About BZC

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

The Center was established in 1967 by the late Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, with the help of his student Mel Weitsman.

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 in his most recent book, Branching Streams Flow in the Dark, continues to be a touchstone and inspiration for all our efforts.

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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 priests, lay students and children. Our general membership numbers more than a hundred, most living in Berkeley and the surrounding area. We are supported by the dues, donations, andstrong work practice of members and friends who come from all walks of life and different age groups.

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 Centerthe 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.

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Training & Study

Along with daily zazen, there are other opportunities for practice and study at BZC. Zazen instruction is given each Saturday morning.

Introductory classes and training are offered for new people, as well as weekly classes on Buddhist subjects year round. Each month there is an intensive meditation period of one day, as well as regular half-day sittings. 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, in the fall there is a month long practice period, “Aspectsof Practice,” meant to introduce and refresh the forms and basics of practice for new and older members.
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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.


Formal practice interviews, or Dokusan, are available with Sojun Roshi or the Hozan Alan Senauke. Those practicing regularly at BZC are also encouraged to meet with other senior students for practice discussion. This is another way we share our inquiry and understanding, and deepen our relationship with our teachers.