Now in its 41st year of zen practice, the Berkeley Zen Center (BZC) is a place where people practice zazen together daily, with the support of the Zen Center community, under the guidance of abbot Sojun Mel Weitsman Roshi and vice-abbot, Hozan Alan Senauke.
The late Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, with the help of his student, Sojun Mel Weitsman, established the Center in 1967. Suzuki Roshi came to San Francisco from Japan in 1959, and in the following years founded San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC) and Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery. He died in 1971, having successfully planted seeds of Zen in the California soil.
Abbot Weitsman served as Co-Abbot of SFZC from 1988 to 1997, and Vice-Abbot Senauke was the director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF) for 11 years.
Our general membership numbers more than a 150, most living in Berkeley, California and the surrounding area. The dues, donations, and strong work practice of members and friends who come from all walks of life and different age groups support us.
Along with daily zazen there are other opportunities for practice and study at BZC. Zazen instruction is given each Saturday morning. Introductory classes and training are offered for new people, as well as weekly classes on Buddhist subjects year round. Each month there is an intensive meditation period of one or two days as well as regular half-day sittings. Several times a year there are longer sittings that last three, five, or seven days. Each year there is a six-week practice period, and a one-month period where students can intensify their daily Zen practice and meditation.
BZC priests participate in SPOT (Shogaku Priest Ongoing Training). This involves teachers helping to develop an understanding of practice as priests in the world outside the temple.
BZC supports BPF and in December 2007 helped sponsor Hozan Sensei’s witness delegation to Burma. Members also participated in Bay Area activities supporting democracy for Burma and Tibet.
Members of BZC are active leading meditation and Buddhist study in local prisons and jails for women and men.Twice a month, the Center provides meals for homeless men at the Berkeley Men's Shelter.
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