Category Archives: News

Sewing Buddha’s Robe

Sewing your rakusu in preparation for receiving the precepts at the end of the annual practice period is an opportunity for deepening your practice and relationship with the sangha. Each year as the sewing class participants engage in the devotional practice of sewing and study the precepts together, they prepare themselves for receiving their robe and dharma name from their teachers.  The ceremony is a both a time to affirm aspirations to continue practicing and to celebrate with the sangha coming together to support this important event.
If you are interested in preparing for Lay Ordination in 2019, 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: sewingteacher.bzc@
Check the bulletin board for further announcements.

A New Baby Buddha

On Monday morning, December 10, our dharma brother Jed Appelman was ordained as a Zen priest by Sojun Roshi. The zendo was packed, even when the ceremony began at 5:40 a.m. Sangha members, family, and Quaker friends all gathered to see Jed receive his monk’s robes and bowls. On the occasion of this ordination, Sojun Roshi gave Jed a new dharma name to go with his new clothes: Tokusan Jakusho, which means Mountain of Virtue/Serene Illumination. We rejoice with Jed on this auspicious turning of his life.

Leadership Celebration

We would like to invite sangha members to a celebration of service in leadership January 5, 2019, after the lecture during our tea and cookies. Several people will be rotating out of leadership positions in January, after dedi­cated service. Stan Dewey, Mark Copithorne, and Katy Guimond are leaving the Board, and Ross Blum is retiring as coordinator (being replaced by Gerry Oliva). Come share cake and tea!

Oryoki Training

The next lesson in our formal meal procedures (“oryoki”) will be Saturday, September 22, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m, in the community room. If you would like to schedule another time to learn or fine-tune your oryoki practice, contact Sue Oehser at or 510-339-0243 (voice only).

Doan/Fukudo/Kokyo Refresher

Sojun Roshi will be holding a Doanryo Refresher at 11:30 a.m. on September 22 (right after the Saturday program). Doans, fukudos, and kokyos: Please try to attend this meeting to refresh and refine your practice, especially if you did not attend the previous refresher on August 25.

Revisions to BZC’s Ethics Guidelines

Two substantive changes have been made by the Board to our Ethics Guidelines. The first change is a clarification about the expectations for maintaining boundaries between people at BZC. The second change is the addition of a section about avoiding abusive speech.
These changes are the result of many dis­cussions in the HEAR committee, which made recommendations to the Board. At the last Board meeting these changes were ratified.
Here is the full text of the two sections rewritten for clarity:


Teacher Relationships to Students

Over the years, as we look at ourselves and other practice communities, we have come to understand that spiritual and psychological harm can often result when teachers and students become sexually involved, violate trusts, or use power and/or position for per­sonal gain or manipulation. Such harm can damage the whole community.
At Berkeley Zen Center, all the priests and the lay practice leaders (i.e. lay leaders who offer practice discussion and/or give dharma talks) have made a commitment to conduct relationships in accord with the Bodhisattva precepts. Because of this commitment, the responsibility for maintaining appropriate and clear boundaries always rests with the priest/ practice leader. They will respect and protect the personal autonomy of all students, and refrain from sexual involvement with students.
If a priest or lay practice leader decides nevertheless to pursue a sexual relationship with another sangha member, a process will be initiated to determine what changes in her/his role in the community may be necessary. It is in the interest of all concerned that both parties first seek guidance and counsel from their teacher, the HEAR Committee, and/or the senior student group.

Relationships with Students
New to BZC Practice

We want to offer an environment where new practitioners can develop their own relationship with practice and with the sangha, free from discrimination or social pressure. We request all BZC members to be mindful of the benefit for a new student in not being distracted from the primary activity of establishing their own practice.
All members in leadership positions, and those who have responsibilities which could reasonably be perceived as leadership roles (for example, members and officers of the BZC Board of Directors; members of the HEAR Committee; BZC residents and priests; Saturday directors; sesshin directors; the coordinator; the office manager; the tenzo; the zendo manager; shusos; benjis; senior students; front seat persons) are expected to abstain from sexual relationships with new BZC students during the new students’ first year of practice.


Anyone having questions about how this guideline is implemented may speak with their teacher, or any member of the HEAR Commit­tee.

And here is the new section:

Avoiding Abusive Speech

BZC members should reasonably expect to practice in a supportive and harmonious environment. How we speak and act with one another is an expression of that harmony. Toward that end, we make every effort not to use words that create discord, and to reconcile and resolve our conflicts, small or large.
Verbal abuse and violence are not accept­able at BZC. Verbal abuse includes shouting, chewing out, blowing up, threats, humiliation, undermining, verbal manipulation, and ad hominem attacks. Abusive speech has wide effect, both for parties to the conflict who may be traumatized, and for witnesses. Members are not expected to work with other sangha members who demonstrate an ongoing pattern of harsh or hostile language.
This applies to everyone at BZC, irrespec­tive of position or seniority. Those holding a practice position are expected to understand that abusive speech and anger are not accept­able expressions of direction or leadership. Failure to uphold a standard of patience and kindness is a ground for suspension of sangha responsibilities.
Conflict, of course, is inevitable and can be creative. But violence of any kind divides and traumatizes. How we work together is as important as accomplishing the task at hand.

You can find the complete Ethics Guide­­­lines at our website: A copy is also located on the courtyard bulletin board. If you have questions, please feel free to talk to any member of the HEAR committee: Stan Dewey (chair),  Gerry Oliva, Thomas Painter, Penelope Thompson, Mary Duryee, Vice Abbot Hozan Senauke, ex officio.

Library News

The library has recently acquired the following books: Ed Brown, No Recipe: Cooking as a Spiritual Practice. Kazuaki Tanahashi, Painting Peace: Art in a Time of Global Crisis. David R. Loy, Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution. Joan Halifax, Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet. Susan Murphy, Red Thread Zen: Humanly Entangled in Emptiness. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Fostering Social Harmony. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, Dhammic Socialism. Maha Ghosa­nanda, The Buddha of the Battlefield.
They can all be found in the “New Books” section on the top shelf of the bookcase directly to the right of the card catalog.
If you have suggestions for litera­ture for our library, please email the BZC Librarian, Greg Smith:

Position Changes

Mahin Mahdavi has assumed the role of Head Gardener. Thanks to Mira Queen and Sue Marvin, for overseeing our flora these past years.
Judy Fleischman has concluded her term as Co-Saturday Director. Please welcome Tom Painter to that position who will co-direct with Dean Bradley.
Mark Copithorne has succeeded Alexandra Frappier as Head Chiden. (He also continues to be our Candlemaker.)
Heiko John Lake, who is our Sesshin and Work-Day Work Leader will add Saturday Work Leading from Ken Powelson.
Andrea Henderson will assume the Saturday Head Dishwasher role from Heiko.
Jed Appelman and Mark Copithorne have passed on their roles as Co-Zendo Managers to Carol Paul and Hannah Meara. Hannah will be responsible for scheduling well-being and memorial services. Please contact her at if you wish to have one.
Zosie Calame and Hosei-Kelsey Hermann, who have coordinated Mountains & Rivers and Hills & Streams sesshins, will pass the camp stove on to a yet TBA person for 2019.
Thanks to you all for your dedication! 🙏

New Residents

We would like to welcome our two new residents to BZC. Ten Bartholemew will be sharing the apartment at 1933½ Russell with Greg Smith, and Mahin Mahdavi will be sharing the apartment at 1929 Russell with Hannah Meara.

Sejiki Ceremony Saturday, October 27, 2018 10:15 am

Sejiki is a popular Buddhist festival that high­lights the connection between our world and the worlds of spirits. At BZC, we offer it as a sort of Buddhist Halloween. The ceremony is a mixture of spooky and solemn—there will be costumes and noisemakers, but we will also recite the names of departed friends and family and make offerings to appease our own hungry ghosts. This year’s Sejiki ceremony will be held on Saturday, October 27. To allow preparation time for the ceremony, we will not be having early morning zazen or breakfast. Instead, we will begin with a work period at 8:30 a.m. to prepare our temple for the cere­mony. The formal program will start with zazen at 9:40, followed by a short lecture, and then the ceremony at 10:15.
Both children and adults are encouraged to participate, to wear costumes and bring noise-makers. If you bring your children, please come directly to the zendo at 10:15, as there is no childrens’ program before that time. Please direct any questions about children’s participa­tion to Hannah Meara:
For more information about the program, please contact Carol Paul at 510-206-5051 or You can also give Carol names of departed ones to be recited during the ceremony of whom we might not be aware or if you will not be able to attend.