Category Archives: Musings

Use BZC’s Storefront on is a prosocial company that sells books online and gives a cut of all earnings to independent bookstores and affiliate organizations. They launched recently and are offering themselves as an alternative to Amazon. They work with independent bookstores and publishers as a more equitable and less exploitative partner. enables affiliate organizations like ours to create an online storefront on their website, and receive a percentage of all sales. BZC’s Bookshop has been set up by us to include books Zen students will be interested in, including books by BZC’s own authors. We’re open to suggestions and will continue to add books over time. Here’s the link to our Bookshop:

You can also find the Bookshop link on the Recommended Reading page, under the main menu item Practice.

Thanks to Ben Clausen and Hozan Alan for the legwork on this!


BZC and Climate Change

Our relationships to our changing climate are complex. There are many folks at BZC who are thinking about, affected by, or acting on climate change through their work or in their free time. Some of us met a few weeks ago at a climate-themed Zoom meeting in January; others have undoubtedly been in conversation for years.
This short regular column will be a place to uplift these climate conversations, programs, and actions, so that members of BZC can find new ways to engage with climate change. This month, we’d like to focus on the topic of eco-grief.
Eco-grief is a psychological response to environmental degradation or climate change. Another commonly used term is climate anxiety, or “solastalgia”—a sense that your home is changing for the worse, or disappear­ing, as you live in it. These topics have been in the news lately, notably in the New York Times article “Climate Change Enters the Ther­apy Room” and the New Yorker article “Mapping Climate Grief One Pixel at a Time.”
The first step in coping with eco-grief is to speak with others—to share with them the very real sadness you are experiencing. That’s why we’d like to introduce an upcoming program (dates TBD)—possibly a class, group, or workshop—dedicated to processing and coping with eco-grief, led by BZC member Judy Smith and others. Please keep an eye out for more information!
One of the best ways to make creative use of eco-grief is by taking collective action on local climate change issues. Our next column will focus on how to get involved in the Bay Area climate advocacy landscape. We are developing a Getting Started in Climate Advocacy workshop to take place some time in the coming months.
If there is a climate topic, memory, or meditation that you would like to share or see in this column, please reach out to

New Koan Class 3/17 – 4/7

Ellen Webb, Ryushin Andrea Thach, and Ron Nestor will present three koans from Thomas Cleary’s translation of The Book of Serenity. This collection of 100 koans or cases is the koan collection most associated with our Soto lineage.We’re aiming for interactive class discussions of these three provocative cases, which can be understood from different points of emphasis. We’ll supply a scanned copy of Cleary’s text and Word files of excellent commentaries by Koun Yamada. For those without printers we will have paper copies available on the bulletin board shelf at BZC.  The Book of Serenity is also available from booksellers and online. The four cases we’ll be working with are case #12, Dizang Planting the Fields, case #20, Dizang’s Nearness, case #36, Master Ma is Unwell, and case #53, Obaku’s “Drinkers”. Studying koans in this way is not the same as the Rinzai practice of working with one’s teacher and trying to embody the koan, so we want to be clear about the difference. However, we have found it to be rich and helpful in clarifying the essential points of Zen practice.


Cost for the series is $40 or what you can afford. More information will be posted on BZC Community Group as we get closer to the dates. All are welcome.

BZC and Climate Change

In this issue and the next, our column will briefly summarize the IPCC Working Group III Sixth Assessment Report, which you may have heard about in the news.

That’s a mouthful! First, let’s demystify the terminology:

  • The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN body responsible for providing governments with scientific information to make climate policy. The IPCC issues Assessment Reports every 5 to 7 years, and just released their Sixth Assessment Report.
  • Each Assessment Report has three working groups, which release their own sections of the overall report. Working Group III handles mitigation (what we can do to stop climate change), and released their report on April 4, 2022.

That report shows that our current mitigation policies will lead to a world that is over 3 degrees warmer than preindustrial average. This blows past a goal of 1.5 or 2 degrees of warming. We must reduce our emissions by 50% by 2030 to have a chance of staying well under 2 degrees, which is critical to human and ecosystem health. The good news is that we have the technology to do this! The time for action is now.

The report identifies a chief obstacle to action: a lack of political will made worse by corporations and lobbyists who act as impediments to real climate action. The biggest collective solutions we should be organizing toward are state and federal policies that:

  • rapidly deploy wind and solar technologies,
  • electrify transit,
  • electrify buildings, and
  • end fossil fuel subsidies and stop the extraction of fossil fuels.

The report highlights that the global richest 10% generate disproportionately more carbon emission than others, between 36 and 45% of all carbon emissions. (If you make over $35,000/year or have assets worth more than $12,000, you are a member of the richest 10%!) The report highlights actions the global rich should Avoid, Shift, and Improve:

  • Avoid taking long-haul flights or regularly using a car;
  • Shift to more public transit and fewer animal products; and
  • Improve by using electrified heating, appliances, and cars.

Avoiding, shifting, and improving your habits in these ways, and then sharing this with your friends and neighbors is a great way to tie individual and collective action together.

Many thanks for reading, and for your continued commitment to saving all beings.

—Brianna McGuire (BZC resident)


Sojun Roshi Video April 24

Please join us for an online gathering to view the first video of Sojun Roshi’s Public Dokusans, which were offered in the Online Zendo on Thursday evenings throughout the 2nd half of 2020.  The video lasts about one hour; Sojun makes a brief introduction and then invites questions; there are about 10 encounters in this recording.
Sunday, April 24 at 7 PM in the Online Zendo

Recent Dharma Transmission

Buddhas Rejoice

On Thursday, September 30 Kosei Nyokai Laurie Senauke completed Dharma Transmission with her teacher Steve Weintraub. The closing week of ceremonies for Laurie and Ken Sawyer took place at Back Porch Zendo in Sebastopol, where Steve was assisted by David Weinberg. Great congratulations to all.

Honoring the Buddha’s Robe

In Kesa Kudoku /The Virtue of the Robe, Dogen Zenji writes of first hearing the robe chant in China.

At that time, there arose in me a feeling I have never before experienced. My body was overwhelmed with joy. Tears of gratitude secretly fell and soaked my lapels… Seeing this done here, before my very eyes, I was overjoyed.

During Aspects of Practice we will begin again to chant and open our robes at the start of each day. Since we are beginning anew after many months of pandemic, it is a good moment to revise the English verse, offering a more accurate translation, in line with the verses used at most Soto Zen centers in the West, including SFZC.

The is how we offer the chant daily. The doan will sound a “clunk” on the bell 5 minutes after the start of 6:00am and 7:35am weekday zazen. Roughly 2 minutes after that ring the usual 3 bells.

Saturdays, while we are still in the digital world, the doan will sound the clunk at 8:45, the start of zazen. Hearing this sound, place your rakusu securely on your head (for okesa, remove from envelope and place on head). Put your hands in gassho and complete the chant. Then unfold the robe and put it on. Even if you do not have a physical robe, go into gassho during the chant, honoring the invisible robe each of us wears.

If you first put on your robe later in the day, chant the verses on your own before sitting zazen.

Great robe of liberation
Field far beyond form & emptiness
Wearing the Tathagata’s teaching

Saving all beings

Dai sai ge da pu ku
ō fuku den e
hi bu nyo rai kyo
kō do shoshu jo

Great robe of liberation
Field far beyond form & emptiness
Wearing the Tathagata’s teaching

Saving all beings

Wednesday Night Drop-in Sitting and Study Group 2021

The Wednesday Drop-in group is a weekly event now on Zoom that goes from 7:00 to 8:30 PM. It includes a 30 minute period of zazen meditation,  and an hour of reading and discussion. The group particularly welcomes newcomers to Zen Buddhist practice and/or new to Berkeley Zen Center. It also provides an opportunity for practitioners to sit and study together on an ongoing basis. We meet every Wednesday except for the five-day Spring Practice Period sesshin(retreat) in June, the annual seven-day Buddha’s Enlightenment sesshin in December and during the two-week interim period during the December holidays. We also maintain a google group to share reading materials we are studying, announce other BZC events and issues related to logistics. The groups is facilitated by a BZC Priest, Ikushin Gerry Oliva. Gerry can be contacted at for further information.

Coming-of-Age Group Forming

BZC will be offering a Coming-of-Age pro­gram for 7th and 8th grade youth. Participants will study basic Buddhist teachings, mindful­ness, precepts, and communication skills, and explore ways to celebrate their journey toward adulthood.
The program will meet monthly for two hours on Sundays from September through June. For more information, please contact Marie Hopper (