All posts by BZC News

Earthquake Drill at BZC Sitting/Party

On October 18, BZC participated in the state-wide Earthquake Preparedness Drill known as “the Great California Shake Out.” At 10:18 a.m. BZC residents and members were encouraged to “Drop, Cover, and Hold-On,” simulating the response to a major earthquake. Residents then checked their personal earthquake kit. This was an opportunity to discuss and reflect on the ongoing issue of preparedness for earth­quakes and other major disasters.

More discussion, planning, and prepara­tions are planned for the coming year. If you are interested in participating, send a note to Bruce Coughran at

New Zendo in El Cerrito

Sunday, January 13, 2019, we will be celebrat­ing the opening of the Blue Mountain Zendo at 1020 King Drive in El Cerrito. We will have an opening ceremony at 5:00 p.m., followed by a templewarming and housewarming party. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have made donations to BMZ to make this opening possible.

The zendo will be open from January 14 on. For those who may be interested in coming and sitting with me at any point, here is the tentative schedule:

Every day except Saturday I will be sitting at Blue Mountain with the squirrels, deer, and blue jays, and anybody who shows up. The weekday sittings will be at 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. The length of sittings and services will be the same as those at BZC. In the morning there will be a clunk at 6:40 for stretching or for anyone who may have to leave. The rest of us will continue to sit through to 7:00 a.m. and then do a short service.

Sunday sitting will begin at 6:30 a.m., with two periods, one of forty minutes, and one of thirty minutes, with kinhin in between, followed by a longer service. When the service ends (around 8:15) we will have coffee, tea, fruit, yogurt, and croissants in the community room. This coffee/tea time will be informal to encourage dharma friendship and right speech. Then we will return to the zendo at 9:00 a.m. for another period of zazen, followed by a short talk.

Beginning in February, I will offer a Dharma Seminar the second Saturday of the month from 2:00‒4:00 p.m., followed by a one-hour walk in the El Cerrito nature area two blocks from BMZ, which includes stunning views of the Bay. I will present during the first hour of the Seminar, followed by an open dis­cussion. I also plan to invite speakers, in which case they will present first and I will respond, followed by open discussion. Snacks and beverages will be available.

I will offer zazen instruction as necessary. Zazen instruction in Spanish will be offered during Wednesday afternoon zazen.

I hope to see you at the January 13 opening celebration and look forward to practicing here with any of you who may be interested.

Oryoki Training

The next lessons in our formal meal procedures (“oryoki”) will be Saturday, January 19, and Saturday, February 23, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the zendo. If you would like to schedule another time to learn or fine-tune your oryoki practice, contact Sue Oehser at 510-339-0243 (voice only) or

You can also receive  briefer instruction during any full Saturday morning program that is not a sesshin. After the first period of Saturday zazen, the director will ask if anyone would like instruction in eating in the zendo.  Raise your hand and meet the director on the porch, who will assign someone to give you oryoki instruction in the community room before service and breakfast.

Two Class Series

Sojun Roshi will teach another koan study class series on four Monday evenings, beginning February 4. The particular koans will be announced and material will be made available as we get closer to that date.
Hozan Sensei will teach a class series on five Thursday evenings beginning March 28. The class topic will be Mindfulness, based on the Satipatthana Sutta and commentaries by Thich Nhat Hanh. Details will be announced later.

Celebrating Martin Luther King Day

We will be commemorating the MLK holiday again this year by having a special program at BZC on Monday, January 21, from 8:30 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. Our program will begin with sitting, followed by a short talk on the legacy and dharma of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his vision of “Beloved Community.” We will then have small group dialogues to reflect on these themes and explore ways BZC can engage in partnership with our neighbors on issues of diversity and inclusion. Our time together will include tea and treats as we continue our conversation. This will be followed by two community service projects.

One project will be setting up a table on Russell Street to invite passersby to create peace prayers and memorial messages honoring those who have died through violence. We then will invite and assist in placing these messages on our streetside Peace Tree. Our second project will be cleaning streets in the immediate neighborhood.

The MLK Day program will be led by Gerry Oliva and Judy Fleischman.

Sewing Buddha’s Robe

Sewing your rakusu in preparation for receiving the precepts at the end of the annual practice period is an opportunity for deepening your practice and relationship with the sangha. Each year as the sewing class participants engage in the devotional practice of sewing and study the precepts together, they prepare themselves for receiving their robe and dharma name from their teachers.  The ceremony is a both a time to affirm aspirations to continue practicing and to celebrate with the sangha coming together to support this important event.
If you are interested in preparing for Lay Ordination in 2019, sewing class starts on January 14. Classes are open to those who have asked their teacher if they may participate. Please speak with Sojun Mel Weitsman or Hozan Alan Senauke by the first week in January, and then promptly contact the sewing teacher, Jean Selkirk: sewingteacher.bzc@
Check the bulletin board for further announcements.

A New Baby Buddha

On Monday morning, December 10, our dharma brother Jed Appelman was ordained as a Zen priest by Sojun Roshi. The zendo was packed, even when the ceremony began at 5:40 a.m. Sangha members, family, and Quaker friends all gathered to see Jed receive his monk’s robes and bowls. On the occasion of this ordination, Sojun Roshi gave Jed a new dharma name to go with his new clothes: Tokusan Jakusho, which means Mountain of Virtue/Serene Illumination. We rejoice with Jed on this auspicious turning of his life.

Leadership Celebration

We would like to invite sangha members to a celebration of service in leadership January 5, 2019, after the lecture during our tea and cookies. Several people will be rotating out of leadership positions in January, after dedi­cated service. Stan Dewey, Mark Copithorne, and Katy Guimond are leaving the Board, and Ross Blum is retiring as coordinator (being replaced by Gerry Oliva). Come share cake and tea!

Two-Day Study Sesshin February 16, 2019, 5:00 am - 9:00 pm and February 17. 2019, 5:00 am - 5:00 pm

Sojun Roshi will lead this year’s study sesshin from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 16, and 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 17. Each day will include zazen, oryoki meals, soji, and two daily study and discussion sessions. Our study subject will be posted on the bulletin board. Any readings will be available on the bulletin board shelf in advance of the sesshin. The sesshin fee is $35 per day. Place checks marked “2019 Study Sesshin” in the slot in the laundry room door or mail to BZC Office Manager at 1931 Russell St., Berkeley 94703. Sign-up sheet will be posted on the bulletin board. For further information on any of these sesshins, please contact

Sesshin Director Gary Artim (510-676-9756 or

Beginners’ Sesshin Sunday, January 27th, 2019, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Though Zen practice has no beginning or end, new people sometimes find the forms daunting, and more experienced students can value refreshment and learn about forms in greater detail. This sitting, led by Sojun Roshi, is an opportunity for new and old practitioners to invigorate our beginner’s mind. The focus will be on the basics of Suzuki Roshi’s practice: zazen, kinhin, and bowing.

The sesshin will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 27. Though shorter than usual, the rhythm of sitting will be similar to our regular schedules, with lecture, a short work period, tea and discussion. Plan to attend the entire day. Please bring a bag lunch—we will not be cooking a meal or doing oryoki. The sesshin fee is $25. Place checks marked “Beginner’s Sesshin” in the slot in the laundry room door or mail to BZC Office Manager at 1931 Russell St., Berkeley 94703.