About Berkeley Zen Center

The Berkeley Zen Center is a place where people practice zazen together daily, with the support
of the Zen Center community, under the guidance of abbot Sojun Mel Weitsman Roshi.

Meditation, which is called zazen, or sitting in stillness, is the center of our practice,
following and adapting the traditions of Soto Zen Buddhism.
At BZC our everyday activity, as it extends from zazen, is the field where practice finds its full expression.

Everyday Zen
The Center was established in 1967 by the late Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, with the help of his student Mel Weitsman. Suzuki Roshi came to San Francisco from Japan in 1959, and in the following years founded San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery. He died in 1971, having successfully planted the seeds of Zen in the California soil. The warmhearted teaching of Suzuki Roshi as recorded in his
well-known book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, and in his most recent book, Branching Streams Flow in the Dark, continues to be a touchstone and inspiration for all our efforts.

In September of 1979 Berkeley Zen Center moved to its present location on Russell Street, where a new zendo was constructed and officially named Shogakuji, in honor of Shogaku Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. There is a small residential community living at the Center, which includes priests, lay students and children. Our general membership numbers more than a hundred, most living in Berkeley and the surrounding area. We are supported by the dues, donations, andstrong work practice of members and friends who come from all walks of life and different age groups.

We offer this Affirmation of Welcome: Walking the path of liberation, we express our intimate connection with all beings. Welcoming diversity, here at Berkeley Zen Centerthe practice of zazen is available to people of every race, nationality,class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and physical ability. May all beings realize their true nature.

Training & Study
Along with daily zazen there are other opportunities for practice and study at BZC. Zazen instruction is given each Saturday morning. Introductory classes and training are offered for new people, as well as weekly classes on Buddhist subjects year round. Each month there is an intensive meditation period of one day, as well as regular half-day sittings. Several times a year there are longer sittings, called sesshin, that last two, five, or seven days. Each spring we have a six-week practice period, where students can intensify their daily meditation in community study and work. Additionally, in the fall there is a month long practice period, "Aspectsof Practice," meant to introduce and refresh the forms and basics of practice for new and older members.

If you have been sitting at BZC for a few months and wish to contribute regularly to support the practice, we encourage you to become a member of Berkeley Zen Center. Please speak with one of the practice leaders or with the contact person identified at Saturday lecture to discuss membership and receive an application.

  Our Abbot, Sojun Mel Weitsman
was born in Los Angeles in 1929. His broad life experience includes years of art study and abstract expressionist painting, work as a house painter,
boat painter, cab driver, and music instructor. Mel
lives in North Berkeley with his wife Liz; they have
a son named Daniel.

In 1964, Sojun Roshi began to practice at San
Francisco Zen Center on Bush Street, and in
1969 he was ordained by Suzuki Roshi as resident
priest at the Berkeley Zendo. He received Dharma Transmission from Suzuki Roshi's son and
successor, Gyugaku Hoitsu, at Rinsoin temple
in Japan in 1984, and was officially installed as
Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center in 1985.

Along with his responsibilities in Berkeley, Sojun
Roshi helps train students and teachers at several affiliated temples. From 1988 to 1997 he served as
Co-Abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center. Sojun
Roshi has given Dharma Transmission to numerous students, each of whom draws on their experience
and understanding in offering Sojun and Suzuki
Roshi's teaching to others.

Vice-Abbot Hozan Alan Senauke
began practicing at BZC on Dwight Way and later established his practice as a student of Sojun
Roshi in the early1980s. He was ordained at BZC
in 1989 and received Dharma Transmission from
Sojun Roshi at Tassajara in 1998. He has been
Tanto or Head of Practice at BZC since 1997,
and was installed as BZC's Vice Abbot in 2007.

Hozan brings a global perspective on socially-
engaged Buddhism and Zenas a force for positive change. Since 1991 Alan has been a leader at
Buddhist Peace Fellowship. More recently he
has founded the Clear View Project, bringing
Buddhist-based resources and support where
it is needed around the world.

Hozan was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1947.
He brings to our sangha a rich life experience as
a writer and editor, a social justice activist, and a respected folk musician. Alan has been a resident
at Berkeley Zen Center for 25 years. He and his
wife Laurie have raised their two children, Silvie
and Alex, at BZC.

Formal practice interviews, or "Dokusan," are
available with Sojun Roshi or the Vice Abbot Hozan
Alan Senauke. Those practicing regularly at BZC
are also encouraged to meet with other senior students
for practice discussion. This is another way we share
our inquiry and understanding, and deepen our
relationship with our teachers.