Colin Fay, Abbot Emeritus

It is with great sadness that we tell you of the passing of Colin Fay, Abbot Emeritus of the Nothern Light Zen Center, on Saturday, December 19th. 

He knew and studied with Zen Master Seung Sahn at the Cambridge Zen Center. His passion for our practice led him to be a founding member of this sangha in 2002. His energy and generosity led to the creation of our dharma room in the basement of his Brunswick home, and later to the purchase and renovation of our center in Topsham. He encouraged many of us in our practice. His great Bodhisattva spirit, exemplified by his smile and joking around, will long be remembered by those he leaves behind. 

His lovely wife, Stephanie, sends us this message:
” I am thankful that we could all be with Colin at the end. He died peacefully, and we all got to say our goodbyes and share our thoughts and memories with him. After he died, we sat and shared tea with him, talking and crying. I’m asking those who loved him to brew a cup of tea and drink with Colin. “

We extend our deep condolences to his wife, Stephanie Holmes, and two daughters, Myla and Corinne. Further news will be forthcoming about any ceremonies to be performed in his honor. Go drink tea!

Happy Thanksgiving.

The eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth precepts encourage us to show homage to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. This “special honor or respect shown publicly”, as homage can be defined, is of particular significance around this time of year. Each of the three jewels, taken in their broadest sense, points us towards all of creation and our relationships to it and each other. The Northern LIght Zen Center wishes you a joy-filled day with opportunities to be thankful for the Buddha in us all and in all creation. 

Join us with thanks!
— Northern Light Zen Center

Precepts Ceremony Online!

Save the Date! 

Kwan Um School of Zen Americas will hold an online Precepts Ceremony in place of our traditional Buddha’s Enlightenment Day gathering on Saturday, December 12, 4 PM EDT.

If you would like to take precepts during this ceremony, please visit here to fill out the precepts application. From the same webpage, please download the Precepts Application Handbook and read it carefully before applying. Applicants for 10 precepts should speak with their Guiding Teachers. 

Application Deadlines

Precepts applications must be submitted by Friday, November 27
Late applications may be accepted as late as Friday, December 5, but there will be a $25 late fee. No applications will be accepted after December 5. 

Questions? Please email:

If there are any questions regarding Precepts or any ceremony in Kwan Um, please email

Kwan Um School of Zen Americas announces four Inka Ceremonies to be held online this December.

Save the Date! 

Kwan Um School of Zen Americas announces four Inka Ceremonies to be held online this December.

The first ceremony will take place on Saturday, December 5, 4 PM EDT and will include two Inka candidates.

The second ceremony will take place on Sunday, December 13, 4 PM EDT.

These ceremonies will be held online via Zoom. Additional details about will be provided in the coming weeks.

These ceremonies are in addition to a KUSZ Precepts Ceremony scheduled to take place online on Saturday, December 12, 4 PM EDT.

Northern Light Zen Center Halloween Retreat.

October 31, One Day Retreat
202 Meadow Road Topsham Maine
(207) 835-1480

Halloween Day Retreat

The Northern Light Zen Center is pleased to announce a one day hybrid (zoom and live) retreat on Saturday, October 31, 2020. The basic retreat is scheduled from 8:00 to noon, but there is an option for further practice that day. 

The practice will involve alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation. Kong-An interviews are available with the Guiding Teacher.

In this time of COVID we are especially mindful of the health and well-being of our members. With this is mind, we are offering live participation at the zen center for a limited number of people so that social distancing can be maintained. IF YOU WISH TO PARTICIPATE LIVE, YOU MUST REGISTER IMMEDIATELY SO THAT WE CAN ASSESS THE SPACE IN THE DHARMA ROOM. All interviews will be conducted via zoom. If you have your own portable device (phone or laptop) and know how to use zoom, please bring it. If not, we will have an interview station set up so that you can have an interview with Terry. Let us know. 

The set time for the retreat is 8 to noon. Terry is willing to continue the retreat that day after a short lunch break if there are sufficient numbers of people who would like to practice an additional hour or two. LET US KNOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE THIS. 

RSVP required by the Wednesday before the retreat so we can plan accordingly.
Click here to ask questions or to register for the the retreat.

Terry Cronin, JDPSN started practicing Zen and Christian contemplation in 1980 while a  student at Yale Divinity School. Since 1986, he has trained in the Kwan Um School of Zen. He received inka from Zen Master Soeng Hyang in April, 2014 and is the Guiding Teacher at the Northern Light Zen Center. For the past 21 years he has worked in a variety  of roles  for hospice programs, currently serving as a hospice chaplain. He lives in  Maine and  has one adult son.

WWSF 2020 Online, Zen Blooms Everywhere!

WWSF 2020 Online, Zen Blooms Everywhere begins: 
Sunday, September 6

That’s just a few days away.

For a conference schedule and to register for the conference (required), please visit the conference and registration page here.

WWSF 2020 Online is open to the public, not just Kwan Um sangha members and friends. So please feel free to invite anyone who may be interested to our conference.

Questions? Then please contact us:

Kathy Park at in S. Korea.
Do Wa Sunim at in Malaysia.
Joanna Gruchot at in Europe.
Ames Colt at in the US.

Whole World is a Single Flower Conference 2020

Mindfulness-based Compassionate Communication with Nancy Hathaway, SDT via ZOOM

A Mindfulness-based Compassionate Communicate series of four workshops offered by Nancy Hathaway, SDT, State of Maine Licensed (clinical) Pastoral Counselor, Associate Professor University of Southern Maine is open to the Kwan Um School of Zen sangha. (This is not; however, a Kwan Um sponsored event).  

The foundation of this language of compassion is based on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Mindfulness  is one of the eight of the Eight-fold path, the Fourth of the Four Noble Truths. This language is based on Buddhist psychology.  It is a language of no blame, speaking from truth of experience of the human condition, before judgment, before blame, before making good and bad, or right or wrong. It is the language of wanting all sentient beings to get their basic human needs met, no matter what their situation. Conflict of needs is welcomed. 

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness as well as Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction program will be studied and referred to throughout the series as well as the work of Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Nonviolent Communication/Authentic Communication and M.K. Ghandi.

Space is limited to 15 for maximum learning. The series will be held via ZOOM. Participants are to send a deposit of $25 or the total fee of $100 to the Paypal account below and an email to Nancy. A waiting list will be available. After registering and paying the full fee, two titles of books will be emailed as optional readings but suggested readings as well as the ZOOM link,

Dates: Tuesday evenings July 28, August 4, 11 & 18 ET (Host is on the coast of Maine USA)
Times: 5-7PM. ET (Host is on the coast of Maine USA)

TO REGISTER:1) Send deposit of $25 or full fee of $100 through Paypal link on Nancy’s website See link below)

Make a Payment Here via PayPal

2) Send email to with Name and Email address and phone number, preferably TEXT number.  ZOOM Link and optional book list will be emailed to you after full fee has been paid.

Nancy Hathaway became a Senior Dharma Teacher in 1984 while living with her family at Providence Zen Center for five years; two sons born at home at Providence Zen Center. She has studied with Marshall Rosenberg and studied, interned and worked with Jon Kabat-Zinn. This work has informed her relationships with self and other finding this work invaluable and is delighted to share it with others, especially at this time, members of the Kwan Um School of Zen sangha.

“May all of us as a species use this opportunity to wake up to our shared humanity, our shared vulnerability, and to nourish compassion and tolerance, and not our fear and discrimination.” The monks and nuns of Plum Village

Nancy Hathaway, M.Ed., LpastC
Center for Studying Mindfulness
PO Box 506,
Blue Hill, Maine 04614

Nancy Hathaway offers Mindfulness sessions & trainings to individuals, couples, & groups and is an associate professor of the University of Maine System and a lecturer at Colby College’s JanPlan.

June 27th Zoom Retreat at NLZC

Saturday on June 27th, Northern Light Zen Center held it’s bi-monthly retreat via zoom. We are joined by folks from the Cape Code Zen Center. Interviews and Strong Practice ensued! It was a good day. If you are interested in joining us on Wednesday nights for practice or for our next retreat, please send an email to Stay well and stay healthy

June 27th Retreat

How the Buddha Got His Face

This is a New York Times article that was passed around via email among our Sangha. I thought it was a pretty good read. So I wanted to share it. Check it out.

How the Buddha Got His Face

Northern Light sits via zoom (currently during the pandemic) on Tuesday afternoons at 12:30 for a short meditation session. Also on Wednesday evenings at 6:45 for chanting, two sessions of meditation with a walking meditation in between. If you would like to join us please send an email to or for the zoom meeting information. Be safe and be healthy.

A few thoughts from the Zen Center Inbox.

Joshu, a great Chinese Zen master, said, “A clay Buddha cannot cross water; a bronze Buddha cannot get through a furnace; a wooden Buddha cannot get through fire.” Whatever it is, if your practice is directed toward some particular object, such as a clay, a bronze, or a wooden Buddha, it will not always work. So as long as you have some particular goal in your practice, that practice will not help you completely. It may help as long as you are directed towards that goal, but when you resume your everyday life, it will not work.

– Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

Do you want to improve the world?
I don’t think it can be done.

The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.

There is a time for being ahead,
a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion,
a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe,
a time for being in danger.

The Master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle.

– Verse 29 of the Tao Te Ching, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

From the Buddhist perspective, every sentient being is acquainted with suffering and the truths of sickness, old age and death. But as human beings, we have the capacity to use our minds to conquer anger and panic and greed. In recent years I have been stressing “emotional disarmament”: to try to see things realistically and clearly, without the confusion of fear or rage. If a problem has a solution, we must work to find it; if it does not, we need not waste time thinking about it.

We Buddhists believe that the entire world is interdependent. That is why I often speak about universal responsibility. The outbreak of this terrible coronavirus has shown that what happens to one person can soon affect every other being. But it also reminds us that a compassionate or constructive act – whether working in hospitals or just observing social distancing – has the potential to help many.

– The Dalai Lama, from