Category Archives: News

Practice Period Class Thursdays, March 28 - April 25, 2019, 7:15 pm - 8:45 pm

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.

Addition to Ethics Guidelines

The Harmony, Ethics, and Reconciliation (HEAR) Committee has recently addressed several conflicts which arose between sangha members when one person hired another to do work that resulted in a series of misunder­stand­ings, unclear and unspoken expectations, anger, and general distrust. These resembled situations in the past when sangha members engaged in arrangements with other sangha members that involved the exchange of work and money or rental arrangements.

Until now, the guidelines addressed professional relationships between helping professionals and other sangha members. The HEAR Committee felt there should be some strengthening of that guideline. The Com­mittee also wanted to add that all business relationships among sangha members are potentially fraught and should only be entered mindfully.

Therefore, on the recommendation of the Committee, the BZC Board passed the following revision to section 3 of the BZC Ethics Guidelines, which deals with Sangha Relationships:

3.d.  Professional or Business Relationships Among Members

Sangha members are discouraged from using the community as a source of business, contract work, or professional clients. BZC teachers and sangha members who work as physicians, psychotherapists, or attorneys should avoid entering into professional relationships with other sangha members.

 Problems have sometimes arisen when one sangha member enters a business relationship with another member. All sangha members should be mindful of the delicate balance between worker and client and the complexity of these connections when both parties practice at the same dharma center.

A complete copy of the Ethics Guidelines can be found on the BZC web site. If you have questions or comments about the Ethics Guidelines or these revisions, please contact any Board member or the chair of the HEAR Committee, Stan Dewey (standewey@comcast.net).

Oryoki Training

The next lessons in our formal meal procedures (“oryoki”) will be Saturday, March 2, and Saturday, April 27, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the zendo. If you would like to schedule another time to learn or fine-tune your oryoki practice, contact Sue Oehser at 510-339-0243 (voice only) or soehser@earthlink.net.

You can also receive briefer instruction during any full Saturday morning program that is not a sesshin. After the first period of Saturday zazen, the director will ask if anyone would like instruction in eating in the zendo.  Raise your hand and meet the director on the porch, who will assign someone to give you oryoki instruction in the community room before service and breakfast.

Position Changes

Ten Bartholomew has replaced Rhiana Wiggins as Kitchen Keeper. Rondi Saslow has replaced Peter Carpentieri as Community Room Porch Monitor. Hannah Meara has replaced Jed Appelman as Friday afternoon Doan. Troy DuFrene has handed off his Tenzo position to a three-person team: Susan Marvin, Laurie Senauke, and Leslie Bartholic.

Thanks to you all for your dedication! 🙏

Hills & Streams Backpacking Sesshin Friday - Sunday, April 12 - 14, 2019

BZC’s 20s and 30s Dharma Group is happy to announce it will be hosting its fifth annual “Hills and Streams” backpack­ing sesshin. The sesshin will be held Friday, April 12, through Sunday, April 14, with a mandatory orienta­tion meeting on Tuesday, April 9. The sesshin will take place at Sky Camp in Point Reyes National Seashore. Sign-ups and cancel­lation deadlines are Sunday, March 31.

This is an intensive meditation retreat which will involve significant hiking and will maintain (to the extent possible) a sesshin atmosphere and practice. This includes long periods of silence, sitting zazen, and shared responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, etc.). If you are new to backpacking or to sesshins, please contact the directors, Kelsey Hosei Hermann and Chris Frost: backpacksesshin@gmail.com.

This sesshin is a wonderful way to connect with other young sangha members and to experience practice in the wilderness. If you are interested in attending, please fill out an application at https://bit.ly/2TJdbpW or email the directors. We hope to see many old and new faces there!

Buddha’s Birthday April 6, 2019

Join us to celebrate and appreciate the auspi­cious day of Buddha’s birthday on Saturday, April 6. Family, friends, and especially children are encouraged to participate. The cele­bration will include bathing the baby Buddha and a wonderful birthday cake prepared by our tenzos.

We will not have our usual early program. Decorating the bower with flowers will begin at 7:30 a.m. Work period to prepare the grounds begins at 8:30. The first period of zazen will be at 9:30, followed by a short lecture and the ceremony.

On Friday, the day before the celebration, donations of flowers from your garden, such as iris, daisy, ranunculus, sweet William, and camellia, are appreciated. There will be a sign-up on the bulletin board to help trim flowers on Friday afternoon.

If you can help with setup and cleanup, please sign up on the bulletin board and arrive by 8:30 a.m. Please also sign up if you will help trim flowers on Friday afternoon, so they will be ready for bower decorators on Saturday.

If you have questions about the flower bower, please contact head chiden Mark Copithorne at copithorne@hotmail.com. For any other questions about the birthday cele­bration, contact zendo co-managers Hannah Meara  (hmeara@gmail.com) or Carol Paul (caroljpaul@yahoo.com).

Spring Practice Period May 11 - June 23, 2019

Our 31st annual practice period will begin with a one-day sitting on Saturday, May 11, and continue through the Shuso Ceremony on Sunday, June 23. This year Sojun Roshi has asked Hozan Sensei to lead the period. Sojun and Hozan are pleased to announce that Shiken Seigetsu (Clear Intention/Serene Moon) Carol Paul has agreed to take the Shuso seat this year. Full details and sign-up sheets will be posted in mid-April.

Sojun Roshi’s Koan Class Mondays in February

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?

Earthquake Drill at BZC Sitting/Party

On October 18, BZC participated in the state-wide Earthquake Preparedness Drill known as “the Great California Shake Out.” At 10:18 a.m. BZC residents and members were encouraged to “Drop, Cover, and Hold-On,” simulating the response to a major earthquake. Residents then checked their personal earthquake kit. This was an opportunity to discuss and reflect on the ongoing issue of preparedness for earth­quakes and other major disasters.

More discussion, planning, and prepara­tions are planned for the coming year. If you are interested in participating, send a note to Bruce Coughran at brucecoughran@gmail.com.

New Zendo in El Cerrito

Sunday, January 13, 2019, we will be celebrat­ing the opening of the Blue Mountain Zendo at 1020 King Drive in El Cerrito. We will have an opening ceremony at 5:00 p.m., followed by a templewarming and housewarming party. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have made donations to BMZ to make this opening possible.

The zendo will be open from January 14 on. For those who may be interested in coming and sitting with me at any point, here is the tentative schedule:

Every day except Saturday I will be sitting at Blue Mountain with the squirrels, deer, and blue jays, and anybody who shows up. The weekday sittings will be at 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. The length of sittings and services will be the same as those at BZC. In the morning there will be a clunk at 6:40 for stretching or for anyone who may have to leave. The rest of us will continue to sit through to 7:00 a.m. and then do a short service.

Sunday sitting will begin at 6:30 a.m., with two periods, one of forty minutes, and one of thirty minutes, with kinhin in between, followed by a longer service. When the service ends (around 8:15) we will have coffee, tea, fruit, yogurt, and croissants in the community room. This coffee/tea time will be informal to encourage dharma friendship and right speech. Then we will return to the zendo at 9:00 a.m. for another period of zazen, followed by a short talk.

Beginning in February, I will offer a Dharma Seminar the second Saturday of the month from 2:00‒4:00 p.m., followed by a one-hour walk in the El Cerrito nature area two blocks from BMZ, which includes stunning views of the Bay. I will present during the first hour of the Seminar, followed by an open dis­cussion. I also plan to invite speakers, in which case they will present first and I will respond, followed by open discussion. Snacks and beverages will be available.

I will offer zazen instruction as necessary. Zazen instruction in Spanish will be offered during Wednesday afternoon zazen.

I hope to see you at the January 13 opening celebration and look forward to practicing here with any of you who may be interested.