We will have a one-day sesshin on Saturday, August 6, from 7:50 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You can participate either in person (enrollment limited to 30 people) or via Zoom. For further information, please contact sesshin director Rob Lyons (firstname.lastname@example.org), and check the BZC website for updates.
On August 14 we will have an in-person half-day sitting from 8:00 a.m. to noon. For further information, or to sign up, please contact Mark Copithorne (510-703-5465 or email@example.com).
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
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 —Hozan
When Hozan first asked if I would be the Benji for this practice period, my initial response was one of hesitation. The invitation brought up doubting mind. As an introvert, and also dealing with various health issues, I wasn’t certain that I would be able to do all that this position required.
After discussing this with Hozan and some former Benjis, and trying to practice “don’t know mind” and “responding to what’s being asked” to support and nurture our sangha, I said yes.
While I didn’t know our shuso Gary Artim very well, it became immediately clear after meeting with him at Saul’s Deli that this was going to be a great opportunity to get to know him, and that we could mutually support each other.
Gary and I discussed various possibilities of tea schedules, what was needed, and how I could best support him during this time. He graciously offered to add the online schedule components so that the sangha could respond.
Having the teas with the sangha offered a more intimate opportunity to serve and to feel more connected with the sangha as a whole; especially since we had not met in person for more than two years.
The other part of the position that initially gave me pause was writing the Benji poem. My wife Karen Sundheim is the poet in our family, and with her encouragement and advice, and meeting with Luminous Heart, the poem began to arise organically.
Doing the five-day sesshin completely, culminating in the Shuso Hossen, was another practice opportunity to be with the sangha; allowing body and mind to drop away. Being in the zendo again, following our breath, kinhin, chanting, studying the koan of the Whole World Is Medicine, and having delicious daily lunches prepared by our awesome tenzos Laurie and Susan, was enlivening and full of joy.
Deep gratitude to Abbot Hozan and to everyone who assisted, gave support, and practiced together.
Keyboard clicks Basketballs bounce A full court press Our Shuso Enzan Chotoku Round Mountain, Clear Genuine Showers us with his kind heart and sincere practice At Old Plum Mountain we once again gather Body to body Heart to heart The mourning doves, east and west call to us Wake up Take a breath Settle in Can you hear it? Medicine and disease subdue each other: The whole world is medicine; What is your self? Circling, Circling Where do you land? Now let us hear the Shuso —Mitsuko Myojun Nancy Suib June 12, 2022
Ring the bells, beat the drum, clang the cymbals, chant the Ten Names of Buddha and to them add the name Hakuryo Sojun Mel Weitsman Daisoho—White Dragon/Essence of Purity. At last, eighteen months after Sojun’s death on January 7, 2021, we have performed the appropriate Zen rites to honor his passing into the realm of Buddhas and ancestors gone before. Although according to Sojun Roshi and all enlightened beings there is truly no coming and going, no birth and death, still we offer rituals and ceremonies that mark transition and allow us to touch the depths of our gratitude, our joy in encountering a teacher like Sojun, and our grief at his seeming departure. Even today I find myself looking out my kitchen window toward his office, which is now my office, to see if he might be down there, so I can knock on his door and sit down to talk. On the weekend of June 18 and 19, with the support of so many good friends at Berkeley Zen Center, San Francisco Zen Center, and the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center, two funerary ceremonies were held for Sojun Roshi. It is a Zen tradition to have an intimate convocation of family and students the night before the more formal funeral. Taiya nenju—which means, roughly, “prayer on the funeral eve”—was attended by thirty-five people in the zendo and a like number online. For taiya and the funeral itself, the family and a teacher’s disciples serve as mourners. Reviewing his notes from Suzuki Roshi’s long-ago funeral, Tenshin Anderson Roshi described us a “barefoot hosts,” humbly dressed, with no footwear. Since family and disciples were mourners, we were fortunate to have Rev. Meiya Honshu Wender from Green Gulch serve as the taiya officiant. Meiya performed her simple tasks beautifully, honoring her long connection with Sojun through many practice periods at Tassajara and Green Gulch, going back more than thirty-five years. After initial offerings, chanting the Ten Names of Buddha, the Sandokai, and Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, heartfelt words to and about Sojun Roshi were offered by Rev. Hozan Alan Senauke, Rev. Denkei Raul Moncayo, Ross Blum, Rev. Mary Mocine, Rev. Ryushin Andrea Thach, Rev. Gerry Oliva, Karen Sundheim, and Ron Nestor. (We are presently collecting and transcribing the BZC and Green Gulch statements to share with Sojun’s students.) As we stepped out of the zendo that evening, there was a lingering golden light and stillness in the air, a feeling that matched the depth and intimacy of our love for Sojun. * * * The next day, Green Gulch Farm hosted Sojun Roshi’s long-delayed funeral. One hundred twenty of us gathered in person, observing careful masking and vaccination protocols in the Green Dragon zendo. Another hundred fifty guests watched online. At 2:45 the great bonsho’s deep tones called us together, and in a solemn procession disciples chanted the names of Buddha while circumambulating the temple, carrying Sojun’s ashes, portrait, robes, and his personal teaching implements. These things were carefully placed on the altar, along with offerings of incense, sweet water, green tea, and dharma words—hogo—composed by officiants Konjin Godwin Roshi of Houston Zen Center and Gengo Akiba Roshi, the Soto Zen bishop of North America. With stately drama, Tenshin Anderson Roshi—the chief officiant and dharma companion of Sojun Roshi for nearly sixty years, including their co-abbacy of San Francisco Zen center in the late 80s and 90s—drew a torch in a great circle of fire, which as principal disciple, I mirrored with a second flaming torch, symbolizing the burning up of Sojun’s residual karma and his fearless entry into the boundless realm of death beyond the particularity of life. This was followed by Tenshin Roshi’s moving tribute to Sojun’s teaching. As in the previous evening at BZC, a small number of family, friends, and disciples were invited to share the heart of Sojun Roshi’s dharma as each experienced him after many years of practice together. There were brief presentations by Liz Horowitz, Hoitsu Suzuki Roshi, Susan Marvin, Doug Greiner, Rev. Paul Haller, Rev. Shosan Vicki Austin. Each person’s words were unique and personal, each conveyed Sojun’s joy and complete confidence in our Zen way that, day by day, year by year, he transmitted to us. The ceremony was completed with sutra chanting, dedication of merit, and bows of appreciation to the three officiants. Both Saturday and Sunday ceremonies concluded with an opportunity for all those present to offer incense and pay their respects to Sojun Roshi. While they came forward, a lovely recorded passage from Bach, with Sojun Roshi playing recorder and Nick Bertani on cello, filled the air. * * * So many hands from our “beloved community” went into these once-in-a-lifetime ceremonies. Bows of gratitude to Liz Horowitz; to our officiants Rev. Tenshin Reb Anderson, Rev. Gengo Akiba, Rev. Konjin Gaelyn Godwin, Rev. Furyu Schroeder, and Rev. Meiya Wender; to Rev. Ejo McMullen, Rev. Ryoko Miyazaki, Rev. Taiga Ito, and Rev. Dokan Kojima from the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center; to Jiryu Rutschman-Byler and the Green Gulch/Green Dragon Temple staff; and to Mary Duryee, Marie Hopper, Gerry Oliva, and the tireless Berkeley Zen Center sangha. —Hozan For Hakuryu Sojun’s Funeral
“Many Communities, One Sangha: Exploring the Realities of Equity and Inclusion” is a curriculum which guides an inquiry for us, in small groups, to articulate our values and explore our desires and ways to implement the goals we determine together. It is not a top-down training, but rather a grassroots program designed to help us decide together how we proceed. The principal teachers of the curriculum are Mushim Ikeda, Rhonda Magee, and Crystal Johnson, who many of you may know.
Rhonda Magee, one of the program’s developers, will be providing experiential opportunities to acquire and practice the skills we have learned. Prof. Magee is also the author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness. She is a Dharma Holder in the Soto tradition.
Participants must sign up by September 15, 2022 and commit to two hours a month over 11 months. This will consist of five sessions of videos, readings, and small, ongoing group discussions, alternating with five sessions with Rhonda Magee. We hope to have in-person meetings, without excluding those who are participating from a distance, through a hybrid option. The cost is $150 per person, with scholarships and a sliding scale. Participation limit is 30 people (the number we can fit in- person in the zendo). If demand exceeds capacity, we will offer it again.
Here is the link to sign-up:
If you have questions about the program, contact Karen Sundheim (firstname.lastname@example.org); Sonia Tamez (510-502-1425); or Gerry Oliva (email@example.com). If you have any questions about signing up, contact Mary Duryee (firstname.lastname@example.org). More info will be on the website.
—Mary Duryee, on behalf of the culture change committee (Judy Fleischman, Hanna Meara, Gerry Oliva, Hozan Alan Senauke, Mauro Sifuentes, Karen Sundheim, Sonia Tamez, and Penelope Thompson).
Please join Nancy Friedberg and Nancy Suib (co-head chidens) and Hozan Roshi for a chiden review and training in the zendo on Wednesday, October 19, 3:30‒5:00 p.m.
This is a wonderful and fulfilling opportunity to deepen your practice of mindfulness and the aesthetic in attending to the altar.
A deep bow to all the past and present chidens for their service. We hope that you will join the new chidens and members interested in becoming a chiden for an orientation and review.
During this last season, BZC received two extremely generous anonymous donations of $25,000 each. We are astonished and delighted; we offer deep bows to these unknown benefactors. These gifts give us an ample “prudent reserve” which can support upcoming projects (now in the planning stages) to enhance our ventilation and sanitation. Thank you!