Category Archives: News

An Invitation to Cooking Practice at BZC

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 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!

Spring Class by Hozan Sensei The Platform Sutra of Huineng

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.

Welcoming New Members to BZC

Every Saturday someone from our New Member Committee is available to meet with people considering membership at BZC. Our committee includes Sue O., Ed H., Penelope T., and Leslie B. Please feel free to talk to one of us on Saturday after lecture or contact us to set up a meeting at another time. Our contact information will be posted on the patio bulletin board. We’d be happy to speak with you.

We are also offering a new activity for anyone who is new to BZC and has questions about our practice. Once a month we will host an informal meeting in the zendo after Satur­day lecture. This is an opportunity to ask any­thing you want to know about BZC but were hesitant to ask. Everyone is welcome. Bring your after-lecture tea and cookies and come join us in the zendo at 11:30 am. Our next meeting will be on January 20.

Sewing Buddha’s Robe

If you are interested in preparing for Lay Ordination in 2018, sewing class starts on January 14. Classes are open to those who have asked their teacher if they may participate. Please speak with Sojun Mel Weitsman or Hozan Alan Senauke by the first week in January, and then promptly contact the sewing teacher, Jean Selkirk. Check the bulletin board for further announcements.

Position Changes

Greg Smith has woken up to his dream position as our Librarian by taking over the responsibilities from Gaila Allen.

Head Server Carol Paul’s attention to detail and service will now be held by Ben Clausen.

Jed Appelman will carry on the co‒zendo manager role from Leslie Bartholic.

Gary Artim will assume the role of co‒sesshin direction from Ken Powelson. This will be Gary’s second time fulfilling this role in his BZC noncareer. He will share the position with Peter Overton, who is in his second year of a two-year term.

Thanks to you all for your dedication! 🙏

Oryoki Training

Are you ready to deepen your formal meal practice in the zendo? Would you like to learn how to use oryoki bowls with cloths? Our next trainings will be January 27 (after Saturday program, from 11:30 to noon) and February 2 (Friday afternoon, 4:30 to 5:00 pm). Check the courtyard bulletin board for the signup sheet or just drop in. Call or email Sue Oehser at (510) 339-0243 or if you have questions or want to arrange another date.

Sojun Roshi’s February Koan Class

Sojun will continue with his series from The Book of Serenity on all four Monday evenings in February. The Book of Serenity is a collection of 100 koans, first published in the early 1200s, that is most identified with the Soto sect. Commentaries by contemporary Zen teacher Koun Yamada will accompany copies of the text. Along with each relatively short case is a verse by Hongzhi (1091‒1157), commentary by Wansong (1166‒1246), and voices of other prominent  Zen teachers of that era as they weigh in from their own perspectives. The result is a lively and earthy collective approach to each case. We’ll meet from 7:15‒8:45 pm. in the community room. Fee for the series is $40, with discounts available if needed. A sign-up sheet will be posted on the patio bulletin board in the first week of January. Those not at BZC on a weekly basis may register with class coordinator Ron Nestor:

Envisioning Beloved Community MLK Day of Dialogue and Service

Our program will begin with sitting followed by a short talk on the legacy and dharma of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his vision of “Beloved Community.” We then will have small group dialogue to reflect on these themes and explore ways BZC can engage in partnership with our neighbors on issues of diversity and inclusion. Our time together will include tea and treats as we continue our conversation. This will be followed by two community service projects.

One project will be setting up streetside with a table on Russell Street to invite passersby to create peace prayers and memorial messages honoring those who have died through violence. We then will invite and assist in placing these on our streetside Peace Tree. Our second project will be cleaning streets in the immediate neighborhood.

The MLK Day program will be led by Gerry Oliva and Judy Fleischman.

Gerry Oliva, MD, MPH, is a Zen priest and teacher, and retired pediatrician and associate professor at UCSF.




Judy Fleischman, BCC, MS, is a Zen priest, Board-Certified Chaplain, and founder of the Center for Open Chaplaincy.



For more information and to sign up by phone or email, please contact Gerry at or (510) 652-7217.

Click here to download a flyer.

One-Day Sesshin Saturday, January 13, 2018 5:00 am - 9:00 pm

Sojun Roshi will be leading a one-day sesshin on Saturday, January 13, from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm. We encourage old and new sangha members to participate. Please sign up on the patio bulletin board by Wednesday morning zazen, January 10. 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, Peter Overton. The fee is $35 and should be paid in advance (a discounted fee is possible for those in need; please speak to the director). Leave checks marked “January sesshin” in the mail slot in the courtyard laundry room door or mail to BZC Office Manager, 1931 Russell St., Berkeley, CA 94703. Those attending for the first time will need to fill out a Sesshin Information Sheet to let us know of food allergies or other health or physical concerns requiring accom-modation. Please request this sheet by contacting the sesshin director: (510) 325-2342 or

Great Turnout for CPR/AED Training

On October 21 from noon to 2:00, Mike Huggins from LifeSaver CPR led a lively and highly informative class in the most current instruction for CPR and the operation of the AED machine (Automated External Defibrillator, which is located in the back of our zendo). The following 20 sangha members are now certified to administer CPR and AED: Gaila Marie Allen, Jed Appelman, Raghav Bandla, Ross Blum, Sierra Boyd, Dean Bradley, Meghan Collins, Sue Dunlap, Judy Fleischman, Nancy Friedberg, Rob Lyons, Hannah Meara, Rondi Saslow, Laurie Senauke, Nancy Suib, Karen Sundheim, Penelope Thompson, Jake Van Akkeren, Ellen Webb, and Margret Wotkyns.
Deep bows to all for taking the time and effort to ensure the safety and well-being of our sangha. Be Well and Safe.
—Nancy Suib, Health and Safety Coordinator