New to Zen?

The Austin Zen Center welcomes students of all levels to establish, develop, and deepen their Zen practice through engaging with our many programs and offerings. Core practice opportunities include a weekly meditation and service schedule, Saturday morning meditation and Dharma talk, weekend retreats, Sangha Work-Practice days, study groups, training in ceremonial roles, and a variety of community events.

Beginner’s Instruction

We highly recommend starting with our Saturday Morning Program which begins with a Beginner’s Meditation/Zazen Instruction from 8:00-9:00 AM and includes demonstration and discussion of the meditation posture, a tour of the center, and an opportunity to ask questions. There is no need to call or make an appointment, and instruction is offered by donation only.

The Next Step: Meditation and Beyond class is a follow-up class to the Beginners Instruction which provides an opportunity to refine our understanding of meditation, learn about forms and ceremonies of Sōtō Zen, and have an opportunity to ask further questions concerning the specific details of our practice in and out of the Meditation Hall. Seated and walking meditation, chanting, bowing, and the various instruments used during service are all covered. This class is highly recommended for beginners and anyone interested in furthering their understanding of Zen practice within the Sōtō Zen tradition.

Practice Offerings

  • Weekly zazen and service schedule
  • Saturday Morning Dharma Talk
  • Sangha Work Practice Days
  • Study & Interest Groups, including a Kalyana Mitta (spiritual friends) Group, Environmental Study Group, Social Justice Group, Outreach.
  • Classes/Workshops/Retreats/Practice Periods

Meeting with a Practice Leader or Teacher

Developing and maintaining a practice relationship with a practice leader or teacher is an essential and fundamental aspect of Zen training. As a regularly practicing member of the sangha there will be many opportunities to see and hear the teachings of the practice leaders and teachers at AZC and to interact with them personally. At some point, practice questions will arise that can benefit from greater depth of discussion and you may sign up to have a private interview/meeting with a teacher or mentor. Such meetings may be formal or informal. If they are formal they are called Dokusan or Practice Discussion.

Community Events and Affinity Groups

AZC occasionally hosts community events like Buddhaflix movie nights, community pot-lucks, special ceremonies, Children’s program, and a yearly Spring Fair. Some groups, like Zen Writing and the Dharma Discussion Group, meet weekly. You may sign up to receive our weekly newsletter or check the homepage of the website for upcoming practice offerings and community events.