All posts by Laurie Senauke

Laurie started formal Zen practice in 1980 at San Francisco Zen Center; she worked at Greens restaurant back in the day, and lived at Tassajara for three years. In 1989 she married Hozan Alan Senauke, moved to Berkeley Zen Center, and raised their two children. After several years of intense focus on child-rearing, she gradually returned to more involvement in formal practice. She served as head student (shuso) at BZC in 2003 and received lay recognition in 2006. In April 2018, she received priest ordination from Daito Steven Weintraub as Kosei Nyokai – Radiant Vow, Suchness Ocean. In Fall 2018 she served as shuso at Tassajara. She practices hypnotherapy and has been co-leading “Write What You Don’t Know” retreats at San Francisco Zen Center.

Book Event with Ben Connolly

Imagination, Interdependence, and Liberation

Join BZC for a special event on Saturday, May 6, when we host Buddhist Teacher and Author Ben Connelly.  He will discuss is new book:  Vasubandhu’s “Three Natures”: A Practitioner’s Guide for Liberation.

Dive into this empowering approach to freedom from suffering and from harmful personal and social patterns—and find peace and joyfulness in the present.

In his new book, Vasubandhu’s “Three Natures,” a plain-English commentary, Ben Connelly shows the power of integrating early Buddhist psychology with the Mahāyāna emphasis on collective liberation. You’ll discover how wisdom from fourth-century India can be harnessed to heal and transform systems of harm within ourselves and our communities.You can find the book here:

Ben Connelly is a Soto Zen teacher and Dharma heir in the Katagiri lineage. He also teaches mindfulness in a wide variety of secular contexts including police training and addiction recovery groups. He works with multifaith groups focused on intersectional liberation, racial justice, and climate justice. Ben serves the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, travels to teach across the United States, has written for Tricycle and Lion’s Roar magazines, and is author of Inside the Grass Hut, Inside Vasubandhu’s Yogacara, Vasubandhu’s “Three Natures”, and Mindfulness and Intimacy.

Spring Practice Period 2023

The BZC 2023 Spring Practice Period is just around the corner – May 13 to June 25. This special time of deepening our practice will begin with the usual opening Sesshin, this year on Saturday, May 13, highlighted by the Shuso Entering Ceremony. Hozan has asked long time member Sue Oesher (Jumyo Seishin / Bright Pearl Pure Faith) to serve as Shuso, or Head Student alongside him for the six-week Practice Period. Preston Evers will take the position of Benji, or attendant during that time as the Jisha, arranging Sangha teas, and assisting Sue in various ways.

Below you will find links to the PARTICIPATION/COMMITMENT form and Practice Period CALENDAR. Please click on the form link and CHECK the various events you will attend either in person or online during this enriching time. These include your zazen intention on weekdays and Saturdays, the opening Sesshin, a Thursday night class with the Abbot, a zazen refresher with the Abbot, Bansan–tea/discussion with the Abbot, an all-Sangha workday, Shosan–Q & A with the Abbot, a Practice Period outdoor dinner, a group tea with the Shuso, practice discussion with a teacher or practice leader, the closing 5-day Sesshin, and the Shuso Ceremony.

Some events will have their own sign up forms, so watch for PRACTICE PERIOD emails on the list serve to participate in Sesshins, the class, the workday, and the practice period dinner. Each of us is encouraged to carefully consider our schedule and responsibilities as we decide what we can reasonably do. All are asked to check off zazen and event times, signing the form as a kind of contract, committing to what we intend to do. This offers a meaningful way for each of us to clarify our intention to ourselves. In this way, the Practice Period invites a unique opportunity to stretch one’s practice while supporting the Shuso as she encourages and inspires our practice as well.

Aspects Sesshin October 14

We invite you to join us for a One-Day Sesshin at Berkeley Zen Center, Saturday, October 14, from 6:00 AM to 5:30 PM. This sesshin will be led by Gerry Oliva, and will open our Fall Aspects of Practice Period.  (Please note the time change:  we will begin at 6:00 AM, and will include breakfast as well as lunch).
1.  Deadline to sign up is Noon on Thursday, October 12.  In-person attendance will be limited to 33 people.  Those who sign up after we reach the 33-person limit will be placed on a waiting list.
2. The sesshin also be offered online; you may sign up using the same link.

3. For all sesshin attendees, proof of vaccination and booster shots are required to participate.  Social distancing protocols will still be observed, but indoor masking is now optional (unless smokey conditions warrant a change).

4. Both breakfast and Lunch will be served in the zendo using a the traditional oryoki form.  To purchase a set of oryoki bowls, check our website for a link. An oryoki refresher class will occur during the second period of zazen.

5. We will have a short work period, so please bring work clothes you can change into.
6. Dokusan will be offered by Gerry Oliva and Laurie Senauke, for both in-person and online participants.
7. The sesshin fee is $25 for in-person attendees.  You may pay online, or you can send a check to BZC at:
Berkeley Zen Center
1931 Russell Street
Berkeley, CA 94703
Attention:  Office Manager, Helen Cheng
Additional donations may be made at
If you have questions, please contact the Sesshin Director, Rob Lyons at

Upcoming Class on Pali Suttas

“Enlightenment Stories from the Pali Canon,” taught by Laurie Senauke, will be offered on 3 Monday nights in August (8/7, 8/14, and 8/21) in the online zendo (only), from 7:15 to 8:45 pm.  Here’s the link to sign up.

The Pali Suttas are considered the earliest teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, memorized by the monks and passed on through word of mouth for several generations before being written down.

This body of literature includes many different kinds of teachings – one very accessible type is when the Buddha addresses lay people whom he meets serendipitously on his travels.  Some historical background will be presented, but the main time of the class will be reading the suttas (one per class) aloud and sharing our responses.

The suggested donation is $30, or whatever you can afford. Note that this class will be online only.