Category Archives: Old News

Oryoki Training

I invite you to take advantage of the next oryoki training, especially before Aspects of Practice. I will be offering it Saturday, September 21, and Saturday, October 19, either in the zendo or in the community room, from 11:30 to 12:15 after morning program, or by appoint­ment. Please contact me, Sue Oehser, at (510) 339-0243 (voice, not text), or text (510) 541-3264, or for questions or to arrange another time to meet.

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

CPR/AED Class “Life Is Too Important Not to Be Prepared”

On October 12 LifeSaver CPR will offer a class on CPR and the use of our AED unit. The class will be held in the zendo from 1:00 to 2:30. BZC has used LifeSaver CPR before, and participant response has been overwhelmingly positive. Participants will receive CPR certification, which is valid for two years.

This is a wonderful way to help ensure the well-being and safety of our sangha members.

The class has been funded by BZC and is free for all BZC members and friends, although dana of $40 is suggested to help offset the cost of the class.

To take the class, you need to do two things: (1) sign up on the patio bulletin board with your email address, and (2) send an email to Health & Safety Coordinator Jake Van Akkeren ( so that he can send an email link for you to complete your registration online with LifeSaver CPR. The online registration process is required by LifeSaver CPR. The sign-up sheet will be posted by September 10.

The sign-up deadline is October 2. A minimum of ten participants is required to hold the class, and class size is capped at 24.

Sejiki Saturday, October 26, 2019, 10:15 am

Sejiki is a popular Buddhist festival that highlights the connection between our world and the worlds of spirits. At BZC, we offer it as a sort of Buddhist Halloween. The ceremony is a mixture of spooky and solemn—there will be costumes and noisemakers, but we will also recite the names of departed friends and family and make offerings to appease our own hungry ghosts. This year’s Sejiki ceremony will be held on Saturday, October 26. To allow preparation time for the ceremony, we will not be having early morning zazen or breakfast. Instead, we will begin with a work period at 8:30 a.m. to prepare our temple for the cere­mony. The formal program will start with zazen at 9:40, followed by a short lecture and the ceremony at 10:15.

Both children and adults are encouraged to participate, to wear costumes and bring noise-makers. If you bring your children, please come directly to the zendo at 10:15 as there is no childrens’ program prior to that time. Please direct any questions about the childrens’ participation to Hannah Meara at For more information about the program, please contact Carol Paul at or (510) 206-5051. You can also give Carol names of departed ones to be recited during the ceremony of whom we might not be aware, or if you will not be able to attend.

Jizo Ceremony Saturday, October 12, 2019 1:00-3:00 pm

The loss of a loved one often opens a well of profound grief. No matter how the loved one dies, suddenly or slowly, whether through illness, accident, violence, miscarriage, abortion, or suicide, our sorrow is deep and may be long-lasting. To help families and friends in their process of grief, we will honor our lost loved ones in a ceremony in our Jizo garden on Saturday, October 12, 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Jizo, the Earth Store Bodhisattva, one of the four great bodhisattvas in the Mahayana school, is viewed as a wise and compassionate guide and protector for those who are endur­ing the loss of a loved one, particularly the loss of a child. Jizo’s vow is to remain in the world until all beings are free from suffering. She/he accompanies the dead when they pass out of this world.

Before the ceremony we will spend time in the community room making a personal memorial token for a lost one, by writing a message or by making a simple necklace, a robe for our garden Jizo statue, or some other offering. Attendees are also invited to bring a picture of their loved one or other personal tokens of remembrance for our altar.

The ceremony will be led by two BZC priests, Gerry Oliva and Judy Fleischman. All BZC members, members of other Zen groups, and neighborhood residents are invited to attend. A more detailed description will be posted on the BZC courtyard bulletin board. There is no fee, but offerings of dana are welcome. We will not have a sign-up sheet, but request that those attending let us know in advance so that we can have adequate supplies and refreshments. For more information or to let us know that you’re coming, contact Gerry Oliva at or (510) 652-7217.

Sangha Potluck & Nominations Meeting Tuesday, September 24, 6:30 p.m.

All BZC members and friends are invited to attend our semi-annual potluck and sangha meeting on Tuesday, September 24, 6:30 p.m. In addition to celebrating fellowship, the Board will present the nominees for the three members-at-large Board positions that begin January 2020.

We will also accept additional nominations during the meeting. If you would like to nomi­nate someone, please do two things: obtain their permission prior to the meeting, and let Ed Herzog (chair of the Nominations and Elections Committee) know in advance.

A great deal of care, time, and commitment has been put into the nominating process to make it as fair and unbiased as possible.

Women’s Retreat Sunday, October 20, 2019, 8:30 am - 1:30 pm

There will be a half-day women’s retreat on Sunday, October 20, led by Kenshin Catherine Cascade.

Catherine was ordained as a monk in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives in 2000 and, following a Transfer of Discipleship, was re-ordained as a priest in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi by Hozan Alan Senauke in 2004. She received Dharma Transmission from Hozan Sensei in 2012. Catherine is a former BZC resident who now lives in rural Oregon with her partner, John Mogey. Together they offer a Zen practice program at their Bird Haven Zendo.

The retreat schedule will be 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It will include periods of zazen and kin­hin as well as a talk and followup discussion. Lunch will be served at the end of the morning. The fee is $20. A sign-up sheet will be posted on the bulletin board two weeks prior to the retreat. You can also sign up via email.

If you have any questions, please contact Leslie Bartholic ( or Mary Duryee (

Special Lecture Friday, September 20, 2019, 5:40 pm

On Friday afternoon, September 20, at 5:40 Sensho Watanabe Roshi, a special lecturer sent to Zen centers in the U.S. by Soto Zen headquarters in Japan, will give a talk: “How to Live Here and Now—Engagement from the One and a Half Person Perspective.” Rev. Watanabe is head priest at Toryuji Temple in Niigata, Japan. For twelve years he has served as Tokuha Fukyoshi, a teacher dispatched to convey principles of Dogen and Keizan Zenji to Zen communities around the world.

Study Sesshin: The Dharma of Martin Luther King Saturday, September 7, 2019, 5:00 am - 5:00 pm

There are wonderful resonances between our Buddhist understanding and Dr. King’s vision of interdependence, nonviolence, and Beloved Community. During our Study Sesshin on Saturday, September 7 (led by Hozan Alan Senauke) we’ll have a chance to explore and discuss these resonances. We will sit from 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and the day will include zazen, oryoki meals for breakfast and lunch, soji, and two sessions of study and discussion. Copies of reading materials will be available on the bulletin board shelf prior to the sesshin.

Please sign up on the patio bulletin board by Wednesday, September 4, 7:00 a.m. For more information, contact sesshin director Gary Artim:

Prison Chaplaincy Book Event Friday, August 2, 2019 - 5:40 pm

On Friday, August 2, at 5:40 p.m. in the zendo (the time of our usual First Friday talk), we will have a special presentation and book signing event with Buddhist teacher, scholar, and writer Cuong Lu. His book The Buddha in Jail is a collection of 52 vignettes—stories and teachings about Cuong Lu’s six years as a prison chaplain. Cuong discovered that when the men inside allowed themselves to feel their pain—including remorse from committing crimes—knowing and feeling the truth became a source of strength for them. And when the inmates felt listened to, understood, and not judged, it transformed their sense of who they are, and as a result changed their attitudes and their behavior.

This book is not just about the prisoners. It’s about all of us. We’re each caught in distorted and limiting ideas of ourselves. We don’t believe freedom and happiness are attainable. But when we come to believe in ourselves, we discover the freedom and happiness already within.

Cuong Lu will give a short presentation, answer questions, and be available to sign books. If you would like to preorder a book, email Laurie at

Mountains and Rivers Sesshin August 1-4, 2019

Signups for BZC’s annual Mountains & Rivers Sesshin are live and we’re looking for partici­pants. The sesshin, led by Andrea Ryushin Thach, will take place Thursday, August 1, through Sunday, August 4. A mandatory orientation meeting will be held the preceding Tuesday (July 30) and payments, signups, and cancellations are all due by July 20.

The sesshin will take place at Point Reyes Coast Camp and will include alternate routes to the campsite to accommodate varying needs. The format follows BZC sesshin forms to the extent possible, including long periods of silence, sitting zazen, shared responsibilities and sesshin positions. If you are new to backpacking or to sesshins, please speak with the director, Kelsey Hermann. People new to zazen are encouraged to attend a Saturday morning at BZC to get a feel for our forms.

This sesshin is a wonderful way to connect with other practitioners and experience practice in the wilderness. If you or someone you know is interested in attending, please fill out an application at the following link: You may also email the director at We hope to see many old and new faces there!