Berkeley Zen Center is a place where people practice zazen together daily, with the support of the community and its guiding teachers.
Zazen—meditation, or sitting in stillness—is the center of our practice, following and adapting the traditions of Soto Zen Buddhism. At BZC our everyday activity, as it extends from zazen, is the field where practice finds its full expression.
Warm Hand to Warm Hand
Berkeley Zen Center was established in 1967 by our late teachers Sojun Mel Weitsman Roshi and Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.
Suzuki Roshi came to San Francisco from Japan in 1959, and in the following years founded San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery. He died in 1971, having successfully planted the seeds of Zen in the California soil. The warmhearted teaching of Suzuki Roshi as recorded in his well-known book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, and other books continues to be a touchstone and inspiration for our efforts.
Hakuryu Sojun Mel Weitsman began his practice with Suzuki Roshi in San Francisco in 1964, and was encouraged to start a Zen practice place in Berkeley a few years later. Berkeley Zen Center moved into a beautiful old house on Dwight Way in 1967, building a zendo in the attic where a daily practice of zazen was established. Sojun Roshi passed away in January of 2021 at the age of 91.
The current Abbot, Hozan Alan Senauke Sensei, was a student of Sojun Roshi for nearly forty years. He has lived at the Center since 1985, raising two children there with his wife Laurie Senauke.
In September of 1979 Berkeley Zen Center moved to its present location on Russell Street, where a new zendo was constructed and officially named Shogakuji, in honor of Shogaku Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.
There is a small residential community living at the Center, which includes lay students and priests. Our general membership numbers more than a hundred practitioners, most living in Berkeley and the surrounding area. We are supported by the dues, donations, and strong work practice of members and friends, who come from all walks of life.
We offer this Affirmation of Welcome: Walking the path of liberation, we express our intimate connection with all beings. Welcoming diversity, here at Berkeley Zen Center the practice of zazen is available to people of every race, nationality, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and physical ability. May all beings realize their true nature.
Training & Study
Along with daily zazen, there are other opportunities for practice and study at BZC. Zazen instruction is given each Saturday morning.
Several times a year there are longer sittings, called sesshin, that last two, five, or seven days. Each spring we have a six-week practice period, where students can intensify their daily meditation in community study and work. Additionally, each fall there is a month-long practice period, “Aspects of Practice,” introducing and refreshing the forms and basics of practice for new and older members.
If you have been sitting at BZC for a few months and wish to contribute regularly to support the practice, we encourage you to become a member of Berkeley Zen Center. Please speak with one of the practice leaders or with the contact person identified at Saturday lecture to discuss membership and receive an application. More information about membership
FFormal and informal practice interviews/dokusan, are available with abbot Hozan Sensei. Those sitting regularly at BZC are also strongly encouraged to meet with other teachers and practice leaders. This is an important way we can share our inquiry and understanding, and deepen relationships with our teachers.