All posts by BZC News

Tea Time Turnover

Every Friday just before the afternoon zazen period, BZC welcomes members and friends for tea, tasty treats, and informal discussion. Weather permitting, we meet in the garden; otherwise, in the community room. Amaselu Meyer, who has graciously hosted these teas during the last four years, has handed off the baton. The Friday gatherings are now hosted by a rotating team of BZC senior students, and the new tea time is 5:00‒5:30 p.m. If you have any questions, please contact Ellen Webb at Better yet, simply show up and join us!

Oryoki Training

The next lesson in our formal meal procedures (“oryoki”) will be Saturday, May 4, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. (location to be announced). The one after that will be Saturday, June 1, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the zendo. If you would like to schedule another time to learn or fine-tune your oryoki practice, please contact Sue Oehser at or 510-339-0243 (voice only).

Briefer oryoki instruction is also offered before breakfast at all full Saturday morning programs, except during sesshins

No More Disposable Utensils

Over the years BZC has used different kinds of utensils at receptions and special events (Buddha’s Birthday, Jukai, Ordinations, etc.). The Practice Committee has discussed this issue many times and has now decided that the better course for the future is to get away from using any kind of disposable utensils (forks and spoons mostly). Even disposables that are called “compostable” are reportedly not currently viewed by the City of Berkeley as compostable waste. To avoid any confusion, and to support a sustainable future, we will in the future use washable metal utensils at special events. This is part of our commitment to reduce the amount of waste generally, and nonrecylable plastic in particular, as our planet begins to move away from plastic. Thanks for your cooperation in this matter.

Continuous Prayer Chant

How can we support sangha brothers and sisters who are about to have a surgery procedure, who are in recovery from an accident, who are undergoing a difficult health problem, or who are transitioning from this life? One possible loving action is to join with them by means of a continuous prayer chant (the En Mei Jukku Kannon Gyo) for the duration of the surgery, or in some situations, during a whole day. Persons who have received such prayer chants speak of feeling the sense of being held, contained in loving support and healing.

With the agreement of the abbots, the coordinator, and the Practice Committee, we are establishing this practice at BZC and hope that recipients of the continuous prayer chant find it supportive and healing.

Here is how it works: If someone would like to receive this support, they make a request through Penelope Luminous Heart Thompson, who is coordinating this new process. They give her the information and details that they wish to give about their condition and the amount of time that would be helpful. (For example, if a surgery is to last approximately two hours, the chanting could begin an hour or two earlier while the recipient is in pre-op, and could continue for another two hours post-op.)

Upon receiving this request and informa­tion, Luminous Heart will send out a signup sheet with half-hour slots in which people can add their names. The idea is to fill each of these slots, so there is continuous prayer and energy being sent.

This is a new process at BZC and is presented as an experiment, in the hope that members may find this experience healing during a challenging time in their lives.

Sojun’s Birthday, Save the Date! Saturday, July 20, 2019

On Saturday, July 20, after the Saturday pro­gram, we’ll have a party to celebrate Sojun’s 90th, and roll out some of the “deliverables” of our new “Many Hands History Project.” There will be plenty of food and music, and T-shirts (long-sleeved!) and aprons for sale.

Note that we’ll not be having the early part of the program that Saturday (though there will be informal zazen at 6:00 a.m.). Rather, we’ll start with work period at 8:30. Details will follow, including how you can help out for this celebration.

The BZC Board and the Development Commit­tee are hoping to raise $20,000 in 2019 for the “Many Hands” project, which includes digitizing early lecture tapes and organizing videos, photo­graphs, and all kinds of files and docu­ments. Members and friends will be getting a letter with more details in early June.

If you would like to preorder a T-shirt or apron, send an email, including your size (men’s sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL), to Laurie at



Half-Day Sitting Sunday, May 19, 2019, 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Please consider joining us for a half-day sitting on May 19. Half-day sittings are now happen­ing every other month. The schedule includes five periods of zazen, separated by kinhin. There is an informal tea break at about 10:00 a.m., and a short service at noon. These sittings are very quiet and an opportunity to have concentrated sitting practice.

Lay Ordination Saturday, June 15, 2019, 3:00 pm

This year’s Zaike Tokudo (Lay Ordination Ceremony) will take place Saturday, June 15, at 3:00 p.m. in the zendo. Alex Roehrkasse will receive lay ordination from Sojun Roshi. Ellen Levin will receive lay ordination from Hozan Sensei. Congratu­lations in advance to the ordinees, who have been studying and sewing diligently with our sewing teacher, Jean Selkirk. Everyone is encouraged to attend the ceremony and the reception afterwards. Check the zendo bulletin board for details, and please sign up to assist with preparation and cleanup.

Sangha Work Day June 9, 2019, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

Save the date and join us for our all-sangha workday on June 9, 8:00‒4:00. The day will open with coffee and pastries, then zazen from 8:15 to 8:40, work circle at 8:45, with work starting at 9:00. Then lunch provided by our tenzos from noon until work circle at 12:45, winding up with informal zazen 3:45‒4:00.

Come and join the fun festivities and seeds that always accompany our sangha work!

Holocaust Remembrance Saturday, May 4, 2019, 1:00 pm

Annette Herskovits, a BZC member and Holocaust survivor, recently lost her older brother, who, after their parents’ deportation to Auschwitz, helped Annette and her sister elude capture by the Nazis. She will offer a remembrance of him at BZC on Saturday, May 4 at 1:00 p.m. in the zendo, including some of his own words in letters about his experience.  We are at the end of an era, as witnesses of the Holocaust pass away. This presentation will serve both as a memorial to a warm and happy family destroyed by genocidal madness and a chance for Annette to appreciate her brother’s life and their relationship.