All posts by Laurie Senauke

Meeting with a Teacher at BZC

The stable platform of Zen practice rests on four strong legs: zazen, work practice, study, and meeting with a teacher. Down through the centuries, meeting with a teacher has offered an opportunity to deepen practice, reflect on studies, and apply Zen practice to your everyday life. It is an essential part of the teachings as you develop an understanding of yourself. Master Dogen writes:

Visiting teachers to ask about the way is practicing Zen. This state of fine simplicity is transmitted from the ancients.

In the Zen tradition, dokusan (sometimes called sanzen) is a private, formal meeting between a student and an authorized teacher. At BZC, Sojun Roshi, Hozan Sensei, and dharma-transmitted teachers regularly offer dokusan, and authorized senior students—lay people and priests—offer “practice discussion,” which is similar in form and content to dokusan. Additionally, you may meet with teachers and seniors for an informal conversation over tea, or coffee, or sitting under a tree. But what happens at this meeting? Whether formal or informal, this intimate space belongs to the student. Student and teacher—face to face. Bring yourself completely into the interview room. Sit down, establish your breath and posture. When you are ready to speak, bow and begin. You may come with a particular question about practice, or with an inquiry that is not yet clear in your mind. Sometimes you may not know what to say. In that case, sit together and pay attention to what arises in body and mind. A Zen teacher writes:

The best way to go to sanzen is simply to look into your heart, to present your practice to the teacher and trust the process. How are you practicing? What is most alive for you? What do you notice? What are your obstacles, your insights? . . . Open up to new points of view.

BZC teachers welcome the opportunity to meet with you and potentially to build relationships that support students and the sangha as a whole. Feel free to talk with any of the senior students, with Sojun Roshi, or with me. Our schedules and contact information are available on the main bulletin board.

—Hozan Alan Senauke

2019 Year End President’s Letter

In the deep stillness of Rohatsu, gratitude rises. Permeates the zendo. Shosan ceremony is joyous. Lightness and sorrow both present. During this last year, 2019, much has happened and we have done our best to “tend and befriend” each as they arose. Several of our brick walkways were reworked, smoothed, made safer.

The zendo roof was mended. An archive committee was formalized and is working on bringing together early records—photos, newsletters, videos—of the long history of BZC. A large-scale digitization project is under way of thousands of Sojun’s (and others’) talks, currently existing only on ancient audiotape. Even more ancient electrical panels were replaced on two of our buildings, fixing a fire hazard that had led to several power outages in our buildings.

2019 was a year of change. Sojun began a sabbatical in January, and ended it recently. We celebrated his 90th birthday in July. Hozan reduced his teaching commitments in sister communities. In the fall, at Tassajara, Hozan was assisting Sojun in two dharma transmission ceremonies when Sojun faced a health crisis and was hospitalized. Hozan stepped in to help continue a ceremony, until Sojun was on his feet again.

We are very fortunate in this way—having a “deep bench,” as the saying goes. We met these changes with flexibility, as we have learned to do from practice. We are blessed that Sojun is feeling well now and facing his health situation with optimism. We are lucky to have people whose long practice and dedication to BZC give us the ability as a community to adapt to all these changes. Looking ahead to 2020, the Board asked Hozan to increase his position at BZC from 75% time to 100% time. He accepted and will step into this change beginning in January, centering his focus and teaching at BZC. Sojun and Hozan harmonized their activities to create continuity, as was so beautifully manifested during Rohatsu. This is our practice for 2020: befriending change; tending to harmony in the community; and enjoying one another completely.

—Mary Duryee

BZC Board President

Have a Cup of Tea with Ross Blum November 20, 2016, 4 pm to 5 pm

Ross will conduct an orientation to the World of Tea as he inherited it from the teachers at Peet’s during his 25 year tenure. Along with the oral presentation and a Q&A, we’ll taste a range of teas whereby you will leave appreciating the myriad subtleties of this centuries old beverage—the most popular one on the planet second only to water.

Donation: $30 per person

Sign up on the bulletin board or by emailing Mary Beth Lamb. mbethlamb@gmail.com

Join Us for Our Annual Party and Fundraiser Saturday, September 26, 11:15 am to 1:15 pm

The Berkeley Zen Center Development Committee invites you, your friends and your family to our annual fundraiser taking place Saturday September 26th from 11:15-1:15.  The fundraiser will have a photo booth (complete with costumes), sangha offerings ranging from a walk with Sojun to an improv and mime acting class, food, music and raffle prizes.   Raffle prizes include a $150 gift certificate to REI and a $150 gift certificate to Chez Panisse, as well as several other items.   All proceeds raised at the fundraiser will benefit our $25,000 building fund goal.

We are looking for about 8 volunteers to support us with set-up, food monitoring and clean-up. Please email me at kelseybrynne@gmail.com if you’re able to help in any of those areas

Here are a few ways you can help!

  1. Attend the party on September 26th from 11:15-1:15
  • Enjoy free food, raffle prizes, a photobooth and sangha!
  1. Support raffle ticket sales
  • Purchase raffle tickets for yourself
  • Purchase raffle tickets as a gift for your friends
  1. Volunteer to support the event
  • Look for sign-ups on the bulletin board to help set-up, take-down and run the event
  1. Make a donation and designate it to The Building Fund
  • Every bit of support helps us reach our goal!

We hope to see many of you there!