Getting Started

“You should therefore cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inward to illuminate your self. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will be manifest. If you want to attain suchness, you should practice suchness without delay.” – Dogen, Fukanzazengi

“It is essential at the beginning of practice to acknowledge that the path is personal and intimate. It is no good to examine it from a distance as if it were someone else’s. You must walk it for yourself.” – Robert Aitken, Taking the Path of Zen

The primary practice of the Zen Center of Denver is zazen, or seated meditation; zazen is the heart of Zen practice, and is both the full expression of our inherent enlightenment as well as the means of uncovering it. Zazen can take place in stillness (sitting meditation) and in activities such as walking meditation and work practice. Therefore, we encourage a quiet, meditative atmosphere and use many traditional Zen forms to help us in that regard. For people interested in finding a lay (non-monastic) community, we offer the opportunity to practice with seasoned meditation practitioners.

For people new to our practice, we offer several ways to get started:

Our introductory seminar is the best way to get started at the Zen Center of Denver, and is recommended for anyone new to Zen and sitting meditation. During this three-hour class, you can meet the teachers, ask questions about Zen, become familiar with our practice forms and learn how to meditate in a comfortable sitting posture. Please wear subdued clothing comfortable for sitting cross-legged on cushions (although chairs are available for those unable to sit cross-legged). After attending the class you are welcome to join us for our regular morning and evening sittings. Classes are usually held every six weeks or so on a Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The cost for attending the class is $35. Please check our calendar for exact dates.

Beginners’ nights are held about once a month on a Tuesday or Thursday evening. Newcomers will receive very brief instruction in how to do seated meditation, followed by a single 25-minute round of meditation and then a discussion period focused on beginning practice. Please check the calendar for exact dates and locations. If you would like to attend a beginners’ night, please arrive around 6:45 p.m. and let the attendant know that it’s your first time sitting with us. Note also that the doors will be locked around 6:55 p.m., so please don’t be late. There is no set fee for beginners’ nights, but a donation of your choosing for support of the Center is much appreciated.

Dharma talks by one of our teachers or senior students are offered on most Sundays from 8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Please check the calendar for dates and times. We begin with two twenty-five-minute rounds of meditation (with walking meditation between rounds), followed by a short chanting service and then the talk. If you have already attended an introductory class, please plan to arrive at 7:50 a.m. If you have not attended an introductory class, please arrive at 8:50 a.m. for the chanting service and talk. Tea and cookies are served afterward, and you are welcome to stay and get acquainted with members of our community.

If you are already familiar with Zen and sitting meditation (i.e. have trained at another Zen center) and feel that you can sit quietly without moving for twenty-five minutes, you are welcome to join us at any of our regular sittings; please arrive around fifteen minutes prior to an evening sitting to become familiar with our practice forms.

For additional information, please contact the office by email (office@zencenterofdenver.org) or phone (303-455-1500).