Join us for a 2-Day Sesshin in February

Please join us for two days that will make a difference: Weekend Sesshin (Retreat) Saturday, February 16, 7:30am – Sunday, February 17, 5:30 pm.

Everyone is welcome.

Application Deadline: February 9.

In the midst of our busy lives, it can be difficult to remember to pay attention to our lives. Each activity seems to pull us from one moment to the next. Even if we meditate every morning, we might still find ourselves being swept up in the current. So how do we keep strong the habit of awareness, of being awake to our lives, even in the midst of each busy day?

One of the most powerful tools we have for doing this is sesshins (retreats), extended periods of time set aside for simply paying attention. Sesshin gives us the opportunity to step out of the swift current of everyday life and enter a time of radical simplicity. We eat, we walk, we sit, and with each activity we offer our full attention. In doing so, we remind the body and mind that being awake in this moment, and the sanity and simplicity that comes with being fully present, is available in every moment of our lives.

If you often find that you can’t set aside time for this important aspect of practice because of family, work or other commitments, this sesshin offers you that opportunity to participate. With all our sesshins, we are flexible with the needs of individuals. If you have any questions, please contact the sesshin director, Bill Press at

Space is limited, so be sure to apply early.

Join Us for Practice Opportunities this Fall

Please Join Us for Any or All of Four Practice Opportunities:

Diamond Sutra Class: 6 Weeks

October 6 – November 10, 2012, Saturdays, 11am – 1pm
Diamond Sutra Class Registration
Registration Deadline: October 3, 2012
Cost: non-members: $120; members: $60

Sometime around 400 BC, after returning from begging for his daily meal in a nearby city, the Buddha returned to the forest preserve where he was staying with his followers. He put away his robe and stone begging bowl, went outside, washed his feet and sat down on a wooden seat just outside his door. Sounds a bit like what many of us might do after a day’s work earning our living. We return home and settle into householder life. The Buddha’s long time student, Subhuti, approaches him and asks him to please offer instruction as to how we can all be freed from suffering. So, the Buddha begins his teaching and The Diamond Sutra is born. Such a simple everyday action opens one of the most profound of the wisdom teachings.

The full title of this sutra is The Diamond that Cuts Through Illusion. With the strength and precision of a diamond cutter, the sutra cuts through to the very core of our every day discontent and suffering. The versus are rich with imagery and offer profound insight into the wisdom teachings of interconnection and emptiness. Yet they are only useful to the extent that we see how they connect with our daily life. The sutra comes to life in our very being as it manifests through our joys, sorrows, strengths, weakness, life and death. It invites us to consider how we eat a meal, drink a glass of water, drive the freeway, attend a meeting at work, communicate with each other, take care of our environment.

Although it is not necessary to be participating in the Practice Period, exploring this sutra within the context of a Practice Period can be especially helpful in that one reinforces the other. However, if it is not possible for you to do both at this time, please do sign-up for just the class.

Although the class will draw on discussion from various viewpoints, the primary translation will be Red Pine’s Diamond Sutra (Counterpoint).

If you live at a distance, it’s easy to participate fully in the class through Skype/Teleconferencing. Just be sure to indicate on your registration.

All registration forms must be received by October 3rd. To sign up, go to Diamond Sutra Class Registration. Please make your check payable to Bay Zen Center and write “Diamond Sutra Class” on your check and on the envelope. People registering from out of the U.S. may make their payment through PayPal.

Fall Practice Period: 4 Weeks

October 20 – November 18
Registration Deadline: October 13, 2012

Zen is not some fancy, special art of living.
Our teaching is just to live, always in reality,
in its exact sense.

–Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

No matter how serious we are about maintaining our Zen practice in daily life, we may often find that our commitment to engage with life in an open and sane way ebbs and flows over time. Sometimes this troubles us and leads us to make judgments about our selves and the practice itself, and can give rise to doubts as to whether or not we should continue. However, this process is quite normal.

A dynamic practice is one that ebbs and flows, changing with the circumstances of our life. If we truly engage in the changing conditions of our life, we begin to understand that these conditions are our life and that a strong practice is one that adjusts accordingly. We don’t lessen the strength of our commitment, but we learn to shape that commitment according to the reality of conditions. This is especially true when we make this commitment with others who are also engaged in work, family, community and the many other activities we engage in today’s world. So Practice Period is a time devoted to help us clarify and re-prioritize our commitment to practice in this way.

It is a commitment to commitment. In doing so, we renew our effort, engage patience, and develop perseverance – all important pillars that sustain us as we gradually learn how not to always be caught in the seemingly relentless force of our conditioned reactions.

If you are interested in joining us, please read the following guidelines and complete and mail in the registration form. Remember, you choose your commitments depending on your personal responsibilities.  The only requirement is that you make the commitment to make your practice your life’s priority for 4 weeks.

This year’s Practice Period will begin with an all day sitting (8:30 – 5pm) on October 20th and end with a five day sesshin (November 13, 7pm – November 18, noon).

Local participants are asked to consider the following commitments:

  • Attend the all day sitting:  Saturday, October 20, 8:30am – 5pm. Go to: All Day Sitting Registration to sign up
  • Attend the five day sesshin: November 13, 7pm – Sunday, November 18, noon. To apply, go to: November Sesshin Application
  • As a minimum, do zazen each and every day of the practice period for a minimum of 30 minutes. If you already sit daily, you might consider sitting twice daily or lengthening the sitting period.
  • Have daisan in person once a week. Daisan will be held twice a week.
  • Attend every Wednesday evening zazen
  • Attend every Wednesday evening Dharma talks on October 10, 17, 24, 31, November 7
  • Attend at least one morning per week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday
  • Register for and attend Diamond Sutra class.  Go to:  Diamond Sutra Class RegistrationPlease note that this class runs for 6 weeks: October 6 – November 10. You must register for this class separately from your Practice Period Registration.
  • Choose a daily practice focus for each day, each week, and all 4 weeks from the Focus List

Distant participants are asked to consider the following commitments:

  • Participate at home in All Day Sitting as close to local time as possible – Saturday, October 20, 8:30am – 5pm
  • Participate at home or travel to the Zen Center for the 5 Day Sesshin: November 13, 7pm – Sunday, November 18, noon. Depending on time possibility, listen to and participate in sesshin Dharma talks via skype/teleconferencing. (Dharma talks will be at 11am making it possible for people in Europe to participate.) Go to: All Day Sitting Registration to sign-up.
  • As a minimum, do zazen each and every day of the practice period for a minimum of 30 minutes.  If you already sit daily, you can consider sitting twice daily or lengthening the sitting period.
  • Have telephone/skype Practice Discussion with Diane once a week  (Additional time will be specifically reserved for Practice Period participants. The time will be announced after we have received sign up from everyone).
  • Sit at home (as close to the time that is reasonable given your time zone) at the same time we are sitting in the zendo (Pacific Daylight Saving Time):
    • Monday, Tuesday & Thursday, 7am – 7:40am
    • Wednesdays: 6:30pm – 7:15 pm: Zazen, Walking Meditation; 7:15-7:50pm: Dharma talk – October 10, 17, 24, 31, November 7
  • Register for and participate by teleconferencing or Skype in the Diamond Sutra Class. Go to: Diamond Sutra Class RegistrationPlease note that this class runs for 6 weeks: October 6 – November 10. You must register for this class separately from your Practice Period Registration.
  • Choose a practice focus for each day, each week, and all 4 weeks from the Focus List

All Day Sitting

Saturday, October 20, 8:30am – 5pm
Registration deadline is October 15th. Go to All Day Sitting Registration to sign up.
Cost: $10 (Includes lunch)

This All Day Sitting is a good way for newcomers to get acqainted to a longer sitting experience while at the same time offering a good boost for old-timers. This all day sitting also marks the beginning of our Fall 4 Week Practice Period. However, you do not need to be participating in the Practice Period to sit the day.

5 Day Sesshin

November 13, 7pm – Sunday, November 18, noon
Deadline for application is October 27th.
Go to Sesshin Application

Participating in five days of silence and meditation is a good way to prepare ourselves for the busy holiday season.  This sesshin marks the end of our 4 week Practice Period but it is open to anyone who would like to join us.

Dharma School for Children – Registration now open

Commencing in October, we begin our fourth year of Dharma School offering opportunities and encouragement for children to develop the foundations of mindfulness, compassion and wise action. Laying these foundations at a young age offers children the opportunity for them to develop these fundamental Dharma teachings as they grow into adulthood.

We are pleased to announce that we have expanded the Dharma School program to include two levels of classes: Level 1 for 4 – 6 year olds (4 by December 31) and Level 2 for 7 – 11 year olds (7 by December 31).

Through developmentally appropriate activities in art, music, play, storytelling, discussion and meditation, children will deepen their understanding of themselves and the world they live in. They begin to recognize and practice simple values such as listening attentively, paying close attention to their actions, developing the process of patience, giving, receiving and many other important teachings.

The school is open to children of all backgrounds.

Dharma School Application – due by August 30

More information about the Dharma School

If you have further questions about Level 1, please contact Elana Auerbach at  For further questions about Level 2, contact Elanne Kresser at