All posts by Troy DuFrene

Rohatsu Sesshin, Led by Sojun Roshi December 4-10, 2016

Our annual seven-day session celebrates Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment. This is an opportunity to deepen our practice and bonding with sangha in a joyful silent environment. Be sure to sign up on the posted list on the community board and fill out a sesshin info form, if you haven’t already. Place the filled-out forms in the sesshin director’s mail box on the community room porch. Participants are asked to sit at least three full days. If you have questions about scheduling, diet, or physical limitations, please contact Gary Artim at (510) 676-9756 or

Close Aspects of Practice Sitting Saturday, November 19, 2016, 5:00 am - 9:00 pm

Aspects of Practice 2016 will close with a sesshin on Saturday, November 19, led by Denkei Raul Moncayo. Everyone is encouraged to attend, whether signed up for Aspects of Practice or not. This will be a Saturday sesshin schedule — 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. — but there will be the option of a lighter schedule — 8:30-5:40 — for students with significant physical limitations only. The Aspects of Practice closing ceremony will be at 8:40 p.m. For questions, please contact the sesshin director, Gary Artim, at or (510) 525-2135.

Shuso Poems

Walter Kieser recited this poem from memory during his first Shuso talk:


The Wild Geese

by Wendell Berry

Horseback on Sunday morning,

harvest over, we taste persimmon

and wild grape, sharp sweet

of summer’s end. In time’s maze

over fall fields, we name names

that rest on graves. We open

a persimmon seed to find the tree

that stands in promise,

pale, in the seed’s marrow.

Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,

as in love or sleep, holds

them to their way, clear

in the ancient faith: what we need

is here. And we pray, not

for new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in heart, and in eye,

clear. What we need is here.
* * *


Benji Mary Duryee recited this poem at Walter’s Shuso ceremony, June 12, 2016:


Everything you need is here.


Difficulty piles on difficulty.

Moment after moment


With boring scientific theories.


Words.  Words.  Words.  Words. Words. Words. Words.           

Words.  Words.

The thwack of the shuso staff

Cleanses the palette

For the next sip of wine.

His fan whisks away words.


High above the Canyonlands —

above the confluence of

two ancient rivers —

the fledging eagle shouts his freedom,

and abandons to the vast, empty, sky.

Everything we need is here.

* * *

Mary adds this comment:

      It is always dangerous to explain poems, however the underlying stories might be interesting or amusing.

     Last summer, when a large group of family and friends rafted down the Green River in the Canyonlands, my granddaughter (age 10) was standing one evening at the edge of the river, intently watching it turn from its usual chalky green to a brick red-orange, when Walter walked over to see what she was looking at. She looked up at him and said, “Walter, don’t spoil this moment with one of your boring scientific theories.” He has recounted this often with great delight, and denies that he was about to expound.

     Once when hiking across the mesa above the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers, three eagles reeled overhead, one of them crying out. Back home we learned that eagles do not vocalize — except when they are fledging. We had been watching the launching of an offspring and its parents.

Sejiki Saturday, October 29

Sejiki is a popular Buddhist festival that highlights the connection between our world and the worlds of spirits. At BZC, we offer it as a sort of Buddhist Halloween. The ceremony is a mixture of spooky and solemn—there will be costumes and noisemakers, but we will also recite the names of departed friends and family and make offerings to appease our own hungry ghosts. This year’s Sejiki ceremony will be held on Saturday, October 29. To allow preparation time for the ceremony, we will not be having early morning zazen or breakfast. Instead, we will begin with a work period at 8:30 am to prepare our temple for the ceremony. The formal program will start with zazen at 9:40, followed by a short lecture and the ceremony at 10:15. We will also be offering a special children’s program beginning with a kids’ activity at 9:30 am at 1933 Russell. Everyone is encouraged to come in costume and bring noisemakers for the ceremony. For more information about the program, please contact Sue at You can also give Sue names of departed ones to be recited during the ceremony if you will not be able to attend. If you are planning to attend the 9:30 kids’ activity, please RSVP to Laurie at or Ryk at

Sangha Work Day Sunday, September 18, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Come and enjoy the fun and satisfaction of working together to maintain and beautify our temple and gardens during Work Day on Sunday, September 18. The day will begin with a half hour of zazen at 8:30 am, include a delicious lunch made by Kika and friends, and end with 20 minutes of zazen at 4:10-4:30 pm. We have a diverse set of indoor and outdoor tasks, including gardening, house painting, sanding, wood oiling (the community room back porch and stairs), carpentry projects, and more. You can come for the whole day, or just the morning or afternoon, and still have lunch! If you arrive between 8:00 and 8:30 am, you will be warmly greeted by Kika with coffee and breakfast snacks.
This will be the last time this year that we spend the day working together rather than just 1½ hours during sesshin work periods, so don’t miss it!
To plan the work for the day, we need to know you are coming, so please sign up on the courtyard bulletin board. The sign-up list will be posted on September 4.

Aspects of Practice: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind October 23 through November 19

We invite you to join the 2016 Aspects of Practice period — four weeks of practice, renewal, study, and discussion led by Hozan Alan Senauke and BZC practice leaders. Aspects of Practice has traditionally encouraged newer students to root their Zen practice. It always includes the wider BZC community who wish to refresh themselves and make a sustainable commitment to practice.

This year we will return to the perennial classic, Suzuki Roshi’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Practice leaders will lecture on Saturdays, lead Monday morning discussions, and offer a four-week class. In addition there will be informal teas and regular practice discussion. Each sangha participant is strongly encouraged to meet with Hozan Sensei or a  practice leader at least once during Aspects.

We will begin with a daylong sitting on Sunday, October 23 (led by Hozan), and end with a daylong sitting on Saturday, November 19 (led by Denkei Raul Moncayo). The Thursday evening class will be open to everyone as usual. Your interest, support, and encouragement can be of help to the whole sangha. For further details about Aspects of Practice, please look carefully at the zendo events bulletin board.

Jizo Ceremony for Children Who Have Died Saturday, October 8, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

The loss of a loved one often opens a well of profound grief. No matter how the loved one dies, suddenly or slowly, whether through illness, accident, miscarriage, abortion, or suicide, our sorrow is deep and may be long-lasting. To help families and friends in their process of grief, we will honor our lost loved ones in a ceremony in our Jizo garden on October 8. Jizo, the Earth Store Bodhisattva, is viewed as a guide and protector for those who are enduring the loss of a loved one, particularly a child lost in miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, or in early life. Jizo’s vow is to remain in the world until all beings are free from suffering, and he accompanies children when they pass out of this world.

Before the ceremony we will spend time making a personal memorial for a lost one, by writing a message or by making a simple necklace, a robe for our Jizo statue, or other offering. Attendees are also invited to bring a picture of their loved one or other personal token of remembrance for our altar.

The ceremony will be led by two BZC priests, Gerry Oliva and Judy Fleischman. All BZC members, members of other Zen groups, and neighborhood residents are invited to attend. A more detailed description will be posted on the BZC courtyard bulletin board. There is no fee but offerings of dana are welcome. We will not have a sign-up sheet but request that those attending let us know in advance so that we can have adequate supplies and refreshments. For more information or to let us know that you’re coming, contact Gerry Oliva at or call (520) 652-7217.

Sangha Support Is for Helpers, Too

Are you helping a loved one to do things that they used to do for themselves? Many in our Sangha are doing so. 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 October 2, 4:00-5:30 pm, at the Senauke house, 1933 Russell. Please let Debbie know if you hope to attend (there won’t be a sign-up sheet for this). Also contact us if you’d like more information:, (503) 505-4282.

FUNdraiser Party Saturday, September 24

Please join us for Berkeley Zen Center’s annual fundraising party on Saturday, September 24, starting about 11:00 am, and enjoy:

  • Music — BZC’s own Rob Lyons and the Blue Cliff Ensemble.
  • Raffle drawing — including gift certificates to Chez Panisse, REI, Indra’s Net Theater, Peet’s, Diesel Books, Piedmont Movie Theater, and more!
  • Guided tours of 1929 Russell — see your donation dollars at work in the newly remodeled kitchen.
  • Food — yum!
  • Community fundraising events — sign up to attend a teach-in from Sojun Roshi on BZC’s Buddhist art, or a tea tasting with Ross Blum (details below).
  • Getting to know your dharma friends.

Bring your family and friends to join this FUNdraising party after lecture. All funds raised during the event, and in preceding weeks via raffle sales, will go toward supporting this year’s goal of $20,000 for the BZC building improvement fund. If you have any questions about the fundraising event, please contact Development Committee Chair Laurie Senauke at We hope to see you at the party!

Community Fundraising Events

Over the last several years, BZC has sponsored auction items that brought small groups from the community together for an event: to learn a skill (flower arranging), to spend time in nature (kayaking) or on a tour (the Oakland zoo), or to enjoy dinner and a movie. This year’s fundraising committee has decided to separate these items from the September FUNdraiser Party, and to offer select events throughout the year (more fun for all!). So be on the lookout for announcements of these in the newsletter, on the bulletin board, on the website, and through the Yahoo e-group.
Our first event will be held on Sunday, October 9, at 4:00 pm in the community room.  Sojun Roshi, with the assistance of others in the know, will lead a teach-in on BZC’s Buddhist art collection. A donation of $30 to the Building Fund will be collected at the door, and refreshments will be provided. Please register for this event, so that we know how many to plan for. You can register by contacting Mary Beth Lamb at, by signing up on the bulletin board closer to the event, or by signing up for it at the September 24 FUNdraiser Party.