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BZC Tassajara Sangha Week 2 – September 2023

Every year the Tassajara Mountain Zen Center provides an opportunity for sanghas to practice together as part of the Guest Practice Program during the summer guest season. Teachers from Suzuki Roshi lineage can bring a group from 7 to 10 members including the teachers. Ikushin Gerry Oliva and Mary Duryee will be leading a study period this year from September 5 to 10.

The daily program includes 5:50 AM zazen, 6:50 service, 7:15 Soji (short work period, 7:30 breakfast with other guest students, 8:30 until noon work assignments, noon lunch with students. The rest of the day will be structured by each study group. We will join the guests for dinner and sit the final zazen period of the day.

The cost for this will be approximately $600 per week. We will plan to drive down together if possible. If we can’t drive all the way to Tassajara because of parking constraints, there is a stage from Carmel Valley to the Center for $65.00 round trip.

If you are interested in participating, please let us know by the end of April or earlier if you can commit to the week of Sept 5-10. If there are more than 8 people interested, we will do this by lottery. There will not be scholarships available for this event.

Contact Gerry Oliva at or Mary Duryee at if you would like more information or are interested in discussing your participation.

The Bag Lunch Project

The Bag Lunch Project began in response to the increasing numbers of homeless people on the streets as the pandemic hit in 2019. This fall we stopped offering lunches in downtown Berkeley because the good news is there has been an effort to house more and more folks. We have continued to make and deliver 20 bag lunches twice monthly to the Women’s Day­time Drop-In Center (WDDC) on Acton Street.

WDDC has worked with at-risk families for 30 years, presently serving an average of 150 women and children each month in a variety of ways. Our recent drive to collect umbrellas and ponchos for WDDC brought in generous dona­tions by many Sangha members. Thank you so much for your continued support. This, along with the support of the BZC Board, allows us to continue our very small project.

As the year draws to a close and you make your year-end contributions, please consider one to The Bag Lunch Project. You can do this by going to the BZC website’s “Generosity” page. Please note what your contribution is for. If need be, send a note to Helen, the office manager, at

If you would like to join The Bag Lunch Project, please send a note to Susan Marvin at We’d be happy to add you to the group!

—The Bag Lunch Project                                                                                                                                    (Preston, Mira, Tom, Penelope,
Maria Teresa, Laurie, Susan)

Chiden Orientation and Review

Please join head chiden Nancy Suib and Abbot Hozan for a chiden review and training in the zendo on Wednesday, February 22, 3:30‒5:00 p.m. This is a wonderful and fulfilling oppor­tu­nity to deepen your practice of mindfulness in attending to the aesthetics of the altar.

A deep bow to all past and present chidens for their service. We hope that you will join the new chidens, and members interested in becoming a chiden, for this orientation and review.
For further information, please contact Nancy (

Koan Study Group

Ryushin Andrea Thach, Ellen Webb, and Ron Nestor will be offering an ongoing koan study group beginning Wednesday, February 1. We’ll meet once a month on the first Wed­nesday evening from 7:15 to 8:45 p.m. We’ll be using The Book of Serenity translated by Thomas Cleary, as well as commentary on each case by Yamada Koan Roshi, a contemporary Zen teacher.

The Book of Serenity is the koan collec­tion most closely associated with the spirit of our Soto lineage. We have found these koans both compel­ling and difficult in their variety of tone, emphasis, and interpretation. The stories in them are based on actual Zen practi­tioners and teachers who mostly existed in the Tang dynasty (roughly 600‒900 A.D.). The Book of Serenity was created in the twelfth century by Hongzhi, who chose the koans to include and created a verse to accompany each one. Wansong provides commentary alongside the koans. His comments run the gamut from critical to humorous, and often seem quite modern. All the koans deal with nonduality in some way, but the devil is in the nuances and the details.

We’re aiming for something between a class and a dharma group. There will be no fee. We’re hoping that participants continue to show up because of their interest. We will start out on Zoom. An announcement and link will be available in the week before the first session, as well as an earlier reminder.

If you would like more information, please contact Ellen Webb (

             For Hakuryu Sojun’s Funeral  

            In the fall of 1964, 
            You entered the dawn zendo  
            With your artist’s fire 
            And the Kabbalistic eye of a seeker 
            Behind you Suzuki Roshi 
            Gently adjusted your posture 
            Leaning down to demonstrate the cosmic mudra

            And you were home  
            Fifty-six years later, now 
            You have left one home for another 
            Sojun who had been and still is Mel 
            Became a handful of fire 
            A dharma wind 
            And today I stand here 
            In the Green Dragon’s nest 
            A barefoot host to your teaching

            You taught me 
            To read the other side of the page 
            And to see Buddha in each being 
            To rely on no particular thing 
            Not even you 
            As you did, I rely on everything 
            You asked Suzuki Roshi, “What is Nirvana?”               
            He said, “Seeing one thing through to the end” 
                                   —Hozan Alan Senauke          
                                    Green Dragon Zen Temple 
                                    19 June 2022

For Shuso Enzan Chotoku Gary Artim Benji

With great congratulations
A clear and genuine voice
Issues from the shuso’s body
Enzan has scaled the mountain
Taking a straight path
To the heights
From which he pours the medicine of kindness
Into the lake of suffering
And now the round mountain
Rests atop the mountain seat
Mountain upon mountain