Category Archives: News

New Saturday Schedule

The Saturday program will now begin at 6:00 and includes Oryoki breakfast.  See the schedule page for the current Saturday schedule and the schedule for other days of the week.

  • 6:00-6:40 Zazen
  • 6:40-6:50 Kinhin
  • 6:50-7:20 Zazen
  • 7:20-7:40 Service
  • 7:40-8:30 Breakfast
  • 8:30-8:45 Break
  • 8:45-9:30 Work Practice
  • 9:30-10:05 Zazen
  • 10:05-10:15 Kinhin
  • 10:15-11:15 Dharma Talk

Followed By Informal Tea

GUIDELINES/OPTIONS for Saturdays:

  • Come at 6:00 and stay for the morning
  • Come at 6:00, stay through work period in order to give back to the temple
  • Come after breakfast – for work period at 8:45  or for 9:30 zazen and stay for Dharma Talk and tea

BZC Position Holders

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.

Who Does What 2024
POSITION PERSON BEGAN TERM
Abbot’s Assistant Jonathan Koltz January 2022
Abbot’s office cleaner Debra Callahan November 2022
Art Coordinator Debra Callahan September 2023
Audio and Video Archivists Blake Tolbert and Kabir Nabi November 2020
Bag Lunch Project Susan Marvin, Laurie Senauke June 2020
Bathroom Attendant Marley Alexander February 2024
Book Store (Assistant) Judy Bertelsen March 2014
Book Store (Head) William Gordon May 2010
Bulletin Boards Preston Evers September 2023
Chandler (Candle Maker) Mark Copithorne June 2017
Class Coordinator Ryushin Andrea Thach February 2022
Co-Sangha Support Coordinators Liz Weitsman & Laurie Senauke January 2014 & January 2013
Co-Zendo Managers Preston Evers & Gerry Oliva Preston (9/1/2023) & Gerry (1/1/24)
Community Room Cleaned during Saturday work period
Coordinator Carol Paul January 2022
Dishwasher (Head) n/a at this time September 2018
Doanryo Trainers Ross, Susan
Dokusan Hut Hax Baker February 2024
Family Practice Laurie Senauke
Friday Tea Host Judy Fleischman March 2024
Google Admin Dan Harden 9/1/2020
Half-Day Sitting Leader Gary Artim January 2024
Head Chiden Nancy Suib August 2022
Head Gardener Mira McQueen September 2018
Head Server Ellen Webb June 2021
Health & Safety Coordinator Pauline Kerschen January 2024
Ino Ross Blum February 2023
Head Jikido Rich Freitas March 2024
Kitchen Cleanliness Keeper Zachary Sherman March 2024
Laundry Ross Blum January 2018
Lecture, Student Talk Scheduler Ross Blum January 2022
Librarian Nick Robinson February 2022
Memorial Garden Altars Marian Yu August 2022
Newsletter Distribution Gen Fujioka May 2023
Newsletter Editor Ken Knabb July 2016
Noon Zazen Monitors Erna, James K, Preston May 2022
Office Manager Helen Cheng November 2020
Oryoki Instructor Sue Oehser September 2017
Oryoki Manager (provides supplies) Ellen Webb October 2019
Project Manager Greg Denny/ Mary Duryee January 2022
R&M Point Person Ross Blum Spring 1991
Recording Secretary (Board) Simone Brumis January 2024
Resident Head Brianna McGuire February 2024
Saturday Directors Joe Buckner & Margaux Winter Joe (Jan 2023) & Margaux (Jan 2024)
Sesshin in-person Mark Copithorne & Colleen Busch January 2024
Sewing Teacher Jean Selkirk Sometime in 2002
Shika (overnight guests) Helen Cheng March 2024
Social Media Administrator Jonathan Koltz October 2020
Sunday Sesshin Manager Helen Cheng January 2024
Supplies Shopper Tom Painter March 2024
Tantos Laurie Senauke, Susan Marvin February 2023
Tech Manager Gensan Kristopher Thomson September 2023
Tenzos Susan Marvin, Marie Hopper Susan (Jan 2019) & Marie (Jan 2024)
Web Administrator Dan Harden August 2020
Web Content Editor Jim Erb September 2022
Website Manager Laurie Senauke March 2020
Wednesday Night Group Gerry Oliva March 2009
Women’s Sesshin M Hopper, N Suib, M Duryee October 2018
Work Leader – Saturday Yoni Ackerman September 2023
Work Leader – Sesshin Genpo Senauke September 2023
Young EB Zen Joe Buckner, Yoni Ackerman February 2021
Zazen Instructors Coordinator Sue Oehser February 2024
Zendo & Online Tech Support Coordinator Yoni Ackerman October 2020

BZC Work Crew

We all treasure our temple. And like ourselves, our temple, specifically our temple property, needs a lot of love. Please read on about a new project to maybe get some more of the love flowing.

There are two main challenges of taking care of our sangha property. One is addressing large projects that require financing and/or the hiring of outside contractors or other vendors. Examples are the heating and ventilation project we just completed for the upstairs of 1929, and the upcoming project to replace all the windows downstairs in the community room and the kitchen. The generosity of members and friends makes these large and exciting projects happen.

There is a second challenge, though: all the smaller projects, repairs and tasks that could potentially be accomplished on our own, from within the sangha, if only we had more time. History shows that our sangha members are as generous with their labor, time, and sweat as with their pocketbooks. Unfortunately, the work periods in our schedule—sesshins, work days, Saturdays—do not offer enough time to address all the care our property needs.

For this reason, we would like to try a new initiative—the creation of an ongoing work crew, and we are looking for volunteers. The idea would be that folks would volunteer to be on the crew and offer time to help, but on their own schedule, in coordination with the project manager. Here are some of the other proposed features of this initiative:

1. Tasks would only be ones each volunteer is comfortable with. Possible tasks might include painting (there is a lot of painting we need to get done!), simple carpentry, simple home repairs, various cleaning (maybe messy cleaning, like scraping old paint).

2. Work would be accomplished during “off” sangha hours.

3. All necessary tools and materials would be provided.

4. Support and guidance would always be available from the project manager or others. I

If you are interested in being part of this crew, or if you have any questions, please contact Greg Denny at greg@techsperience.org. Thank you!

Tassajara Work-Study Week

Every year the Tassajara Mountain Zen Center provides an opportunity for sanghas to practice together as part of the Guest Practice Program during the summer guest season. Teachers from sanghas in the Suzuki Roshi lineage can bring a group of from 7 to 10 members including the teachers.

This year there will be two sangha week groups from BZC. The first will be July 2‒7, led by Ryushin Andrea Thach. The second will be September 3‒8, led by Ikushin Gerry Oliva and Mary Duryee. The daily program includes 5:50 a.m. zazen, 6:50 service, 7:15 soji (short work period), 7:30 breakfast with other guest students, 8:30 until noon work assignments, then noon lunch with students. The rest of the day will be structured by each study group. We will then join the guests for dinner and sit the final zazen period of the day.

The cost for these programs will be approximately $80 per day. We will plan to drive down together if possible. If we can’t drive all the way to Tassajara because of parking constraints, there is a stage from Carmel Valley to the Center for $65 round trip. If you are interested in participating, please let us know by the end of March. If there are more than 8 people interested, we will do this by lottery. There will be no scholarships available for this event.

If you are interested in participating or would like more information, please contact Ryushin Andrea Thach (andrea.thach@gmail.com) for the July week or Gerry Oliva (gryoliva@gmail.com) for the September week.

Schedule Changes During Practice Period

We are happy to announce that during our spring practice period we will experiment with a return to the pre-pandemic Saturday schedule, starting at 6:00 a.m. This means we will have oryoki breakfast in the zendo after two periods of zazen and service. After breakfast there will be a short rest period, a work period, another period of zazen, a dharma talk, and then tea and cookies outside.

The oryoki breakfasts will once again provide the opportunity to train cooks, assistant cooks, servers, head servers, and dishwashers (all of whom will sign up on the bulletin board on the CR porch). We are hoping to get back into the rhythm of this important aspect of BZC practice with all of you, both in signing up and attending!

Also, each day of the two practice period sesshins will start at 5:00 a.m. (while still ending at 5:30 p.m.). Both of the above changes are experiments, offering us a way to intensify our practice during the six-week practice period. Watch for more information to come. Meanwhile, please mark your calendars!

Abbot Hozan on Practice Periods

Our practice period, in the springtime when the circle of life turns in renewal, is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the practice of living an enlightened life, to renew our beginner’s mind. Practice period includes sitting, walking, chanting, cooking, serving, eating, working, resting—all of this is enlightened activity, woven into whole cloth by zazen.

BZC 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 do have recommended requirements, but within these requirements each person creates his/her/their own schedule. Some will be able to do only the minimum; others who are able can extend themselves further.

Each of us must be realistic about our capacity. The important thing—during practice period and throughout the year—is to clarify and set a 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 arrives at, we are all practicing together intimately.

Not everyone in the sangha has the time and energy to participate in practice period. That is completely understandable, and everyone is welcome to come to the zendo when they can. The PP class is open to all, and sesshins will be open to non-PP participants as space allows. 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.” (from the May‒June 2023 Newsletter)

Spring Practice Period

In Zen monasteries, intensive practice periods traditionally last for three months. At Berkeley Zen Center, our usual way is to hold a six- week practice period each spring, designed to support us to intensify and strengthen our practice while living in the midst of family and work responsibilities.

Last year’s practice period was led by Hozan Roshi and graced by our Shuso, Sue Oehser, and our Benji, Preston Evers. This year, in light of Hozan’s hospitalization, and after polling senior students and other sangha members, the Coordinating Committee has decided not to have a shuso. We will return to having a shuso when the conditions come together to make it just right. We will still offer a full and rich practice period, with the many events we include and enjoy, and we hope that many of you will participate as fully as you can.

The theme will be SEEING ONE THING THROUGH: Practice, Insight, and Daily Life. Senior students will lead the practice period using lectures on practice and daily life from Sojun Roshi’s new book, Seeing One Thing Through.

This year’s practice period—May 4 to June 16—will begin with an opening sesshin on Saturday, May 4, led by Carol Paul. Other events will include a Thursday evening class, a community dinner followed by a possible return of skit night, Saturday dharma talks, way- seeking mind talks, and small group teas with senior students leading discussions, culminating in a five-day sesshin June 12‒16. Detailed information, including signups for the practice period and for specific events, will be found on the BZC website in April.

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 with your teacher, contact the sewing teacher, Jean Selkirk (sewingteacher.bzc@gmail.com).