“The future for Christians is Zen and Christianity.”
Christian Zen is led by Rev. Ann Ankai Wagner, Roshi, a Christian Zen Minister and Zen Buddhist Dharma Successor. Christian Zen follows the contemplative wisdom tradition of Christianity that began with the first followers of Jesus. It is the oldest tradition in Christianity and much needed for the 21st century.
We follow Jesus as a Wisdom Teacher, whose emphasis on love and whose parables invite people to a radical expansion of consciousness, conscience, and community. Jesus used the expression, “Kingdom of heaven,” to describe a “non dual consciousness” or ” unitive consciousness,” embodied through “an attitude of receptivity, a willingness to enter the flow, and a commitment to oneness. “The hallmark of this awareness is that it sees no separation– not between God and humans, not between humans and other humans.” (Cynthia Bourgeault)
This Jesus was divine, but no more so than we are. His difference from us was in degree, not in kind. This Jesus pointed to the divine mystery, not to himself and recognized many ways to enter the transformative process: “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (First John 4:7).
We begin with the non-dual mystical perspective that there can not be anything other than God. Just as the ocean’s waves are in some sense diverse but ultimately consist only of water, so, too, do the items of our apparently diverse world.
Thomas Merton proclaimed. “The future for Christians is Zen and Christianity”. We are practicing Zen meditation to help us enter the Christian contemplative tradition that suspends our conceptions of God so that we can surrender to Divine Presence in all places and in all things. We use meditation to develop awareness and awaken a non-dual perspective. Meditation is not an escape from life, but assists us in cultivating the ability to be Presence in all aspects of our lives.
Christian Zen is one of the Paths in Zen Garland and part of that larger, interfaith spiritual community and Order for Zen practice, education and service. Zen Garland is founded and led by Roshi Paul Genki Kahn with Roshi Ann Ankai Wagner and Roshi Bill Jikai Greenberg. 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 moment.
REV. ANN ANKAI WAGNER, ROSHI
Is Founder and Director of Christian Zen and the first Christian Zen Minister. She is a Dharma Successor of Roshi Paul Genki Kahn in his Soto Zen Buddhist lineage and is a member of the White Plum Asanga. She works in the tradition of Thomas Merton, integrating the teachings of Jesus with the transformational methods of Zen. She is a Christian contemplative, and an activist who has worked in social services for the poor in the urban center in Paterson, NJ since 1983. She co-founded Oasis: A Haven for Women and Children in Paterson, NJ, a nonprofit engaged in feeding, clothing and educating hundreds of women and children daily. She began her contemplative practices with Centering Prayer under Thomas Keating in Contemplative Outreach. She completed training as a Spiritual Director with the Diocese of NY. She was Co-Director for six years, and is currently a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace Lay Associates.
CHRISTIAN ZEN PRACTICE PATH
The Christian Zen Path is a way of spiritual development, guiding us to become more fully human and awake as Christians. Jesus is our model in the richness of his prayer life and in his compassionate engagement with all whom he encountered.
Roshi Ankai, a Christian Zen Minister, is available to meet one-on-one with each person in the Christian Zen Path in private interviews during meditation. She also meets students at the Zen Garland Sanctuary or in her home with scheduled appointments.
We first encourage the learning and practice of meditation and regular meetings with a Christian Zen Teacher to establish a foundation for spiritual development. Practitioners are welcome to join weekly liturgy with the Living Presence Community. As practitioners in the Christian Zen Path settle and develop, we offer texts for study, classes, physical exercises helpful to make meditation more comfortable, practices for emotional integration, and study of Christian Zen’s ethical commitments in the Zen Garland Vows. This follows the Core Practices and General Path all practitioners share within Zen Garland. Zen meditation, study with our lineage-holding Teachers, koan and text study, embodiment exercise, Focusing for emotional integration, and service.
Christian Zen currently meets for meditation and study Wednesday mornings at 9am. Meditation is from 9:00 to 10:00am. From 10:15 to 11:30am Rev. Ankai holds a class on various topics of Christian Zen spirituality. Rev. Ankai is also available for private interviews at regular Zen Garland meditation sessions on weekend mornings, 8:30am. We encourage a regular home and zendo meditation practice. We sit with all the paths of Zen Garland, choosing the time that best suites our need from the sitting schedule
Advanced students in the Christian Zen Path can apply to pursue one of 4 specialized Practice Tracks: End of Life Caregiver, Chaplaincy, Ordination as a Christian Zen Minister, and Teacher Development.
LIVING PRESENCE COMMUNITY LITURGY Is offered every Sunday. Rev. Ankai works with a core group to create a meaningful Christian liturgy for our time. We draw on traditional forms as well as current movements seeking new ways to connect to God and celebrate creation.
We gather around the open table of bread and wine that Jesus called us to, believing that each one of us is sacred. Our ritual consists of an opening period of meditation, spiritual readings from Christian contemplatives, Aramaic prayer of Jesus, meaningful creeds, Metta Prayer, insights from social and environmental teachers and selected scripture passages. Our readings move us away from a sky god to Divine Presence. Time is available for individual sharing on the readings. Liturgy prayers of Michael Morwood, Richard N. Fragomeni, and Rev. Ankai are included. We end with a final period of meditation.
Our retreats are intensive periods of spiritual practice during which silence is maintained to limit distractions. Periods of sitting and walking meditation are interspersed with private meetings with Teachers, physical exercise, liturgy and group talks by the teachers. The length of retreats vary: retreats of one day, a weekend, and one week are offered on site and at Stella Maris Retreat Center on the New Jersey Shore.
COMMITMENT TO THE ZEN GARLAND VOWS
Each year we offer a ten week course on the ethics and practice of the Zen Garland Vows. During that time we are also helped to sew a rakusu, a small ritual garment worn during meditation and liturgy symbolizing our commitment. The course culminates in the Ceremony of Commitment to the Zen Garland Vows, during which we receive our rakusu and a spiritual name from our Teacher.
SUGGESTED READINGS FOR CHRISTIAN ZEN
Zen Mind Beginners Mind – Shunryu Suzuki
Three Pillars of Zen – Phillip Kapleau, Roshi
The Wisdom Jesus – Cynthia Bourgeault
Sexism and God-Talk – Rosemary Radford Ruether
The teachings of Anthony DeMello
The Zen Teachings of Jesus, Kenneth Long
Jesus – An Historical Approximation by Jose A. Pagola
Meeting Jesus again for the first time – Marcus Borg
Thomas Merton’s later works
Entering the Castle – St. Theresa of Avalia
The Four Noble Truths in the Heart of the Gospel – James Finley, Richard Rohr
Book of Christian Mysticism – Contemplative spirituality- Carl McColman
Meister Eckhart Creation Spirituality and selected sermons of Meister Eckhart
The Great Work – Thomas Berry
Viewing the Universe Story – Brian Swimm
Christian Zen also offers a Practice Path for those seeking a more structured spiritual direction. For these individuals, Christian Zen provides four Expressions: Spiritual Development, Teaching, Chaplaincy and Ordination as a Christian Zen Minister.
“The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.”
Christian Zen Zazen (Sitting) 9:00 am – 10:00 am Wednesdays