About Zen Garland

Cultivating the “ever intimate” (SHINZO)
Reclaiming the world as sacred

Our Approach

The Zen Garland Order is a cooperative affiliation of formally empowered, lineage-bearing Zen Teachers.  We hold in common an ethical code and standards for empowerments and teach a shared curriculum for Core Practices and Training Paths. Each Zen Garland Teacher has their own talents, creativity, and specializations.  They carry on their work with students in their own style and offer unique personal approaches to Zen training.

We aspire to provide open, welcoming communities for spiritual development, accessible to people with varying goals and at different stages of development. Our teachers value respect for each practitioner and offer skillful and caring guidance in a safe, structured, and supportive environment. We treat each practitioner as an individual, helping you develop a personal spiritual practice appropriate to your needs, the context of your life and talents, and shaped by your aspirations. We are part of the Engaged Buddhism Movement and encourage envisioning life as service in our own personal and particular forms of engagement.

Community Based Practice

Bearing Witness

Our beliefs about compassion and how to nurture and live a compassionate life begins by recognizing that inside of life, there are obstacles: loneliness, grief, sickness, suffering, inequity, and misfortune. It’s easy (and somewhat natural) to want to avoid or escape these situations. However, if we can recognize these situations as part of the human experience, and not as a failure or something that we have done wrong, then we are able to be loving and present with ourselves (and those around us) during these difficult moments. If we can begin to shift our perspective and work first to transform our suffering into love, kindness, and self-care, then we are able to heal ourselves from the inside out.  We embrace our humanity in embracing holistically our human experience and living into the spaces that at times challenge us to our very core.

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This bearing witness to our own misfortune is the essential platform for being able to understand and be available for others and their own suffering. This is compassion; the realization of our own suffering which allows us to understand the suffering of others and motivates us to work to help ease their pain.

Inside of our community work at across the Zen Garland Order, we hold space for the difficulties that arrive inside of individuals, families, groups, and communities, with deep compassion. We act by creating generative spaces that support the interconnectedness of life and the inherent humanity of our shared existence. It’s big work, but work we believe makes for a better, more compassionate, healthy, and engaged world.  Below are examples of ongoing community work taking place across our network.

The Selah Carefarm

The Selah Carefarm is the residential seat of Rev. Dr. Joanne Kyouji Cacciatore and her extraordinary mission to provide compassionate care to individuals and families who have suffered a traumatic death. (Current literature recognizes traumatic grief as the death of a baby or child, violent death, suicide, homicide, and untimely deaths.) Kyouji is a priest and member of the Board of Directors and the Teachers’ Circle in The Zen Garland Order. She is a professor at Arizona State University and has established a world-wide reputation in traumatic grief with more than 70 research papers, teaching and revered popular book, Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief.

Selah Carefarm also houses the Selah Family House of the MISS Foundation, a multi-service organization founded in 1996 by Kyouji that both supports grieving individuals and families who have suffered a traumatic death and provides specialized clinical training in this work for professionals and clergy.

A bereaved mother herself, a life-long vegan and a Zen Garland priest, Kyouji has created a unique environment just outside Sedona where the traumatically bereaved have the necessary space to fully inhabit their grief through the natural beauty of the Arizona high desert landscape, interbeing with animals rescued from abuse, as well as the care of counselors trained her therapeutic practice of Compassionate Bereavement Care. The animal inhabitants of Selah Carefarm include horses, donkeys, alpacas, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs, and cats.

Red more about the Selah Carefarm: https://www.missfoundation.org/selah-carefarm/


“Where you stand, where you are, that’s what your life is right there, regardless of how painful it is or how enjoyable it is. That’s what it is.”

Taizan Maezumi Roshi

Support Our Work

Dana - Generosity, the first of the six perfections of wisdom.

"I vow to seek what is needed responsibly,
To share generously,
To work well with what I have,
And to take only what is freely given."
… from the Zen Garland Vows, Vow 7

The Zen Garland Order operates in the black. Our only debt is a deep debt of gratitude to the members and friends who donate so generously to support us, and who fill our programs, classes and retreats.

Membership is the most direct way a practitioner can help sustain our order and local communities. But membership and fees for our programs only cover our operating costs. Money to provide scholarships, stipends for our full time staff and expansion all must come from Dana, the spiritual giving by our friends and members.