Summary of Activities at the Vermont Zen Center
The basis of spiritual practice at the Vermont Zen Center is zazen, or meditation. In addition to daily zazen, the Zen Center offers private instruction in Zen Buddhism, chanting services, study groups, ceremonies, all-day sittings, Zen talks by the teacher (teisho), and talks by senior members of the community (Sangha).
Teishos are formal Zen commentaries on a Buddhist text, koan, or other topic presented by the roshi. They are usually held during Sunday morning sittings.
Chanting services are held every morning and either Tuesday or Thursday evening.
The speaker, a senior member of the Sangha, talks about what led him or her to the practice of Zen—a spiritual autobiography.
Study Groups give members a chance to engage in informal discussion, ask questions, and share understanding of various topics related to Buddhism. For example, How can I live the practice of Buddhism? What is right livelihood? How can I balance the demands of family life, work, and Zen practice?
One-day sitting retreats beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m. Non-members are welcome to come to all-day sittings. The contribution is $15.
Training Programs offer the discipline of Zen training through total immersion. During the Training Program there is an enhanced daily schedule of sittings, private instruction, and talks.
Sesshins are periods of intensive silent meditation lasting from three to seven days for experienced meditators. They are held regularly in Vermont as well as in Costa Rica at the Casa Zen in Santo Tomas.
Retreats are loosely-structured periods for silent meditation usually lasting five days. They are held once a year in Vermont. Personal retreats can take place any time there is availablility in the Zen Center's schedule.
Dokusan is a private meeting for student of the Roshi to discuss spiritual practice. Dokusan is offered three times a week at evening and Sunday sittings when Roshi is in town. During sesshins, dokusan is offered three times a day. Non students may also attend dokusan during sesshin.
Once a year members participate in an intensified practice schedule lasting eight weeks. During this time participants decide for themselves how to make an increased commitment to sitting, chanting, precept practice, community work and other Dharma-related activities. There is a meeting each week for Term Students to discuss their weekly progress and support each other.
Prison Outreach—For many years members of the Zen Center have sat zazen with inmates and corresponded with prisoners throughout the country. Members also prepare a meal for the residents of Dismas House in Burlington about once a month.
Famine Relief Ceremonies—Every quarter we conduct a ceremony to help those who are suffering from hunger. During the ceremony, members donate food for local emergency food shelves, and money which is sent to Oxfam. Over the years many tens of thousands of dollars has been donated to hunger relief through these ceremonies.
Hunger Banquet—Every three years we conduct an Oxfam Hunger Banquet to aid Oxfam and the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger.
Other—During the ceremony celebrating the birth of the Buddha, participants bring baby gifts which are given to the Lund Home. During the Kannon Day ceremony, participants make a monetary donation which is presented to COTS, the Committee on Temporary Shelter. In addition, throughout the year ceremonies may be held to help people in need or to raise funds for disaster areas.
A full listing and short description of the ceremonies regularly observed at our Center. The photo gallery has several sections with ceremony pictures.
There is a glossary of terms used in this website.