Category Archives: Old News

Beginners’ Sesshin Sunday, January 28, 2018, 8:30 am - 4:00 pm

Sesshins are an essential part of our practice at BZC. This Beginner’s Sesshin, led by Vice Abbot Hozan Alan Senauke, is organized as an introduction to sesshin and Zen forms and will take place Sunday, January 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. We will offer instruction in the basics—zazen, kinhin, service—while main­tain­ing our ground in meditation throughout the day. Newer members are particularly encouraged to take part, but we also welcome older students to enjoy the sitting and model our practice. Bring a bag lunch, which we will eat informally in silence at midday.

  • Fee for the day is $20. Please pay in advance. Leave checks marked “sesshin fee” in the donation slot in the laundry room door.
  • Deadline for signup is Thursday, January 25. Sign up on the bulletin board or email Hozan.
  • Please do not wear perfumes, scents, or scented body-care products in the zendo.
  • If you’ve never been to a sesshin at BZC, or have further questions, contact Hozan at or 510-845-2215.
  • There will be no refund for last-minute cancellations or no-shows.

Rohatsu Sesshin

Our annual Rohatsu sesshin from Sunday, December 3, through Saturday, December 9, led by Sojun Mel Weitsman. The first six days of the schedule will be from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.; the final day will end around 5 p.m. following shosan with Sojun Roshi. Please sign up on the patio bulletin board for a minimum of three days, two of which should be consecutive. If you want to request an alternative schedule, please speak to the sesshin director. Sign-ups will close on Wednesday, November 29, after morning zazen.

If this is your first sesshin at BZC, it is strongly recommended that you first participate in a full Saturday program, have oryoki instruction, and speak with the sesshin director. The fee for sesshin is $35 per day and should be paid in advance. Leave checks marked with the name of the sesshin in the laundry room door donation slot. If you have questions, contact the sesshin director, Ken Powelson, at

Jizo Ceremony for Loved Ones Who Have Died Saturday, October 14, 1:00pm – 3:00pm

 To support one another through a process of grieving and honoring, we will gather for a ceremony in our Jizo garden. Jizo represents the compassionate presence of “Earth Store” Bodhisattva and is viewed as a guide and protector, particularly for children, who have died. For this ceremony we welcome anyone grieving loss of a loved one, including loss through miscarriage or abortion, sickness, suicide, accidents or violence. We also welcome those who have lost pets dear to them. Our time together will include making a personal token of remembrance, as well as sharing tea and refreshments after the ceremony. Feel free to bring a picture or photo or personal belonging of your loved one to include on the altar.

The ceremony will be led by two Berkeley Zen Center priests:

Gerry Oliva, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician and an associate  professior at UCSF



Judy Fleischman, BCC, MS, is a board-certified chaplain with HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN)



  • All BZC members, members of other Buddhist sanghas and neighborhood residents are invited to attend.
  • There is no fee. Donations (dana) are welcome.

For more information and to sign up by phone or email, please contact Gerry at or (510) 652-7217 or

CPR and AED Class Saturday, October 21, 12:00 - 2:00 pm

“Life is too important not to be prepared.” On Saturday, October 21, Chris Peters and Lifesaver CPR will be offering a CPR and AED class in the BZC community room from 12:00-2:00 p.m. This class is free for BZC members (though a contribution of any size to offset the cost of the class would be appreciated). Cost to nonmembers is $45, payable by check in advance to BZC. Please sign up on the BZC bulletin board with your email address and contact information, and also send an email to Nancy Suib at for further information and a registration form. Prior first responders, please register for this class if your certification was obtained more than two years ago.
Please consider becoming a part of our health team! Becoming a First Responder is a great way to ensure the well-being and safety of our sangha.

Dharma Hikes A New BZC Practice Experience

For all sangha members and friends who love being outdoors, these hikes will provide an opportunity to explore some aspects of the Dharma while enjoying leisurely paced hikes in some beautiful Bay Area parks. Two dharma hikes have been scheduled for this fall (see below) and will be led by Jake Van Akkeren, who is an experienced Sierra Club hike leader and also a senior student at BZC. The hikes will include opportunity for silent walking and a lunchtime dharma discussion, as well as allowing time for social interaction. In order to facilitate discussion, group size will be limited to no more than twelve people.
      Our first hike will in Redwood Regional Park, Sunday, September 24, carpooling from BZC at 9:00 am and arriving back around 3:00 pm. Our second hike will be in Briones Regional Park, Sunday, October 22, carpooling from BZC at 9:15 am and arriving back around 4:00 pm For more information, or to make reservations, please contact Jake at
      If enough interest is shown in this type of activity, more dharma hikes will be scheduled for 2018.

Heart Sutra Class Thursdays from August 24 to September 14, 7:15 pm - 8:45 pm

The Heart Sutra is chanted daily in Zen temples around the world. In this class we will read and chant the sutra and do a line-by-line, word-by-word exploration of the meaning that lies in the words and beyond the words.
What we chant at BZC is a highly condensed version of a larger Mahayana sutra rarely studied in the Zen school, although its teachings are found in many of the Zen koans characteristic of the lineage. Time permitting, we may read a few passages from the unabbreviated original sutra, widely associated with Nagarjuna and the second turning of the Dharma wheel. (The first turning or Dharma teaching consists of the original teachings of Buddha, such as the Four Noble Truths. The second turning consists of the Mahayana sutras emphasizing emptiness of own being and the practice of compassion.)
The class will be held every Thursday from August 24 to September 14, and will be taught by Denkei Raul Moncayo. Raul has been practicing at BZC since 1978 and received Dharma Transmission from Sojun Roshi in 2010. He has also had a long career as a psychologist.

Four-Day Mountains and Rivers Sesshin July 27‒30, 2017

Our annual Mountains and Rivers Sesshin will take place Thursday through Sunday, July 27‒30, at Point Reyes.
Seiwa Leslie Bartholic will be joining us as the doshi. She will be leading our daily discussions of Dogen’s “Mountains and Rivers Sutra,” and will also be available for one-on-one practice discussion during our free-time periods on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
The sesshin will begin with an orientation meeting Wednesday evening, July 26, at 6 p.m. in the Community Room. Thursday morning we will carpool to Point Reyes, then hike from the Bear Valley Visitors’ Center to Coast Camp, moving at a moderate pace with frequent rest stops and lunch along the way. We will get back to Berkeley around 5 p.m. Sunday. All meals are provided and camping experience is not required. Everyone is encouraged to do the full four days, but provision will also be made for those who may have to arrive late.
The sign-up sheet will be posted on the BZC bulletin board as of July 7. Your spot will be reserved after you submit all the logistical information requested on the sign-up sheet. Sign-up deadline is Thursday, July 20. The fee is $75. If you have any questions, please contact Zosie Calame at

One-Day Sesshin: August 5, 2017. 5:00 am - 9:00 pm

Denkei Raul Moncayo will be leading a one-day sesshin on Saturday, August 5, from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm We encourage old and new sangha members to participate. Please sign up on the patio bulletin board by Wednesday morning, August 2, after zazen. If this is your first sesshin at BZC, we recommend that you first participate in a full Saturday program and also speak with the sesshin director. The fee is $35 and should be paid in advance (a discounted fee is possible for those in need; please speak to the director). Leave checks marked “August sesshin” in the mail slot in the courtyard laundry room door or mail to the BZC Office Manager at 1931 Russell St., Berkeley, CA 94703. Those attending for the first time will need to fill out a Sesshin Information Sheet to let us know of food allergies or other health or physical concerns requiring accommodation. Please request this by contacting the sesshin director, Peter Overton, at or (510) 325-2342 .

Lay Entrustment Ceremony July 10, 2017. 5:40 am

Leslie Bartholic and Jake Van Akkeren will receive Lay Entrustment from Sojun Roshi on Monday morning, July 10. Sojun will present them with a green rakusu to acknowledge their position as lay teachers in our sangha. The ceremony will take place in the zendo at 5:40 a.m. All are invited to attend, with a reception to follow in the community room. There will be no Practice Committee meeting on this date.

Samu (Sangha Work Day) Sunday, May 7, 2017, 8:45 am - 5:45 pm

Please join us for samu (sangha work day) on Sunday, May 7. Arrive at 8:30 a.m. for a warm cup and a casual bite in company; work circle at 8:45. Or join us at noon for a decidedly delicious outdoor lunch, with work circle at 12:45. Or join us whenever you can, to share this opportunity to support our cherished practice place.

If you have a pet project to promote, we are still taking suggestions! Please leave a note on the bulletin board or email John Lake at