Established in 2000, Austin Zen Center was founded to carry on the warm-hearted teaching of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, as recorded in his well-known book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Suzuki Roshi's teaching follows the Soto Zen tradition brought from China to Japan in the thirteenth century by Zen master Eihei Dogen. The Soto school of Zen has all the formality and discipline of other schools of Zen, but is particularly characterized by its patient and tender-hearted approach to practice. When the mind of zazen is lovingly extended to everyday life, our awareness of each moment increases and deep wisdom and compassion are born. Austin Zen Center offers many opportunities to practice Zen Buddhism.
Beginner's Orientation: Every Saturday at 8:00am. If you can't make it, give us a call and we will arrange another time for you.
Zazen (Seated Meditation): Upright sitting in open-hearted and clear-minded awareness. This is the heart of Zen Buddhist practice.
Zen Ceremonies: Bringing the mind of meditation into expressions of devotion and gratitude to the whole world.
Dharma talks: The Zen equivalent of a sermon, by our resident teachers and visiting teachers.
Practice Discussions (“dokusan” with the Head Teacher): Having regular, encouraging face-to-face meetings with any of our teachers or Practice Leaders about your life in practice is an integral part of the Zen tradition.
Classes: Studying the Buddha's teachings and how to apply these teachings to our daily life.
Precepts: The Zen precepts are a description of an ethical, awakened life. AZC offers the opportunity to sew Buddha's robe and formally receive the precepts in a public ceremony.
Retreats and intensive practice periods: Opportunities to deepen our meditation practice.
Residential training: This is one way to immerse yourself in a life of practice.
Work: Bringing the open heart and clear mind of meditation to our more active life. After our morning meditation and ceremony, we do ten or fifteen minutes of light cleaning to help maintain the temple. This is a traditional part of Zen training. We also have our quarterly Sangha Work Days, when the community gathers to take care of them temple grounds and have lunch together.
The Sangha: The Sangha is the community of people practicing together at AZC. Some of us are just getting started, while others have years and years of experience in Zen practice. Together, we encourage and inspire each other, and have some fun along the way.
Membership: AZC is supported by the generosity of others. If you find that your time at AZC has been valuable, please consider formalizing your relationship with the temple by becoming a member.
We follow the path of Soto Zen. Zazen, zendo forms and practice discussion or dokusan are supported in our daily practice schedule. The Saturday morning program is an ideal place for beginners to start. Dharma talks generally occur on Saturday mornings or as special events found in our calendar. Ceremonies (including ordinations), retreats, sesshins and times when classes are offered are listed also in the calendar. Classes are described on the classes page. Lay or priest ordination and priest training are offered by agreement with the Head Teacher. Opportunities for study and research are offered in our library. Training for zendo roles can be arranged through the Ino. Work periods are offered during retreats and sesshins and during special work periods listed in the calendar. There are also ample opportunities to contribute to the Zen Center as a volunteer or by becoming a pledging member at the Zen Center. There are many social events at Zen Center, also listed in the calendar.
These programs and the space to house them are supported by a small staff but significantly on the efforts of generous volunteers from our sangha to teach, cook, help develop and maintain the grounds and buildings and work in the office and library. Zen Center is committed to bringing practice into the world where its benefits manifest. Our outreach programs support smaller sitting groups and bring meditation instruction to a number of venues, support various community projects and encourage interreligious dialog and understanding.
The Austin Zen Center occupies three buildings around the corner of Washington Square and Thirty-First St. in Austin, which house our practice space, living space, office space, classrooms and a library. Our main building, which contains our zendo (meditation hall), is the former Friends Meeting House. The lower floor of this building is wheelchair accessible with a wheelchair-accessible bathroom.