All posts by Troy DuFrene

Friday Tea Time

Every Friday at 5:00‒5:30 p.m. (just before the afternoon zazen period) BZC welcomes members and friends for tea, tasty treats, and informal discussion, hosted by a rotating team of BZC senior students. Weather permitting, we meet in the garden; otherwise, in the community room.

Oryoki Training

Oryoki training is available with Sue Oehser by appointment during July and August. Please contact her at 510-339-0243 (voice, not text) or to schedule a time to learn or fine-tune your oryoki practice.

Briefer oryoki instruction is also offered before breakfast at all full Saturday morning programs, except during sesshins.


Caregivers Support Gathering

Sangha Support is offering a gathering for caregivers (whether helping someone nearby or at a distance) on Sunday, August 11 4:00‒5:30 p.m. in the Senauke home at 1933 Russell St. at BZC.

For our gathering, there will be the usual (unusual!) guided meditation by Laurie Senauke, time for checking in, and space to share ideas for how your caregiving practice can be met with kindness for all, including yourself.

Thank you for helping another person do things that they used to do for them­selves; we recognize your courage in navigating this challenging practice.

For more information, please contact Debbie: or 503-505-4282.

Up a Tree

The faithful girl left home at night to search
in the forest
for the tallest tree; from the top she would see
all the world clearly and things as it is.

Thorns bloodied her arms and legs, rocks
pierced her feet,
she struggled until she found the tree.
Her limbs useless, she climbed with her eyes,
her ears, her nose, her lips, her tongue,
her teeth, her heart, her lungs, her breasts,
her loins

all the way to the top. Then she saw things
clearly as it is and heard
a voice down below, a monk in brown robes,
calling up to her,
“Why did Bodhidharma come from the West?”

The faithful girl laughed when wings sprouted
from her shoulders and lifted her into the sky,
she called to him as she flew higher,
“Because they could!”

—Benji poem by Maria Winston
at Shuso Ceremony for Carol Paul

Lay Ordination

On Saturday, June 15, two members of the Berkeley Zen Center sangha received Lay Ordination (Zaike Tokudo) from Sojun Roshi and Hozan 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.

Hozan Sensei’s student:
Ellen Levin
Myô Getsu Shô Dô
Wondrous Moon Illuminates the Way

Sojun Roshi’s student:
Alex Roehrkasse
Kai Ki Jun I
Open Vessel Pure-hearted Intention

Prison Chaplaincy Book Event Friday, August 2, 2019 - 5:40 pm

On Friday, August 2, at 5:40 p.m. in the zendo (the time of our usual First Friday talk), we will have a special presentation and book signing event with Buddhist teacher, scholar, and writer Cuong Lu. His book The Buddha in Jail is a collection of 52 vignettes—stories and teachings about Cuong Lu’s six years as a prison chaplain. Cuong discovered that when the men inside allowed themselves to feel their pain—including remorse from committing crimes—knowing and feeling the truth became a source of strength for them. And when the inmates felt listened to, understood, and not judged, it transformed their sense of who they are, and as a result changed their attitudes and their behavior.

This book is not just about the prisoners. It’s about all of us. We’re each caught in distorted and limiting ideas of ourselves. We don’t believe freedom and happiness are attainable. But when we come to believe in ourselves, we discover the freedom and happiness already within.

Cuong Lu will give a short presentation, answer questions, and be available to sign books. If you would like to preorder a book, email Laurie at

Nominations for the BZC Board

Every year the sangha elects three of six members-at-large to two-year terms to the BZC Board. Board members may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. Elections take place in October and the new term starts in January 2020. The Board will present its three nominees at the all-sangha potluck on Tuesday evening, September 24.

This year the BZC Board is pleased to announce that three current at-large Board members will be running for second terms.  They are: Rondi Saslow, Gary Artim, and Tom Painter.

Other nominations can be made by sangha members at the all-sangha potluck from the floor. Some of the various skills the board seeks in nominees (not all in one person) are: oral and written communication, organization, information technology, money management, fundraising, engineering, building mainte­nance, and nonprofit law. Nominees should be members of BZC. Board members attend ten Sunday morning meetings a year and an all-day retreat in the first part of the year, and serve on at least one of the working Board committees: Finance, Buildings & Grounds, Development, Electronic Communication & Social Media, Archive, and Elections & Nominations.

If you are interested in serving on the Board, or know someone who you would like to nominate, please contact a member of the Elections and Nominations Committee: Ed Herzog (, Carol Paul (, or Rondi Saslow ( Please include any relevant information about why you think the person would be a good BZC Board member.

Mountains and Rivers Sesshin August 1-4, 2019

Signups for BZC’s annual Mountains & Rivers Sesshin are live and we’re looking for partici­pants. The sesshin, led by Andrea Ryushin Thach, will take place Thursday, August 1, through Sunday, August 4. A mandatory orientation meeting will be held the preceding Tuesday (July 30) and payments, signups, and cancellations are all due by July 20.

The sesshin will take place at Point Reyes Coast Camp and will include alternate routes to the campsite to accommodate varying needs. The format follows BZC sesshin forms to the extent possible, including long periods of silence, sitting zazen, shared responsibilities and sesshin positions. If you are new to backpacking or to sesshins, please speak with the director, Kelsey Hermann. People new to zazen are encouraged to attend a Saturday morning at BZC to get a feel for our forms.

This sesshin is a wonderful way to connect with other practitioners and experience practice in the wilderness. If you or someone you know is interested in attending, please fill out an application at the following link: You may also email the director at We hope to see many old and new faces there!

One-Day Sesshin Saturday, August 3, 2019 - 5:00 am - 9:00 pm

Sojun Roshi will lead a one-day sesshin on Saturday, August 3, from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. We encourage old and new sangha members to participate. Please sign up on the patio bulletin board by Wednesday morning, July 31, 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 2019 sesshin” in the mail slot in the courtyard laundry room door or mail to the BZC Office Manager at 1931 Russell St., Berkeley, CA 94703.

Those attending for the first time will need to fill out a Sesshin Information Form to let us know of health problems, food allergies, or physical issues requiring accommodation. Please request this form by contacting the sesshin director, Gary Artim, at

Lay Entrustment Monday, July 22, 2019 - 5:40 am

On Monday, July 22, beginning at 5:40 a.m., Sojun Roshi will confer Lay Entrustment on Seishi Tetsudo Ross Blum and Sentei Kokyo Susan Marvin. The ceremony will include informal dharma inquiry with Ross and Susan, and a celebratory reception in the community room will follow.

[This ceremony, originally announced for May 6, has been rescheduled to the above date.]