Zen Center of Denver

The Zen Center of Denver is a Zen Buddhist community offering Zen Buddhist practice and training under the direction of the co-spiritual directors, Karin Ryuku Kempe Sensei, Ken Tetsuzan Morgareidge Sensei, and Peggy Metta Sheehan Sensei.

The Zen Center of Denver is part of the Diamond Sangha, a family of practice communities connected through the teachings of Western Zen pioneer, Robert Aitken Roshi.

The Practice of Zazen

The primary practice of the Zen Center of Denver is zazen or seated meditation. Zazen is the heart of Zen practice and at the same time the full expression of our inherent enlightenment as well as the means of uncovering it. Zazen can take place in stillness (sitting) and in activity (walking meditation, work practice, and attention in all activities). Regular periods of Zazen are held most days of the week, and nearly all Center events are preceded by one or more periods of sitting.

The Temple also offers a variety of training opportunities for interested people as their level of aspiration dictates.


Friends of the Center

A friend of the Center is any nonmember who wishes to attend sittings and certain other Zen Center functions. In order to become a friend of the Center, one must take the minimal introductory training available on two weeknights a month. The training may be reviewed as many times as desired and friends are encouraged to do so. Following the instruction a friend is welcome to join all scheduled open meditations, ceremonies and social activities. This includes morning and evening sittings, Sunday teishos, Dharma talks, talk and discussion, question & answer, chanting and other services and ceremonies.

Friends are requested to make a donation to the Center each time they visit.


Members are eligible to participate in all Temple activities, including regular dokusan (private instruction with a teacher), Sangha meetings, and Board of Directors meetings. A member may enter the formal student relationship with a teacher and eventually receive the precepts (Jukai). Members pay lower rates for sesshin (meditation retreats).

Becoming a member

A prospective member must complete the Introductory Seminar on Zen Buddhism, which is offered three times per year or a four week Introduction to Zen Class. After completing an application form, the prospective member meets with the Head of Zendo to review membership, zendo forms, zazen posture, and answer any questions. An Entering the Gate ceremony is held during a Sunday morning sitting in which the new member receives a sitting robe and is formally welcomed into the sangha. Applicants are encouraged to read “Taking the Path of Zen” and “The Mind of Clover” by Robert Aitken (available in the ZCD store).

Membership Obligations

All members participate in the committee system, by donating a small amount of time to the care and maintenance of the Center.

Members are asked to commit to a monthly contribution to support the Temple. The Center is supported almost entirely by member contributions, but no one is turned away from the Center due to lack of financial resources. Contributions may be adjusted according to one’s ability to pay.

All members are required to attend and vote at the two All-Sangha meetings per year, or to give a proxy to another member who will be attending.
It is hoped that a member will establish a regular sitting presence at the Center, but there are no fixed attendance requirements.

Members wear robes at formal sittings and purchase their own robes. An order form is available in the foyer. Some used robes are available at the Center at minimal cost.

A member is encouraged to enter the Unsui Clouds and Water training program.

In order to insure a strong zendo atmosphere during sittings, members should be familiar with all the zendo forms, including zazen posture and the ability to sit quietly in correct posture during formal periods of zazen and kinhin, entering, leaving and walking in the zendo, taking one’s seat and leaving it in correct order, prostrations, bowing, chanting and dokusan procedures.


Unsui (Clouds and Water practice) is a graduated training system whereby members serve the sangha in leadership positions: Anja (altar attendant), Jiki (time keeper), Jisha (temple attendant), Tanto (zendo supervisor), and other positions as needed. The aim of this training is to work toward the Bodhisattva ideal of helping all sentient beings.


Board of Directors
The Zen Center of Denver is maintained, governed and run by the membership. A Board of Directors is elected by the membership. Board meetings are open to all members. Meetings of the entire membership (Sangha) are held twice a year for elections and general discussion of members’ concerns or matters relating to the center.

Committee System

The day-to-day operations of the Center are performed through a committee system made up of Center members. Members help run the Center by participating in one or more committees. Standing committees include Office/Computer, Finance and Budget, Housekeeping, Kitchen, Publications, Sewing, Yard, Fundraising, Maintenance and Repair, and Renovation/Architecture. Other committees are formed depending on current needs.
The committee system is much more than a mechanism for maintaining Center activities. The interaction of members required in administering and running the Center in the Zen training atmosphere provides an important arena for ego attrition and the cultivation and expression of Dana (generosity or giving).