“The future for Christians is Zen and Christianity.”
We are a community of Christians immersed in traditional Zen practice seeking to develop an embodied Christian spirituality guided by the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. We wish to share our practices with others of good heart who seek an experiential Christian way of life uniting contemplation and the discipline of worldly engagement – care for ourselves, family, community, work and play.
WHO ARE WE
In 2002 Roshi Ann Ankai Wagner founded Christian Zen based on her personal search for the living spirit that Jesus cultivated in the silence and solitude of the desert and lived, reaching out to the poor, marginalized and oppressed people to whom he ministered. In her own life, Ann has combined contemplative practices and social service. She forged this new path with her teacher, Roshi Paul Genki Kahn, a Soto and Rinzai Master Zen Teacher in the lineage of Taizan Maezumi Roshi. Roshi Ankai retired in 2017.
Rev. Cathleen Kanno Dowd, Sensei took over the directorship early this year.
We are a community of Zen practitioners, who are rooted in Christianity. Immersed in Zen, we are developing an embodied Christian spirituality guided by the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN ZEN
Christian Zen is a spiritual Way of life integrating the life model and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth with traditional Zen practices and training. We follow six Core Practices: guidance from an empowered Christian Zen Teacher, Zen meditative practices, Embodiment practices, Zen Focusing for Emotional Wellbeing, Christian and Buddhist text study, and Service.
Christian Zen is part of the Zen Garland Order and located at the Zen Garland Sanctuary in Airmont, NY. We offer daily meditation practice, a weekly liturgy, private interviews with our teachers, classes, workshops and both individual and group retreats. We can offer residency for extended study with us here at the Sanctuary. We also offer online classes, workshops and private study.
We follow Jesus as a Wisdom Teacher, whose emphasis on love and whose life invited 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 of life in a commitment to Unity. This Unity invites us in a spirit of unity to eliminating separation between sacred and secular, between ourselves and others, and between human and nature. We are welcomed into our lives as the Kingdom of Heaven.
Christian Zen is Non Theistic and embraces an evolving, progressive, non-dual theology that has moved beyond the concept of a creator, judging, and sometimes controlling Deity. We believe that all creation shares a common nature, is interconnected and is evolving together in constant co-creation. It is our faith in Christian Zen that we can awaken to the living spirit or divine presence in all places and in all things.
We embrace Zen practices that awaken us to the perspectives of this nature — totality, unity, mutuality, no-thing-ness, and the precious particular. We seek to cultivate the virtues in ourselves that allow us to live in ways that promote the illumination of unity and develop cooperative efforts.
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
“The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.”
Christian Zen is offered every Sunday from 9am to 11am