Upcoming Events
For more information, call (919) 967-0861

View the CHZC Google Calendar of Events.
Download the November-December 2019 CHZC Newsletter in PDF format.
Sign up for email updates via the Chapel Hill Zen Center Listserv.

Detail of Buddha figure in the Earth Witness Mudra

Rohatsu Sesshin
Friday, December 6 through Friday, December 13, 2019

Meditation Instruction and Orientation will not be offered on Sunday morning, December 8, or Tuesday evening, December 10 due to sesshin.

Josho Roshi will lead the Rohatsu Sesshin from Friday night, December 6, through Friday afternoon, December 13. Sesshin is an intimate way to practice with ourselves and others. We begin sesshin together, we sit together, walk together, eat together, and work together. Our practice is supported by the entire universe and each of us is supporting everyone else.

Sesshin will begin at 7 PM on Friday evening with orientation and job assignments. In order to help all of us settle into the schedule and our zazen practice, please arrive on time for orientation on Friday night. Following orientation, silence will be observed. The zendo will be open by 4 PM on Friday; so please plan to arrive in time to settle in before 7 PM. It is possible to sit part of the sesshin, but please come to orientation on Friday night, and commit to sitting for at least two days. When registering, clearly explain what part of sesshin you would like to attend.

The sesshin day will include zazen, beginning at 6 AM, kinhin, a Dharma talk, work period, and formal meals served in the zendo. Dokusan, an individual meeting with Josho Roshi, will be available. The day will end around 9:30 PM. We are planning for the 5th day of sesshin to be a silent day, with no chanting or Dharma Talk.

Because expenses have increased and because of unexpected repairs, the fees are higher this year. Fees are $50 per day for Participating Members, and $60 per day for others. However if you are able to offer more, it would be very helpful; the additional funds can be considered a tax-exempt donation. There will also be an opportunity to offer a donation to the teacher. It is our intention that no one be turned away for financial reasons. Scholarships will continue to be available. If you would like to request a scholarship, please contact Ken Wilson at kenneth.wilson@duke.edu. In the past, contributions received for scholarships were very helpful in allowing people to attend sesshin here and at the San Francisco Zen Center. Please return your registration form by November 25, with a $30 deposit.

Download the 2019 Rohatsu Sesshin Registration From

You are welcome to sleep in the zendo, and there may be some space available in members' homes nearby. Please bring a portable bed or pad for the floor, a sleeping bag, pillow, a towel and wash cloth, slip-on shoes, work clothes, and layered clothing. Opportunities for bathing are limited. For more information, please contact Zenki Kathleen Batson at info@chzc.org.
The Zen Center emergency phone is (919) 933-0776.

Sesshin Guidelines

  • Follow the schedule completely. If you are unable to do so, please speak to Josho before signing up. If you become sick, or if a difficulty arises during sesshin, please speak with Josho, the Director, or the Ino at that time.
  • No reading or writing, including Buddhist studies. Of course, you may read the sesshin schedule, but any reading that is not essential to the sesshin should not be done.
  • No talking. Please maintain silence on breaks and during work time.
  • Meal Practice. Please take some of each food being served unless you have a bad allergy to a particular food. Our meal practice is to accept what is offered. If you have a problem with, or allergy to, any food, please indicate that on the registration form.
  • Tea, coffee and water will be available during breaks and before zazen in the morning.
  • Please do not use deodorants, aftershave lotion, or other cosmetics that are perfumed.
  • No smoking in the building or on the decks.

Download the 2019 Rohatsu Sesshin Registration From

Meditation Instruction and Orientation will not be offered on Sunday morning, December 8, or Tuesday evening, December 10 due to sesshin.

Dharma Talks

Josho Pat Phelan Roshi will give a public Dharma Talk on Sunday, December 8, at 10:30 AM.

Everyone is welcome.

Children's Program

Sunday mornings, December 1 and 15
The Zen Center's Children's Program is looking for a helper (or two) interested in guiding children as they develop awareness and mindfulness. You would co-lead the program with the director, Maura High, and lead the program in her absence. Please contact Maura at maurahigh @gmail.com or Josho Roshi at joshochzc@gmail.com if you'd like to know more.

The Children's Program is designed for children four years and older. We aim to include them in the Zen Center sangha through a variety of activities — meditation, story, craft, song, and movement — as well as participation in Zen Center events and celebrations throughout the year. In each meeting, the children have space and time to practice living mindfully and to learn about Buddhist teachings while giving their parents an opportunity to meditate in the concurrent adult program.

The program meets on the first Sunday of each month, drop-off time from 8:50 until about 9:30, and pick-up at 11:00 A.M. (parents are welcome to stay with the children if they like). If you're interested in child care on the Sundays we don't have a scheduled meeting, please ask — we can usually arrange it. To sign up, or for more information, contact Maura High, maurahigh@gmail.com.

Recovery Meeting

Tuesday evenings, 7:30 to 8:30 PM
This is a recovery group with a Buddhist perspective on the 12-Step Program which meets at the Chapel Hill Zen Center. The meetings begin with twenty minutes of silent meditation. For more information, contact: (919) 265-7600 or ZenandRecovery@gmail.com.

People of Color Sitting Group

Wednesday evenings from 6 to 7:30 PM
The POC Sitting Group begins with zazen from 6 to 6:40 PM, with an option to stay for group discussion and community building. Both those new to meditation, or experienced, are warmly welcome to join us or drop in as you like. For more information, contact Conal, Kriti or John at pocsittinggroup@gmail.com.

As usual, instruction in zazen and an orientation are offered to the public on Sunday morning at 9 AM, and on Tuesday night at 7 PM.

Chinese Calligraphy & Brush Painting

Jinxiu Zhao will teach Chinese Calligraphy on Sunday afternoons from 2:30 to 4:00 PM, and Brush Painting from 2:30 to 4:30 PM on November 3 and 17, and December 1 and 15.

Fees are $30 per class, or $110 for 4 classes. Please contact Jinxiu at (919) 484-7524 or jxznc@aol.com to register or for more information. Jinxiu is also available to teach children's classes.

Aging Gracefully, Befriending Death

This is an informal discussion group that gives the opportunity to share readings, information, and explore conversations among ourselves on these topics. Please contact Carol Klein at wmichael@nc.rr.com, Kris Garvin at krisgarvin@gmail.com or Senmyo Jeff Sherman at jeffsherman3333@gmail.com, if you have questions, would like more information. Everyone is welcome, regardless of age.

Eco-Dharma Discussion Group

Mountains and waters right now are the actualization of the ancient Buddha way.
— Master Dogen

Sunday, January, 26, 11:15 AM
In this group we will informally explore together Buddhist teachings on the natural world, caring for the natural world as an expression of the Bodhisattva Vow, and our own responses to current environmental issues. The intention of this group is to support and inspire one another in our efforts to make appropriate Buddhist responses to environmental concerns at a personal, local and global level. If you are interested please contact Zenki Kathleen Batson at lulu@rumblebuss.com.

A Moment of Eco-Dharma:
Ideas for Holiday Giving

To leave flowers to the wind, to leave birds to the seasons, are also acts of giving.
-Dogen, from Bodaisatta Shishobo

Vowing to see the impact holiday gift-giving can have on our environment and our peace of mind, we recently pondered the question of how to give more profoundly, while also considering the effects of our giving on the wider sangha of all living beings. According to Thich Nhat Hanh, "The greatest gift we can make to another is our true presence." We also know that according to Zen teachings, ultimately there is no giver, no receiver and no gift. We live in the relative day-to-day world however, and gift giving is an important way that we express our love, gratitude and appreciation to others.

The following are some ideas from the Eco-Dharma Group, as we wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday:

  • Consider packaging when purchasing: Is there an option with less packaging than the others?
  • Buy handmade gifts from local artists or producers. Visit local holiday art markets such as the Elf Market in Carrboro or the Saxapahaw Holiday Market. Please see Triangle on the Cheap for a good list.
  • Make a charitable gift in honor of someone to an organization that supports work the recipient finds meaningful.
  • Does a loved one volunteer? Offer support by asking if you might volunteer with them or help their work in some other way.
  • Express yourself with your gift wrapping: Use children's unwanted artwork or newspaper sections as wrapping paper; purchase decorative boxes or use scarves, kerchiefs or fabric to place gifts in so the presentation is also a usable gift (Please look up furoshiki. Here is a YouTube video of how to use fabric to wrap gifts); reuse wrapping and tissue papers; cut pictures from cards you received to decorate gifts; use flowers, leaves, herbs, or sachets instead of bows to decorate.
  • Give experiences: Attend an event together, buy a ticket to a show, movie or concert; provide a service such as childcare or yard work; give a homemade certificate or coupon redeemable to you for something you will do, provide, or give at another time, such as a homemade candlelight dinner.
  • "Re-gift" an item that could have special meaning to another person.

Dokusan & Practice Discussion

Individual meetings are available to discuss your meditation practice, as well as your zazen posture, practice in daily life, and questions you may have about Buddhist teaching. These are usually given during zazen and sometimes by special appointment. To support trust and openness, discussions in these meetings should be kept confidential.

Dokusan is a formal meeting with the Abbess to talk about your practice. You may schedule Dokusan by speaking to Josho Roshis or contacting her at info@chzc.org. When it's time for you to have Dokusan, someone may come to the zendo and get you, or the bell in the Dokusan Room will signal when it is time for you to come back. When it is your turn, go to the Dokusan Room, enter and close the door. Do one floor bow toward the altar ending with a standing bow, then sidestep and bow to and away from the cushion. Sit down and turn clockwise to face the teacher, settle and begin talking. When Dokusan is over, turn clockwise, fluff your cushion, and do a standing bow. Leave the door slightly open as you leave.

Practice Discussion is a meeting to discuss your practice with a priest. Jakuko Mo Ferrell, Choro Carla Antonaccio, and Zenki Kathleen Batson are available to meet with people for Practice Discussion. The form is to do a standing bow in front of the altar and to bow to and away from your cushion before sitting down, turn clockwise and begin. You may contact them at the zendo or by email. Jakuko - mositwear@gmail.com,
Choro - subtlegate@gmail.com, and
Zenki - chzc.zenki@gmail.com.

Richmond Zen Group

For information, contact Stan at (804) 833-1009 or visit www.richmondzen.org.

Volunteers Needed

A group of Zen Center volunteers prepare and serve lunch at the Inter-faith Council Community Kitchen on the fourth Saturday of each month from 10 AM to 1 PM. More volunteers are needed, including a core group of committed people, so we can continue our presence. The IFC Community Kitchen is the only soup kitchen in Orange Country and is located on the corner of Rosemary and Columbia Streets in Chapel Hill. If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information, please contact Shawn at (919) 619-2243 or chzencooks@gmail.com.

Altar Maintenance & Flower Arrangers

If you are interested in helping care for the altars of our temple, this would be a good time to begin, or return to, the practice of chidening and flower arranging. Traditionally, chidens are responsible for maintaining the altars of a temple which means cleaning the altars themselves, sifting and cleaning the incense burners, trimming candles, and replenishing needed items.

We also need volunteers to bring flowers and create flower arrangements for the altars.

Chidening and creating flower arrangements are wonderful ways of supporting the ongoing practice of our temple. A new schedule is being set up, and if you are interested in serving as a chiden about once a month, please contact John at john@jollyoso.com. If you are interested in serving as a flower arranger about once a month, please contact Andrea at andreajost@gmail.com.

Winter Holidays Schedule

The Zen Center will be closed from Friday morning, December 20 through Wednesday, January 1 on weekdays, and open on Sunday mornings, December 22 and 29.

Buddha's Enlightenment Ceremony

Sunday morning, December 15
On Sunday morning, December 15, we will commemorate Buddha's Enlightenment at 10:30 AM with a short talk directed to children followed by a candle lighting and special service in the zendo. At the end of service, the children will be given a gift of incense and a candle. The morning will end with pot-luck refreshments, with beverages provided. Two periods of zazen, beginning at 9 AM will be held as usual.

New Year's Eve

Tuesday evening, December 31
On Tuesday night, December 31, we will welcome the New Year with two periods of zazen at 8:00 and 8:50 followed by the Bodhisattva Ceremony at 9:20, and a Fire Ceremony at 9:50 finishing with refreshments. For the Fire Ceremony, we write down the habits and tendencies, difficult states of mind, tangled aspects of relationships, and so on, that we would like to release. We will have an outdoor fire to burn our papers along with the name cards from Memorial Services held during the past year and incense stubs that have accumulated throughout year. Everyone is welcome for the whole program or to any part of it. The program will end with pot-luck refreshments.

8 AM Wednesday Morning Zazen

Join us for a period of zazen Wednesday mornings from 8 to 8:40 AM. Drop-ins welcome. Our usual early morning zazen at 6 and 6:50 AM will also be held, followed by sutra chanting serice.

Study Hall

Monday Mornings at 7:45 AM
We will continue having a quiet Study Hall to read Buddhist materials on Monday mornings from 7:45 until 8:30 or 9 AM. Please feel free to join us for any of this time that works for you.

Study Group

Thursday Evenings at 6:45 PM
Join us Thursday evenings, 6:45 to 8 PM, as we read together and discuss the The Mountains and Waters Sutra, a text by Master Dogen, with Shohaku Okumura's commentary. We will return to the place in the book where we left off — page 104. Copies of the book are for sale in the entryway. Study Group is preceded by one period of zazen at 6 PM.

Everyone is welcome and there is no charge.

Looking Ahead

June Sesshin — June 13 to 18, 2020, led by Daitsu Tom Wright.

New Library Books

The Zen Center Library is available to Participating Members to check out books for three weeks at a time, with a two-week renewal.

Mindful of Race by Ruth King
The World is Made of Stories by David R. Loy
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte
See, Hear Feel, Mindfulness for Children One Moment at a Time by Emmanuelle Giumelli
Training with Our Mistakes: CD of a Dharma Talk from Shasta Abbey by Rev. Amanda Robertson
The Three Turnings of the Dharma Wheel, CD from talks given at the North Carolina Zen Center by Jay L. Garfield
Natural Pain Relief by Shinzen Young
Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing by Frederick Franck
Asian Religions in America: A Documentary History and The American Encounter with Buddhism 1844-1912 by Thomas Tweed

The library catalogue is online at www.tinyurl.com/chzclibrary.

Prison Outreach

Members of the Chapel Hill Zen Center volunteer in both state prisons in North Carolina and the federal prison at Butner. We can always use more volunteers, and having volunteers present is usually a requirement in order for inmates to meet for religious services or to sit zazen. We are looking for people who have been sitting zazen at the Zen Center for a year or more. Orientation is required by each institution. If you would like more information, please contact Josho Roshi at (919) 967-0861 or info@chzc.org.

Prison Book Donation Program

The Prison Book Donation Program is grateful for the generous support of the Sangha. Donations of Buddhist books, particularly on Zen, are appreciated, and only paperbacks are accepted by the prison. Please leave prison book donations at the Zendo.

Shopping Online?

The Chapel Hill Zen Center is now registered with the online company iGive.com. iGive.com is set up so that when you register with them to make a purchase, a percentage (about 2%-15%) will be given to the non-profit of your choice. iGive.com has 238 merchants registered with them, including LandsEnd, L.L. Bean, and Amazon.com. After logging on to iGive.com, to make a purchase, choose the merchant, place the order, and then designate the Chapel Hill Zen Center to receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale. We are not advocating that you buy something you wouldn't ordinarily, or that you buy online, but, if you already shop online, consider going through iGive.com to make your purchase.

Amazon Smile

Amazon now donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. On your first visit to AmazonSmile, you need to select a charitable organization to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. Your selection will be remembered, and then every eligible purchase you make on AmazonSmile will result in a donation. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. The Chapel Hill Zen Center is now listed with smile.amazon.com

CHZC Newsletter in PDF Format

Download the November-December 2019 CHZC Newsletter in PDF format.

If you prefer receiving an email with a link to the PDF file of the CHZC Newsletter which is mailed every two months in printed form, please send your request to info@chzc.org. The PDF version is always linked to at the top of the Events page.

To get the latest version of Adobe's free PDF viewer, Acrobat Reader, click here.

Email Updates via the CHZC Listserv

You are invited to join an email listserv now available via Yahoo for announcements about upcoming activities at the CHZC. If you wish to become a member of this listserv, please type "Subscribe" in the subject line and send an email to CHZCannounce-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. You can also go to: www.groups.yahoo.com/group/CHZCannounce and click the "Join Now" box. You may be requested to supply some information or to create a Yahoo "identity." Please note the options for making your email address public or for receiving marketing or other messages not directly from the listserv. It is your choice whether or not to receive other messages. Joining this list will not increase the amount of spam you receive. If you have any questions, please contact the list moderator, Lance at lashdown@yahoo.com.

CHZC Facebook Page

The Chapel Hill Zen Center is on Facebook! Please follow or like our official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChapelHillZenCenter/ for announcements and invitations to events and special programs at the center. We also invite you to join our affiliated group, Chapel Hill Zen Center Members and Friends at www.facebook.com/groups/CHZCGroup/ to share news, articles, and other resources, ask questions, and interact with sangha members in a more informal way. Everyone is welcome to join.


The Chapel Hill Zen Center now has a blog with photographs from recent ceremonies and events. See: www.chapelhillzen.wordpress.com.

Sangha Network

The CHZC has a Sangha Network of volunteers to offer short-term assistance to those in the sangha who need help with simple tasks such as shopping, arranging for meals, or transportation, due to transitions in one's life including illness, disability, or death of a loved one. If you would like to volunteer or if you need assistance, please contact Carol Klein at wmichael@nc.rr.com, Kris Garvin at krisgarvin@gmail.com or Senmyo Jeff Sherman at jeffsherman3333@gmail.com.

Board of Directors for 2019

Nell Kriesberg has resigned as Secretary of the Board, and Tripp Spivey, who was a Member-at-Large, was appointed by the Board to fill the position for the rest of this year. Chris Censullo has accepted the position of Member-at Large for the rest of the year to replace Tripp. We offer our deep gratitude to Nell for serving as Secretary.

The Chapel Hill Zen Center Board of Directors are Kenneth Wilson, President; John Paredes, Vice President; Mike McKillip, Treasurer; Tripp Spivey, Secretary; Andrea Ashdown and Chris Censullo, Members-at-Large; and Josho Pat Phelan, ex officio.

Adverse Weather Policy

The general rule about coming to the zendo is, if driving may be risky, don't do it. For example, when it is snowing or sleeting, or if snow or sleet are predicted to occur before or during zazen, you can assume that the zendo will be closed. This is particularly true for 6 AM zazen. The highway where the zendo is located is often not as well traveled or as well treated for snow as other highways in the area, and the temperature in the county is often a couple of degrees colder than in more populated areas.