Berkeley Zen Center

United States

Berkeley Zen Center (BZC) is a Soto Zen Buddhist meditation and community center established in Berkeley in 1979 by Sojun Mel Weitsman Roshi. Housed in a warm home in South Berkeley, just down the street from Berkeley Bowl, the center offers a number of introductory meditation courses as well as more intensive half, full, and multi-day sittings. At the center, newcomers will discover a warm and welcoming community and supportive teachers to provide training and mentorship in Zen Buddhism.

Tradition & Practice
Kind of Place

Practice and Meditation

Zazen- sitting in stillness, or meditation- is central to Soto Zen practice. Berkeley Zen Center provides a number of regular meditation offerings as well as a number of other community events:

  • Meditation practice: SZC offers weekly sittings and study on Saturday mornings, and a number of other sittings throughout the week. Online sittings are also available through the center’s website. Introductory classes are also offered regularly for beginners.
  • Sesshin: Sesshin are meditation intensives ranging in length from a half-day to a week. The center offers a variety of day-long and multi-day intensive sittings for those looking to deepen their practice.
  • Dokusan: Hozan Sensei, SZC’s abbot, offers dokusan (formal and informal practice interviews) for those looking for support and insight into their practice.
  • Other offerings: The Center also offers opportunities for community service, youth zazen training, and meditative backpacking retreats for those wishing to engage in nature. The East Bay Express has also called the center’s Saturday-morning oryoki style breakfasts the “Best Way to Get Mindful over Breakfast.”

The Place

Located in a shingled-house on a quiet street in South Berkeley, Berkeley Zen Center offers a haven of serenity amidst the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area. The zendo, or meditation hall, sits behind the main house in a peaceful and well-tended garden. The center is a 5-10 minute walk from the Ashby BART station, and street parking is also available on Martin Luther King Boulevard, Milvia, and Oregon. The center kindly requests that visitors do not park on Russell Ave out of respect for neighbors. The Center does not offer overnight or residential programs.

Lineage and

Soto Zen is one of the major practices of Zen Buddhism and emphasizes the practice of zazen, or sitting meditation. By learning how to be still, we are able to realize our original nature and carry that experience into daily life. The founder of Soto Zen is Dogen Zenji from Japan and the lineage of teachers trace back to the the 6th Century Chinese Chan/Zen founder Bodhidharma.

Furthermore, teachers of this lineage descend from the historic Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, in India over 2500 years ago.

1931 Russell St
United States

proudly written by

Derek Bergmann

Derek Bergmann is a secondary teacher and writer focusing on philosophy and religious studies. Though he currently call Los Angeles home, Derek grew up in the Bay Area and also spent some time living in a religious commune in Switzerland. Derek is fascinated by peoples' diverse and idiosyncratic relationships with the transcendent, and is always eager to explore the sacred practices and places that serve as bridges to fullness.

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Derek Bergmann

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