All posts by BZC News

Changing Hands

This month we report a huge transition in roles at Berkeley Zen Center. After several years in the position as coordinator, Leslie Bartholic is stepping down. Leslie brought a thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and equanimity to this responsibility that would have made Shakymuni smile. Fortunately for us, the Cal Ripken (or Lou Gehrig, if you prefer) of BZC, Ross Blum is taking over.  Innumerable gasshos to them both.

We offer our thanks to Ross as well for serving as Head Doan for the past year and a half. Paul Ridgway will be stepping into this position.

Paul has been our Art Coordinator for several years now. He has cared for and displayed the art pieces you see in the zendo and in the community room. We are grateful for his service and welcome Alexandra Frappier to this position.

Stephanie Seaborg has been our Head Chiden for the past two and a half years, with Jeanne Courtney assisting this year. We thank them both for their devotion to this practice. They have been overseeing the care of our altars on a day to day basis as well as for our ceremonies. We welcome Alexandra Frappier to this position.

Marie Hopper has been our newsletter distributor for the past two years. She’s been responsible for making sure the newsletters get addressed, stamped and mailed, as well as distributed at BZC. We’re very grateful for her service and welcome Heather Burns to this position.

And finally, Greg Denny is passing newsletter editor duties to the very capable Ken Knabb.

One-day Sesshin Saturday, August 20, 2016 5:00 am - 9:00 pm

Sojun Mel Weitsman will lead a one-day sesshin on Saturday, August 20th, from 5 am–9 pm. We encourage old and new sangha members to participate. Please sign up on the patio bulletin board by Wednesday morning, August 17th 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 per day and should be paid in advance (a discounted fee is possible for those in need; please speak to the director). Leave checks marked “August sesshin” in the mail slot in the courtyard laundry room door or mail to the BZC Office Manager at 1931 Russell St., Berkeley 94703.

For those attending for the first time you will need to fill out a Sesshin Information Sheet to let us know of health problems, food allergies, or physical problems requiring accommodation. Please request this by contacting the sesshin director.

You can contact the sesshin director, Gary Artim, at or (510) 676-9756.

Caregiver Support Group Sunday, July 24, 2016, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Are you helping a loved one do things that they used to do for themselves? Many in our sangha are doing so. Being responsible for another can be an unrelenting practice. Sangha Support is sponsoring a gathering to share experiences, tips and resources to support your efforts, facilitated by Laurie Senauke and Debbie Schley. All are welcome to come on Sunday, July 24th, from 4:00 to 5:30 pm, at the Senauke house, 1933 Russell.  Please RSVP at the contact info below (there won’t be a sign-up sheet for this). Also contact us if you’d like more information, or if this topic is of interest but you will not be able to attend.

Contact: Debbie at 503.505.4282 or

Caring for Buddha’s Robe

If you need assistance (or simply time and space) with rakusu/okesa/robe repairs, replacement, or finishing already started rakusu, the following dates are on the calendar. Each session is from 1:00 pm  to 5:00 pm except as noted.

Please contact the sewing teacher, Jean Selkirk, at (510) 655-0820 before you attend the first time.

Any changes to the schedule will be made on the bulletin board.

Material fees only apply for envelopes or new (second or replacement) rakusu, and the usual class fee applies for new rakusu.

Starting first rakusu for Lay Ordination will begin in January as usual. If you are considering this, please speak with your teacher and then also speak with the sewing teacher before the winter break begins.

Sunday        July 17
Saturday     July 30
Sunday        August 7
Sunday        August 21
Saturday     September 10
Sunday        September 25
Sunday        October 9
Saturday     October 22
Saturday     November 5
Sunday        November 13

Noon Zazen Bag Lunch

We are continuing the practice of sharing a bag lunch (BYO) and informal discussion with vice abbot Hozan Alan Senauke once a month after noon zazen. Upcoming dates are:

Tuesday         July 19
Wednesday  August 24
Thursday      September 22
Tuesday        October 25

Lay Ordination

On Saturday, June 4th, three members of the Berkeley Zen Center sangha received Lay Ordination (Zaike Tokudo) from Sojun Weitsman Roshi and Hozan Senauke Sensei. This ceremony takes place once a year at BZC and is a significant rite of passage for each participant and for the whole sangha. We have the feeling that we are all together witnessing and participating as the ordinees receive Buddha’s precepts. We welcome these ordinees into the lineage of Shakyamuni Buddha and Suzuki Roshi’s family.

Sojun Roshi’s students
Afsaneh   Michaels
Mei Un Sei Toku
Bright Cloud Quiet Virtue

Ben Clausen
Jun Sei Tai San
Purehearted Spirit Peaceful Mountain

Hozan Sensei’s Student

Peter Wolak
Hô Kan Sei Dô
Dharma Determination Accomplish the Way

Four-Day Mountains and Rivers Sesshin July 28 – 31, 2016

The annual Mountains and Rivers Sesshin will take place Thursday, July 28th through Sunday, July 31st at Point Reyes.

Leslie Bartholic and Laurie Senauke will be joining us as teachers and doshis (officiating priests). They will be leading our daily discussions of Dogen’s “Mountains and Rivers Sutra,” and will also be available for one-on-one practice discussions during our free time periods on Friday and Saturday afternoons.

The sesshin will begin with an orientation meeting Wednesday evening, July 27th at 6 p.m. in the community room. Thursday morning we will carpool to Point Reyes, then hike from the Bear Valley Visitors’ Center to Coast Camp, moving at a moderate pace with frequent rest stops and lunch along the way. We will get back to Berkeley around 5 p.m. Sunday. All meals are provided and camping experience is not required. Everyone is encouraged to do the full four days, but provision will also be made for those who may have to arrive late.

The sign-up sheet will be posted on the BZC bulletin board as of July 4th. Your spot will be reserved after you submit all the information requested on the sign-up sheet. Sign-up deadline is Friday, July 22nd. The fee is $75. If you have any questions, please contact Christy Calame at

Zazenkai – A Day of Just Sitting Sunday, July 12, 2016, 8:00 am – 5:10 pm

Sunday, July 12th, from 8:00am to 5:10pm, BZC priest Denkei Raul Moncayo will lead a silent one-day sitting. This will be a rare opportunity to spend a day doing nothing but zazen, kinhin, bowing and eating. We will maintain silence throughout, with the exception of bells to mark meditation periods, and chanting the Refuges aloud at 5:10pm.

Participants should plan to come for the whole day. A break from 12:20 to 1:00 will allow time for sack lunches to be eaten in the community room or, if we’re enjoying fair weather, outdoors.

There will be a 10 minute period of bowing at your own pace prior to the lunch break, and we will have two periods of fast kinhin. Both of these activities can be adapted to harmonize with individual needs and abilities.

A sign-up sheet and further information will be posted on the courtyard bulletin board. The fee is $20.

Please feel free to contact Raul Moncayo at if you have any questions.