Old Plum Mountain


The Berkeley Zen Center: Life Inside the Gate

tells the story of the Berkeley Zen Center, one of the oldest, self-sustaining, lay practice centers in the nation.

Told through the experiences of its members as they practice Soto Zen's ancient rituals, do mindful work, cook and serve food, and sit zazen (meditation), this 65-minute documentary describes how this practice has dramatically changed, challenged, and sustained their lives. Founded in 1967 by the late Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and his student Sojun Mel Weitsman, this uniquely American Zen Center offers to all, lay person and priest, a safe and supportive place to engage in a path of spiritual exploration.

Why would people rise at five in the morning every day to sit for forty minutes in silence? What is it about zazen practive that is life changing, life affirming, and yet for many so difficult?

Old Plum Mountain answers these questions through interviews with its members and weaves a rich tapestry of ceremonies, rituals, and practice showing how the Berkeley Zen Center has crafted them into a unique version of American Zen.

Both inside and outside the gate, it tells the story of its members, men and women of all ages, who engage in this spiritual path that is life changing, affirming, and transforming.

Many thanks to:

San Francisco Film Society: sffs.org

Berkeley Zen Center: berkeleyzencenter.org

Watch the Trailer

Old Plum Mountain Trailer

We do not practice zazen to attain enlightenment,
but rather to express our true nature.

- Shunryu Suzuki Roshi