an overlap between Mountain Cloud’s mission and the growing need for psychological help?

Henry is looking towards this very topic for the 2023 Original Love offering. More information coming soon!

Meeting begins at 20:24 following a guided meditation led by Henry Shukman

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