If it’s your first time joining us, it’s helpful to arrive 5-10 minutes early to the zendo to settle in. All newcomers receive a brief 20-minute orientation to zazen, our center, and rituals. We adapt this brief meeting to your level of experience. After orientation, participants are welcome to join the sangha for the rest of the program. Please let the greeter know it’s your first time and they will assist you.
Beginner’s mind is celebrated in Zen for its openness and attention to the present moment, free from preconceived expectations. To study Zen means to be constantly letting go of conceptual ideas of ourselves and others to meet the world afresh — a state of vitality, rooted in our inherent wisdom and compassion. It is not necessary to have special meditation skills or adopt any particular belief to take up Zen practice — the only thing required is a curious mind and willingness to explore Buddhist teachings and how they relate to your own life.
The Buddha taught his disciples to be a lamp unto themselves. Zen emphasizes this through the practice of zazen, the direct experience of the one’s own mind. Zazen, or Zen meditation, means “just sitting” and is considered both a means to, and expression of awakening. It is a path of investigation into our everyday lives of work, relationships, community and nature. Through the day-to-day practice of Zen, we have a chance to discover new responses to the deepest questions of life and meet our struggles with wisdom, love, and compassion.
12 Step Zen
While there is no strict order in how one takes up practice with us, the following is a general progression many practitioners experience.
1. Begin Practice of Zazen
All practice comes back to the mind of zazen.
2. Participate in Weekly Sangha Sits
Learn from others. Consider joining and getting connected to a practice mentor.
3. Study the Dharma
Attend classes. Find books, podcasts, and teachings that inspire your practice.
4. Develop a Home Practice
Create a home altar, sitting space, and regular routine.
5. Sign up for Sanzen
Meet with the teacher for feedback and support.
6. Take a One-Month Vow
Be supported by sangha in the eight gates of Zen.
7. Participate in Retreats
Immerse yourself in silent meditation, ritual, and study.
8. Sign up for a Study Group
Engage in intimate dharma study with the sangha.
9. Serve the Sangha
Cooking, gardening, taking care of the altar — service roles are a central part of Zen training.
10. Attend Sesshin
Day after day returning to zazen. We are radically changed by long retreats.
11. Participate in Ango
A 100-day intensified fall training period. Participants make a vow of practice and share experiences and support.
12. Study and Receive the Precepts
Commit to Buddhist ethics as one’s primary guide in life.