Berkeley Buddhist Priory is located in the City of Berkeley in Northern California. It is a Buddhist temple following the tradition of Serene Reflection Meditation, which was known as Soto Zen in Japan and Ts’ao-Tung (Chan) in China. The teaching and practice emphasize meditation, guiding one’s lives by the moral Precepts of Buddhism, awakening the heart of compassion, and expressing it through selfless activity in everyday life. The Priory was established in 1973. It offers a regular schedule of meditation, Dharma classes, Buddhist services, and day-retreats, as well as spiritual guidance. It also offers meditation instruction and workshops for beginners. There are no fees for participating in above activities or any other services that the Priory offers. Like other affiliated temples of OBC, the Priory is financially independent; we are supported entirely by donations of our congregation and friends.
The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives was founded in 1978 by Rev. Master P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett, a Buddhist Master in the Serene Reflection Meditation (Soto Zen) tradition. Born in England in 1924, Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett became a Buddhist in the Theravada tradition. She was later introduced to Rinzai Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki in London where she held membership in, and lectured at, the London Buddhist Society. She studied at Trinity College of Music, London, where she was awarded a Fellowship and obtained the degree of Bachelor of Music from Durham University.
The Serene Reflection Meditation (Soto Zen) tradition is the oldest tradition extant within Zen Buddhism. It was brought from China and introduced into Japan by Great Master Dogen in the 13th century. This teaching stresses the practice of meditation, the necessity of keeping the Buddhist Precepts, and the unity of training and enlightenment. Although the external form of Buddhist practice has changed and adapted to each particular culture as Buddhism moved from India, to China, to Japan and now to the West, the essence of the Buddha’s teaching remains unchanged. The Buddhist training in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives continues as part of this unbroken religious tradition.