Category Archives: News

Tea Time Turnover

Every Friday just before the afternoon zazen period, BZC welcomes members and friends for tea, tasty treats, and informal discussion. Weather permitting, we meet in the garden; otherwise, in the community room. Amaselu Meyer, who has graciously hosted these teas during the last four years, has handed off the baton. The Friday gatherings are now hosted by a rotating team of BZC senior students, and the new tea time is 5:00‒5:30 p.m. If you have any questions, please contact Ellen Webb at Better yet, simply show up and join us!

Oryoki Training

The next lesson in our formal meal procedures (“oryoki”) will be Saturday, May 4, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. (location to be announced). The one after that will be Saturday, June 1, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the zendo. If you would like to schedule another time to learn or fine-tune your oryoki practice, please contact Sue Oehser at or 510-339-0243 (voice only).

Briefer oryoki instruction is also offered before breakfast at all full Saturday morning programs, except during sesshins

No More Disposable Utensils

Over the years BZC has used different kinds of utensils at receptions and special events (Buddha’s Birthday, Jukai, Ordinations, etc.). The Practice Committee has discussed this issue many times and has now decided that the better course for the future is to get away from using any kind of disposable utensils (forks and spoons mostly). Even disposables that are called “compostable” are reportedly not currently viewed by the City of Berkeley as compostable waste. To avoid any confusion, and to support a sustainable future, we will in the future use washable metal utensils at special events. This is part of our commitment to reduce the amount of waste generally, and nonrecylable plastic in particular, as our planet begins to move away from plastic. Thanks for your cooperation in this matter.

Continuous Prayer Chant

How can we support sangha brothers and sisters who are about to have a surgery procedure, who are in recovery from an accident, who are undergoing a difficult health problem, or who are transitioning from this life? One possible loving action is to join with them by means of a continuous prayer chant (the En Mei Jukku Kannon Gyo) for the duration of the surgery, or in some situations, during a whole day. Persons who have received such prayer chants speak of feeling the sense of being held, contained in loving support and healing.

With the agreement of the abbots, the coordinator, and the Practice Committee, we are establishing this practice at BZC and hope that recipients of the continuous prayer chant find it supportive and healing.

Here is how it works: If someone would like to receive this support, they make a request through Penelope Luminous Heart Thompson, who is coordinating this new process. They give her the information and details that they wish to give about their condition and the amount of time that would be helpful. (For example, if a surgery is to last approximately two hours, the chanting could begin an hour or two earlier while the recipient is in pre-op, and could continue for another two hours post-op.)

Upon receiving this request and informa­tion, Luminous Heart will send out a signup sheet with half-hour slots in which people can add their names. The idea is to fill each of these slots, so there is continuous prayer and energy being sent.

This is a new process at BZC and is presented as an experiment, in the hope that members may find this experience healing during a challenging time in their lives.

Sojun’s Birthday, Save the Date! Saturday, July 20, 2019

On Saturday, July 20, after the Saturday pro­gram, we’ll have a party to celebrate Sojun’s 90th, and roll out some of the “deliverables” of our new “Many Hands History Project.” There will be plenty of food and music, and T-shirts (long-sleeved!) and aprons for sale.

Note that we’ll not be having the early part of the program that Saturday (though there will be informal zazen at 6:00 a.m.). Rather, we’ll start with work period at 8:30. Details will follow, including how you can help out for this celebration.

The BZC Board and the Development Commit­tee are hoping to raise $20,000 in 2019 for the “Many Hands” project, which includes digitizing early lecture tapes and organizing videos, photo­graphs, and all kinds of files and docu­ments. Members and friends will be getting a letter with more details in early June.

If you would like to preorder a T-shirt or apron, send an email, including your size (men’s sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL), to Laurie at



Lay Ordination Saturday, June 15, 2019, 3:00 pm

This year’s Zaike Tokudo (Lay Ordination Ceremony) will take place Saturday, June 15, at 3:00 p.m. in the zendo. Alex Roehrkasse will receive lay ordination from Sojun Roshi. Ellen Levin will receive lay ordination from Hozan Sensei. Congratu­lations in advance to the ordinees, who have been studying and sewing diligently with our sewing teacher, Jean Selkirk. Everyone is encouraged to attend the ceremony and the reception afterwards. Check the zendo bulletin board for details, and please sign up to assist with preparation and cleanup.

In Memoriam: Jed Appelman

Our Dharma brother Tokusan Jakusho Jed Appelman passed away in his home on February 26, with family and a few friends present. Sojun Roshi presided over a simple bedside service. Jed had chosen a Green Burial at Fernwood Cemetery in Mill Valley in keeping with the simplicity of his life—just returning to the earth.

Jed had been a Quaker for many years prior to coming to BZC and maintained a concurrent practice at the Strawberry Meeting. He came to Buddhism through the Vipassana tradition and later found Zen by sitting with James Baraz, an early member at BZC, and spending time at Tassajara, where his son Soren was a resident student for ten years.

Jed was a clinical psychologist and also worked in the early days of Silicon Valley. His last employ was at Kaiser, supporting research in strokes and other conditions that he himself had lived with for much of his seventy years.

At BZC Jed was on the Board and held many of the usual practice positions of a devoted student, including and especially Head Server. Jed loved serving us, as anyone receiving his offerings could attest. He embodied metta practice.

He had polio as a child but carried that pain and challenge with equanimity. His deter­mi­nation to practice was evident, and in the remain­ing months of his life Sojun Roshi ordained him as a priest. The BZC and Quaker sanghas, along with his family, witnessed this event. Jed wore the robes as if he’d been a priest for a very long time.

Jed was our foremost welcomer of new­comers. After programs, he sat on the Zendo steps and took the time to have unhurried conversations, getting to know people well. He remembered his new friends and found ways to integrate them into our practice.

This poem (by Mary Elizabeth Frye) was read at Jed’s burial by his brother Dan:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sun on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awake in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight.

I am the soft star-shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there. I did not die.

American Sutra Friday, May 3, 2019, 5:40 p.m

Friday, May 3, at 5:40 p.m., Professor Duncan Ryuken Williams of USC will offer a dharma talk and conversation with Hozan Alan Senauke at BZC, based on his remarkable new book, American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War. This groundbreaking history, just released by Harvard University Press, tells the little-known story of how, in one of our country’s darkest hours, Japanese Americans fought to defend their faith and preserve religious freedom. The mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II is not only a tale of injustice; it is a moving story of faith. In this path-breaking account, Prof. Williams reveals how, even as they were stripped of their homes and imprisoned in camps, Japanese American Buddhists launched one of the most inspiring defenses of religious freedom in our nation’s history, insisting that they could be both Buddhist and American.

Books will be available for sale and signing by Professor Williams. For more information, see the book’s website: www.

Practice Period Sesshins Saturday, May 11, 2019 and June 19-23, 2019

Our practice period will open with a one-day sesshin on Saturday, May 11, and end with a five-day sesshin June 19‒23. Hozan Alan Senauke will be leading both sesshins. Sesshin days run from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. except the final day of the five-day sesshin, which ends with the Shuso Hossen (3:30‒5:00 p.m.) followed by a reception.

Please sign up for the one-day sesshin by Wednesday morning, May 8, and for the five-day by Saturday, June 15. If this is your first sesshin at BZC, we recommend that you first participate in a full Saturday program, have oryoki instruction, and speak with the sesshin director.

The fee is $35 per day, which should be paid in advance. Put checks marked “May sesshin” or “June sesshin” in the courtyard laundry room mail slot, or mail to BZC Office Manager, 1931 Russell St., Berkeley, CA 94703.

For additional information, please see the bulletin board or contact the sesshin director, Gary Artim ( or (510) 676-9756). If you wish to stay over any of the nights, contact the shika, Hannah Meara ( or 831-566-3878).