All posts by Troy DuFrene

Friday Tea Time

Every Friday at 5:00‒5:30 p.m. (just before the afternoon zazen period) BZC welcomes members and friends for tea, tasty treats, and informal discussion, hosted by a rotating team of BZC senior students. Weather permitting, we meet in the garden; otherwise, in the community room.

Oryoki Training

I invite you to take advantage of the next oryoki training, especially before Aspects of Practice. I will be offering it Saturday, September 21, and Saturday, October 19, either in the zendo or in the community room, from 11:30 to 12:15 after morning program, or by appoint­ment. Please contact me, Sue Oehser, at (510) 339-0243 (voice, not text), or text (510) 541-3264, or for questions or to arrange another time to meet.

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

Walkway Upgrading

BZC volunteers joined together in August to rebuild the brick walkway alongside the zendo wheelchair ramp. The walk was widened to 36” and flattened out, to make it easier for people using wheelchairs and walkers to move smoothly into the zendo. Thanks to Ross Blum, Cheryl Gordon, Matt Haug, Rob Lyons, Susan Marvin, Ron Nestor, Alex Senauke, Laurie Senauke, and Lance Shows for their contributions!


On October 12 LifeSaver CPR will offer a class on CPR and the use of our AED unit. The class will be held in the zendo from 1:00 to 2:30. BZC has used LifeSaver CPR before, and participant response has been overwhelmingly positive. Participants will receive CPR certification, which is valid for two years.

This is a wonderful way to help ensure the well-being and safety of our sangha members.

The class has been funded by BZC and is free for all BZC members and friends, although dana of $40 is suggested to help offset the cost of the class.

To take the class, you need to do two things: (1) sign up on the patio bulletin board with your email address, and (2) send an email to Health & Safety Coordinator Jake Van Akkeren ( so that he can send an email link for you to complete your registration online with LifeSaver CPR. The online registration process is required by LifeSaver CPR. The sign-up sheet will be posted by September 10.

The sign-up deadline is October 2. A minimum of ten participants is required to hold the class, and class size is capped at 24.

Sangha Support Network: List Renewal and Updating

The Sangha Support Network email list needs to be rebuilt, due to a computer glitch that deleted many people off the list. Whether you’ve been on the email list all along, or are interested in joining for the first time, please email me at with your name and email address and I’ll put you (back) on the list. And please be sure to add me to your email Contacts list so my emails don’t land in your spam folder!

For those of you unfamiliar with the Sangha Support Network, here’s what it is:

When a sangha member needs temporary assistance or support, usually due to a medical issue, we recruit members to help out. Assist­ance may include driving to an appointment, doing errands, preparing a meal, helping in the home, or assisting with child or pet care. Support may include visiting someone at home or in the hospital, providing caregiver relief, or providing emotional support.

Requests for assistance are generally infrequent, and you will never be expected to respond unless the spirit moves you. Even if you doubt you’ll ever have time to volunteer, you can be on the email list just in case someday a request feels like the right thing for you to take on. Nobody is ever asked to help out more than they’re comfortable doing.

Here is what one sangha member who received help from the Sangha Support Network (and who subsequently has volunteered to help others) wrote about that experience:

“Thanks for organizing this. This is a deeply important job for all of us—both by making help available to those who need it and also by making the jobs okay/manageable for people to do them. I received monumental amounts of help. . . . It’s such a special skill to be able to offer the opportunity to help to the degree one is comfortable and to stop or draw lines when that feels appropriate. That kind of thing is so hard to manage when the person needing help has to ask people directly. . . . Sangha Support provides all of us a great service: Those who need assistance can get it; those who want to help others but are not comfortable signing on for open-ended situations, can offer specific and limited help.”

Liz Horowitz, coordinator
Laurie Senauke, assistant coordinator

Lay Entrustment

In the quiet dawn hours of July 22, 2019, a Lay Entrustment ceremony was held for Seishi Tetsudo Ross Blum and Sentei Kokyo Susan Marvin, performed by Sojun Roshi and Hozan Sensei. The ceremony was a recognition of two seasoned practitioners’ commitment and deep understanding of the Dharma. Ross and Susan received green rakusus and each gave a short talk and responded to formal questions. Here are some words from our new Lay Entrustees:

Ross: “Having finally gone through this bamboo tube I feel I can both rest in the stillness of this acknowledgment and trust Sojun Roshi has bestowed, and continue the activity of supporting our temple in the myriad forms available to us.”

Susan: “I very much appreciate practicing with Sojun and our Sangha through thick and thin. May we continue to practice together with heart and humor and continuous effort.”

Walk to Feed the Hungry

BZC is pleased to be one of the hosts for this year’s Walk to Feed the Hungry, organized by Buddhist Global Relief, a worldwide social welfare project begun in 2007 by Bhikkhu Bodhi. The Berkeley date is Saturday after­noon, October 5. Please register, donate, and join us for the whole march, or come and greet the marchers at BZC around 3:00 p.m.

Registration is from 12:00 noon to 12:45 p.m. at Dharma College, 2222 Harold Way, Berkeley, near the downtown Berkeley Post Office. The walk (2.5 miles) will begin at 1:00 p.m. We will stop for rest, refreshment, and brief presentations at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple and Berkeley Zen Center, then return to Dharma College, concluding about 4:30.

For information and registration, or to make a donation, see: or contact Dhammadipa Konin Cardenas:


Sejiki is a popular Buddhist festival that highlights the connection between our world and the worlds of spirits. At BZC, we offer it as a sort of Buddhist Halloween. The ceremony is a mixture of spooky and solemn—there will be costumes and noisemakers, but we will also recite the names of departed friends and family and make offerings to appease our own hungry ghosts. This year’s Sejiki ceremony will be held on Saturday, October 26. To allow preparation time for the ceremony, we will not be having early morning zazen or breakfast. Instead, we will begin with a work period at 8:30 a.m. to prepare our temple for the cere­mony. The formal program will start with zazen at 9:40, followed by a short lecture and the ceremony at 10:15.

Both children and adults are encouraged to participate, to wear costumes and bring noise-makers. If you bring your children, please come directly to the zendo at 10:15 as there is no childrens’ program prior to that time. Please direct any questions about the childrens’ participation to Hannah Meara at For more information about the program, please contact Carol Paul at or (510) 206-5051. You can also give Carol names of departed ones to be recited during the ceremony of whom we might not be aware, or if you will not be able to attend.

Jizo Ceremony

The loss of a loved one often opens a well of profound grief. No matter how the loved one dies, suddenly or slowly, whether through illness, accident, violence, miscarriage, abortion, or suicide, our sorrow is deep and may be long-lasting. To help families and friends in their process of grief, we will honor our lost loved ones in a ceremony in our Jizo garden on Saturday, October 12, 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Jizo, the Earth Store Bodhisattva, one of the four great bodhisattvas in the Mahayana school, is viewed as a wise and compassionate guide and protector for those who are endur­ing the loss of a loved one, particularly the loss of a child. Jizo’s vow is to remain in the world until all beings are free from suffering. She/he accompanies the dead when they pass out of this world.

Before the ceremony we will spend time in the community room making a personal memorial token for a lost one, by writing a message or by making a simple necklace, a robe for our garden Jizo statue, or some other offering. Attendees are also invited to bring a picture of their loved one or other personal tokens of remembrance for our altar.

The ceremony will be led by two BZC priests, Gerry Oliva and Judy Fleischman. All BZC members, members of other Zen groups, and neighborhood residents are invited to attend. A more detailed description will be posted on the BZC courtyard bulletin board. There is no fee, but offerings of dana are welcome. We will not have a sign-up sheet, but request that those attending let us know in advance so that we can have adequate supplies and refreshments. For more information or to let us know that you’re coming, contact Gerry Oliva at or (510) 652-7217.

Sangha Potluck & Nominations Meeting

All BZC members and friends are invited to attend our semi-annual potluck and sangha meeting on Tuesday, September 24, 6:30 p.m. In addition to celebrating fellowship, the Board will present the nominees for the three members-at-large Board positions that begin January 2020.

We will also accept additional nominations during the meeting. If you would like to nomi­nate someone, please do two things: obtain their permission prior to the meeting, and let Ed Herzog (chair of the Nominations and Elections Committee) know in advance.

A great deal of care, time, and commitment has been put into the nominating process to make it as fair and unbiased as possible.