All posts by BZC News

Sounding Board Changes to the BZC Election and Recruiting Processes

The BZC board has made some adjustments to the board recruitment and election process. We want to make it easier to find sangha members willing to broaden their practice to include a two-year stint serving on the board as one of its six members-at-large. It has been difficult to find a slate of five or six candidates who are experienced, able to make the commitment of time and energy, and willing to run in a contested election for the three slots on the board that come up each year. Most people did not like the contested aspect of this process. Those who won the election may have been voted in because of name recognition or popularity rather than skills they could add to BZC governance. And those who lost, though they were promising candidates, were sometimes disheartened and discouraged about further participation.

The board has decided to replace the existing procedure for selecting board members with a more efficient and responsive process. The BZC bylaws do not require more nominees than the number of board openings available. Therefore, this year the board will nominate just three people for the three members-at-large open positions. As usual, the board will put forward these nominees at the September 15 meeting of the BZC membership. Nominations from the floor of the meeting will still be available, in case there are sangha members dissatisfied with the board’s direction or the candidates it proposes.

As in the past, photos and candidate statements of nominees will be posted for a month on the bulletin board. At the October election, BZC members will vote yes or no as to each nominee for the three board member-at-large positions, just as they do for the board president, vice president and treasurer (who are nominated by the abbot after consultation with the board). We are planning to conduct the election electronically by e-mail and by mail-in ballot in order to insure broad membership participation.

The board has created the Recruitment and Election Committee, tasked with encouraging BZC members to consider service as a board member as an important part of sangha practice. The committee will seek to educate the sangha about what board service entails and the process for selecting nominees for board members-at-large. Members can suggest possible new board nominees to the committee or any current board member. The committee will evaluate all suggestions for a slate of three nominees it will recommend to the board.

To address the board selection process, we will facilitate a Monday morning open discussion on July 6 and set up “board information” tables after some Saturday lectures. Please ask us about serving on the board and make suggestions of who you think would make skilled board candidates. After all, our practice place cannot survive without effective governance.

The board will evaluate this new recruitment and election process after the October election to see whether it should be continued or altered in some way. We welcome your input.

—The Board Recruitment and Election Committee (Ed Herzog, Stephanie Solar, Stan Dewey)

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

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.

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.