Category Archives: News

Just Out! Vol. 1 of Sojun Roshi’s Lectures

For BZC’s 50th anniversary we have produced a thumb drive with 80 digitized lectures—Volume 1 of Sojun Mel Weitsman’s recorded dharma talks at Berkeley Zen Center. The first recording is a talk by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi at BZC in January 1970. The remaining files cover Sojun Roshi’s first recorded lectures at Russell Street, given between November 1980 and May 1983.
This set of recordings represents the first step in the proposed digitization of all Sojun Roshi’s lectures, and those of other BZC teachers. In the long run, we would like to create a searchable library of transcribed texts. These recordings offer a vivid picture of Sojun Roshi’s dharma, extending the Zen essence he received from Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.
This elegant and portable thumb drive will be available for the nominal price of $10.

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 now 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. If you have a suggested candidate or are yourself interested in being nominated, please contact the Board Recruitment and Elections Committee chair, Stan Dewey, at Please include any relevant information about why you think the person you mention would be a good BZC Board member.

Words of Appreciation from the Board President

In the past few months there has been some significant changing of the guard regarding those involved in BZC administration.
First, after ably serving as Office Manager for three years, Tamar Enoch has stepped down from that important position. During her tenure as OM, Tamar worked long hours first with Treasurer Paul Farber and then with Paul’s successor, Walter Kieser, to develop and implement an updated and streamlined accounting system. This was a huge project and took a lot of extra work and dedication to make it happen. Tamar worked hand in hand with both Paul and Walter to develop realistic budgets, and she went far beyond her job description to search for ways to eliminate waste at BZC and to save the sangha money—thousands of dollars in fact. Tamar has also worked closely with her successor, Bruce Coughran, to facilitate a seamless transition. We wish Tamar the best in her new endeavors, and we are pleased to have Bruce on board as our new OM.
After serving as Treasurer for the past two and a quarter years, Walter has left his position to relocate to Sonoma County, where he has recently built a new home in the town of Geyserville. The Board has approved Laurie Senauke to serve as acting Treasurer until her name can be placed on the October ballot for Sangha confirmation.
Walter’s service on the Board goes back many years. He served as Recording Secretary in 2005, as a Member-at-Large from 2006-2012, and as Treasurer from 2015 into 2017, thus being on the Board in one capacity or another for over eight years.
Walter was also Project Manager during a time when multiple problems with BZC’s buildings were manifesting. In this role he completely streamlined and codified policies and procedures and put together a highly functional and enthusiastic team, which became known as the Building Committee. He pushed for doing as much as we could with volunteers, and he himself always made it a point to pitch in on sangha work days, even memorably breaking his arm during one volunteer stint while doing seismic retrofitting on the community room porch. He worked closely with our Finance and Development Committees to oversee a five-year plan to address the needs of aging (and in some cases failing) BZC buildings and infrastructure.
After a two-year break from the Board, Walter was recruited by Sojun to serve as Treasurer during a particularly difficult administrative time. As Treasurer, Walter worked closely with Tamar as Office Manager to overhaul and literally reboot the accounting system. One reason BZC continues to be in excellent financial shape is certainly attributable to Walter’s expertise, diligence, and care while serving as Treasurer.
Finally, he continues to make himself available for consultation to Laurie now that she has become our acting Treasurer. We extend great appreciation to Walter for his many years of service and his extraordinary contributions to the BZC community, and wish him much joy and peace in his new home.

Aspects of Practice October 7 through November 4, 2017

We invite you to join the 2017 Aspects of Practice period—four weeks of practice, renewal, study, and discussion led by Hozan Alan Senauke and BZC practice leaders. Aspects of Practice has traditionally encouraged newer students to root their Zen practice. It also includes the wider BZC community who wish to refresh themselves and make a sustainable commitment to practice.
This year we will draw from Suzuki Roshi’s Not Always So. Practice leaders will lecture on Saturdays, lead Monday morning discussions, and offer a class on four successive Thursdays. All of these events are open to everyone. In addition, there will be informal teas and regular practice discussion. Each sangha participant is strongly encouraged to meet with Hozan Sensei or a practice leader at least once during Aspects. Your interest, support, and encouragement can be of help to the whole sangha. For further details, please look carefully at the zendo events bulletin board.
Aspects of Practice will begin with a one-day sesshin on Saturday, October 7, and end with a one-day sesshin on Saturday, November 4. For information on either sesshin, please contact the sesshin director, Ken Powelson, at

50th Anniversary Party! Saturday, September 30, 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm

It’s BZC’s 50th anniversary of accomplishing nothing! We will be celebrating this (non) accomplishment with a dinner party on Saturday, September 30, 6:00 pm, at the Jack London Aquatic Center, 115 Embarcadero in Oakland. If you have not RSVP’d to your Evite sent out in June, please take a moment to do so. If you no longer have that invitation (or you never received one), contact Carol Paul at or 510-206-5051. We hope to see everyone there, including people from all periods, past and present, of BZC’s half-century of “nothing special” practice.
If you wish help getting there, contact Gary Artim at If you are coming from out of town and would like to arrange a place to stay while you are here, contact Ken Powelson at
BZC is offering this event for free; and dana is greatly appreciated.

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