Category Archives: News

Study Retreat: Dongshan’s Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi (Hokyo Zammai) Saturday, September 2, 2017, 5:00 am - 5:15 pm

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: or (510) 206-5051. A sign-up sheet will be posted on the bulletin board in August.

New Resident at BZC!

We would like to welcome Hannah Meara to our residency training program. She will be moving into the vacant apartment above Sojun’s office.
Since the apartment became vacant, the Board decided to take the opportunity to undertake a review of the residency program, with the goals of emphasizing and supporting its role as a training program, making it more responsive to the sangha as a whole, and allowing for more turnover. Based on this review, there have been several modifications to the program, including the formation of a standing Residency Committee (composed of our Abbot, Vice Abbot, Head Resident, and two nonresident senior students); updating the Residency Guidelines to emphasize the training-program aspect; introducing an annual review program for residents (to support their edge of practice and to consider their ability to meet their responsibilities in the training program with a fresh mind); and setting variable term limits for incoming residents. The Residency Committee currently consists of Sojun, Hozan, Ken Powelson, Susan Marvin, and Ron Nestor.
The committee is continuing to look for another person who is willing to participate in this residential training program, either on a short-term basis (for a summer, a semester, or a year), or for a longer three-year term. If you are interested, please contact Ken Powelson at

Another Lay Ordination Coming Up

The fourth member of this year’s BZC sewing group will complete her lay ordination later this summer. Long-time member Cheryl Gordon will receive the precepts from Ryushin Andrea Thach on Saturday, August 26, at 3:00 p.m. Please come witness her commitment to the Bodhisattva path and welcome her anew to the community.

Lay Ordination

On Saturday, June 3, three members of the Berkeley Zen Center sangha received Lay Ordination (Zaike Tokudo) from Sojun Weitsman Roshi and Hozan Senauke 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.

Sojun Roshi’s students:
John Lake
Hei Ko Shin Kan
Calm Lake Deep Insight

Matt Haug
Ji Dô I Shin
Compassionate Path Healing Heart

Hozan Sensei’s student:
Tim Lane
Kô Ryû Gen Shin
Peaceful Dragon Sees Heart

Heart Sutra Class Thursdays from August 24 to September 14, 7:15 pm - 8:45 pm

The Heart Sutra is chanted daily in Zen temples around the world. In this class we will read and chant the sutra and do a line-by-line, word-by-word exploration of the meaning that lies in the words and beyond the words.
What we chant at BZC is a highly condensed version of a larger Mahayana sutra rarely studied in the Zen school, although its teachings are found in many of the Zen koans characteristic of the lineage. Time permitting, we may read a few passages from the unabbreviated original sutra, widely associated with Nagarjuna and the second turning of the Dharma wheel. (The first turning or Dharma teaching consists of the original teachings of Buddha, such as the Four Noble Truths. The second turning consists of the Mahayana sutras emphasizing emptiness of own being and the practice of compassion.)
The class will be held every Thursday from August 24 to September 14, and will be taught by Denkei Raul Moncayo. Raul has been practicing at BZC since 1978 and received Dharma Transmission from Sojun Roshi in 2010. He has also had a long career as a psychologist.

Position Changes

Peter Pfaelzer has performed the ordinary yet extraordinary task of tending to the BZC laundry these past two and a half years. While not quite a rags-to-riches story, we are very grateful for his keeping us well stocked with clean rags, dish towels, and reception table cloths. This laundry position has been reincorporated into the Kitchen Keeper’s role currently held by Teri Jo Tinus, where it was originally conceived decades ago. Thanks to both of you.

BZC T-Shirt

The Development Committee has created a 50th Anniversary T-shirt, very limited edition. These shirts will be available for $20 each beginning in July (on sale after the Saturday program). All profits will be donated to the Let’s Party Fund, in support of our upcoming anniversary party in September. The shirt front has the BZC logo with “Berkeley Zen Center, Fifty Years.” The back reads: “Accomplishing nothing since 1967.”

Reminiscences of BZC

As part of BZC’s 50th Anniversary celebration, we are working on a 50-years-of-memories book and would appreciate participation of as many people as possible. Do you have a story or some reflections to share about the various aspects of practice at BZC during any of those years? If you’ve been thinking about writing something but haven’t quite gotten around to it, perhaps you’d prefer to have a conversation instead? If so, shoot an email to Andrea Thach at or give her a call and she’ll arrange something for you.

The theme of our 50th Anniversary is “Lighting Up Our World.” So we’d also like to hear how your practice at BZC has lit up, or is lighting up, the path of your life. Please send a few lines or paragraphs to share as a part of the celebration to Andrea (see email above) or to Mary Duryee (

Nominations for the BZC Board

Every year the sangha elects three of six members-at-large to terms of two years to the BZC Board. There is a two-term limit. Elections take place in October and the new term starts in January 2018. The Board will present its three nominees at the all-sangha meeting on Tuesday evening, September 12. Other nominations can be made by sangha members at that time from the floor. Two current members-at-large who are currently serving their first term, Katy Guimond and Mary Beth Lamb, have agreed to be Board nominees for a second term. Laurie Senauke, another current member-at-large, has been appointed by the Board and Sojun to be the BZC treasurer, so her seat is open. The Board will thus be considering whom to nominate to fill the one vacant member-at-large position. We would like to receive suggestions from BZC members. Among the skills which a nominee might add to the Board are: oral and written communication, organization, information technology, money management, fundraising, engineering, building maintenance, and non-profit law. Board members attend monthly Sunday morning meetings and an all-day retreat in January, and they serve on at least one working Board committee: finance, buildings, development, electronic communication, and recruitment/nomination for elections. If you have a suggested candidate or are yourself interested in being nominated, please contact the Broad Recruitment and Elections Committee chair, Stan Dewey, at by July 12. Please include any relevant information about why you think the person you mention would be a good BZC Board member.