Category Archives: Dharma

Looking Back, Stepping Forward

Welcome to 2023 and the turning of the season, the return of light. What will come our way this year is unknown. The pandemic still wanders at will; its course is uncertain and compels us to stay flexible in so many of our activities.
The last three years—marked by the pandemic and by Sojun Roshi’s illness and death—have spurred us to let go of customary patterns and plans, to adapt, to bow to grief and loss, even as we move forward.The Berkeley Zen Center sangha seems to be adept at making these changes. I think this is the deepest legacy of our late teacher: in the spirit of zazen simply to be a true community, a beloved community; to remain flexible and capable of an appropriate response as conditions continually change.
I am now about two years on as BZC’s second abbot. While I had a very long apprenticeship as tanto and vice-abbot, nothing I had previously encountered prepared me for the changes we have had to reckon with. I want to emphasize that I have never felt alone or overburdened by the zigs and zags of the Covid years. Senior students, residents, and long-time practitioners carry so much of the day-to day responsibilities of our temple life. I am deeply grateful to all. As for Sojun, he spent fifty years preparing us to meet uncertainty, even to welcome it. He showed us how to lean into zazen practice and cultivate ordinary mind.
Over the last years, I feel I’ve been mainly trying to support the practice and community. Not everyone agrees about what this should look liked. Should our Covid protocols be looser or tighter? Should we return to our prepandemic schedule more quickly? Are we at risk of losing the practice legacy carefully crafted by Sojun over many years? As a community, how should we be responding to a societal call for a deeper commitment to equity and inclusion? There are other questions.
My response to such issues has been to listen deeply and hear the inner voices of Sojun and our ancestors. To be patient and nonreactive, to try and see the other side of things. When possible, to take the time to build consensus for major decisions. Honoring these principles, much of my energy has necessarily been focused on administration and organizational process. In the coming year I plan to get help sharing these tasks. I’ll say more about this early in the year.
If I can share some of the administrative responsibilities, I’ll have more time as abbot to focus on the dharma. I’d like to do more teaching and studying with people. This would include classes, informal teas, ongoing study groups, etc. Starting in January I will expand my dokusan hours online and in-person. It is important for us to train and refresh the Soto Zen forms, which include basic zendo activity and comportment, the proper way to do various service positions, how to chant, how to bow, and so on.
The practice we have inherited is always a work-in-progress. Many of us have seen small shifts over the years. Like Sojun, I prefer to make changes slowly, honoring what our ancestors carefully carried here from China and Japan. Then the pandemic drove us out of the zendo we love and into the unexpected and challenging land of Zoom. Now, as the pandemic’s effects are more diffuse, we have had to create a “hybrid” practice—in-person and online—which is very challenging.
What next? We don’t know, but we do know how to practice together. On that ground, which is the meeting place of faith and action, I believe we will step forward from the top of a hundred-foot pole.

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 (

Three Aspects of Practice

Some years ago Sojun Roshi invited me to lead a fall practice intensive that we have come to call Aspects of Practice, which focuses on the basics of our Zen Buddhist tradition. With the partnership of senior students, we created this month-long program, which served well as a point of entry for newer students and as a kind of refresher for more experienced practitioners.
This fall’s Aspects of Practice begins on September 10, continuing through October 9, led by Karen Sundheim and other practice leaders. Details can be found elsewhere in this newsletter. But in this space, I’d like to review three essential “aspects” of our dharma practice: daily zazen, meeting with a teacher, studying the Dharma.
When Suzuki Roshi came from Japan to be the priest at Sokoji, the Soto Zen temple in San Francisco, he established a practice of daily zazen that we maintain more than sixty years later. His disciple Sojun moved to Berkeley and followed much the same practice. As we have done for fifty years, BZC is open for sitting six days a week. We strongly encourage people to come to the zendo, sit together, and share a daily practice. Taking into account members’ work and family lives, everyone cannot come to the zendo every day, but the doors are always open. Sitting side by side we sustain each other naturally, and we come to a wonderful intimacy of practice.
The Covid pandemic compelled us to create new modes of online zazen that are not our traditional body-to-body zendo practice. But Zoom has served us pretty well these last few years, even if it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But now we are back in the zendo early mornings, afternoons, and Saturdays. I want to encourage you to resume our long-standing in-person practice. Join us. Those of us who have returned to BZC feel refreshed and encouraged again by the opportunity to sit zazen together. This is the shining heart of the Sangha treasure.
The second element of our practice is meeting with a teacher. When I came to BZC in the early 80s, there was an implicit expectation of meeting regularly with a teacher. Back then, our only teacher was Sojun, but in time, students’ maturity and understanding have deepened. Now we have a roster of practice leaders and teachers who are available as guides, as mirrors, as dharma friends or kalyanamitra. This is the Buddha treasure. A teacher as Buddha reveals that you yourself are Buddha. A practice leader or teacher doesn’t dispense wisdom or give out answers to our difficulties. She or he or they help us to stand on our own feet, to find our own inborn wisdom.
As abbot, I welcome the opportunity to meet with people—formally or informally. My dokusan signup for meeting face-to-face during morning zazen is just to the right of the zendo door. To schedule an online meeting with me, see this link: or contact me at Also, if you scroll down the “Teachers” page on the BZC website, there are email addresses to contact all of our practice leaders:
Studying the Dharma is the third treasure. In the broadest sense, zazen is our principal study. As Dogen Zenji writes in Genjokoan: “To study the buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things.” In zazen, we sit still and allow the myriad things—which are the ever-changing elements of our “self”—to arise and to fall away. To complement this experiential study, we immerse ourselves in the teachings of Suzuki Roshi, Sojun Roshi, and our luminous ancestors in Japan, China, and India, going back to Shakyamuni Buddha. Their words and actions illuminate our own lives. During the upcoming Aspects of Practice, we’ll explore the Buddha’s Eightfold Path, a timeless map for living found in his very first teaching.
These three dimensions of practice create a whole, each including all the others. Each of us must find the right balance for the circumstances of our life. May the journey be complete.


Circle of Women Ancestors

At our Jukai ceremony last fall, I spoke briefly about the Women Ancestors document that Gerry Oliva and I gave to all the ordinees. This lovely document honors broadly the women ancestors—known and unknown—who have nurtured the Dharma from its earliest days down to the present. The document was created by members of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, based on considerable research and creativity.

After our Jukai, several BZC members expressed interest in receiving this document. I would like to offer this widely to all women and men who have received Jukai or priest ordination. The document, which centers on the elegant circle pictured below, will be personalized for you, with your birth and dharma names, signed and sealed. I hope that we can offer these in a ceremony and celebra­tion in the next few months.

If you would like to receive this document, please send a note, including your dharma name, to my new assistant Jonathan Koltz ( If you have any questions, please write me directly.


Practice Period

In Dogen Zenji’s Eihei Koroku this is recorded: “Dogen held up his whisk, and with it drew a circle in the air. He said, ‘Practice period goes beyond this.’ ”

For more than thirty years Berkeley Zen Center has offered a spring practice period. These were usually led by our founding teacher, Sojun Roshi. Now, as the new abbot of BZC, I am honored to lead this year’s practice period, as we emerge from strange days of pandemic.

In the Zen tradition, the word used for practice period is ango, which means “peaceful abiding.” In China and Japan this would be a three-month residential intensive, with its own root in the early Buddhist “rains retreat,” when wandering monks and nuns would gather in monasteries during monsoon season.

Our practice period, in the springtime when the circle of life turns in joyous renewal, is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the practice of living an enlightened life, to renew our beginner’s mind. Dogen Zenji speaks of “practice realization,” meaning that our Zen practice does not so much aim toward a goal of awakening, but rather that our practice expresses the enlighten­ment that is always within and available to us. Practice period includes sitting, walking, chanting, cooking, serving, eating, working, resting—all of this is enlightened activity, woven into whole cloth by zazen.

BZC is not a monastery, so our members have jobs, families, and responsibilities outside the gate. Our practice is as much in our homes and in the world as in the zendo. This is our ongoing Dharma experi­ment—dedicated lay practice, sitting with everything. During practice period we have recom­mended requirements, but as Sojun Roshi said, “within these requirements each person can create his or her own schedule. This is the nature of lay practice. Some will be able to do only the minimum, while others who have the opportunity will be able to extend or stretch themselves much more.”

We may wish to do it all, but each of us must be realistic about our capacity. The important thing for each of us—during practice period and throughout the year—is to clarify and set our practice intention, then do our best to keep to that intention. You don’t have to break your bones to do practice period. But don’t be slack with yourself either. With Right Effort our practice edge comes into view. What is the Middle Way? Whatever commitment and schedule one comes up with, we are all practicing together intimately.

Not everyone in the sangha will be able to clear the time and energy to participate in practice period. That is completely understandable, and everyone, of course, is welcome to come to the zendo when they can. All of us are supporting and being supported by the practice period—peaceful abiding. These weeks together can extend throughout the year. As Dogen says, “Practice period goes beyond this.”

—Hozan Alan Senauke

No Gaining Idea

Suzuki Roshi often said we shouldn’t have “a gaining idea” or any idea of attainment. A student once asked him why anybody would do zazen if they didn’t have a gaining idea. He said, “You still have one gaining idea.” “What is that?” the student wanted to know. He replied, “That’s a secret.”
Recently we completed a class series on the Three Doors of Liberation—Emptiness, Signlessness, and Wishlessness. These three practices appear in early Buddhist teachings, but are more commonly found in the Mahayana. In contemporary Buddhism, the late master Thich Nhat Hanh frequently taught on these. The third door—Wishlessness or Aimlessness—has a particular resonance in our Zen tradition. It is a rich vein of practice in Soto Zen, from Dogen through to Suzuki and Sojun Roshi. Scholar Edward Conze offers this gloss on Wishlessness (apranihita in Sanskrit):

The word apranihita means literally that one “places nothing in front,” and it designates someone who makes no plans for the future, has no hopes for it, who is aimless, not bent on anything, without predilection or desire for the objects of perception.

Late in his life, Sojun Roshi lectured on the Three Doors of Liberation, and said this about Wishlessness:

Wishlessness means letting go and appreciating. Letting go and being able to appreciate everything around us just as it is. To accept myself just as I am. This is called virtue. Everyone has their own virtue, which is not the same as value. Value is comparison. We stop comparing ourselves to others.

In our Soto Zen practice, wishlessness or aimlessness is expressed as “no gaining idea” (mushotoku in Japanese), hammered home by Suzuki Roshi and Sojun, who drew their wisdom from the ancestors and from their own life experience. In Shobogenzo-Zuimonki Dogen Zenji offers this advice, his approach to wishlessness, no gaining idea, and the heart of Buddhist practice:

Simply do good without expectation of reward or recognition, be truly gainless, and work for the sake of benefiting others. The primary point to bear in mind is to drop your ego. To keep this mind you have to awaken to impermanence.

“Awakening to impermanence” might sound like a gaining idea—the quest for enlightenment or attainment. Maybe this is even the “secret” Suzuki Roshi spoke of. But our teachers are clear that awakening is not a goal. Rather it is always right here, if only we can let go of our goals and aims. In fact, it is a “losing idea”—losing our self-centeredness and attachment to ego. This is such a simple shift, but maybe it is not so easy. This point is pivotal in the Heart Sutra when Avalokiteshvara says to Shariputra:

With nothing to attain, a bodhisattva depends on prajna paramita
And the mind is no hindrance.
Without any hindrance no fears exist;
Far apart from every perverted view one dwells in nirvana.

Chanting this daily, week after week, year after year, still I hear the call of those gaining ideas. Sometimes they whisper in my ear, sometimes they roar like a diesel. I confess that I am only a foolish human. Like so many of us, I am just walking up and down in the world. Fortunately, there is a well-traveled path to follow. If one follows the path and the practice, it leads right through the wilderness of gaining ideas. In faith, it leads to freedom.

—Hozan Alan Senauke


Year of the Tiger
Year of the Tiger (Sumi-e painting by Kazumi Cranney)

The Dharma of Listening and Speaking (Part 2)

Who is the person who desires life, who seeks days of goodness?
Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech.
Shun evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
from Psalm 34)

The meaning is not in the words,
yet it responds to the inquiring impulse.
from Master Tozan’s “Song of the Jewel Mirror Samadhi”)

As I wrote last month, in such contentious times our public and private words can wound or heal. When we speak unskillfully our words can be like an arrow loosed. Once released, this arrow cannot be called back. Where it strikes, there is a wound. Even where there is healing between people, and even where the best of intentions are at play, there can also be scars. Intention and impact fit together “like front and back foot in walking.” We see this in our relationships, in society, and in sangha. Last month I addressed hearing and listening. This month I speak about speaking.

Buddhism has clear practices of Right Speech—samma vacca—the third step on the Eightfold Path. In the Pali Canon (SN 45.8), the Buddha mentions four qualities of Right Speech:

What is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

Three of the ten Bodhisattva Precepts warn about harmful speech—Precepts 4, 6, and 7:

I vow to refrain from false speech.
I vow not to slander.
I vow not to praise self at the expense of others.

Thich Nhat Hanh folds these into his Fourth Mindfulness Training: “Deep Listening and Loving Speech”:

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and to relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain, and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

Arising from the silence of zazen, inevitably we have to say something. We will say something, even if we write it in a note or speak with gestures. Again, the Buddha instructs us about what kind of words are appropriate. He says we should speak words that are true, useful, timely, and beneficial or motivated by lovingkindness.

Now, a Buddha, with powers of omniscience, would not have to guess about these qualities—his or her insight would be sufficient. But for those of us aspiring to the Buddha Way here in saṃsāra, these four conditions of speech can be elusive. If I know my friend well, I might be able to make a good guess about what she might receive as true, useful, timely, and beneficial. And I might guess wrong. If I am speaking with someone I don’t know or with whom I already haves conflict, it is likely we will disagree on one or more of these points.

So, is there ever a right time to speak? Are words ever completely true? When we speak, we take a leap into the unknown, and that is okay. It is no different from anything else we do. It is important to clarify our intentions as best we can. Still, we cannot know the impact of our words until they have been spoken and heard. Intention and impact are interdependent. Perhaps silence is better. But there is so much joy and connection in the play of words. I can’t easily give up such human pleasure.

I leave you with a recommendation. We can learn to ask questions before making assertions. Sometimes I might lose myself in the assertion of “my truth.” I’m not alone in that habit. Better to ask questions and create dialogue, remembering that the meaning “responds to the inquiring impulse.” Try it out.

—Hozan Alan Senauke
December 2021

(Part 1 is in a previous post.)

The Dharma of Listening and Speaking (Part 1)

In these contentious times, our words—public and private words—can wound or heal.

We see this in relationships, in society, and in the sangha. We also come to understand that what each of us hears is not necessarily what a speaker might have meant in speaking. This is the distinction of intention and impact, both of which are important.

In Buddhist traditions there is a wealth of teachings on Right Speech, which includes listening and speaking. But let’s begin from the space of zazen. The titles of Dainin Katagiri Roshi’s first two books bring us back to essentials. His first book is titled Returning to Silence. The second book is You Have to Say Something.

Returning to silence is hearing, listening; stepping into the receptive mind of zazen. Listening is the active component of hearing. Listen for a moment. I hear the refrigerator’s sound, a car going by, birds in the yard. Listening takes place against a background of silence. This is also Bodhisattva practice. Avalokitesvara, Kannon, or Kwan Yin is referred to as “one who sees the cries of the world.” In zazen, with all senses functioning, there is a kind of synesthesia—experiencing one sense through the workings of another. That is returning to silence, the all-inclusive experience of zazen.

But zazen mind is not a practice confined to the walls of the zendo, or to the frame of a Zoom screen. The full unfolding of zazen is in our life, where we are bound to have activities. We have to do something; we have to say something. We do zazen with our bodies as an activity. The active side of our practice completes the continuous circle of the way. We are always moving between returning to silence, listening, and having to say something.

I recently came across this excerpt from a 1967 lecture by Suzuki Roshi where he speaks about the practice of listening:

When you listen to someone, you should give up all your preconceived ideas and your subjective opinions; you should just listen to him, just observe what his way is. We put very little emphasis on right and wrong or good and bad. We just see things as they are with him or her, and accept them. This is how we communicate with each other. Usually when you listen to some statement, you hear it as a kind of echo of yourself. You are actually listening to your own opinion. If it agrees with your opinion you may accept it, but if it does not, you will reject it or you may not even really hear it.

Suzuki Roshi is suggesting that we ratchet back our habit of judging everything we listen to, of evaluating of right and wrong, good and bad. He is not suggesting that we ignore morality. But he is encouraging us to set aside self-centered views which subtly show up in many of our verbal exchanges. In the moment of listening to someone, try to see the cries of the world. Just see that person as he or she is right there. Whether you agree with them or not, make an effort to accept them. As Thich Nhat Hanh writes:

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and to relieve others of their suffering.

How we listen and how we speak is the heartbeat of a practical Zen Buddhism. Yes, the silence is deep and nourishing, but we inhabit that space just a small part of the time. Much more of our day is spent interacting with others. Even as we speak, we must always be listening and watching.

—Hozan Alan Senauke

(The Practice of Speaking will be Part 2, in the next newsletter.)

What Now?

When I think about the pandemic lately, Michael Corleone’s words in Godfather III come to mind: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

By late June, the whole country seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. Between effective vaccination and approaching herd immunity, many of us thought that Covid 19 was playing itself out. Mask requirements were relaxed, restaurants and public venues were reopening. You could feel energy and joy in the streets again. At BZC we were strategizing a “soft opening” of the zendo—requiring verified vaccination and social-distanced sitting.

Simultaneously, in the spring, a Delta variant of Covid carried a second wave of infection across India. By July it had spread to 124 countries and was found to be much more infectious than earlier variants. Even vaccinated people were shown to be at risk of “breakthrough” infections, capable of transmitting the virus without being themselves symptomatic.

In the U.S. and in the Bay Area, businesses and institutions, including BZC, were rethinking their opening plans, and continue to do so. Meanwhile, other virus variants have taken root around the world, and first cases are beginning to show up in the U.S.

What now? What precautions should we be taking at BZC? Will there ever again be a time of relative safety here and in the wider society? If some version of Covid 19 or another pandemic is the new reality, what does this mean for the warm hand to warm hand Zen practice we love?

I don’t know.

Dizang’s “Not knowing” (Case 20 in the Book of Serenity) can be our guide. Actually, it has always been our guide. Here is the koan:

Dizang asked Fayan, “Where are you going?”
Fayan said, “Around on pilgrimage.”
Dizang said, “What is the purpose of pilgrimage?”
Fayan said, “I don’t know.”
Dizang said, “Not knowing is most intimate.”

Not Knowing echoes though all the teachings. It is Bodhidharma’s response to Emperor Wu—No Knowing, Suzuki Roshi’s Beginner’s Mind, Bernie Glassman’s First Tenet, Master Seung Sahn’s Only Don’t Know.

In the face of a continuing pandemic, what now? I don’t know. Another translation of this case has Dizang saying: “Not knowing is nearest.” This question is very near to me and probably near to many of you. Fair to say, each of us may have a different response. One can see this from exchanges on the BZC listserv and conversations among sangha members. I feel grief for the loss of friends, family, teachers, and all those unknown to me. I feel anxiety about how we will sustain Zen traditions that have sustained us for so long. And, of course, I am stunned by natural disasters, wars, and oppression loosed upon the world.

I am keeping my mind open to multiple perspectives. Are we being overly cautious, not cautious enough, or just right? Are we allowing for personal responsibility, or do our protocols undermine such responsibility? How is it for people who live alone; or who live with others in small apartments; or who have to work and care for small children? Should BZC make significant investments in ventilation for the zendo and community room? And on and on.

But the abbot’s responsibility includes guarding the well-being of Dharma and Sangha. As an individual I may choose to take personal risks. As steward of our practice, the bar is set higher. So far, our collective caution has served us well, despite the fact that some members have had their fill of life on Zoom. As far as I know, there has been no spread of Covid-19 at BZC, and no members have died of the virus.

Going forward, let’s continue to practice Great Patience, the perfection of ksanti. Such patience is the motor of zazen. Practice means sitting with every arising thought and circumstance, even when we might want to jump out of our skin. It means creating new rituals in our homes and online. After all these months, patience is wearing thin for many of us. I’d like to join Fayan on pilgrimage, wandering aimlessly. These days, even driving to Marin County to run an errand feels like a great adventure.

Please be patient and compassionate to yourself and others. Let your mind travel freely on pilgrimage and honor others who follow their own paths and have their own views. Zazen will sustain us. Buddhas and ancestors will support us, even when the world is on fire.


Abbot’s Letter

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

Our 34th Spring Practice Period ended Sunday, June 20, on the summer solstice, with a three-day hybrid sesshin. For the first time in sixteen months our sangha on Zoom was accompanied by BZC residents sitting in the zendo. This experiment taught us about the challenges of hybrid practice, which will serve us well as we move toward reopening in the coming months. Opening plans are explored here. The Practice Period was a remarkable experience, with more than sixty members participating, including members in India and elsewhere in the U.S. Our heart is very much in Berkeley and in our zendo, but our body now reaches more widely.
I would like to share some of the activities happening in our community. Very soon we will offer free online access to nearly 3000 talks, mostly by Sojun, dating back to 1980. This is an astonishing and rich body of wisdom. Great appreciation to Charlie Wilson of Engage Wisdom, who has been digitizing all of this. We will need your help in creating the metadata for these talks, which will make them searchable and accessible. More about this soon. In the future, I hope to share transcribed versions of dharma talks by BZC’s other teachers, as well as forty years of Sojun Roshi’s lectures.
Through the last year of his life, Sojun worked on completing two books. The first book is a combined memoir and selection of his talks. Ron Nestor assisted him with this work, along with Kika Hellein, Andrea Thach, and more recently Raghav Bandla. The second book is a new collection of Suzuki Roshi talks, which was shepherded by Sojun and Jiryu Rutschman-Byler at Green Gulch. Laurie Senauke is assisting Jiryu with this project.
Liz Horowitz has asked me to serve as Sojun Roshi’s literary executor to see these projects through to publication. She has also designated that royalties for these projects will come to BZC, which will be a wonderful, generous, ongoing gift. Several Buddhist publishing houses are interested in other collections of Sojun’s work. For now, the main thing is to keep these two projects moving forward toward completion.
In his last days, Sojun asked me to make the necessary arrangements for his “stuff”—papers, books, robes, and many items given to him over the years. For several months, Maria Winston and I have been going through all the papers in the Abbot’s office, sorting them into three categories: material to keep for future reference and use; material to pack for the Stanford archive; and duplicates, triplicates, and unneeded material to discard. I have begun to work from this office, and it is a wonderful, relaxed space for writing, studying, and meeting with people. Those of you who met with Sojun there will find the space familiar and essentially unchanged.
The vision of BZC as a lay sangha has always meant involvement with our Bay Area community and with the wider world, learning and giving, offering our practice where it may be of value in the work of spiritual and systemic liberation. I am encouraged to see the sangha’s dedicated work toward goals of deconstructing racism, which parallels efforts in many Buddhist communities across the country. We have an active BIPOC (Black‒Indigenous‒People of Color) group, and an open antiracism initiative in the sangha at large. Together, these groups allow for introspection, education, and action. In the context of Berkeley Zen Center itself, they help us strategize about how we might address BZC’s administrative and teaching structures, moving toward broader diversity and greater equity.
I am eager to find the time to teach and meet with sangha members for individual study. But presently, all of us are absorbed in the project of reopening the zendo while sustaining the rich online practice that has developed during the Covid pandemic.
I deeply appreciate the support of the Board, the senior students, the coordinator, the Practice Committee, and all our members. I think we share the priority of continuing and mindfully expanding Sojun Roshi’s and Suzuki Roshi’s Zen practice. I wish to support you in this practice, day by day. Please let me know your thoughts, questions, and views. My door is always open.
May we continue in wisdom and compassion,