Make sure to check out Old Plum Mountain: The Berkeley Zen Center—Life Inside the Gate, the first selection for the new Tricycle Film Club. The film, directed by Ed Herzog, documents the beginnings of the Berkeley Zen Center and touches on several aspects of Soto Zen practice and daily life in the sangha. The grainy 8mm videos of Russell street Zen Center in its construction, and shots of the attic zendo in the earlier days in the Dwight Way house are gems for the history of American Buddhism, and deserve a glance. In addition, Sojun Mel Weitsman, abbot of the BZC, and other leaders at the Berkeley Zen Center provide the audience with unique and insightful comments recounting their interactions with Suzuki Roshi.
When Tricycle’s associate editor Sam Mowe inquired into the reason behind why this film was made, Ed Werzog replied that he “was motivated by a desire to spread the dharma and show what was possible when people practiced together in a place inspired by compassion and care for each other.” I admire Ed’s intention, and despite a few awkward moments where people practice kinhin (walking meditation) around the block of the center, and brief moments of film serenaded by piano melodies, this film has the potential to inspire your spiritual practice. Old Plum Mountain is available for viewing only until January 15th, so don’t wait too long. To view this film, go here, and to view future Buddhist films in the Tricycle Film Club, join the Tricycle Community!