Zazen Instruction for Newcomers

Zazen Instruction for Newcomers (ZP Series)
ZCLA is committed to offering meditation instruction to all who enter the temple gate, as we have done for almost 40 years. Our introductory Zen practice program includes beginning meditation instruction (ZP 1 and ZP 2), a full day of practice at ZCLA (ZP 3), and Tangaryo, an important step to becoming a formal member of the Center.

For Zendo (meditation hall) guidelines click here.


Dressing for the Zendo

Dress neatly, modestly, and discreetly.

Your clothing should cover your legs and shoulders.

Long pants, skirts, and dresses that are clean, loose-fitting, and of subdued colors, are appropriate.

Slip-on shoes are suggested, since they are more easily removed for entering the Zendo, the Buddha Hall and the Dharma Hall.

Do not wear:

  • jeans, shorts, or short skirts/dresses
  • noisy jewelry
  • tank-tops or shirts with messages
  • perfume or cologne
  • anything ripped or torn
  • hats

Your attire should in no way call attention to itself or disturb the spirit of silence and harmony in the Zendo.

Do not bring into the meditation hall any device that can make sounds (such as phone, alarm watch, pager, tablet). If at all possible, leave it in your car. If you must bring it with you, leave it with your shoes and ensure that it will not ring, beep, vibrate, or attract attention in any way while in the building.


ZP 1: Introduction to Zen Practice
Instruction on the basics of Zen sitting and walking practices, specifically focusing on postures of the body, breath, and mind. There is opportunity for short practice sessions and questions and answers. This class is offered every Sunday morning from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Please arrive by 8:15 a.m.
Attendees are also invited to a Dharma talk, Dharma Chat or Newcomers/ New Members class, all offered on most Sunday mornings from 11 a.m. to noon, followed by a snack. Advance registration is not required.

ZP 2: Refining Your Practice
A follow-up to ZP 1, this class gives newcomers the opportunity to return for further guidance from an instructor. The class is held on Sundays from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Please arrive by 8:15 a.m.
Includes attending the Zen Buddhist service at 8:30 a.m. and sitting one period in the Zendo at 9:45 a.m. Attendees are also invited to a Dharma Talk, chat or Newcomers/New members classes offered on most Sunday mornings from 11a.m. to noon, followed by a snack. ZP 1 is prerequisite, but advance registration is not required.

ZP 3: A Practice Day at ZCLA
For those who wish to explore practice at the Center, a senior student will take you through an entire day of practice at ZCLA. You will experience morning service, zazen, face-to-face meeting with a Zen teacher, a Precept Council, and the monthly Day of Reflection where the focus is on personal practice with the Bodhisattva precepts. There will be ample time for questions and discussions with the instructor. From 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ZP3 takes place on the third Saturday of every month. Please register in advance by signing up on the Sanhga House Bulletin Board or emailing Prerequisite: ZP 1 and ZP 2, or established Zen practice at another center. For precise schedule click here.

ZP 4: Basic Practices at ZCLA

“Basic Practices at ZCLA ” is a series of four classes normally offered on the second Sunday of each month and can be taken in any order. The series is offered twice a year. ZP4 is open to everyone and has no fee. Pre-registration.

The ZP4 class schedule runs:
8:15 a.m. Registration in Sangha House
8:30 a.m. Service in Buddha Hall
9:00 a.m. Zazen
9:45 a.m. Class with the instructor in the Buddha Hall

ZP4-1: Forms of Practice

This class covers the forms of practice at ZCLA, including a review of the basics of zazen and the postures of the body, breath, and mind; the practices of breathing, shikan taza, and koan; zendo procedures; the role of dokusan/interview; the teacher-student relationship and circle practice at ZCLA. Class ends with a recitation of the Fukanzazengi. Class materials: Fukanzazengi and The Zendo (ZCLA Bulletin #2).

ZP4-2: Service, Liturgy and Lineage

This class covers our temple and teaching lineage. Included is a discussion of how service is conducted at ZCLA, the role of ritual and ceremony, our practice of linking service to events in the world, the sick list, monthly memorial service, rites of passage services for the Sangha (baby blessings, weddings, funerals, etc.), and a description of the Gate of Sweet Nectar service. The class does a service together. Also included is Buddha Hall protocol. Note that this class starts at 10:30 a.m. Text: ZCLA sutra book.

ZP4-3: Everyday Life as Practice

This class explores the Three Treasures and Precepts as a point of reference in everyday life activities, including work, family, relationships, and ordinary life tasks. The main point is the inherent practicality of the teachings. Materials: Precepts (Day of Reflection document).

ZP4-4: ZCLA’s Organizational Mandala

This class looks into the evolving organizational structure of ZCLA. We will discuss Shared Stewardship, the Center’s organizational mandala (the Five Buddha Families’ perspective and its components), ZCLA’s Mission and Vision statements, Core Values, and the decision-making structure of ZCLA. Materials: ZCLA Mandala, the Mission and Vision statements, the Core Values document.

To learn more about the ZCLA Curriculum, please click here.

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