Mindfulness is all the rage. Beyond the world of Buddhist centers and retreats, mindfulness is being taught today in schools, corporations, prisons, and even the military—often emphasizing relaxation and “being in the present.” But the Buddha’s presentation of the SatipattanaSutta/ The Foundations of Mindfulness, points to deeper dimensions of practice and liberation.
This Spring Hozan Sensei with lead a class on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, drawing from the SatipattanaSutta, on ThichNhat Hanh’s Transformation and Healing, and other Buddhist-centered commentary. The class will be held on five consecutive Thursday evenings – March 28 to April 25th – at 7:15 pm, probably in the Community Room. The fee is $50 with discounts available as needed. A sign-up will be posted soon on the patio bulletin board.
Sojun Roshi will be teaching a four class series on two koans from The Book of Serenity beginning Monday 2/4. We’ll meet from 7:15-8:45 p.m. each Monday in February. Class material and sign-up is now on the patio shelf for our first two classes .
We’ll be studying # 32 first, Yangshan’s (Kyozan’s) Mind and Environment. The third and fourth weeks will be #62, Mi Hu’s ( Beiko’s) Enlightenment or Not? Both Yangshan and Mi Hu were students of Guishan (Isan) in the 9th century. All three were part of the Igyo school of Zen which developed from Yangshan’s style and died out after five generations.
The Book of Serenity format is in three sections. The first is the koan or case which is usually a brief recorded verbal exchange between teacher and student. One hundred of these cases were chosen by Hongzhi (Tiantong) in the 12th century, who then composed a verse to accompany each one. In the 13th century Wansong comes along and adds commentary to both the case and verse which now becomes the Book of Serenity (Wansong’s temple name). In this way we get the insight of three outstanding teachers on one subject over the course of 500 years. Imagine back to Columbus for that time span. Do you have a month available?
One day Wuzhao was working as tenzo at a monastery in the Wutai Mountains. When the Bodhisattva Manjusri suddenly appeared above the pot where he was cooking, Wuzhao beat him. Later he said, “Even if Shakyamuni were to appear above the pot, I would beat him, too!”
—Kosho Uchiyama, How to Cook Your Life
Sounds like fun, right?! Working in the kitchen is an important part of our practice at BZC, and the good news is that this practice opportunity is open to everyone. Anyone coming to BZC, whether you are brand new or have been coming for years, is warmly welcomed to join us for work in the kitchen.
There is a kitchen sign up on the porch bulletin board. Almost every Saturday, there are spaces for assistant cooks. You don’t need experience to sign up to help during any Saturday breakfast. Just add your name to an open assistant-cook slot and join the head cook at 6:00 am on the date you choose. Help and guidance will be cheerfully offered!
But in order to beat metaphysical apparitions with a spoon, you’ll need to be trained to be a head
cook. This training, too, is open to all. If you’re interested, please email the tenzo (our head head cook) at email@example.com
. Training to be a head breakfast cook takes two Saturdays: on the first, you’ll assist the tenzo (or, maybe, a former tenzo) in preparing a menu of his or her choice. On the second Saturday, he or she will assist you to prepare a menu of your choice. After that, you’re invited to sign up as a head cook when you can. Those who are trained Saturday cooks can also check in with the tenzo about progressing to becoming sesshin cooks. Just think of all the Bodhisattvas you might get to beat during a sixteen-hour day!
We look forward to seeing you in the kitchen soon!
The Platform Sutra of Huineng, the 6 th Ancestor of Zen is an accessible and foundational text of our Zen tradition. This spring, Hozan Alan Senauke will lead a 4-week Platform Sutra class
—7:15pm on Thursday evenings in the community room, March 29 to April 19.
The Sutra’s biographical section is compelling, painting a clear picture of Huineng’s impoverished and “uneducated” background, along with his deep and intuitive understanding of Buddhism. The text unfolds his teachings on the essence of mind, the relation between wisdom and concentration, the “formless” precepts, and much more.
Along with several other versions, our main text will be Wong Mou Lam’s translation, available in The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui-neng (Shambhala Classics). Copies of relevant selections will be available before the class by print and email.
Hozan Sensei will lead this year’s one-day study sesshin on Saturday, September 2, from 5:00 am to 5:15 pm. As the summer winds down, this day will provide a quiet and reflective respite. It will include zazen, oryoki meals for breakfast and lunch, soji, and two study and discussion sessions.
Our study will be of Dongshan’s “Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi” (Hokyo Zammai). Regarded as a sutra in the Soto School, Dongshan’s profound and poetic teaching echoes the non-dual wisdom of the Sandokai with bright images. Embedded in the poem is Dongshan’s “Five Ranks,” mapping our perceptions of the relative and absolute.
Reading materials will be available on the bulletin board shelf in advance of the sesshin. The fee is $35, and should be paid in advance. Please leave payment marked “Study Sesshin” by Wednesday, August 30, in the donation slot. For more information, contact sesshin director Carol Paul: firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 206-5051. A sign-up sheet will be posted on the bulletin board in August.
Please join us for samu (sangha work day) on Sunday, May 7. Arrive at 8:30 a.m. for a warm cup and a casual bite in company; work circle at 8:45. Or join us at noon for a decidedly delicious outdoor lunch, with work circle at 12:45. Or join us whenever you can, to share this opportunity to support our cherished practice place.
If you have a pet project to promote, we are still taking suggestions! Please leave a note on the bulletin board or email John Lake at email@example.com.
As we say every Saturday after lecture, Berkeley Zen Center is solely supported by our dues and donations. One of the significant ways sangha members and friends have donated is by leaving a monetary gift in their will or their trust.
A gift in your will or revocable living trust, called a bequest, is a wonderful way to donate for people who love the sangha but who may not wish to part with their resources today. Remembering BZC in your estate plan helps ensure the ongoing health and well-being of our teachers, the physical structures at BZC, our sangha, and our practice.
The Board of BZC would like you to know that a number of its members, past and present, have named BZC in their wills or trusts. To ensure a legacy for BZC, the Board invites all members and friends to follow this example and consider making such a bequest. For more information about including BZC in your planned giving, contact Development Committee chair Laurie Senauke at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact Laurie if you would like to let us know that you have already provided for BZC in your estate plan.
In our Zen practice life, we try to create the opportunity to experience something “different” from our usual life. What is that difference? Something like “no gaining idea.” We want to allow an experience that is not limited at the outset by our ideas about what might happen or what it means. We resume our true nature, which is always flowing underneath or within our everyday lives.
For the families who come to Family Practice, we also want to offer something different. As parents, so much of our day is taken up with getting our kids to do the various things we expect of them. Getting them to get up, to eat breakfast, to go to school; to learn specific things, to get along with others, and in general to act in accord with the way others are acting, in accord with expectations coming from the adult world. We expect a lot, actually.
When children come into the circle at BZC, we don’t want this to be just another thing we are trying to get them to do — to get them to sing the songs, to get them to prepare the snack, to get them to sit quietly, and so on. Even getting them to come in the first place! How can we create for all of us, children and adults together, a “place to turn around” in the midst of our busy lives? How can we offer something different?
The natural state between parents and children, between caregivers and children, is one of love flowing between us. You might call it the “true nature” of families. When families join our program, we want to help them resume this true nature, which is always there, flowing underneath all the expectations and challenges.
Just as it’s not always easy to sit in the zendo with no gaining idea, it’s not easy for us adults to allow this opportunity to unfold — for children to simply be together with their parents, in love and fun. When it happens it feels amazing.
Our Family Practice program is led by BZC member and music teacher Ryk Groetchen. It happens most Saturdays from 9:30-11:15 a.m. (check the calendar for exact dates). We share songs, dances, stories, poems, social-emotional learning tools, preparing, serving, and eating a snack, discussion, and laughter. We welcome any BZC members to take a taste; we think you’ll be glad you did.
It’s traditional for Soto Zen monks to write a “death poem” at the turning of the year. The idea is to take time to reflect on the fleeting nature of life, not in a depressing way, but in a way that brings forth the truth and joy of each of our lives as they are right now.
On December 31, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Laurie Senauke will offer writing exercises, examples, and time to reflect, create, and share your own death poem. Come for the workshop, bring a bag dinner, and then stay for the New Year’s Eve sitting. Sign up on the bulletin board as usual. For more information, contact Laurie at email@example.com.
Next year, Berkeley Zen Center will be celebrating 50 years since the old zendo on Dwight Way opened its doors. Plans are already under way for a party to be held on the evening of September 30 at the Jack London Aquatic Center in Oakland. Details will be coming early next year from the event committee, headed by Jake Van Akkeren.
For now, we want to get a head start on gathering recollections from you — current members and friends, alumni, and everyone else who has been touched by practice inside BZC’s gate this last half century. These items will become part of an anthology of BZC’s first 50 years. We will also edit this into a smaller booklet for distribution at the 50th anniversary party.
We welcome everyone to contribute stories, favorite anecdotes, poems, photographs, drawings, memories — anything that we can make copies of and print. Please also share our invitation to participate with anyone you know who was once connected to BZC but who may no longer be in touch.
We ask that written pieces be no more than 250 words. All printed materials will be returned. Please submit them by March 15, 2017, to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Andrea Thach, 800 Northshore Drive, Bellingham, WA 98226. Please send her your questions or suggestions for the anthology. Thank you.