Category Archives: News

Cold and Flu Season Is Among Us

At this time of year we encourage all sangha members to get an annual flu shot at either your doctor’s office or local CVS or Walgreen’s pharmacy.  If cost is a barrier, contact your local health department for information on when and where they provide low-cost or free vaccinations.
In an effort to support each other’s health, we are asking that sangha members stay home if they are ill. We recommend following the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines: Please don’t come to the zendo if you have fever, cough, runny nose, muscle aches, gastro-intestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea, or anything you equate with viral illness. Please stay home and take care of yourself. You should wait to return until you have not had any of the following symptoms: sneezing, coughing, nose blowing, sore throat, or fever, for 48 hours.
If you realize you are ill after you have arrived on a Saturday or sesshin day, please let the director know and go home. Some of us are not only older, but also have medical conditions which are immune-compromising, so your awareness and self-care is important to us all. Of course, some coughs and sneezes result from allergies. If you are at all uncertain, speak with the Saturday Director or Sesshin Director or contact the Coordinator, who can refer you to a health consultant.
A copy of the BZC Wellness Policy will be posted on the bulletin board. If you have questions, please contact Gerry Oliva at

Note from the Coordinator

When I asked Sojun Roshi what the role of the Coordinator was he responded, “You’re the eyes and ears of the temple.” In this role and in weekly consultation with our abbots, I intend to help maintain the harmony and vitality of our practice place. Please share your comments and concerns with me either by email ( or by telephone ((510) 306-1964) and together we will.

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.

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.

Resident Rental Discussion

At their August 14 meeting, the BZC Board voted to form an ad hoc rent committee, to include renting residents, board members, and other sangha members. The board passed the resolution below detailing the task of this committee. The committee will be chaired by Ed Herzog, who welcomes comments, questions, and other input from the community. He can be reached by email at

Task of the 2016 BZC Rent Committee:

To determine, given all the related factors (listed below), what would be an appropriate rent increase for the board to institute, within the lawful ceiling but greater than the annual allowable increase (which we typically use).

  1. How much to increase rent, and over what period of time?
  2. Propose other rent-related policies as deemed appropriate, including but not limited to handling of vacancies and creation of rental agreements.
  3. As deemed appropriate, further the process of giving the Berkeley Rent Board updated information on amounts and tenancies.

Factors (after consideration, the committee has the authority to deem a factor irrelevant):

  • current rent amounts
  • allowable rent ceiling
  • previous Board policy re rents
  • contributions of the residents, financial and otherwise
  • current rents in relation to each other
  • input from the wider sangha
  • BZC estimated income needs over the next 5-10 years
  • rent subsidies for residents as needed
  • ideas in Mark Copithorne’s proposal (see Board minutes)
  • other factors introduced by Board or committee members

Initial Clarifying Points for Everyone to Agree on Going into the Process:

  1. We’re all in this together.
  2. The rental income is considered as an income source in an analogous way to how sesshin fees are considered an income source. The Board is considering a rent increase in a similar way to how they considered a sesshin fee increase a few years ago. The Board last investigated the rent amounts about 15 years ago. It is appropriate for the Board to tackle this issue at regular intervals.
  3. There is no intention to raise rents to market rate.
  4. There is no intention to try to “get around” the allowable rent ceiling.
  5. There is no intention to use a rent increase to generate all of the $25,000 the property committee and Board have projected as needed for the next few years
  6. There is an intention to set rents low enough to support residents to practice at BZC fully and wholeheartedly.
  7. The rent committee will report its progress at the November Board meeting.

Noon Zazen Bag Lunch

We are continuing the practice of sharing a bag lunch (BYO) and informal discussion with vice abbot Hozan Alan Senauke once a month after noon zazen. Upcoming dates are Thursday,  September 22, and Tuesday, October 25.

20s and 30s Dharma Group

BZC invites young adults in their 20s and 30s to join us in a monthly open discussion group about Zen, Buddhism, meditation, and developing a practice. Our aim is to cultivate kalyana mitta (spiritual friendship), to provide members with an opportunity to meet others in their age group, and to support each other in bringing practice more fully into our daily lives. The group is collaborative in structure and we encourage members to suggest issues/topics/activities for the group to pursue.

We meet either in the zendo at 11:30 am after Saturday lecture or at a local café on specified dates and locations. Remaining 2016 meetings: Tuesday, September 27 at BZC at 6:30 pm (we’ll then walk to a nearby café for food and discussion); Saturday, October 15 at BZC at 11:30 am; Monday, November 21 at BZC at 6:30 pm for a potluck supper; and Saturday, December 17 at BZC at 11:30 am.

For further information, contact Gerry Oliva: