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Working from the Underside

Weaving our lives
We’re working from the underside
as tapestry makers do.
We’re looking at the wispy bits of yarn
and the knots. It looks so messy.
Only toward the end of life
can we turn it over, see the whole.
Then we say—
“Oh yes, there is a pattern here.”

— Meghan Collins

Does a Dog?

So tell me, Daisy, destroyer of tennis balls and pine cones,
Those big brown black-lab eyes,
Does a dog have Buddha-nature?
What about your new friend, Lola?
She reeks of strong puppy-nature, that’s for sure!

Sunday, I moved the zafu to the garden shed.
Bare wood, a pile of boards for an altar.
Tonight the rain drums on the roof,
Dribbles from shingles to puddles on the path,
Transports me across time and space to the attic
Of the big old house on Dwight.

No roosters here, nor fire trucks,
Only Daisy snuffling through the bushes.
She steps into the light from the candle,
Her big, blunt snout hovers over the altar
Next to the incense. Without a sound
She sets in place an old wet pine cone.

— Bud Bliss. Bud writes from Oregon: “Some readers may remember sounds from sitting in the attic zendo on Dwight. We buried Daisy with this poem from 1999 a couple of years ago. “

On Notice This Rock

Dawn. I stepped onto the deck. I lay back and exposed myself to the sun rising in warm, soft air. I had just climbed from the cold stream, preceded by the hot, mineral spring. A prize, dawn, still and priceless, scent of manzanita wafting over me. I would meditate, burrow into the sublimity, my heart showing.

All at once, a terrific rumble. From overhead, racing down the hillside, a boulder, careening, down, down. Before I knew it, it crashed five inches from my head, splintering into segments, one of which landed on the bench behind me, the other vaulting across the redwood span. I lay pinioned by the sudden silence, and then peered at the rock-sized stone hooked into the plank as if by a claw. Dark-brown, coppery with bronze flecks, this slab, five inches from my ear, my temple, my skin.

Slowly, I pulled myself up. Around the deck, the trees still stood. The railing still held, and, as I inched back, I saw the moist oblong where I had lain. Beside it, the yellow striped towel, still folded. There, I thought, just there. I bent and pulled out the stone from the wood and lay it on my palm. Warm it felt and smelled burnt, as if it had flown through fire on its run to the ground. Of course it told me none of that. Nor its name, purpose, or plan.

I turned it over. over. Who sent you I wanted to say, but kept the silence the speeding missile whistled to, turning me witness rather than victim.

“So, this is how it is then,” I said, “this.”
Every day, I study this messenger, its blank presence impelling me to wake.

—Lois Silverstein, Tassajara, 2000

Changing Hands

You may have already noticed that we have a new Saturday work leader. Ed Herzog has stepped into this role and is now responsible for leading us during our Saturday work period. We offer many thanks to Bruce Coughran for filling this position for almost two years. His quiet steady presence on Saturday mornings helped us all pay attention as we worked together to care for our temple.

Dharma Group Opening

There are a few openings in Jake and Leslie’s dharma group. We meet in the zendo about once a month on a Saturday, 12:30-2:30pm. Our time together includes zazen, a short check-in, and reading and discussing a text. We are currently reading Not Always So. Our intention is to relate our Zen teachings to our everyday lives through our discussion of these texts. Please contact Jake or Leslie at lbartholic@comcast.net if you are interested in joining this group.

CPR/AED Training

BZC is offering a class for training in adult and child Lifesaver CPR and use of our AED. The class will be held on Saturday April 18 from 12:30-2:30pm. Attendees will receive CPR certification. The cost is $40. It’s very important that we have sangha members trained and certified in these skills, so please consider joining this class. See Margret Wotkyns, health and safety manager,  with any questions. Sign-up deadline is April 1.

Opening of Practice Period Sesshin Saturday, May 2, 5:00am – 9:00pm

Sojun Mel Weitsman will lead a one-day sesshin on Saturday, May 2, from 5:00am–9:00pm. This will include an entering ceremony for our shuso for the Spring Practice Period.  We encourage old and new sangha members to participate. This is a great opportunity to start off the practice period and to support the shuso. Please sign up on the patio bulletin board by Wednesday morning, April 29 after zazen.

If this is your first sesshin at BZC, we recommend that you first participate in a full Saturday program and also speak with the sesshin director. The fee is $35 and should be paid in advance (a discounted fee is possible; please speak to the director). Put checks marked “May sesshin” in the mail slot in the courtyard laundry room door or mail to the BZC Office Manager at 1931 Russell St., Berkeley 94703. You can also use the bill pay option on your banks’ website and make the notation “May sesshin fee.”

If you have questions, contact the sesshin director, Jake Van Akkeren at sesshindirectorbzc@gmail.com or (925) 933 – 3486 before 9:00pm.

One-Day Sesshin Sunday, April 12, 5:00am – 5:00pm

Denkei Raul Moncayo will lead a one-day sesshin on Sunday, April 12, from 5:00am–5:00pm. This is a good way get ready for the spring practice period in May. We encourage old and new sangha members to participate. Please sign up on the patio bulletin board by Wednesday morning, April 8 after zazen.

If this is your first sesshin at BZC, we recommend that you first participate in a full Saturday program and also speak with the sesshin director. The fee is $35 and should be paid in advance (a discounted fee is possible; please speak to the director). Put checks marked “April sesshin” in the mail slot in the courtyard laundry room door or mail to the BZC Office Manager at 1931 Russell St., Berkeley 94703. You can also use the bill pay option on your banks’ website and make the notation “April sesshin fee.”

If you have questions, contact the sesshin director, Gerry Oliva at sesshindirectorbzc@ gmail.com or (510) 652-7217.

Buddha’s Birthday Saturday, April 4, 8:30am

This year Buddha’s Birthday will be celebrated at BZC on April 4. Please bring family and friends! Children are especially encouraged to attend. The celebration will include a song by the children and birthday cake.

An important part of the day is bathing the baby Buddha. Everyone is invited to help decorate his flower bower from 7:30 – 8:30am. Flowers from your garden such as iris, daisy, ranunculus, sweet William, and camellia are appreciated.

The Saturday program will begin at 8:30am with a work period, followed by zazen, a short lecture, and the ceremony. Information is posted on the bulletin board. Questions? Please contact head chiden Stephanie Seaborg at slseaborg@gmail.com.