Membership at the Austin Zen Center

Austin Zen Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to offer a peaceful haven for engaging in Zen practice and training through embodying the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha as practiced in the Soto Zen lineage. To this end, AZC offers a robust weekly schedule of zazen, services, Dharma talks, discussion groups, and community work-practice activities, along with frequent meditation retreats, classes, workshops, and opportunities to meet individually with teachers and practice leaders.

AZC is committed to offering Zen practice to everyone, regardless of race, religion, nationality, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and physical ability. We seek to embody inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility throughout our teachings, practice, organizational culture, policies, and operations as a manifestation of our vow to awaken together with all beings.

Austin Zen Center relies on the generosity of our members and supporters to keep the doors open and practice opportunities available for the local Austin community and beyond. We have a Scholarship Fund for those with limited means (just ask!), and exclude no one from our offerings, regardless of financial situation or membership status. By becoming a member, you become a supporter of the Center and its mission. Members may practice at the Center regularly, or make regular membership contributions simply because they value what the Austin Zen Center offers: a supportive, encouraging and inspiring environment for people to deeply connect with each other and nurture their intentions to be of benefit to the wider world. 

Benefits of Membership:

  • The practice of generosity (dana paramita) The practice of giving and the virtue of generosity (dana) has been a foundational practice since the time of the Buddha, and is considered both an entry point to Buddhist practice and  an expression of mature practice. Generosity for the sake of giving is widely considered an antidote to selfishness, greed, and possessiveness.
  • Member gatherings & voting rights Being a part of a community of practitioners (Sangha) is one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism. Only through walking the path of practice with others can we truly extend our zazen practice into our daily activities in the community beyond. While becoming a pledging member is in no way a requirement to being a part of the sangha, only members may cast votes for the AZC Board of Directors and receive invitations to member appreciation events.
  • Library privileges Members may use our library and check out volumes from our extensive collection of Dharma books.
  • Discounts on programs (classes, workshops, retreats, & practice periods) Members receive significant discounts on most, if not all of our paid programs.
  • Opportunities to meet with our teachers Members may request to meet formally or informally with our teachers and practice leaders to explore questions about Zen practice or to bring up issues they face in their lives in the context of Buddhist teachings. As one of the foundations of Zen training, such meetings can make a significant difference in one’s practice. 
  • Supporting Zen Practice & Community in Austin Membership pledging provides most of the financial support for the Center’s activities. It allows the Center’s Board of Directors and Finance Committee to keep the budget balanced based on regular dues from members.

Please note that all Austin Zen Center members share the same membership benefits and voting rights, regardless of amounts given. No one should feel discouraged from practicing with us due to financial limitations or hardship. In the event that financial hardship becomes a barrier to making a consistent pledge, an alternative arrangement may be possible. To find out more, or if you need to decrease or pause your pledge at any time, for any reason, please contact Maida Barbour, our administrator.

Thank you for actively doing your part to keep the Austin Zen Center thriving, and thank you for your pledge! Please fill out the following form, and note that this is for informational purposes, and is NOT a payment form: