Bookshop.org 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.
Bookshop.org 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: https://bookshop.org/shop/berkeleyzencenter
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!
Berkeley Zen Center is now offering zazen instruction online every Saturday morning 8:40 to 9:20 am. Note that the instruction will NOT be held in the online zendo, but in its own separate online zoom room:
With great sadness the sangha of Berkeley Zen Center announces that Hakuryu Sojun Roshi—White Dragon/Essence of Purity—Mel Weitsman peacefully passed from this world to the Pure Land of Buddhas and Ancestors, at 5:30 pm on January 7, 2021. He is survived by his wife Liz Horowitz Weitsman and their son Daniel, along with uncountable disciples, students, friends and acquaintances across the United States and around this wide world.
Some recent words:
“I am able to not hang on to anything. That’s my secret. I believed my teacher when he said “Don’t get caught by anything.” I really believed it. And then, not only did I believe it, I started acting it out. So that’s where I’m at. Don’t get caught by anything. I’m able to not dwell on something. The news is what the news is. My anger is what my anger is. That’s all. And I try to do what I can to assuage my…everybody’s anxieties. I don’t have much anxiety. I’m gonna die. I’m on my way. What should I do, worry about it? Everybody does this. Nobody escapes. This happens to every single person that’s ever lived. What should I worry about? What’s there to worry about? I am just not that kind of person. This is what I decided when I was young. I said, “I’m just gonna live my life all the way up to the end. And when it’s time to go, I go.” That’s part of..that’s life. Life is death. So we experience it every moment. Here we are. Next moment, here we’re not. This happens every moment.”
We have created a Memorial Wall through the app KudoBoard, where you can post your stories, remembrances, feelings and thoughts. Access that here:
In the midst of a pandemic that keeps many of us in our homes, interrupting our face-to-face practice for eight months now, experiencing the disturbing realities of climate change and racial injustice, and facing a presidential election that may well bring unprecedented challenges to our nation, BZC moves towards its first formal leadership transition at the end of December.
I would like to create a safe and informal setting where we can meet over the next few months—where you can express your interests, questions, and concerns to me, and where we can talk among ourselves about things that concern us all: the continuity and shape of Suzuki Roshi and Sojun’s practice, our sense of and needs from the BZC community, and the state of our ever-changing world.
Rather than dokusan form, this would be more like sitting around in the living room or around the kitchen table, except for now, it will be on Zoom (see link below). It will not be open to the wider public and won’t be recorded.
For the sake of intimacy, we will have up to eight available slots each evening, for roughly an hour of discussion among those present. All your words and views are welcome.
Since the start of the pandemic this winter, Berkeley Zen Center has moved onto a digital platform for zazen, lectures, classes, and meetings. This platform utilizes Zoom technology, which allows us to record high-quality audio and video of our public teachings.
The audio recordings are easily found on the BZC website by clicking on “Dharma” at the top of the page, then clicking on the submenu “Talks.” Recordings stored there go back to 2008. The direct link to those audio talks is: https://berkeleyzencenter.org/talks-2/.
We recognize that some members have understandable concerns about online privacy. BZC has enabled a “recording consent disclaimer” which appears on participants’ screens any time the host is recording a session. If one does not wish to be recorded, this allows an option to leave the session. The language of the disclaimer is:
By continuing to be in the meeting, you are consenting to be recorded. Please understand that question-and-answer sessions following dharma talks are also recorded, and the questioner is highlighted. If you wish to ask an anonymous question, please “chat” to the Saturday director.
In addition to the onscreen message that appears on each participant’s screen, the Saturday Director will make a brief announcement that we are recording. Please note that only the speaker or the questioner appears on screen. Questioners on the video are not identified by name.
If you have further comments and concerns about privacy or about this new project, please contact Hozan Alan Senauke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Covid-19 infection rate in Alameda County is still increasing, even as Berkeley officials plan to reopen retail businesses, outdoor dining, religious services, and more, while they urge continuing use of face masks, physical distancing, and limited contact with people outside one’s “social bubble.”
At Berkeley Zen Center we miss the intimacy of the zendo and other community activities. In March, responding to the pandemic, BZC acted quickly to move our practice onto a digital platform. More than three months later, we have an “online zendo,” with daily zazen, a Saturday program, lectures, classes, dharma groups, day-long sittings, practice discussions, and regular all-sangha meetings. Many members are working hard to keep all these new forms going as smoothly as they are. It would take the rest of this page to name everyone involved and delineate the responsibilities they have taken on, but we do want to give a shout-out to the tech team: Judy Fleischman, Gary Artim, Laurie Senauke, and Kelsey Chirlinn, for supporting all of us in this transition.
Meanwhile the Coordinating Team—Gerry Oliva, Mary Duryee, Sojun Roshi, and Hozan Sensei—along with the Practice Committee and Senior Students group, have begun to discuss how to make a slow transition back to face-to-face practice. We are consulting closely with BZC’s Health and Safety team, which is tracking directives from the California Department of Public Health, translating the CDPH’s evolving policies into safety and sanitation protocols for our community.
BZC is planning a careful and gradual transition to a new normal. When we do choose to restart activities on Russell Street, attendance will be limited, social distancing will be in place, and thorough cleaning and sanitation will be integral to our practice. Meanwhile, we will certainly maintain the robust digital practice created on Zoom and other platforms. No one knows what normal will look like, but, having opened the digital door and seen what it offers, we will continue to explore that space. This may well be necessary, because we have no idea how long the pandemic will last. Chances are we’ll have to continue distancing and wearing masks for in-person encounters until a reliable vaccine emerges, and maybe beyond that.
So, we will sustain Suzuki Roshi’s Zen in ways he could not have imagined. We will do this together, with gratitude to all those, near and far, who work to keep us well and creative.
Buddha called dharma friendship, “All of the holy life.” Sitting with a seasoned dharma friend and talking about that which is close to your heart in practice and in your life is rare and precious. And it is simply what our lives in practice thrive on.
During this shelter in place time, we are less busy with the vicissitudes and “things to do” of our lives. In that quiet unfilled space, the deeper, creative and unexamined of our lives are more intimate and accessible. This can be a good time to spend time with a practice leader/ senior dharma friend to talk about what’s important to you.
Besides the Abbots, all of the senior students listed on the Practice Leaders web page are available to meet with you by phone, video-conference or in a walk. The meeting itself sets a container for an exchange, holding the light of practice for both people and touching more deeply together what might not be apparent otherwise. It can be a way to take in what different experienced practitioners hear in a question you are exploring, to connect with someone you would like to know better or perhaps be seen and see anew. Together, we bring forth the dharma when we sit and open ourselves to each other.
When you wake up to a new and terrifying reality
When everywhere you look you see maps and charts
Displaying what feels like an inexorable progression of sickness and death
When your crops are being devoured by locusts
And you wonder if you will be able feed your children
When you look at a smoggy sky,
garbage washing up on the shore
Tearful and heartbroken about the earth’s destruction
When you awaken in the night, short of breath
Struggling to inhale
When your throat is sore, and your head feels hot
Thinking “Is this IT?”
When you’re in a hospital bed attached to multiple devices
Terrified and not knowing where you are
When you’re waiting at home for news of a loved one
When no one will answer your calls and you can’t visit
When you work in the hospital every day
Always aware of the risk of contagion
When you enter a store and feel the terror
Of getting too close to others, touching anything
When your job puts you in danger everyday
But you can’t support yourself without a paycheck
When you’re homeless, vulnerable, scared, forgotten
When you’re in an immigrant detention center
A nursing home, a home for the mentally or physically disabled
Understaffed and people around you getting really sick
Overcome by the enormity of it all
Is it possible for us to finally awaken?
To our universal interconnectedness
A connectedness of spirit, of compassion
That holds it all
April 11, 2020
After zazen on Wednesday mornings (at 8:10 am) we will hold an ongoing well-being service. Due to the limitations of Zoom, congregants will be muted while we each chant along with the doshi/kokyo. If you would like to have a name added to the ongoing well-being list, send your request by email to Co-Zendo Manager Hannah Meara: email@example.com.
In addition, all are welcome to request a personal service for an individual when there is need for prayers for well-being or when someone has died. Hannah is also the contact person for these requests.