Priory Life

October 4, 2022
In our tradition’s Soto Zen Wedding Ceremony, the bride and groom read together: We are now being given the Light of Buddha so that we extinguish the light of selfishness.  We will make the Buddha’s Light sanctify our marriage and we will be converted deeply to the Three Treasures.  From now on we will purify our bodies and minds so that we do not make mistakes in human morals and we will help each other be successful each in our own way.  We vow to show respect for all life.  May the merits of our relationship benefit all living things

On Saturday, October 1, 2022 we celebrated the wedding of Shonna Smith and Jeff Snyder. Six congregation members attended this meaningful ceremony, as well as the celebratory sparkling apple cider toast as Mr. and Mrs Snyder made this significant commitment to each other.

September 28, 2022
There is no need to be concerned about how small the gift may be
so long as it brings True results for, even if it is only a single phrase or a verse of the teaching,
it may be a seed to bring forth good fruit both now and in the future.   Great Master Dogen

Because of your deepening practice and your on-going generosity over the past four years, Redding Zen Buddhist Priory has become established as a respected member of the Redding community.  In spite of the challenges of the Covid pandemic and extreme weather conditions here in Northern California, Redding Zen offers a wide range of opportunities for Zen practice and training, including in-person meditation, Dharma study, Buddhist ceremonies including weddings, funerals and memorials, retreats and spiritual counseling.

I’m grateful to let you know that Anonymous Priory supporters have offered to match – dollar-for-dollar – each financial donation made to the Priory between October 1 and October 30 – up to $10,000.  Your financial contribution will be doubled during this period, and will help meet on-going expenses, as well as to build a priory reserve fund.  Whatever the size of your donation, it is gratefully accepted and deeply appreciated.

There are many ways to support the Priory including: 

  • Mail or drop off a check to:
               Redding Zen Priory, 1190 South Street, Redding CA 96001
  • Donate online through PayPal 
  • Consider arranging a direct deposit monthly donation through your bank. If you need assistance in this process, contact Treasurer Gary Solberg at or me at

Your on-going generosity is, and has been, inspiring.  The Priory deeply values your in-kind offerings of material goods, time, expertise and services.  Most importantly, though, I am deeply grateful for your practice.  We have so much to be thankful for. 

With gratitude and appreciation, Rev. Helen.
PS.  For more information about other ways to support the Priory, please go to our web page and click “giving”. All donations to the Priory may be tax-deductible.

The light of Buddha is increasing in brilliance
and the wheel of the Dharma is always turning.
This temple building and this ground are guarding

the Dharma and the trainees,
and all meditations and contemplations are full of treasure and wisdom.  
Great Master Dogen


January 2, 2021 – Saturday

Happy New Year
from Rev. Helen, Nicholas and Nadia
and the Sangha of Redding Zen Buddhist Priory.


March 23, 2020
Nicholas misses the Sangha. While you’re all away he’s taking some time outside in the sun.


Redding Zen Buddhist Priory Newsletter
March, 2020


Redding Zen Buddhist Priory is closed through March 31

To protect the health of our Sangha and to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Redding Zen Buddhist Priory is closed through March 31.   The Priory will be closed Tuesday, March 17 through Tuesday, March 31.    Over these next two weeks, we will evaluate whether to reopen at the beginning of April, or to extend this closure.  Tuesday’s usual 5:30pm meditation period here is cancelled.  

I invite you to take this time to develop and deepen your own individual practice by sitting with me in spirit, at your home sitting place, as I sit here at the Priory every day at our usual 6:30am and 5:30pm meditation periods each day.  I am also adding an additional sitting period from 12:30 to 1:00pm.  This is our opportunity to offer merit for all those affected by the coronavirus, in all the ways they are affected – medically, economically, psychologically, spiritually.

Over the next few days I will look to explore some of the ways to keep in touch with each other (as well as to study and meditate together) we discussed last Sunday.  I’ll keep you informed as these develop.  Indeed, I welcome your ideas, suggestions, and technical ability. 

Please call or email me with any questions.  And we can schedule our sanzen (spiritual counseling) conversations over the phone or via Skype during this challenging time. 

This decision may surprise some of you, since at our discussion last Sunday morning we decided to keep things simple, but keep things open. I wanted to remain open as a refuge and safe meditation place for our community.  However, overnight, the various government guidelines have become more restrictive. I’ve also realized how difficult it would be to maintain the six-foot distance guideline as we walked about, got our tea, visited, and such. This seems serious enough to err on the side of caution. 
Please take good care of yourselves.  We have the opportunity to offer merit and compassion to those in our family, friends and those we encounter in our days.  May we continue to offer responsible fearlessness to our world.

With gratitude and appreciation, Rev. Helen


For these next two weeks, I will be sitting daily at the Priory at
Please join me at your own sitting place as your schedule allows.

You may find these recent teachings from monks of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives of help during this time.  The first is by Rev. Median Elbert of Shasta Abbey on Working with Fear.  The second is by Rev. Berwyn Watson of Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey on  Our reaction to the Coronavirus outbreak: dealing with fear and uncertainty  

Alms List –
or what can I bring to the Priory?

Rev. Helen, the kitties, and the many birds that surround the Priory are especially grateful for your kindness and generosity in this challenging time.  You are welcome to leave your offerings in the basket by the shoe racks on the Priory porch.  Currently, we would appreciate:

Meow Mix or Kirkland Kibble for cats.
Purell or other hand sanitizers
Frozen vegetables

Canned soup (vegetarian)
Canned beans (kidney, pinto, refried)
The odd treat

There is no way that the Dharma can survive as a living principle
unless it can be offered and received as a gift,
in an atmosphere where mutual compassion and concern
are the medium of exchange,
and purity of heart is the bottom line.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu  The Economy of Gifts

Thanks to all of you who share the life of the Redding Zen Priory, and so generously contribute to it through your daily practice, with your offerings of time and talent, and with your in-kind and financial donations.  Your continued and regular support of Redding Zen throughout the year – in amounts large and small – is gratefully appreciated.  The Priory operates on donations and your generous offerings allow us to continue to offer a place of regular and quiet sitting in downtown Redding, as well as to provide meditation instruction, spiritual counseling and other pastoral service, and a range of Buddhist ceremonies.  Redding Zen is also deeply grateful for your on-going offerings of time and expertise, in-kind donations, financial offerings, and – most importantly – of your training.  Operating as a temple of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, the Priory is a 501(c)3 organization and your offerings may be tax deductible.


July 29, 2019  Nadia is up early on these hot summer mornings! 

July 5, 2019. 

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountains majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
True Refuge may we find
In Treasures Three, in all we see,
The deeper Buddha Mind.

Thanks to all who celebrated the Fourth of July at the Redding Zen Priory. Following a short meditation period and a period of chanting the Scripture of Great Wisdom and our versions of Our Country Tis of Thee and America the Beautiful, twenty two (22) of us enjoyed a delicious potluck porch picnic with delightful conversation. “…we take refuge in the Sangha, whose members are wise and compassionate…

June 16, 2019
Nicholas and Nadia welcomed our recent monastic guests with gentle feline hospitality.  They were most helpful to Rev. Helen as she prepared for our visitors.


June 9, 2019
Please join us at the Priory for an hour or so in Dharma conversation with Rev. Vivian and Rev. Veronica on Tuesday, June 11, from 6:00 to 7:00pm after meditation at 5:30pm. Both monks have trained for some time at Shasta Abbey. Rev. Vivian is returning from 6 months at Throssel Hole Abbey (England). Please join us as your schedule allows.

And many thanks to ALL who helped polish the priory in preparation for
our visitors, as well as those who brought luggage and plastic boxes for Rev.

June 3, 2019
On Saturday, June 1, Rev. Helen was celebrant the House Blessing for Gary Solberg.  Gary welcomed Rev. Helen, along with sangha members Chris Carrigan, Patty Donahue, Roya Mozafar, Vickie Wolf, Susan Place, Kirk Yarnell, Joel Stratte-McClure, and Storm King.  We hung the Ketchimiyaku Certificate above the door of the House of the Four Wisdoms, chanted the Scripture of Great Wisdom, and then processed throughout the house and the beautiful gardens chanting the Om Kembaya verse.  The ceremony was followed by an enjoyable tea and time for conversation.

May 26, 2019

Thanks to sangha member and veterinarian,  Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, who offered her insights and perspectives on What (and How) Cats Think to 16 Priory members on Saturday afternoon, May 25, 2019.  Dr. Colleran offers compassionate healthcare exclusively for cats at Chico Hospital for Cats.  Nicholas and Nadia particularly enjoyed the presentation.
May 17, 2019
Thanks to all who made our celebration of Wesak Thursday evening such a meaningful and delightful event. We had a wonderful evening – 32 people, ceremony and potluck. The ceremony included traditional and contemporary poetry along with invocations accompanied by guitar and keyboards, and a traditional Laotian New Year dance. We all had the opportunity to ladle water over the statue of the Baby Buddha that Rev. Master Kinrei of the Berkeley Buddhist Priory brought back from his recent trip to Lumbini and generously donated to Redding Zen. The potluck was, as always, an extraordinary array of very tasty offerings.

Happy Wesak! Happy Buddhist New Year 2,563!

May 13, 2019
The Priory garden is blossoming! Special thanks goes to Vickie Wolf who gave her Saturday to make it so, and to Chris Carrigan and all who help from day to day.

May 13, 2019
The Priory garden is blossoming! Special thanks goes to Vickie Wolf who gave her Saturday to make it so, and to Chris Carrigan and all who help from day to day.

April 24, 2019

Suddenly it’s summer – 90 degrees in Redding this week and a blossoming garden!

The Priory’s welcoming entryway!

Thanks to Chris, Vickie, George and all who have helped shape and care for the landscape around the Priory!

March 18, 2019
Spring is just two days away and the Priory is blossoming!  As we change seasons, may we appreciate the joys that impermanence brings.


March 9, 2019
In spite of the wild weather, look what’s coming up in the Priory garden!

February 25, 2019
Thanks to the more than two dozen volunteers from the United Methodist Church and the Priory Sangha who came together on Saturday afternoon from noon to around 3pm to cleanup and clear the fallen trees, broken limbs and general debris from a garden devastated by the city’s heaviest snowstorm in 50 years.  Two trees had to be felled because of potential danger to the Priory building.  We accomplished quite a bit in a short time, taking at least 7 truckloads to the City of Redding’s transfer station which is accepting green waste from the storm cleanup at no cost through March 1.  There are still three large piles remaining to be carried away or chipped.  There really was quite a bit of damage, but as we worked we meditated on the Japanese poem that says …My barn having burned to the ground, I can more clearly see the moon…

February 19, 2019.
A week after the snowstorm, this morning was golden bright. We’ve begun to clean up the damage.

February 15, 2019  In the light of day… the effects of the snow!
More than 10 trees have either fallen or have broken limbs.  Thankfully there was no damage to the Priory building.  And we only lost power for about thirty minutes mid-afternoon.  It was good to be able to offer strong coffee and phone/device-charging opportunities for the sangha.

February 13, 2019. A snow morning at the Priory:  snow in Redding!

February 11, 2019
It has been chilly these past few mornings, hasn’t it? You may appreciate the picture below of the frozen Priory birdbath yesterday!

The Priory had a number of monastic visitors this past week including Rev. Veronica, Rev. Margaret, and Rev. Master Shiko.  And Rev. Helen had the opportunity to visit Shasta Abbey to pick up a very generous donation of a large gong from the Friends of Shasta Abbey.  While she was at the Abbey she visited with Rev. Leon  (Portland Buddhist Priory) and Rev. Oriana (Eugene Buddhist Priory) who were also visiting there.  Rev. Helen also had time to visit with her “monastic family” at the Abbey and to bow at Rev. Master Jiyu’s stupa.

February 1, 2019
I’m quietly aware that this weekend is the first year anniversary of Redding Zen.  It was on February 1, 2018 that the kitties and I opened the door to what’s become “…a place of quiet sitting in downtown Redding…”.  Your generous offerings of financial support, in-kind donations, professional services, time, advice, encouragement, and playtime with the kitties have contributed to the unfolding life of the Priory.  And your deepening meditation practice is greatly appreciated.

January 23, 2019
Nicholas, one of the Priory’s “guardian kitties”, welcomes all who come to the Priory, and encourages all in our meditation practice.

January 21, 2019
The camellias are blossoming, mockingbirds have been sighted at the Priory bird feeders, and a small white violet is flowering along the edges of our drought-resistant garden.  It’s January in Redding.  We’re grateful for the rains.

December 23, 2018
Winter blossoms at the Priory!

November 30, 2018
What a wonderful evening!  Thursday night, November 29, 2018 the Priory Sangha got together to celebrate the conclusion of the Noble Eightfold Path class and Rev. Helen’s ordination anniversary.  We shared a delicious potluck meal and an enriching conversation through which we came to better appreciate our fellow Sangha members.  Taking Refuge in the Sangha is one of the Three Refuge Precepts:  Homage to the Buddha.  Homage to the Dharma.  Homage to the Sangha.  Pictures will follow soon!

November 23, 2018
On Thanksgiving Day,  Nicholas and Nadia appreciate a quiet, rainy day at the Redding Zen Priory…

Thursday, November 22, 2018

How can we not give thanks, on this day and all others,
For those who went before, each Ancestor and Buddha,
For they were once as we, and we shall be as they.
Our training is our path.  Out gratitude The Way.

We can show our truth thanks in all our daily training
Of body, speech and mind, each moment now availing,
Of living undisturbed amidst conditions all,
Our hearts – in open faith – our Meditation Hall.

We come with open hearts before the Triple Treasure,
The Buddha, Holy Lord, the Dharma, Truest Measure,
The Sangha, wise and kind, our deep respect we pay:
In gratitude we bow on this Thanksgiving day.

To be sung to the music of Now Thank We All Our God.
Lyrics by Rev. Helen Cummings

Monday, November 12, 2018.
Please offer merit for several friends of the Priory who have had to evacuate because of the Camp Fire in Paradise, Magalia, Forest Ranch and the surrounding communities, as well as those on alert in Chico.  Also please offer merit for the 29 people identified as dead so far, and for the many pets and wild animals who have died in this horrific fire.

On Sunday, November 11, we celebrated a Festival of Remembrance on Veterans Day.  The theme of the ceremony was “…the kindest Kanzeon is to be found in hell…

On Election Night, November 6, 2018, we held an Evening of Meditation and an Offering of Merit for our Country.  We held several meditation periods between 5:30pm and 8:00pm, as well as a Ceremony of Blessing of our Nation.

On this election night, we are gathered to offer blessing and merit for the benefit of our nation…

Sunday, November 4, 2018.
Thanks to all six of us who participated in the informational discussion on the California ballot propositions held at the Priory on Saturday morning, November 3.  It was good to be able to talk about diverse points of view in an atmosphere of open-hearted listening and compassionate offering of points of view.  All seemed to find it very helpful.

And thanks, too, to all of us – 10 in all – who went up to Shasta Abbey to celebrate the Festival Memorial for Reverend Master Jiyu on Sunday, November 4.  Rev. Master Meian was celebrant for this beautiful ceremony.  Rev. Vivian offered the Dharma Talk and we all enjoyed a lovely tea at the Abbey Guest House.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

We now have the facility to receive automatic payments from your bank
directly into the Redding Zen Buddhist Priory bank account.
If you are interested in setting up this kind and regular offering,
please contact Rev. Helen ( to make arrangements.

We will soon have a PayPal option as well.

Sunday, October 7, 2018
Thanks to all who came to help at yesterday’s Working Meditation Morning. We did a deep cleaning of the Meditation Hall as well as a lot of work on the bushes and the front “lawn”. And we filled the bird feeders!

Yes, thanks to all who help at the Priory in so may ways – on so many days – not just on the Working Meditation Saturdays. Your time, expertise, and willingness to help – all is gratefully accepted. In our Transfer of Merit Ceremony this morning one of the “names” we read was “…the benefactors of the Redding Zen Buddhist Priory…”  That’s YOU when you offer support – including offering merit for – the Priory.

For those who would be interested, Nicholas ( yes, Nicholas!!!) attended today’s Dharma Talk and discussion, a quiet presence in the middle of the circle. It was so nice to see him so relaxed and trusting.  Sorry, no pictures this time!

Saturday, September 29, 2018
Five congregation members spent time on Saturday morning exploring aspects of ceremonial and learning the ins-and-outs of chaplaining,  precenting and assistant precenting.  We talked about the mind of ceremonial and then walked through the motions of festival ceremonies and short morning service, as well as meditation.  There was time for a range of questions.  It was a full and informative 93 minutes.  And we look forward to broader ceremonial participation by the members of the Redding Zen Sangha.

Saturday, September 22, 2018
Autumn at Redding Zen Buddhist Priory!  It’s wonderful to see plants and creatures – please notice the Lady Bug! – returning after the fire and the smoke.

The Priory avian community is the recipient of a lovely birdbath!
After the Carr and Delta Fires the Priory jays, doves, hummingbirds and finches disappeared for a noticeable while.
BUT they’ve returned over this past week!
It’s a joy to hear their coos and chirps again.
Hopefully the new birdbath will add to their enjoyment of Priory life.

The Priory is grateful for the many donations
that have shaped the Priory garden including native plants,
a wheel barrow, a fruit picker, rakes, a shovel, drip hoses, gardening gloves,
potting soil, gardening advice, and help in mowing the grass and raking the leaves.

Thanks to all who helped in our Working Meditation morning on September 8.

The Priory is sparkling, and we harvested a rich crop of delicious grapes.

What joy to see blue sky after five weeks of smoke-filtered light! What a delight to see actual sunlight rather than the eerie morning glow we’ve had since the start of the Carr Fire! Pictured here is this morning’s sunlight on the Priory altar shortly after
Morning Service.

The kitties have settled back into their routine of checking out the Record Searchlight each morning.  As they “said” when they arrived back recently:

Hello, dear friends, and meow!  We are very grateful to be back at the Priory – it’s great to be back to our Redding home with Rev. Helen and the Sangha,  but we miss  the wonderful folks at Chico Hospital for Cats who made our two weeks of evacuations seamlessly smooth.  Their gentleness shows in the way we made the transition here – as if we’d never been away.  We found our Redding litter box first thing and have settled into our routine, smoke notwithstanding!  Rev. Helen keeps mentioning how healthy we look – shiny coats, bright eyes and engaging spirit.  We just know we were so well taken care of by everyone during this difficult time – thanks indeed.   With deep rumbling purrs and gently easy sounds of delight, Nadia and Nicholas

Ever wonder what happens after the congregation leaves the Priory on Sunday?

Nadia and Nicholas- the Priory cats! They enjoy Fancy Feast Salmon cat food and Party Mix cat treats.  The Priory is also part of a network that collects dog and cat food for pets of the homeless .

The Priory is located on lovely green space in downtown Redding, CA.  Welcome shade is provided by numerous trees and bushes that are home to mourning doves, bluejays, white-capped sparrows, hummingbirds, crows, and – every once and a while – white herons on the utility wires.    We have several bird seed and suet feeders and two hummingbird feeders.  Your offering of bird seed is gratefully accepted.

The Priory grounds also provide a home for squirrels and – every once in a while – skunks!  The cats – Nicholas and Nadia – are fascinated by the flow of life outside their windows.

Chris Carrigan has provided beautiful plants and small trees for the Priory porch, including Japanese maples, buckeye, oak-leaf hydrangea, peonies, azaleas and more.  These are all native plants and provide a rich feast for the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.  Chris has also created two “mini-ponds” in which he has planted two different species of lotus.  Both are growing quite well, rooted as they are in kitty litter!

Nadia and Nicholas- the Priory cats! They enjoy Fancy Feast Salmon cat food and Party Mix cat treats.  The Priory is also part of a network that collects dog and cat food for pets of the homeless .