Zen Practice

What is a Zen Practice?

Zen is a Buddhist tradition for spiritual and human development that focuses its practice on our daily lives, our careers, our relationships, roles, and tasks, our play. Zen challenges the way we see ourselves and the world, guiding us into deep exploration, a path of discovery, and intimate states of awareness. The essential practice at every stage of Zen development is meditation. People come to Ancient Oaks Zen Community for expert guidance on how to develop a powerful spirituality that sustains us in good and difficult times, guides us toward what is meaningful, and nurtures concentration, inner peace, emotional strength, a compassionate character, and discerning wisdom.

For studying Zen, one should have quiet quarters. Be moderate in food and drink. Cast aside all involvements and discontinue all affairs. Do not think of good or evil; do not deal with right or wrong. Halt the revolutions of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop the calculations of thoughts, ideas, and perceptions. Do not intend to make a Buddha, much less be attached to sitting still.

~ Fukanzazengi – Dogen Zenji

Why Zen?

What makes Zen unique is how it grounds the most complex questions and dilemmas of human being into practical and profound encounters with daily life. The Zen training hall becomes our daily life, our way of being in the world with ourselves, our intimate circle, our work, and communities. Zen is a way of being characterized by authenticity, practicality, compassion, flexibility, spontaneity, and wisdom. A wonderful aspect of Zen is its embrace of humor and humility in the face of the limits of what we can know and control in life.

The Path

We provide multiple levels of training programs serving beginners to advanced practitioners, including initiation, ordination, and teacher training. We offer our curriculum in person and online through personal discussion, classes, workshops, regularly scheduled practice times, retreats, and social service projects. Zen Garland teachers are thoroughly trained, caring, responsible, and devoted to their students’ growth.

Zen Garland 8 core practices

The Eight Core Practices

All Zen Garland Order practices are meant to awaken practitioners to the multiple perspectives of reality, “boundlessness” (sunyata), and to guide them to manifest that realization with authenticity and integrity in their personal lives.

“Seeing into the nature of things” (kensho”) reveals the identity and shared relationships of all creation, including our seemingly individual selves.

Learn more about the Zen Garland Eight Core Practices

How To Begin

Introduction to Zen Meditation

On Tuesday evenings at 7pm each week we hold the Introduction to Zen Meditation for new students where we teach the body, breath, and mind of Zen meditation. We show a number of different positions for meditation and help each person find what is right for them. We give instructions on “abdominal breathing” that allows filling of the three areas of the lungs while slowing and deepening breathing. We present ways to anchor the unruly mind and develop concentration. We suggest how to apply Zen meditation to other activities in life, answer questions and share discussions.

RSVP is required. 

Establishing an ongoing Zen Practice

After you have completed a Tuesday class or if you have previous meditation experience, you are invited to join our ongoing Introduction to Zen Practice on Thursday evenings at 7:00pm. We support new students with shorter meditation sessions and share information on the purposes, stages, and goals of the Zen path, the various types of practices involved, and some of the history and philosophy underlying this venerable tradition.