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Special Speaker – Rev Ikeda from Japan

BZC welcomes Rev. Kosai Ikeda offering a dharma talk on “Practicing the Buddha Way Wherever and Whenever.” Rev. Ikeda comes to us as a “special dispensation teacher” from Soto Zen headquarters in Japan. He graduated from College of San Mateo, trained at Eiheiji, and is currently abbot of Kenryu-ji temple in Yamagata prefecture. For the last fifteen years he has been serving as a Buddhist chaplain of the local correctional facility, helping inmates with their rehabilitation and re-entry programs. Rev. Ikeda has also been teaching kendo, the way of the sword, to high school students in his region. He writes: It is a great honor for me to visit temples overseas for the first time on behalf of the head priest of Soto Zen school in Japan. I hope you will kindly accept me as a sangha friend who shares the same aspiration. I will certainly do my very best to share my talk in English but, admittedly, it would take our mutual effort, patience, imagination, open mind, and kindness to share the deep meaning of the talk. I hope we can make the most of this opportunity as a practice opportunity for each other and learn from each other. Read More

Many Communities, One Sangha – Sign Up Now

We are happy to invite all BZC members to participate in the next year of Many Communities, One Sangha, including those who have already taken part in the first session and would like to continue.  The program is offered in hybrid form (both online and in person).  There is a fee of $150 for new participants, which is the actual cost of the materials.  Returning participants are encouraged to provide dana (voluntary donation) for Rhonda’s work with us.  No one will be excluded because of inability to pay or donate.

The link to the form to sign up is:

The program consists of one meeting a month over ten months:  five meetings with Rhonda, on Saturday afternoon after our usual program with all participants, alternating with five meetings in smaller discussion groups.  While the materials will be the same as those for the first year, we are folding in the suggestions gathered during the first year to streamline and place emphasis on participation and discussion. Each meeting is two to two-and-a-half hours.  Outside reading and watching video segments are additional time commitments of about 5 hours (or less) a month.

We are delighted to announce that Prof. Rhonda Magee will continue to work with us for the coming year 2023-2024.  Rhonda is a lay entrusted teacher in the Soto Zen lineage and law professor at UCSF Law School.  She is the author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities through Mindfulness.  This is an extraordinary opportunity to come together, to listen, learn, and find a spacious venue for conversations that can be difficult.  The accompanying materials were developed in coordination between East Bay Meditation Center and the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, led by Mushim Ikeda, Crystal Johnson, and Rhonda Magee.

Questions or difficulties with the form?  Contact Mary Duryee,

Questions about the program? Contact Sonia Tamez, or Mary Duryee.

The MCOS coordinating committee:  Karen Sundheim, Heather Sarantis, Luminous Heart, Judy Fleischman, Gerry Oliva, Mary Duryee

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 (