Category Archives: News

BZC + Berkeley Men’s Shelter x 20 Years

Over the years, many BZC folks have lent their hands to the twice-monthly offering of dinner at the Men’s Shelter on the 2nd and 4th Fridays from 5:00-8:00 p.m. We don’t just bring the guys food, we bring them a message — that people care about them, that they matter, that we want to support them as they navigate their life’s path. This work does not preclude anything else we might do to address the conditions that contribute to homelessness (which is increasing rapidly on the West Coast due to housing shortages, among other causes).
We have a few people who come regularly, and we need a few more. Now don’t everyone read this and immediately sign up for the next offering! Head cooks Lance Shows ( and Laurie Senauke ( keep a short list of willing helpers; email us to add your name to that list. We usually check in with folks starting the Monday before the dinner to find out who is able to come. If we get more than we need, we can let some of the regulars off early. It’s also fine to use the sign-up sheet on the back porch of the community room.
This is love in action, active hope, medicine for despair. Please join us!

Position Changes

With the turning of the year comes the proverbial turning of practice positions. It is no small thing to assume these roles and responsibilities, and to your no-gaining mind we thank all of you for saying YES!

  Peter Overton will assume the co-sesshin director role from Gary Artim, sharing this responsibility with Ken Powelson.

  Mark Copithorne will become our new co-zendo manager for well-being and memorial services. He will share the ZM position with Bruce Coughran, who will be responsible for ceremonies, taking over from Sue Oehser.

  Jed Appelman will tend to the Dokusan Hut, receiving the feather duster from Judy Fleischman, who has helped to maintain that space for our one-on-one talks with Sojun Roshi.

  With Jed’s stepping down as Head Dishwasher, John Lake has stepped up to lead the dishwashing after our oryoki meals.

  John Lake is also taking over the Work Leader position (for sesshins and work days) from Paul Ridgway.

  Troy DuFrene will be assuming Tenzo duties while Kiká Hellein is at Tassajara for the winter practice period.

BZC President Notes Board Transitions

As we begin the New Year, on behalf of the BZC Board I’m pleased to welcome recently elected Jed Appelman to the Board of Directors. Stepping down after serving one term is Troy DuFrene. Troy has been the implementer of BZC’s electronic voting system, which has greatly streamlined the election process, and he is also a member of the party planning committee for our upcoming 50th Anniversary celebration. We thank Troy for his valuable work on the board.

Celebrating 50 Years of Berkeley Zen Center!

We need your help. As part of the 50th Anniversary celebration we are taking a long look back at BZC’s history to remember and share its remarkable journey from its beginnings on Dwight Way to its subsequent decades on Russell Street, with its unique blend of lay and priest sangha, residents and home-dwellers.

We plan to create a 50-years-of-memories book, and we would appreciate participation of as many people as possible. Do you have a story, photos, or reflections to share about the various aspects of practice at BZC over all these years? If you have digital versions of photos, that would be ideal, but we also can arrange to scan hard copies.

Please send texts or photos to Mary Duryee ( or Andrea Thach ( or by snail mail to them at BZC.

Thank you, and see you at the party on September 30, 2017!

Have a Cup of Tea with Ross Blum November 20, 2016, 4 pm to 5 pm

Ross will conduct an orientation to the World of Tea as he inherited it from the teachers at Peet’s during his 25 year tenure. Along with the oral presentation and a Q&A, we’ll taste a range of teas whereby you will leave appreciating the myriad subtleties of this centuries old beverage—the most popular one on the planet second only to water.

Donation: $30 per person

Sign up on the bulletin board or by emailing Mary Beth Lamb.

Consider Making a Bequest to BZC

As we say every Saturday after lecture, Berkeley Zen Center is solely supported by our dues and donations. One of the significant ways sangha members and friends have donated is by leaving a monetary gift in their will or their trust.
A gift in your will or revocable living trust, called a bequest, is a wonderful way to donate for people who love the sangha but who may not wish to part with their resources today. Remembering BZC in your estate plan helps ensure the ongoing health and well-being of our teachers, the physical structures at BZC, our sangha, and our practice.
The Board of BZC would like you to know that a number of its members, past and present, have named BZC in their wills or trusts. To ensure a legacy for BZC, the Board invites all members and friends to follow this example and consider making such a bequest. For more information about including BZC in your planned giving, contact Development Committee chair Laurie Senauke at You can also contact Laurie if you would like to let us know that you have already provided for BZC in your estate plan.

Being What’s Happening Family Practice at BZC

In our Zen practice life, we try to create the opportunity to experience something “different” from our usual life. What is that difference? Something like “no gaining idea.” We want to allow an experience that is not limited at the outset by our ideas about what might happen or what it means. We resume our true nature, which is always flowing underneath or within our everyday lives.
For the families who come to Family Practice, we also want to offer something different. As parents, so much of our day is taken up with getting our kids to do the various things we expect of them. Getting them to get up, to eat breakfast, to go to school; to learn specific things, to get along with others, and in general to act in accord with the way others are acting, in accord with expectations coming from the adult world. We expect a lot, actually.
When children come into the circle at BZC, we don’t want this to be just another thing we are trying to get them to do — to get them to sing the songs, to get them to prepare the snack, to get them to sit quietly, and so on. Even getting them to come in the first place! How can we create for all of us, children and adults together, a “place to turn around” in the midst of our busy lives? How can we offer something different?
The natural state between parents and children, between caregivers and children, is one of love flowing between us. You might call it the “true nature” of families. When families join our program, we want to help them resume this true nature, which is always there, flowing underneath all the expectations and challenges.
Just as it’s not always easy to sit in the zendo with no gaining idea, it’s not easy for us adults to allow this opportunity to unfold — for children to simply be together with their parents, in love and fun. When it happens it feels amazing.
Our Family Practice program is led by BZC member and music teacher Ryk Groetchen. It happens most Saturdays from 9:30-11:15 a.m. (check the calendar for exact dates). We share songs, dances, stories, poems, social-emotional learning tools, preparing, serving, and eating a snack, discussion, and laughter. We welcome any BZC members to take a taste; we think you’ll be glad you did.

One-Room Schoolhouse Turns 50!

Next year, Berkeley Zen Center will be celebrating 50 years since the old zendo on Dwight Way opened its doors. Plans are already under way for a party to be held on the evening of September 30 at the Jack London Aquatic Center in Oakland. Details will be coming early next year from the event committee, headed by Jake Van Akkeren.
For now, we want to get a head start on gathering recollections from you — current members and friends, alumni, and everyone else who has been touched by practice inside BZC’s gate this last half century. These items will become part of an anthology of BZC’s first 50 years. We will also edit this into a smaller booklet for distribution at the 50th anniversary party.
We welcome everyone to contribute stories, favorite anecdotes, poems, photographs, drawings, memories — anything that we can make copies of and print. Please also share our invitation to participate with anyone you know who was once connected to BZC but who may no longer be in touch.
We ask that written pieces be no more than 250 words. All printed materials will be returned. Please submit them by March 15, 2017, to or to Andrea Thach, 800 Northshore Drive, Bellingham, WA 98226. Please send her your questions or suggestions for the anthology. Thank you.

Position Changes

Greg Denny and Peter Overton have passed their co-leadership of our half-day sittings to Alexandra Frappier and Laurie Senauke. Thanks to all four of you for handling the recent upsurge in attendance for these monthly events.

Sewing Buddha’s Robe

If you are interested in preparing for lay ordination next year, sewing classes start in January. Classes are open to those who have asked their teacher if they may participate.
Before the winter break (mid-December), please speak with Sojun Mel Weitsman or Hozan Alan Senauke.
After you speak with your teacher, promptly contact the sewing teacher, Jean Selkirk. Check the bulletin board for further announcements.