Category Archives: News

The Return of Practice Discussion & Dokusan Signup
Dear  Sangha,
In Zen whether we sit laying down, on a zafu, bench or chair, we all sit on the three-legged stool of practice: 1. Zazen 2. Dharma Study 3. Engaging with a teacher.
We will be offering a signup on the Zendo porch beginning in March for people who wish to meet with a Senior Student to discuss their practice. In our tradition it is called Practice Discussion and Dokusan. When I asked Sojun Roshi what’s the difference between the two he responded, “In Dokusan it was his responsibility to bring what the person was asking up to a level of Dharma. This can occur in Practice Discussion as well if the one receiving the question decides to or chooses to keep the meeting less formal.” In either venue it’s an opportunity to cultivate spiritual friendship within our Sangha. This leg of the stool was an integral part of our practice prior to the pandemic. Our wish to restore it is an opportunity to bring your Dharma question to a BZC senior for a formal, private 20 minute conversation to encourage your practice. We invite people to bring their questions to other practice leaders as well since we have different life-experiences and views on understanding Buddhadharma.
On the posted calendar, each day during zazen Monday through Friday will have one person available in the morning and one in the afternoon. On Saturday morning two people will be available during the program. Each person will have two 20-minute slots available. The venues will be the Dokusan Hut, Abbot’s Office and the Community Room depending on the letters following their name: DH, AO (Saturday only,) and CR.
The form of these meetings will be:
  1. After the zendo is formally opened (three bells and zazen begins) the Practice Leader will come over to you to confirm your meeting. If they don’t recognize your name on the signup they will ask you to raise your hand. If you’re a no-show, they’ll ask the second person if applicable.
  2. The PL will then leave to set up the venue and settle. Please allow a few minutes for this before exiting to meet them.
  3. For the DH or AO knock on the door and enter when invited. For the CR please enter the kitchen, bow upon entering the CR.
  4. Approach the PL, bow to one another and sit down.
  5. Please and complete this meeting at the appropriate time. Upon ending, get up and bow to one another, and if you’re the first person please go to the zendo and tap the next person. If you don’t know who that person is you can ask the monitor or gently call out their name. If there’s no response please return to the person you spoke with to inform them and you both can then return to the zendo.

This offering does not replace meetings you wish to schedule with seniors which are on-line, a walk or roll, meeting for coffee etc however formal (or not) you wish to make it.

The on-line only Open Discussion on Monday March 4th at 8am will be devoted to hear your questions and comments on this topic.

Thank you very much,

Ross Blum

Mon, Feb 19, 2:11 AM (1 day ago)

to meCarolSusan
PS: Hi Jim, could you amend my first send to you to include my apartment in the third paragraph. The part in question should now
read albeit not in bold:
The venues will be the Dokusan Hut, Abbot’s Office, the Community Room, and Ross’ Apartment depending on the letters following their name: DH, AO (Saturday only,) CR, and RA.
Thank you kindly,

BZC Position Changes

Many helping hands keep a Sangha vibrant and running, and this is how BZC continues to manage the many tasks and functions at our temple.
In deep appreciation we express our gratitude to those who have filled the positions below over the past one or two years. And we welcome those who will now fill these positions.

Note: A complete list of all positions is posted on the patio bulletin board.

Position Outgoing Position Holder Incoming Position Holder
Art Coordinator Juliayn Coleman Debra Callahan
Bathroom Attendant Dan Jackson Marley Alexander
Board Recording Secretary Jonathan Koltz Simone Brumis
Bulletin Boards Genpo Senauke Preston Evers
Co-Zendo Managers Hannah Meara & Genpo Senauke Preston Evers & Gerry Oliva
Half-Day Sitting Leader Mark Copithorne Gary Artim
Health/Safety Coordinator Ellen Webb Pauline Kerschen
Kitchen Keeper Brianna McGuire Cecelia Fitzgerald
Newsletter Distribution Joe Buckner Gen Fujioka
Saturday Directors Pauline Kerschen & Joe Buckner Margaux Winter & Joe Buckner
Sesshin Directors Rob Lyons Colleen Busch/Mark Copithorne
Shika (helps overnight guests) Yoni Ackerman Cecelia Fitzgerald
Sunday Sesshin Manager ————— Helen Cheng (new position)
Work Leader (Saturdays) Helen Cheng Yoni Ackerman
Work Leader (Sesshins) Preston Evers Genpo Senauke


Founders’ Scroll 

The scroll hanging in the BZC zendo during Rohatsu was created by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. It is carefully stored in the Founders’ Altar and is used in the Founders’ Ceremony each month.

Suzuki Roshi calligraphed the names of the three Zen founders: Shakyamuni Buddha (in the middle), Bodhidharma (on the right), and Dogen Zenji (on the left). It is believed that he created these scrolls for the Zen satellite sitting groups associated with San Francisco Zen Center in the late 1960s—Kannon Do Zen Center in Mountain View, Genjo-ji Zen Center in Sonoma, and Berkeley Zen Center. Ross Blum adds his memory of the scroll: “When I arrived here in 1987, the scroll was in a paper box loosely rolling around inside. On my request, Belinda Sweet, who gifted many other scrolls to BZC, special-ordered a fitted box from Japan for this scroll. When this beautiful box arrived, she demonstrated the traditional way of wrapping the ribbon around the scroll, making a butterfly knot to securely place it inside the box.”

Here are two quotes from Zen Mind.  Beginner’s Mind that express the spirit of Zen calligraphy:

“Not trying to make something skillful or beautiful, but simply writing with full attention, as if you were discovering what you were writing for the first time; then your full nature will be in your writing. This is the way of practice, moment after moment.”

“When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”

—Debra Callahan

MLK Day Neighborhood Engagement  

On Monday, January 15, BZC will commemorate the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday with an 8:30‒11:30 morning of zazen, reflection, and neighborhood service. The day’s program is still under development, but our tentative schedule is:

•8:30‒ 9:00 am — Zazen

• 9:00‒10:00 — Reading the words of Dr. King and discussion based on his teachings and those of other teachers of equity and liberation.  ]

• 10:00 — National Karma Repentance Ceremony, based on the Bodhisattva Ceremony. There will be an option to include personal repentance.

• 10:30 — Participants gather for neighborhood work: cleaning up the traffic barrier area on Milvia, and making bag lunches for our unhoused neighbors.

• 11:15 — Reconvene at BZC for a closing circle.

Lay Ordination Sewing for 2024

Sewing your rakusu in preparation for LayOrdination and receiving the precepts is an opportunity to deepen your practice and your relationship with the sangha. Each year, sewing-class students engage in the practice of sewing and studying the precepts together in order to prepare themselves to receive a rakusu/robe and a dharma name from their teacher. The sangha celebrates and supports these new bodhisattvas, affirming their aspiration for continuous practice.

Sewing classes start in the new year.Classes are open to those who have asked their teacher for permission to participate. If you are interested in participating this year, as soon as possible please speak with Abbot Hozan (in dokusan, by phone, or via Zoom) or one of BZC’s brown-robe teachers or green-rakusu teachers. After you have spoken withy our teacher, contact the sewing teacher, Jean Selkirk (

Lay Ordination

On Saturday, November 18, five members of the BZC sangha received Lay Ordination(Zaike Tokudo) from Abbot Hozan and Ryushin Andrea Thach. This ceremony takes place once a year at BZC. For those participating, itis a joyous culmination of many months of sewing and precept study. For those attending, it is an opportunity to reaffirm our vows. We welcome these friends into the lineage ofS hakyamuni Buddha and Suzuki Roshi’sf amily. Great thanks to Sewing Teacher JeanSelkirk, along with Kabir Nabi; to Laurie Senauke for directing the ceremony; to YoniAckerman for baking cookies; and to many other sangha members who helped to make this ceremony happen.

Hozan’s ordinees:
Jamie Kimmel—Shinkai Monsei (Deep Ocean, Hear the Essence)
Jim Erb—Hoshin Jogen (Dharma Heart, Manifest Source)

Ryushin’s ordinees:
Pauline Kerschen—Fuba Jien (Wind Horse,Self Circle)
Greg Hertz—Waki Ekan (Harmonizing Vessel,Ceremony Mirror)
Evan Vreeland—Chikuin Ryumon (BambooSeal, Dragon Gate)

Buddha’s Parinirvana Ceremony

According to the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of thePali canon, at the age of 80 the Buddha announced that he would soon reachPage 3 January‒February 2024 BZC Newsletter Parinirvana, or the final deathless state, and abandon his earthly body. After this, he ate his last meal, fell ill, and died.

Each year we celebrate Buddha’s transition with a ceremony where we all can make offerings and chant in honor of this occasion.This year the ceremony will take placeSaturday, February 17, at 5:00 p.m., as the closing of our sesshin on that day.

Sojun Mel Weitsman Book: Seeing One Thing Through

Our late teacher Sojun was a deep and warm presence for many of us over the years, until his death in early 2021 at the age of 91. Over
the last year of his life, Sojun Roshi worked with several of his  students to put together a long-promised book for Counterpoint Press. This book—Seeing One Thing Through: The Zen Life and Teachings of Sojun Mel Weitsman, with a foreword by Norman Fischerand an introduction by me—is now available. It has a unique structure. The first third of the book is a series of vivid memories and sketches of Sojun’s life, from his childhood to his life as an artist in the 1950s San Francisco scene; from his early years with Suzuki Roshi at SFZC to finding his way at Berkeley Zen
Center. The remainder of the book, two hundred more pages, contains a well-edited selection from a lifetime of practice and
dharma talks, touching on many aspects of our
everyday Zen practice. Seeing One Thing Through is available
from Counterpoint, from your local bookstore, and from all the usual online vendors. To quote Publishers Weekly: “This treasure trove of
wisdom is a welcome addition to the American Zen canon.”

Rohatsu Sesshin 2023

We invite you to join us for a Seven-Day Rohatsu Sesshin at Berkeley Zen Center, Monday December 4 through Sunday December 10, from 6:00 AM to 5:30 PM. This sesshin will be led by Abbot Hozan Alan Senauke, and will commemorate the Buddha’s enlightenment.
  1. Deadline to sign up is Monday, Monday, November 27.  Participants are expected to attend for a minimum of 3 days, of which at least 2 are consecutive.  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.
  1. The sesshin will also be offered online; sign up using the same link.
  2. We have switched back to masking optional. We also ask you to test 48 hours before you come and again on your first day.
  3. If you need overnight lodging, there will be spots available at the Zen Center.  Please contact Cecelia Fitzgerald at to arrange this.
  4. We will be offering oryoki breakfast and lunch in the zendo.  It is important that all participants be trained in the oryoki forms. There will be an oryoki training prior to sesshin, details will be posted on the website.  For further information please contact Ellen Webb at,
  5. There will be two special ceremonies during Rohatsu this year:
  • Founders’ Ceremony (including Suzuki Roshi Memorial), Monday, December 4; and
  • Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony, Saturday December 9
Check the website for times for each.
  1. We will have a short work period each day, so please bring work clothes you can change into.

  2. Dokusan will be offered daily by Hozan Alan Senauke, and practice discussion by a senior student, both in-person and online.
  3. The sesshin fee is $35 for in-person attendees, or $15 for online participants (or whatever you can afford).  You may pay online, leave a check in the donation slot, or mail 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 by check as above, or at
If you have questions, please contact the Sesshin Director, Rob Lyons at