Location, and Frequently Asked Questions

Where are you located?

We are located just Northwest from the University of Texas, on the corner of West 31st Street. Our Address is:

Austin Zen Center
3014 Washington Square
Austin, TX 78705

Where may I park?

There is ample street parking around the center.

Is the building handicapped-accessible?

The main building is wheelchair accessible. A ramp is located at the back door of the building, off 31st St. 


Do I have to be a member of the Austin Zen Center (AZC) to participate?

You need not become a member of AZC to participate in any of our public programs. However, many people who feel at home at AZC and want to support its life and practice typically do decide to become members.

What are the benefits of membership?

The primary benefit of membership is to cultivate the practice of generosity. Members vote at our annual meeting, enjoy reduced rates on our programs and retreats, and may check out books from our library.

How do I become a member?

Go here to find out more and sign up to become a member. Typical monthly donations are between $25 (limited income) and $1000 (benefactors). Some members prefer to make payments annually. Tax statements are available upon request, and are sent out at the start of the tax season.

What does it mean to be a member of AZC?

Generosity is one of the fundamental practices the Buddha set forth as a way to enter the path of liberation. AZC members commit to each other their intention to follow the Buddha’s path by making membership donations. If you’d like to enter the path with us, we invite you to become a member and make a donation. AZC is wholly funded by the generosity of its members and supporters.

Austin Zen Center Community

How can I get involved in the community and learn more?

The Austin Zen Center is a Zen Buddhist community that brings together people of different backgrounds, ages and interests. Some participate primarily on Saturday mornings or Sangha Work-Practice days, others come for the morning and/or evening zazen/service periods or programs and classes during the week, some become active volunteers, and still others come to our social events such as potlucks, celebrations of Buddha’s Birthday, and so on. Whatever your desired level of involvement and whatever your interests, we invite you to talk with members of our community, to browse the pages of this website, and ultimately to find yourself a place at AZC.

You can ask questions of our greeters and/or teachers when the temple is open. We’ll be happy to discuss whatever ways you’d like to become involved at the Austin Zen Center.

What opportunities are there to practice Zen meditation with others?

We offer periods of zazen (meditation) Tuesday through Saturday and a monthly drop-in morning of meditation (zazenkai) one Sunday morning every other month. We offer an all day sitting (6 am – 5 pm) in alternating months, or longer retreats typically in the summer and fall. Visit our calendar page for our regular zen meditation schedule as well as a full listing of events.

Do I have to become a “Buddhist”?

Buddhism is practice-oriented – experiential –  not ideological. Some who follow the teachings of Buddhism choose to identify themselves as Buddhist. Others who identify with another religion find the Buddhist emphasis on contemplative practice a powerful supplement. What may look like worship in Buddhism is actually a ritual enactment of gratitude and respect for those who preceded us and an expression of our awakened, true nature.

Austin Zen Center Programs

What happens on Saturdays?

We have a weekly Saturday Morning Program, from 9:15–11:45am. This consists of zazen, a short chanting service, and a Dharma talk on Zen Buddhism, followed by refreshments. Beginner’s Instruction is offered every Saturday from 8-9:00am. There is also informal sitting upstairs in our classroom from 8 am to 9 am.

You are welcome to attend all or any part of the Saturday Morning Program.

Do you have any special introduction for beginners to become acquainted with Zen Buddhism as it is practiced at AZC?

The best way to become familiar with AZC and our practice is to come to the Beginner’s Instruction held on Saturdays at 8:00–9:00 AM. This event is held in the zendo (meditation hall) in the main building. You will be given meditation instruction (the core practice of Zen Buddhism) and a general orientation to the Center and what it has to offer you. Following the class you are welcome to join the remainder of the Saturday Morning Program.

Each month we also offer a “Next Step” class for those who have attended the Beginner’s Instruction and wish to learn more. Classes on Buddhist teachings are a regular feature of our offerings and usually meet on Thursday evenings. We also offer a Dharma Discussion, peer lead reading group that meets Monday evenings at 7pm on Zoom.

Austin Zen Center Etiquette

What should I expect when I come for the first time?

We want your first visit to the Austin Zen Center to be a warm and welcoming experience.

The best thing you can bring is what we call “Beginner’s Mind.” This means it’s really OK to be a beginner, i.e. to have a mind of openness and inquiry. Our founder, Suzuki Roshi said, “In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind, few.” He also said that “Beginner’s mind is everything.” We cultivate it continuously.

The first thing you may notice when you enter the temple is the focus and order. Even if people seem to be minding their own business, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance if you need it! Once in the foyer, remove your shoes and place them on the shoe-rack before entering the zendo (meditation hall). Refrain from bringing personal items into the zendo, such as purses, bags, keys, cell phones, wallets or water bottles. Do not bring drinks into the zendo during dharma talks. Please silence your cell phone if you bring it into the building. Do not set it to vibrate, this is audible to others. You may read up on our Zendo Forms ahead of time if you like, or you can just watch and follow along with others. For your first time, attending the Beginner’s Instruction (every Saturday at 8am) is highly recommended.

What is the etiquette around clothing and dress in the zendo? Who are the people wearing black jackets and pants, or robes?

Please join us supporting each other to practice without distractions. The guidelines below, which are common to most Zen centers and temples, apply equally to all and are intended to create an atmosphere supportive of formal meditation practice, which is a ritual. You can dress comfortably, but not draw attention to what you are wearing. 

Do wear loose fitting clothing in dark or subdued colors, with shorts, pants or skirts long enough to reach the knees. Tops should have straps or sleeves that reach the shoulders. Avoid wearing bright colors or clothing with big images or large printed words. You may want to designate particular clothes to wear only in the zendo – some members wear a Japanese-style set of pants and wrap jacket called samu-e in black or blue. In cold weather, neutral colored socks may be worn in the zendo.

Do not wear hats or gloves in the zendo. If you have a rakusu, and have long hair, please wear it up and off the neck.

Please be respectful of those with chemical allergies by not wearing scented lotions, perfume, or other fragrances.

Traditional, formal zen robes are worn by priests, although laypeople sometimes wear simpler “sitting robes”. Those wearing a bib-like garment in blue, black, or brown have taken formal vows to observe Buddhist ethical principles. 

Where do I sit?

In the zendo you may sit at any seat that does not have a sign reserving it. There are several chair seats as well as zafu (meditation cushion) seats. If you need assistance finding a seat please ask! Once you locate an available seat the form is to bow once to your seat, once away from your seat (into the room) before you sit down (and again after you have gotten up, unless you are staying in the zendo for walking meditation). If you are sitting on the periphery of the room, please sit facing the wall. If you sit in the center seats, please sit facing out at the wall closest to your seat.

How long do the meditation periods last?

Each of the meditation periods lasts for 35 minutes.

What happens between periods of meditation?

Each morning when there is more than one period of zazen we do kinhin, or walking meditation between the zazen periods. Kinhin provides an opportunity for continuing our mindful practice while we are in motion. When the bell rings to end zazen, stand at your seat until you hear the sound of the clackers. Then turn to your left and walk slowly and deliberately, taking one breath with each footstep.

The best time to exit the zendo to get water, more cushions, or use the restroom is at the end of the period of zazen before kinhin starts. If you leave the zendo at the end of a period of zazen, simply bow to and away from your seat and exit the zendo. If you return before the next period of zazen, please do kinhin in the foyer and wait until the end of kinhin to re-enter the zendo.

Suppose I’m sitting and I get very uncomfortable. Can I move a little … or if it is really bad, can I get up and leave?

Discomfort often arises when trying to sit in silence and stillness. We encourage you to spend some time investigating your discomfort before responding to it by moving. Please use your own judgment when deciding to move. If you do decide to change your position, the form is to offer a slight bow before calmly and deliberately moving, trying not to disturb others. You may find that taking a “rest posture” (knees up and together in front of you) for a few minutes alleviates any pain or tingling you may be experiencing.

Please remain in the zendo for the duration of the period unless there is an emergency. If you do need to exit the zendo, the form is to quietly and deliberately get up from your seat and offer a gassho bow to and away from your seat before leaving. Please walk slowly and with intention if you need to leave the zendo during zazen.