New Temple, New Programs

Our new temple affords us considerable space and flexibility for new programs and practice opportunities, and we are happy to offer the first of these this January. Our thanks to our teachers and members who have been hard at work developing these new offerings.

Family Dharma

The Family Dharma program provides a space for mindfulness and Zen practice for the whole family by integrating mindfulness practices into shared daily life while building and deepening the understanding of these principles. Our program is open to families with children eight to sixteen years old; younger children are welcome with the understanding that activities and teachings are created with this age range in mind. This is a community offering, and one need not be a ZCD member to participate.

The Family Dharma program will meet in the multipurpose room on the second Sunday of each month after the morning sitting from 9:15 – 10:30 a.m. You need not make a reservation and there are no fees. Please join us for our first Family Dharma program on Jan. 12.

Mindfulness Saturdays

On the third Saturday of each month, we will be offering Mindfulness Saturdays, a day of mindfulness practice on a theme chosen by the instructor. These three-hour workshops are open to anyone, and are of special interest to MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) program graduates. The suggested donation is $35 for members or $50 for non-members.

Instructors for these workshops will also include guest teachers. Our first Mindfulness Saturday will be on Feb. 15 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., and will be led by Janet Solyntjes, a certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher and a long-time practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. She is co-founder of the Boulder-based Center for Courageous Living, which offers a variety of mindfulness programs and retreats.

The topic for the workshop will be Meeting Obstacles With an Open Heart. What hinders our natural tendency to open and appreciate our lives? Is there a way to train the mind and heart to remain open when life presents us with the unexpected or the unwanted?

In this session the practice of compassionate abiding, as taught by Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, will be incorporated into a morning of sitting and walking meditation. There will also be time devoted to reflection and discussion of welcoming the unwelcome in everyday life. Click here to register. 

Buddhist Recovery Meetings

Each Monday at 7:00 p.m. we will have twenty-five minutes of meditation followed by a group discussion supporting recovery from drugs and alcohol. Please note that this is not an AA meeting. All are welcome.

Four-week class: Introduction to the Diamond Sutra

Ken Tetsuzan Roshi will be offering an introduction to the Diamond Sutra that will meet for four weeks each Wednesday evening beginning Feb. 5 and ending Feb. 26. The Diamond Sutra is one of the seminal scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism and is held in especially high regard by the Zen sect. In a relatively few pages it encapsulates all the Mahayana teachings. This four-week course will explore, through lectures and discussion, the fundamental themes of the sutra from a Zen perspective: the origin of the sutra, the nature of self, emptiness and transiency, karmic merit, dharma transmission, and the role and nature of the Bodhisattva (enlightening being).

The suggested donation is $50 for members or $75 for non-members. Click here to register.


After a years-long hiatus, we are finally able to return to one of our core practices, samu. Samu is work practice: attention in the midst of activity. Offered the second Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. – noon, the morning will include zazen, two hours of silent work practice, a short discussion, a reading of a selected Zen text, and a meal served in the Zen style of oryoki. Please sign up via or contact the office; the suggested donation is $10.

Vinyasa Yoga

ZCD member and yoga instructor Joel Tagert will be offering vinyasa yoga classes every Monday from 5:15 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. beginning Feb. 3.

These level 1 classes will focus on finding proper alignment in yoga asanas (poses) to develop stability, strength, balance and awareness within the ceaseless flow of the breath. All are welcome. There is no set fee, but a donation of your choosing is much appreciated.

Movie Nights

Bring snacks (and maybe a beanbag chair) as we turn our multipurpose room into a theater for an evening’s entertainment. For our first movie night on Friday, Jan. 17, from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m, we’ll be showing the majestic, wondrous roving-eye documentary Baraka. Subsequent movie nights will follow on Feb. 28 and March 27.

The Lotus Opens

Wow! After all these years of planning, working and waiting, our new Lotus in the Flame Temple is open at last!

With overflowing joy and gratitude our sangha met for the formal temple opening ceremony at 1856 S. Columbine Street on Sunday, Nov. 10. First we practiced zazen together in the zendo, settling into the spacious, silent hall; then we processed in a line around the temple as the teachers ritually opened each altar in the building. As we walked we also took in each elegant space, from the kitchen to the shrine room, delighting in its reality.

It’s a remarkable place and a remarkable accomplishment, and in celebrating together we also give deep thanks to the countless people who made it possible.

First we must thank our many donors, without whom none of this would be possible. Many, many people made this project a priority, giving selflessly to their community. Your generosity shelters all beings, and we trust that its effects will benefit generations to come.

Deep thanks are also due our architects at Semple Brown Design, who have been unstinting in their labor and enthusiasm for the project. Their skill, knowledge and care show in every corner. They have truly designed a temple that stands like a mountain and flows like water.

We likewise thank our builders, Spectrum General Contractors, for their meticulous efforts and tireless work. The quality of the building is outstanding, a testament to devoted craftsmanship.

Though finishing touches and plantings will come in the spring, the garden too is resplendent, and we thank Desirae Wood and Dobro Design for this elegant artistic vision, which will quite literally grow in beauty as the years pass.

And of course, we must thank our many members, dozens of whom have given countless hours of volunteer labor to see this project through to the finish. It has been remarkable to see how, just when a particular skill set was needed, someone with precisely those skills would step forward.

Lastly, two individuals merit special mention: our teacher Karin Ryuku Kempe, who shepherded the project from its inception; and George Mathews, who had been heading up the moving committee until he was diagnosed with a fatal illness. In fact the very first ceremony in the temple, on Saturday, was his memorial; and his ever-hilarious, ever-meticulous presence still seems to stand by our side.

In truth we cannot here fully recognize all the individuals responsible for the temple’s creation, but know that we are deeply grateful for your efforts. Building a temple really is the work and expression of a whole community, and our hope is that the Zen Center of Denver will be able to likewise serve our whole community – members, friends, city, and the great wide earth.

During the opening ceremony, Karin Roshi read a poem of dedication:

Light from the ancient star pours in through walls and windows,
The flower twirls, the earth smiles.
Tall rocks push through earth and sea to the sky.
This building and this garden hold the dharma as a refuge and a commitment.
These walls and stones are a promise kept, and a promise made new again today.
Listen, look, and enter here.
The voice of our ancient way speaks through traffic and wind.
May the lotus burn in an eternal flame as we open our doors to the world.
May our practice bring peace, joy and wisdom for the benefit of all beings.


Nearing the Finish

As summer draws to a close and fall begins, we are very near to completing the first phase of our temple building project, and just yesterday our members again toured our new temple at 1856 S. Columbine. Much has changed since last we saw it, with outside stucco and roofing completed, wood floors in the zendo and dining hall installed, and inside doors, fixtures and a great deal else complete.

There has also been incredible progress on our Zen garden, with many of the boulders in place and work well along on the walkways and other hardscape features. We hope to plant some shrubs and trees before winter, and complete planting in the spring.

Currently our projected completion date is mid-October – just about a month away! Then we’ll be busy as bees with moving and settling in.