Dear Sangha,

We’re keen to continue refining how we serve this dharma community around the world as we enter the new year

We offered a variety of surveys and ways to contact us over the last 3 months, and had very little response. I offer this up so we’re all on the same page.  As the Executive Director my job is to manage the resources available to implement the activities of the Hollow Bones Zen Order. It is my conviction that our sangha is stronger when the “business” of Hollow Bones is in service to the spiritual mission as guided by our Abbot and senior clergy leaders with whom he consults.  We’re going to move forward with developing our training the way we believe serves the community based on what information we have. While the survey period is concluded, please always feel free to register an opinion by emailing me at 

The place where we got the most information was from the “votes” on where to focus our energy in 2023 via the Annual Pledge. The results were as follows:

  • Training & Course Development: 24
  • Preserving this Dharma : 24
  • Free Online Programs: 23
  • Scholarships: 16
  • Local Sanghas: 12
  • Mondo Zen Facilitation/Training: 8

We’re still parsing out what exactly this means – but with 65% of the registered opinions leaning toward training, practice, and generally preserving this dharma, that’s where we’ll start! To this end we have revamped our 2023 ongoing practice schedule and are preparing to offer two hybrid retreats and one silent sesshin in the first half of 2023, alongside training in the Sutra Book, Qigong and the Precepts. The participation of the sangha in these events will have a huge impact on our future. 

Our end-of-year fund drive and Q4 austerity measures have nearly doubled our runway. We are in a much better position now, and for that we are all deeply grateful. 

Unfortunately I cannot report ecstatic joy. Our sustaining donations are up at about $2,350 per month. Again, deeply grateful! While we have enough to keep the lights on for now, we still have about a $4,000/month deficit to overcome to be truly sustainable. Currently, our Abbot, taiso Roshi, takes no stipend, and our assistant executive director/bookkeeper, Liaoran, serves on a volunteer basis. Other staff members may also move to partially volunteer basis in 2023, if they can provide unpaid service. Otherwise, they will have to reduce their hours with us. Running Hollow Bones requires dedicated daily work by multiple people, and while working for a nonprofit spiritual organization will never be “profitable,” we’d like to be able to provide some measure of support to our dedicated workers in the same spirit as we would feed those who worked in the monastery!  

These budgetary questions, and determining how many staff hours are critical for the organization’s functioning, are things we are solving collectively, and inviting all of you to assist in the steering of. More than money, Hollow Bones needs the engagement of sangha. If you’re able to provide any amount of your time toward supporting our online programs, volunteering for service roles, or building visibility for our online community, we invite you to connect with us for the best ways to volunteer in 2023!

And even though the fundraising campaign is over, you can make a contribution or share the annual fund link any time of year:

We look forward to serving you in the new year!

Umi Dan Rotnem & Hollow Bones Zen Staff

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