"Awakening manifests in compassionate service and action towards one self, others and all creation."
Zen Garland - A Circle of Awakened Life
Zen Garland is founded on the wellspring of wisdom and compassion: we aspire to love and care for all creation because it is our Self. Zen Garland provides a peaceful and inspiring 5-acre Sanctuary in Airmont, New York that is open to the public for spiritual practice, and home to our Residential Training Program, administrative offices, educational services and social service outreach. We have member and affiliate centers in the United States and Europe, and work individually with committed students on site and in distance-learning formats.
We welcome beginners and accomplished practitioners to gather together in a holistic approach to Zen and spiritual development. Our experienced and seasoned Teachers and staff offer daily Zen meditation, personal guidance, classes, workshops, and monthly retreats, Paths in Zen Buddhism, Christian Zen and Red Path (Native American) Zen, and advanced training toward ordination in the Zen Garland Priesthood and toward becoming a Zen Teacher. Practitioners can apply for short and long-term residence in the Zen Training Program at the Sanctuary, and can choose full time study or to integrate work in an outside job into their training regimen while living at the Sanctuary.
Zen is a Buddhist spiritual tradition and set of practices that transcends religion and dogma, and is open to all. Zen is a way of being in direct and intimate connection to life that illuminates the sacredness of every thing and every moment. Zen trains practitioners in skills that enable us to live our ordinary lives supremely well. We call this "The Practice of Presence," and nurture the development of a strong and fluid "Self in Presence." Beyond being a "stream-enterer," this is living in the flow as a field of benefaction.
Some come to Zen practice to affirm and deepen their spiritual experience. Others come hungering for inner peace, an intimate connection to the sacred, a more meaningful and vital way to engage daily life. Many come with a deep need to resolve suffering and find healing. The caring and skilled Teachers and staff at Zen Garland are well prepared to address these aspirations with private, personal guidance and our holistic and individualized approach to spiritual practice.
All practitioner at Zen Garland are offered graduated instruction in 6 Core Practices:
- The Practice of Zazen (silent sitting meditation)
- The Practice of Private Dialogue with a Zen Teacher (Dokusan)
- The Practice of Zen Koan, Sutra and Text Study
- The Practice of Embodiment (Yoga, Tai Chi)
- The Practice of Emotional Wellbeing through Focusing
- The Practice of Service as a way of being, based on the Zen Garland Vows
Zen Garland is named for the Flower Garland (Avatamsaka) Sutra, sacred to the Hua-yen school of Buddhism, one of the fundamental sources of Zen when it began as Ch’an in China.
Despite our name, we do not want to portray spiritual development in flowery terms, portraying it as nice and easy. To recognize one's conditioned beliefs, feelings and behaviors and to evolve beyond them takes committed effort, courage, plus deep doubt and faith. We do not change easily, nor step into the unknown without discomfort.