Welcome to BZC

Our Abbot Returns

Hozan returned home to BZC Tuesday, June 18.  A small group of members and residents greeted him in a quietly joyous moment which almost seemed to downplay the miracle of it. Perhaps the steadiness with which the practice has been continued by members and held by leadership, and the apparent easy constancy modeled by Laurie, Alex and Silvie —  all could invite an underestimation of the momentous aspect of this homecoming, and its meaning for the Berkeley Zen Center.

Just to recap and remember:  Hozan was hospitalized December 27, 2023, and within less than 24 hours was in a coma brought on by a heart event.  He remained in a coma for nearly four weeks, beginning to awaken around January 21, 2024.  For a sustained period following that it was not clear, as someone said, ‘who would wake up, finally.’  Increasingly, day by day, we recognized him as the person we always knew.  Yet for many months it was not clear when he would be able to return physically, in a recovery process that was painstakingly slow – two steps forward and one step back.

People from all over the world tracked his progress on CaringBridge over the last six months.  An astonishing number of visits were made to the site:  90,370 to date, from over a thousand registered visitors.  Many, many people sat at his bedside, literally and in spirit, representing friends from many communities – his world of activism, his world of music, his school friends from elementary school through college, his Dharma teaching communities.

Over time it became apparent that his Dharma-focused mind was completely functioning. He kept up to date with sangha matters and weighed in on important decisions.  On June 1 he gave his first Dharma talk during a Saturday program since the hospitalization.  There were 140+ people online and a full zendo, listening to a talk titled  “Avalokiteshvara’s Thousand Hands and Eyes.”

There are still milestones ahead.  He has a long recovery in terms of his physical capabilities, and will continue physical therapy at home.  He also will have daily nursing attendants, and two visits a week to a dialysis center.  He plans to resume sitting zazen.

In the fashion of our practice, the process of adjustment to this transition and the process of recovery, is one step at a time, meeting each moment. Rather than having a plan that covers every base, there are multilayered back-up plans, with adjustments as the situation changes.

Meantime, we celebrate the presence of our Abbot, whose main state stated concern is sangha harmony, and whose presence is now much more readily available to all.

Upcoming Sittings and Sesshins

Join us for a Zazenkai on Sunday, July 21, from 8am to 4pm.
A Zazenkai is a special day of sitting in silence and stillness. We offer two each year at Berkeley Zen Center.  This Zazenkai will be led by senior student Karen Sundheim.  The suggested donation is $15.
For more details and to sign up, click on this link:
The registration form consists of a few pages.  If you reach a ‘Thank you for registering!’ message, your registration has been successfully recorded.  If you don’t see this message, please be in touch with Helen.
Please contact Helen Cheng at mankattan@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

Saturday, August 10, we will have a one- day sitting from 5:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Break- fast and lunch will be served oryoki style in the zendo. Suggested donation is $35. Sign-up forms will be on the website in late July. If you have any questions, please contact the director, Mark Copithorne, at copithorne@hotmail.com.