Category Archives: Old News

Buddhist Perspectives on the Climate Emergency Thursday Evenings in February with Hozan Alan Senauke

The earliest story of Buddha’s awakening has him calling on the Earth itself to serve as his witness. Today, as temperatures rise, drought rages, and coastal areas flood, we need more than ever to be witness the planet we live upon. The emerging climate crisis touches everyone.

On Thursday evenings in February, Hozan Alan Senauki will lead a class and discussion about Buddhist perspectives on climate change, drawing from traditional Buddhist texts, analysis by Bhikkhu Bodhi, and the ground breaking reflections of Pope Francis’s recent encyclical Laudato Si.

Class session will be on February 4, 11, 18, and 25 from 7:15 pm to 8:45 pm in the community room.  The class charge is $40/series. No one is turned away for lack of funds. Materials will be available in advance of the class.

Sojun’s Winter Koan Class

Sojun will present a koan class series in January and March. Taking off from our recent Aspects practice period, he’ll select cases from our Chinese Ch’an ancestors and the three main koan collections: the Blue Cliff Record, Book of Serenity, and Mumonkan (Gateless Gate). Across these collections he’ll focus on multiple koans all relating to a particular teacher, and cover a limited number of teachers in this fashion as time permits. So not only do we get to take on the meaning of the case, but we’ll also get a feel for the character and style of the teacher its centered on.
The series will cover six Monday evening dates from over the two months. All classes begin at 7:15 pm and end at 8:45 pm.  These will be the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Mondays of the month. 1/11, 1/18, 1/25, 3/14, 3/21, 3/28. This is the first time he has taught a Monday evening class. The sign up will be posted on the patio board after Rohatsu or you send an email to Ron at Cost is $60/series, but if you want to attend for just one month @ $30, that’s okay. This will not be a drop in class and as always discounts are available by talking to Ron.

Special Announcement: Rohatsu Sesshin Information Sunday, 29 November - Saturday, 5 December

This year’s Rohatsu sesshin, led by Sojun Mel Weitsman, begins on November 29 and ends on December 5. Each day begins at 5:00 am and ends at 9:00 pm, with the exception of the final day, which ends at 5:00 pm.

Times open to non-sesshin participants are:
  • Sunday
    • 10:15 am  Lecture
  • Monday – Friday
    • 5:50 am zazen
    • 10:15 am lecture
    • 5:40 pm zazen
  • Saturday
    • 5:50am zazen
    • 8:45am zazen instruction
    • 9:30am zazen
    • 10:15 am lecture

Everyone is also invited to attend these ceremonies:

  • Monday, November 30: Suzuki Roshi Annual Memorial at 7:40 pm (not 8:20 pm)
  • Saturday, December 5: Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony immediately after lecture
Please note that the following activities will not occur this week:
  •  Wednesday night drop-in group will not meet on December 2.
  • Family practice will not occur on December 5.

Rohatsu Sesshin Times Open to Non-Participants

The following periods, lectures, and ceremonies during Rohatsu are open to all:

Sunday, November 29

  • 5:50am zazen
  • 10:15am lecture

Monday  – Friday, November 30  – December 4

  • 5:50am zazen
  • 10:15am lecture
  • 5:40pm zazen
  • 7:40pm Annual Suzuki Roshi Memorial Ceremony (Monday, November 30 only)

Saturday, December 5

  • 5:50am zazen
  • 8:45am zazen instruction
  • 9:30am zazen
  • 10:15am lecture, followed by Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony

New Year’s Eve Sitting and Celebration

Join us on Thursday evening, December 31 for the chance to ring in the New Year with the quiet and reflection of zazen, punctuated by 108 soundings of the bell to mark the last 108 minutes of 2015 and a bonfire after midnight. Everyone is welcome to attend any portion of the program, entering the zendo during kinhin or the beginning of a period of zazen.     The schedule is:

  • 8:00 pm Zazen
  • 8:35 Kinhin
  • 8:45 Zazen
  • 9:20 Kinhin
  • 9:30 Zazen
  • 10:05 Tea
  • 10:13 108 bells begin
  • 10:35 Kinhin
  • 10:45 Zazen
  • 11:20 Kinhin
  • 11:40 Zazen
  • 12:10 Slow Heart Sutra and sitting.

A celebration and potluck will follow in the community room. Watch the bulletin board for details and the sign-up sheets for providing food and help with clean up. If you have any questions, contact Sue Oehser at or (510) 339-0243.

Close Aspects of Practice Sitting Saturday, November 14, 5:00 am – 9:00pm

Aspects of Practice 2015 will close with sesshin on Saturday, November 14, led by Ryushin Andrea Thach. Everyone is encouraged to attend, whether signed up for Aspects or not. This will be a Saturday sesshin schedule—5:00 am to 9:00 pm. There will be the option of a lighter schedule—8:30 am to 5:40 pm—for students with significant physical limitations only. The signup will have a check box for those asking for this shorter schedule. The Aspects of Practice closing ceremony will be at 8:40pm. Questions about sesshin or the schedule should be sent to the Director, Gary Artim  (Sho Toku)

Rohatsu Sesshin Sunday, November 29 – Saturday, December 5

This year’s Rohatsu sesshin, led by Sojun Mel Weitsman, begins on November 29 and ends on December 5. Each day begins at 5:00 am and ends at 9:00 pm, with the exception of the final day, which ends at 5:00 pm. All are encouraged to participate for as many days as possible, but participants are asked to sit for a minimum of three consecutive full days.

The sesshin fee is $35 daily, paid in advance. (Anyone unable to pay the full amount may request a reduced fee from the sesshin director). Payment must be received by the sign-up deadline or no seat will be reserved for you. Please leave checks marked “Rohatsu” in the courtyard laundry room door slot or mail it to the BZC Office Manager at 1929 Russell St., Berkeley 94703. The sign-up sheet will be posted on the patio bulletin board by November 1 and sesshin information forms (with other important sesshin information) are on the shelf below. Please put completed forms in the sesshin director’s mail slot. The sign-up deadline is Wednesday, November 25 at 7:00 am.

We will be eating all of our meals oryoki style in the zendo. If you are unfamiliar with oryoki please request training which is offered every Saturday at 6:40 am. You may also contact oryoki instructor, Ellen Webb at to schedule an oryoki training session at a different time. If you wish to stay overnight at BZC during sesshin, please contact the shika, Tamar at

If you have questions about sesshin, please contact the sesshin director, Gerry Oliva, at (415) 290-6015 or

Finally, as Rohatsu commemorates the enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha, everyone is invited to attend Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony on Saturday, December 5, at 11:10 am, after lecture. In addition, everyone is invited to the Suzuki Roshi Annual Memorial Ceremony on Monday, November 30 at 8:20 pm.

Join Us for Our Annual Party and Fundraiser Saturday, September 26, 11:15 am to 1:15 pm

The Berkeley Zen Center Development Committee invites you, your friends and your family to our annual fundraiser taking place Saturday September 26th from 11:15-1:15.  The fundraiser will have a photo booth (complete with costumes), sangha offerings ranging from a walk with Sojun to an improv and mime acting class, food, music and raffle prizes.   Raffle prizes include a $150 gift certificate to REI and a $150 gift certificate to Chez Panisse, as well as several other items.   All proceeds raised at the fundraiser will benefit our $25,000 building fund goal.

We are looking for about 8 volunteers to support us with set-up, food monitoring and clean-up. Please email me at if you’re able to help in any of those areas

Here are a few ways you can help!

  1. Attend the party on September 26th from 11:15-1:15
  • Enjoy free food, raffle prizes, a photobooth and sangha!
  1. Support raffle ticket sales
  • Purchase raffle tickets for yourself
  • Purchase raffle tickets as a gift for your friends
  1. Volunteer to support the event
  • Look for sign-ups on the bulletin board to help set-up, take-down and run the event
  1. Make a donation and designate it to The Building Fund
  • Every bit of support helps us reach our goal!

We hope to see many of you there!

“Song of Zazen” with Hozan Alan Senauke Sunday, September 6, 5:00am - 5:30pm

Hozan Alan Senauke will lead this year’s one-day study sesshin on Sunday, September 6 from 5:00 am to 5:30 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 Hakuin Zenji’s “Song of Zazen” / “Zazen Wasan.” This teaching poem by Hakuin Ekaku (1686 to 1769) in certain ways parallels Dogen Zenji’s “Fukanzazengi,” and is regularly chanted in Rinzai dojos.

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 Thursday September 3 in the donation slot in the laundry room door. For more information contact the sesshin director Gerry Oliva ( A sign-up sheet will be posted on the bulletin board in mid-August.

Women’s Sitting Sunday, September 20, 9:00am – 4:30pm

The annual BZC Women’s Sitting will be held this month on Sunday, September 20, beginning at 9:00am and ending at 4:30pm. It will include both a lecture and a discussion period led by Meghan Collins, a long time Lay Entrusted BZC practitioner. We will go at a relaxing pace with a mixture of 30 and 40 minute sitting periods, short AM and PM breaks, a silent bag lunch, and an afternoon tea break. Women of all levels of practice are encouraged to attend this special sesshin to explore our experience as female practitioners. Cost for the day is $25. (If you are unable to pay the full amount, contact the sesshin director to arrange a reduced fee.) The sign up sheet will be posted on the courtyard bulletin board in early September. For more information, please contact sesshin director, Gerry Oliva at sesshindirector or (510) 652-7217.