About Berkeley Zen Center
The Berkeley Zen Center 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.
Meditation, which is called zazen, or sitting in stillness, is the center of our practice,
following and adapting the traditions of Soto Zen Buddhism.
At BZC our everyday activity, as it extends from zazen, is the field where practice finds its full expression.
The Center was established in 1967 by the late Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, with the help of his student Mel Weitsman. Suzuki Roshi came to San Francisco from Japan in 1959, and in the following years founded San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery. He died in 1971, having successfully planted the seeds of Zen in the California soil. The warmhearted teaching of Suzuki Roshi as recorded in his
well-known book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, and in his most recent book, Branching Streams Flow in the Dark, continues to be a touchstone and inspiration for all our efforts.
Training & Study
Our Abbot, Sojun Mel Weitsman
was born in Los Angeles in 1929. His broad life experience includes years of art study and abstract expressionist painting, work as a house painter,
boat painter, cab driver, and music instructor. Mel
lives in North Berkeley with his wife Liz; they have
a son named Daniel.
In 1964, Sojun Roshi began to practice at San
Francisco Zen Center on Bush Street, and in
1969 he was ordained by Suzuki Roshi as resident
priest at the Berkeley Zendo. He received Dharma Transmission from Suzuki Roshi's son and
successor, Gyugaku Hoitsu, at Rinsoin temple
in Japan in 1984, and was officially installed as
Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center in 1985.
Along with his responsibilities in Berkeley, Sojun
Roshi helps train students and teachers at several affiliated temples. From 1988 to 1997 he served as
Co-Abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center. Sojun
Roshi has given Dharma Transmission to numerous students, each of whom draws on their experience
and understanding in offering Sojun and Suzuki
Roshi's teaching to others.
Vice-Abbot Hozan Alan Senauke
began practicing at BZC on Dwight Way and later established his practice as a student of Sojun
Roshi in the early1980s. He was ordained at BZC
in 1989 and received Dharma Transmission from
Sojun Roshi at Tassajara in 1998. He has been
Tanto or Head of Practice at BZC since 1997,
and was installed as BZC's Vice Abbot in 2007.
Hozan brings a global perspective on socially-
engaged Buddhism and Zenas a force for positive change. Since 1991 Alan has been a leader at
Buddhist Peace Fellowship. More recently he
has founded the Clear View Project, bringing
Buddhist-based resources and support where
it is needed around the world.
Hozan was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1947.
He brings to our sangha a rich life experience as
a writer and editor, a social justice activist, and a respected folk musician. Alan has been a resident
at Berkeley Zen Center for 25 years. He and his
wife Laurie have raised their two children, Silvie
and Alex, at BZC.