Category Archives: News

Nothing’s Perfect

Yes, even in a Zen community there may be disagreements, conflicts, unethical behavior, and grievances. That’s why BZC has the Harmony, Ethics, and Reconciliation (HEAR) Committee to help deal with these ruptures in the relationships among sangha members.

The Bodhisattva Precepts serve as our guide toward right conduct, right speech, and relationships. The BZC Ethics Guidelines are based in the Precepts. You can read the Guide­lines at BZC’s website:  The HEAR Committee is empowered by the BZC Board of Directors, and its members are appointed by the Board.

A major focus of the committee is conflict resolution by offering sangha members a means of dealing with the inevitable conflicts that occasionally arise when people work closely with one another. The other purpose of HEAR is to receive and hear complaints about possible violations of the ethics guidelines.

To initiate a process, one may contact any HEAR Committee member. The initial conver­sa­tion can be quite informal, even as informal as a consultation about whether HEAR is the correct medium for addressing the problem, including whether there might be other steps to take first, whether or how one wishes to engage with the other person, and whether an informal or formal process is most appropriate.

An informal process is one in which there is a need for reconciliation of some sort, but no determination by a third party of “right” or “wrong” conduct. HEAR uses a variety of means to address these issues, determined on a case-by-case basis with the permission of the participants: for example, (1) a “shuttle diplo­macy” model prior to a joint meeting with the other person; (2) facilitated discussion(s) between the concerned parties with the aim of settling the issue sufficient to allow them to continue practicing together, or a complete resolution; (3) referral to an appropriate forum (such as the Practice Committee when practice policy is part of the issue); or (4) mediation between the parties.

A formal process in one where a formally convened panel of noninvolved individuals reviews the details of the situation, meets with the parties, and makes a determination about whether the complaint is valid and constitutes a violation of the ethics guidelines. These cases fall into three general categories: (1) obser­vation of serious misconduct or unethical behavior on the part of a sangha member that has not been addressed by teachers or practice leaders; (2) serious misconduct by the abbot, vice abbot, priests, or lay leaders; or (3) an appeal of an administrative decision regarding oneself. The process begins with the submis­sion of a written formal complaint. A sangha member may consult with HEAR prior to preparing a written complaint in order to review the process.

The initial conversations with a HEAR Committee member are confidential, as are the informal and formal grievance processes.

Commensurate with our goal of promoting harmony, the HEAR Committee at times pro­actively initiates interventions when we see that conflict or discord loom. We have also sometimes initiated councils or discussions in which sangha members gather to listen deeply to each other about controversial issues within the community. When necessary, HEAR also helps the Board in amending the Ethics Guide­lines or our procedures for resolving issues.

The HEAR Committee is not a substitute for your relationship with a teacher. We encourage sangha members to consult their teacher, as well as to attempt to communicate with the person with whom they are in conflict before bringing the issue to the committee. However, the committee is a resource for the sangha when other attempts at conflict resolution or reconciliation do not work.

The 2018 members of the HEAR Committee are: Stan Dewey (chair), Mary Duryee, Gerry Oliva, Tom Painter, Hozan Alan Senauke, and Penelope Thompson. Feel free to talk to any of us if you want further information.

Lotus Sutra Class Thursdays, August 30 - September 20, 7:15 pm - 8:45 pm

The Lotus Sūtra is one of the most popular and influential Mahayana sutras. It is known for its development of the concept of skillful means, mostly in the form of parables. It is full of cosmic imagery but it’s basic message is that all beings have the potential to become Buddhas and teach the Dharma here and now.
Susan Marvin and Laurie Senauke have been studying and enjoying the Lotus Sutra together for several months and are looking forward to sharing it with you. Readings will be from Gene Reeves translation of the Lotus Sutra and from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Opening the Heart of the Cosmos. 

Calendar Changes

Please note the following changes from the dates indicated in the BZC calendar: Practice Period opening sesshin is now May 5. All-Sangha Work Day is now June 3. All-Sangha Potluck and Board Nominations is now September 25.

Library News

The library has recently acquired the following books:

  • Robert Wright, Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment
  • Taisen Deshimaru, Mushotoku Mind: The Heart of the Heart Sutra
  • Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, The Way of Tenderness: Awakening through Race, Sexuality, and Gender
  • Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, Sanctuary: A Meditation on Home, Homelessness, and Belonging
  • Sung-Bae Park, Buddhist Faith and Sudden Enlightenment
  • Dainin Katagiri, The Light That Shines through Infinity: Zen and the Energy of Life
  • Dainin Katagiri, Returning to Silence: Zen Practice in Daily Life
  • Mu Soeng, The Diamond Sutra: Transforming the Way We Perceive the World

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 our library, please email the BZC Librarian, Greg Smith, at

BZC Board Nominations

Every October the sangha elects three of six members-at-large to the BZC Board for two-year terms. There is a two-term limit. The next new term starts in January 2019. The Board will present its three nominees at the all-sangha membership meeting on Tuesday evening, September 25. Other nominations can be made from the floor.

Two current members-at-large, Mark Copithorne and Stan Dewey, are serving their second terms and will be leaving the Board at the end of this year, so these seats will be open. Jed Appelman has agreed to be a Board nominee for a second term. The Board will thus be considering whom to nominate to fill the two vacant member-at-large positions. We would like to receive suggestions from BZC members.

Among the skills that a nominee might add to the Board are: oral and written communication, organization, information technology, money management, fundraising, building maintenance and nonprofit law. Board members attend monthly morning meetings and an all-day retreat in February, and they serve on at least one working Board committee: finance, buildings, development, electronic communication, and nomination-elections.

If you have a suggested candidate for the Board or are yourself interested in being nominated, please contact the Board Nominations and Elections Committee chair, Stan Dewey, at by June 9. Please include any relevant information about why you think the person you mention would be a good BZC Board member.

Zendo Fine Points

When leaving the zendo:

  • If Sojun is present to bow to you at the door, bow to him and then just exit the zendo. (There is no need to bow again before crossing the threshold onto the porch.)
  • If Sojun is not present, then shashu bow before crossing the threshold onto the porch.
  • If you’re exiting the zendo at non-zazen times or before the final bow out to the altar (such as to go to dokusan or to use the bathroom), please bow to the altar and then shashu bow before crossing the threshold onto the porch.

Oryoki Training June 2, 2018, 11:30 am

Are you ready to deepen your formal meal practice in the zendo before the five-day end-of-practice-period sesshin? Would you like to explore and learn how to use oryoki bowls with cloths? The next training will be June 2 (after Saturday program from 11:30 to 12:15). Check the courtyard bulletin board for the signup sheet or just drop in. Contact Sue Oehser ((510) 339-0243 or if you have questions or want to pick another date.

Resident Changes

Longtime BZC residents Ken Powelson and Katy Guimond are starting an exciting new chapter in their lives. They have purchased a new home in the El Cerrito hills.

Ken and Katy have been stalwart residents for many years, Ken serving in many of BZC’s senior positions, including sesshin director and zendo manager, and Katy serving on the Board and rallying the neighbors to fight the ever-encroaching construction in our neighborhood. Although we are sad to see them go, we wish them our warm blessings in their future endeavors.

Please join us in welcoming our new resident to BZC, Mahin Mahdevi. Mahin has a long history of Zen practice from Tassajara to Green Gulch. She will be residing at the newly vacant apartment previously occupied by Ken and Katy, along with a suitable apartment mate (yet to be found).

Caregiving Meeting

Sangha Support is offering a gathering for helpers and caregivers on Sunday, May 13, at 4:00‒5:30pm in the Senauke home at 1933 Russell St.

For our gathering, there will be the usual (unusual!) guided meditation by Laurie Senauke, time for checking in, and space to share ideas for how this caregiving practice can be met with kindness for all, including self.

Thank you for helping another person with doing things that they used to do for them-selves; we recognize your courage in navigating this challenging practice.

For more information, please contact Debbie at or (503) 505-4282.