Flower Mountain: A Place of Peace

As our new temple at 1856 S. Columbine Street nears completion, we are tremendously excited to share these plans from Dobro Design, a company specializing in Japanese gardens. Once established, this meditation garden will complement the temple building with an outdoor space of exquisite beauty and serenity in the midst of our busy city.

FLOWER MOUNTAIN, the Zen Center of Denver garden, expresses the spirit of balance, harmony and timelessness through the creation of a drybed waterfall set in the midst of large boulders suggesting our Rocky Mountain peaks. The walking path leads through a Columbine meadow, shrubs and small trees. In the northwest corner, a shrine provides a sacred and private space for ceremony. Outdoor meditation and contemplative walking are supported by this intimate yet evocative design.

Three main elements inspire this enclosed Zen garden:

Saiho-ji1. MUSO SOSEKI’S FLOWER MOUNTAIN: Embracing Elusive Nature

Musō Soseki, who lived in Japan from 1275 to 1351, was a poet, calligrapher and one of the most prominent Zen masters of his time. He is particularly renowned as a landscape architect who designed classic contemplative gardens within Zen temples, which inspire as well as reflect spiritual insight through the use of space as a metaphor for water, combined with the natural forms of carefully set stones and plants. Soseki wrote, “By attempting to embrace elusive nature reflected in water, rocks, plants and trees that keep changing as the seasons change, you can become closer to the fundamental truth of the world we are in and who we are.” He called this quality “Flower Mountain.”

daisen-in_main2. DAISEN-IN, ZEN GARDEN: Mountain Waterfall Scene

While the sense of place is inspired by the majestic Colorado mountain peaks, the sense of space is inspired by Daisen-in (Retreat of the Great Sages), a Zen temple garden in Kyoto, Japan. As in a scroll of a landscape painting, mountains express the eternal and water constant flow; solid forms dance with empty space. By distilling elements to their essence, Daisen-in opens the mind to a state of deep stillness and harmony, filled with infinite life and potential.

Rocky Mountains3. COLORADO ROCKY MOUNTAINS: Native Elements Remind Us of Our True Home

Throughout the lofty Colorado Rocky Mountains, paths lead along mountain valleys to waterfalls and beautiful glacial lakes. The serene atmosphere of a waterfall scene set deep in the alpine flowered Colorado mountain peaks embodies the spirit of Flower Mountain as a garden.

A PLACE OF MEDITATION: Safely enclosed, this abstracted dry waterfall and mountain scene balances with the empty space of the Golden Lake to calm and clear the mind.
A PLACE OF CEREMONY: Hidden behind the mountaintop scene, a private shrine and place for ceremony is embraced by the Green Mountains.
A PLACE OF PRACTICE: Immersed in the Blue Meadow, whether doing walking meditation along the path or nurturing the garden, one finds peace through practice.



For many of us, the natural world is a source of profound connection and inspiration. Outside, beneath the open sky or a canopy of green leaves, we feel likewise open and alive. With the Zen Center of Denver zendo garden, we can offer this sense of simultaneous ease and vitality to all who visit. As an essential complement to the building, we can also offer Denver something unique – a true Zen temple in the heart of the city, a uniquely beautiful landmark and lasting cultural institution devoted to the cultivation of peace and understanding in our daily lives. While we are still in the process of soliciting bids from contractors, initial estimates place the total cost of the project at around $150,000. With your generous support, we hope to begin construction and installation sometime this fall. Zen Master Dogen said, “One should give even a single coin or a single blade of grass – it causes roots of goodness in this age and other ages to sprout.”

Please donate today!

A Gift of the Earth: Summer Sesshin at RMERC

Last Sunday morning we concluded our summer sesshin at Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center, a simply stunning setting for a week of zazen in the mountains near Ward, Colorado. Really, words cannot express the depth of silence and beauty experienced there, and we can only bow in gratitude to the founders of RMERC and our hosts there (Rosie and Sanshin), to our teachers, fellow participants and sesshin leaders, and to the living earth and great sky.

To recount just one memory among myriad, Friday evening saw a passing rainstorm through the valley. By then we had been sitting in zazen for three full days, and Friday was one of our days of silence: no talks, no chanting, just sitting upright with all senses open, moment by moment. The storm soon passed, and as the evening sitting concluded, a remarkable, vibrant rosy light broke across the valley.

Almost as one body, with no prior agreement or discussion, we all went outside to stand on the deck, and stood gazing in wonder at one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever witnessed. Resplendent hues of pink and gold played through an ever-shifting cloudscape, while below lay the magnificent mountain vista and a green valley fresh with the rain. Truly it was a gift of the living earth, which offers up its beauty without cease or limit; and I can think of few expressions of sangha more apt than this group standing in purely spontaneous awe and gratitude at the world in which we find ourselves. Svaha!

From the Mud, a Temple Blooms

Wow! After years of working and waiting, suddenly a temple springs from the muddy ground like an eager spring flower. This morning, with tremendous excitement, our members for the first time walked through the ground floor of our new practice center on Columbine. We found it even more than we had imagined – spacious, meticulously considered and perfectly constructed for our practice needs and community. From the wide-open zendo to the cozy dokusan rooms, the building promises to be a Zen refuge like few others, our lasting home.

As it happens, this follows on our largest-ever introductory seminar, with dozens of people learning how to meditate for the first time. What an auspicious time for a new start!