Why Zen?

What a loaded question to walk into!  Asking this question explodes with crashing waves of embodied being that open up uncountable dimensions of our existence. It is an important question to ask ourselves on a regular basis and to be prepared to have intimate echoes come back reminding us of the path upon which we are walking…the shared path of life.

Roshi Paul Kisho Stern

Zen is an engaged practice (as opposed to a static system of belief) that challenges me to improve my human-ness through directly and increasingly connecting to “being” in an expanding, holistic fashion;

There is a recognition of simultaneous inter-connectedness and autonomy in operation that is very attractive to me as a method of interacting with and being a part of reality…the work of manifesting this is endless;

The focus on Buddha, Dharma, Sangha…as areas of personal and community development;

There is no “other thing” to get or outside refuge to seek (though we do in a certain way)…the notion that the tools, the path, and the goal are already supplied and apparent.

Roshi Paul Genki Kahn


  • provides a pristine laboratory to study self, consciousness, relationship, and meaning.
  • provides a uniquely personal, fulfilling and meaningful way of life. The practice is our life and our life is the practice.
  • provides a natural, direct, experiential, nuanced and refined training path in spiritual development.
  • develops personal characteristics of discipline, flexibility, spontaneity, humor, earthiness, willpower, purpose and creativity.
  • is focused on this world, this moment, this self, this experience as the very ground of the sacred.
  • reveals the multi-dimensional reality of each and every person perception and creation, the inter-relationships among each and all, the co-creation.

Roshi Monika Genmitsu Kahn


In Zen practice I throw myself into being.

Heidegger’s “DASEIN”, usually translated with “BEING THERE”, actually means much more than this. It points to presence, being present, being here, being this and being there in an entirely “JUST THIS” way.

Through surrendering to intimate merger, Zen gives me a way to face all there is, not to leave space for escape, but to turn towards it and be it, to penetrate it and to embody it.

The more I penetrate my self, it dissolves into being and compassionate understanding for all beings.

Roshi Bill Jikai Greenberg

When I was 16 years old, I had a deep insight into the relativity of value judgments. This, however, left me with a feeling of negativism, an “emptiness,” but not of the awakened sort, and nothing that I felt I could speak with others about. When I was 19, on reading one of D.T. Suzuki’s books on the History of Zen Buddhism, I had a deeper insight into relativity and emptiness, seeing that relativity or meaninglessness did not necessarily entail negativity or a depressive outlook, that those were simply valuations I was making.

Sensei Cathleen Kanno Doko Dowd

After my first week-long Zen retreat, I experienced a falling away of my defensive walls of protection and was left with a kind of nakedness that was receptive rather than frightened. Moving into ZCLA, I was enclosed in a palpable atmosphere of great hidden purpose. I knew nothing about Zen but I understood “chop wood, carry water”. I felt and trusted the profundity of what we were doing.  Meditating in silence and stillness gets us in touch with reality, the known and unknown. As we share this precious and sacred life with everyone, how we do that life matters. One teacher spoke of realization and actualization. Not knowing if I have the capacity to realize, I chop onions.

Dharma Holder Trish Kojindo Johnson

Zen is open, flexible, not bound to right and wrong.  It is a way of being in the world and with this practice it becomes easier to see the world as our self.  This practice of Zen is one for us to realize within ourselves; it is all right here in front of us.  It is awakening to the presence and newness of life.  Zen is fierce and compassionate; accessible. It is constantly changing and yet right here at this very moment.  It encompasses all time and space.  It is in every activity, action, thought, and way of being.   Zen merges the entire universe in one drop of rain.

Dharma Holder Susan Eiori Bruce

Zen is real”.  Having experienced a plethora of spiritual modalities, my gut knows that Zen is home.  Most other practices have been chicken scratchings, palliative Band-Aids, with the premise of implementation by something or someone out there. In non-dual Zen, I bleed out and stay present to myself in the bleeding. It’s about me who becomes the asana, who is sewn by the rakusu as I stitch, and who is the larger space for all my parts. The discipline and responsibility of deepening into presence and not just chicken-scratching the surface is transformative.  Manifesting it, we attract new students.

Other Useful Information

Locations and contact information

Starting Practice
Useful information on getting started with a Zen practice

Coursework designed to support and grow your practice

Core Practices
Information on Zen Garland's seven Core Practices

Contact Us
Reach out to hear from one of our teachers

Sign up for our newsletter

Our newsletters and updates will keep you informed of local and regional classes, workshops, and retreats as well as online study opportunities, blogs, information, and inspiration to continue nurturing, healing, and caring for yourself and the world.

We will not share your information with anyone else.

See you soon!

  • This form is protected by the invisible reCAPTCHA process.

Get in Touch with Us

Ask us questions. Share ideas.

Set up a time to meet with us. Tell us your story.

  • Hidden
  • This form is protected by the invisible reCAPTCHA process.