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BZC Campout

All are warmly invited to the annual Berkeley Zen Center campout, scheduled for July 11-12. We’ve reserved a group campsite in nearby Tilden Park, and will meet for a potluck dinner and possibly a short hike, as well as s’mores and songs around the campfire, sleeping under the stars, and waking up to oatmeal and coffee/tea/cocoa in the morning. Join us to pass on the campfire rounds we grew up with, tell stories, and learn the latest songs from our own kids.

All ages are welcome! If you prefer not to stay for the night, come for the dinner and company. If you would like to stay but are missing a tent or sleeping bag, let us know, and we can almost definitely find one for you. Contact if you have questions, and look for a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board in mid-June.

Sounding Board

Wenzi said, “The path of water is such that when it rises to the sky, it becomes raindrops; when it falls to the ground, it becomes rivers.”
– Eihei Dogen Zenji’s Sansuikyo

Except right now in California, not so much. The BZC board and practice committee are looking at ways to reduce our water consumption, including:  stop watering lawns (and possibly replace lawns with bricks or drought -resistant plants), replace  remaining toilets with low-flow, and hand water most garden areas. Some of us are familiar with  other measures from past droughts, like saving sink and bath water that runs as we are waiting for hot water, flushing toilets only when  necessary, and using gray water for irrigation.

Statewide there is a mandate for 25 percent reduction in water consumption, and East Bay MUD has set some strict guidelines ( BZC  spontaneously reduced water consumption between 2013 and 2014 by 26 percent; we’re not definitively sure  of the reasons for this savings, but residents have been conserving water, we fixed a major leak  during the kitchen remodel, and we added a water-efficient clothes washer. This reduction will be  recognized by the state, so we are well on our way to our mandatory goals. However, we’d like to go beyond that and do everything we  can to conserve water, just on general principles. This will take an all-inclusive effort from the  many parts of BZC, including gardeners, residents, dishwashers and other position holders.

The board’s role is to make resources available where they can support this effort, and the whole  BZC sangha can contribute to this effort to stay responsibly connected to earth, water, fire, and

Sangha Harmony

The HEAR committee will be sponsoring a series of councils to promote sangha harmony and develop our conflict resolution skills by raising  controversial issues in a safe setting. The committee is open to your input about what topics fall  under this description. Our first council will take up the dynamic relationship of BZC residents
and non- residents. The meeting will be on July 11 at 1:00 pm, convened by Stan Dewey and Laurie  Senauke.

The residency program at BZC contributes an important structure to the practice at BZC, and to the  sangha. By combining intensified temple practice and rent subsidized housing, residents are able to
commit to following the schedule fully, and provide a backbone for BZC activities. Residents also  open their homes for various community programs, thus, sangha members interact with residents in a  variety of ways. Over the years, the resident group has evolved (and also stabilized), and market  rents in our neighborhood have skyrocketed.

This launching council seeks to open up the issues on both sides of the resident-non-resident  divide. Within the safety of the council process, thoughts and feelings can be brought to light,
heard and understood by participants. In the interest of having a deep conversation about a  complicated set of issues and considerations, we are keeping the number of non-resident to roughly  equal the number of resident participants. The committee knows of some members who might have particular interest in participating, but we are open to others. Members who would like to be  considered to participate in this council should indicate their interest to the conveners. The  conveners will make invitations with the aim of having broad representation of opinion and feeling.

Lay Ordination Saturday, June 6

This year’s lay ordination ceremony—zaike tokudo—will take place on Saturday, June 6, in the zendo at 3:00 pm. Receiving lay ordination from Sojun Roshi are the following students:

  • Michael Cole
  • Jeanne Courtney
  • Kelsey Hermann
  • Heather Garnos
  • Teri Jo Tinus

Deb Self is receiving lay ordination from Hozan Sensei.

Congratulations in advance to all who have been studying and sewing diligently with our sewing teacher Jean Selkirk. Everyone is warmly encouraged to attend the ceremony and the reception afterwards. Check the zendo bulletin board for details and please sign-up for preparation (tenzo assistance & set-up) and clean-up.

Note from the Librarian Ellen Webb, BZC Librarian

After serving as BZC librarian for more than two years I have become familiar with the collection we house in the community room and have come to truly appreciate it. I frequently stumble across unknown (to me) gems on the bookshelves. Also, the library regularly acquires new books and subscribes to several periodicals (Tricycle, Shambala Sun, Buddhadharma, and more). All of these are available to check out. I try to be in the library on Tuesday afternoons from 4:30 to 5:30pm. You are welcome to come in and browse. If the library is not open, look for me in the office.

A new version of the computer program we use to catalog books was recently installed (thank you, Troy DuFrene). Several new books are just being processed and will soon appear on the “New Books” shelf. They include: The Heart Sutra, Kazuaki Tanahashi; Unfathomable Depth, Sekkei Harada; Meditation on Perception, Bhante Gunaratana, and The Nirvana Sutra, Vol. I, translated by Mark L. Blum.

Last but not least, the librarian’s plea: remember your overdue books and return them soon!

Thank you.

Changing Hands

Maria Winston and Tamar Enoch have been our co-head jikidos for the past two years. They have done a wonderful job of organizing the morning cleaning of the zendo. They also purchased cushions for the zendo chairs which has been much appreciated by the people who use them. We offer our heartfelt thanks to Tamar and Maria and welcome Ben Clausen to this position.

Cooking, Serving a reflection by Sue Oehser

When I filled out the practice period application, I noticed the option to help serve dinner at the Men’s Shelter. Although I had served once years ago at the shelter, I had never helped prepare the
meal. So, I spoke to Laurie about it, signed up on the community room porch bulletin board and  showed up on Center Street on May 8 a little before 5pm. I was early and had some time to hang out
on the street a half block from city hall, across the park from my old alma mater, Berkeley High,  and a few doors from the Veteran’s Hall.

Laurie arrived at 5pm with a load of food that Don had purchased earlier from Costco and we helped  bring in food. Several long-time stalwarts prepared lemonade and set up the serving tables for
don_and_laurie_shelterbuffet. Folks were washing dishes, locating tools and some of us pitched in to wash and cut up potatoes, prepare salad, portion out chicken into baking/serving pans. I learned by watching how to
mash cooked potatoes with the skins on, add a quart of 2% milk and a cube of butter. Delicious.

In the freezer, Laurie discovered ice cream from a previous dinner that could go with the Trader  Joe blondies which I had overbaked a bit… some of the men don’t have good teeth, so soft is better.

After serving the line of men who thanked us and told us frequently how good the food was, I filled a plate with food and joined some of them at a table. One man asked about Buddhism and where we were located. Laurie invited him to a zazen orientation at 8:45am on Saturdays. Another man told  me he had lost his small business when he got sick and ended up at the shelter. The third man was not able or willing to engage in conversation  and left after he finished his meal and before dessert. Men can stay for 30 days, have to leave
each day by 7am and return at night for dinner and bed. You can see some of the dorm area from the  dining hall.

It is a good space to be in and the more hands make the work lighter. I was glad to see more  volunteers show up for serving and clean-up help. We were all out of there by 8pm.

I’m still thinking about Friday. How can I impact the roots causes of poverty, ill will, and greed? How can my Buddhist practice and my
political practice make a difference? One idea is that you can really help by preparing food, serving, and eating with people. Give it a try and then consider if you can schedule yourself regularly and be one of those who can be counted on to be  there.

Five-Day Sesshin Concludes 2015 Spring Practice Period June 10 - 14, 2015

Our spring practice period will conclude with a five-day sesshin from Wednesday, June 10 to Sunday, June 14. The first four days’ schedule is from 5:00am until 9:00pm, while the final day’s schedule is from 5:00am until 3:10pm, followed at 3:30 by the Shuso Hossen, dharma dialogue with the shuso. Please sign up on the patio bulletin board for a minimum of three days; we encourage you to make two of those days consecutive. If you want to request an alternative schedule, please speak to the sesshin director. Sign-ups close on Saturday, June 6, at 12:00 noon.

The Shuso Hossen ceremony will begin promptly at 3:30pm, and will be followed by a reception. All practice period and sesshin participants will be supporting the shuso and our practice by coming with a question.

If this is your first sesshin at BZC, it is strongly  recommended that you first participate in a full Saturday program, have oryoki instruction, and that you speak with the sesshin director. The fee is $35 per day, advance payment requested. Leave checks marked “June sesshin” in the laundry room door donation slot. If you have questions, contact the sesshin director Gary Artim ( or (510) 676-9756.