Chapel Hill Zen Center

Chapel Hill Zen Center is open for in-person zazen
Sunday mornings at 9 and 9:50 AM,
Tuesday evenings at 7 and 7:50 PM, and
Monday through Friday mornings at 6 and 6:50 AM.

Orientation and Meditation Instruction
are offered at 9 AM on Sundays and 7 PM on Tuesdays.
Please let us know before your first visit at

Zoom zazen is offered Monday through Friday mornings at 6 and 6:50 AM.

We are dedicated to our Affirmation of Welcome:

Embracing diversity, the Chapel Hill Zen Center
expresses the fundamental connection of all beings
by welcoming everyone to the practice of zazen.
May all beings realize their true nature.

We vow to work together to make every member of
our community feel valued and respected.

Zen means "meditation"

Even if just one person sits zazen for a short time, this zazen is imperceptibly one with each and all myriad things, and completely permeates all time, so that within the limitless universe, throughout past, present and future, it performs the eternal and ceaseless work of guiding beings to enlightenment, Zazen is equally the same practice and same realization for both the person sitting and for all dharmas.
— Eihei Dogen from Jijuyu Zammai

Zen is the school of Buddhism which emphasizes the religious practice of meditation. The Buddha taught that Ignorance, created by our greed, hate, and delusion, prevents us from realizing that we are all enlightened. Zen Buddhism teaches that the practice of sitting in meditation (Jap.: zazen) directly manifests our inborn enlightenment, our Buddha Nature. In Zen practice, seated meditation and enlightenment are one. No preliminary training or long preparation is necessary to realize the Way.

Zen Founder Cutting Bamboo

Zen Sixth Ancestor
Cutting Bamboo
(Ryankai, 13th century)

The Soto school of Japanese Zen practice was founded in the 13th century by the Zen Master Eihei Dogen. In his instructions on how to meditate, Dogen writes,
"You should...cease from practice based on intellectual understanding...and learn the backward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate your self. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will be manifest....The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the...gate of repose and bliss, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the manifestation of ultimate reality."

Zen also stresses that the world of enlightenment is the everyday world we all know. "Carrying water and chopping wood are the activities of the Buddha," and "The everyday mind is Buddha, " are two of the most well known Zen sayings. Zen realization shows us that we are directly connected to, and dependent on, all living beings and everything that exists. Compassionate concern for the welfare of others and for the environment flow naturally from this insight.

Affirmation of

Embracing diversity, the Chapel Hill Zen Center expresses the fundamental connection of all beings by welcoming everyone to the practice of zazen. May all beings realize their true nature.

For Information or Questions

Call (919) 967-0861 or email

Mailing Address: PO Box 16302, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Meeting Location: 5322 NC Highway 86, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(2.5 miles north of I-40 at exit 266. Building has wheelchair access.)

Click here for Directions and Contact Information.


Make a donation to Chapel Hill Zen Center,
or pay a workshop, sesshin or other fee.

Brief History
of the Center

The Chapel Hill Zen Group came into existence in 1981. It was formed by a small group of friends who took turns meditating in each other's homes in the Durham-Chapel Hill area in North Carolina. In December, 1997, the Board of Directors voted to change the group's legal name to the Chapel Hill Zen Center to reflect the group's growing membership and more established status. Several members of the original group practiced at the San Francisco Zen Center, and the Center is now formally affiliated with SFZC. The S.F. Zen Center was founded by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Before he died in 1971, Suzuki also founded the first Zen monastery in America, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, near Carmel, California. His teaching has been continued by his American disciples.

Where & When
We Meet

The Chapel Hill Zen Center now has a permanent meeting place at 5322 NC Highway 86, Chapel Hill, 27514 (2.5 miles north of I-40 Exit 266). All meetings are open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend. (The building has wheelchair access.) See the schedule posted below for times. Zen meditation instruction and orientation can be given on Tuesday evenings or Sunday mornings. Please call (919) 967-0861 for information and to make an appointment before coming for instruction.

Our Events Page has dates and times for lectures, workshops, groups, other events and special announcements.

Click here for directions to Chapel Hill Zen Center. For general questions, email

Guidelines for Dress

Please wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes. Pants, or skirts that come below the knee, are appropriate. It is also alright to wear longer shorts that come to the knee, and short sleeved shirts, but not tank tops or halter tops. It is traditional to go barefoot in the meditation hall, but it is alright to wear socks, particularly in cool weather.

Meditation Schedule

Adverse Weather
As a general rule, if driving may be risky, don't do it. When it is snowing or sleeting, or if either snow or sleet is predicted to occur before or during zazen, you can assume that the zendo will be closed, particularly for 6 AM zazen.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday


6:00 AM

Zazen (zen meditation)

6:40 AM

Kinhin (walking meditation)

6:50 AM


7:20 AM

Sutra Chanting Service

Tuesday Evenings


7:00 PM

Zazen (zen meditation)

7:40 PM

Kinhin (walking meditation)

7:50 PM


Sunday Mornings


9:00 AM

Zazen (zen meditation)

9:40 AM

Kinhin (walking meditation)

9:50 AM


10:20 AM

Sutra Chanting Service

Study Group

Monday and Thursday evenings. See Events Page for details.

Aging Gracefully, Befriending Death Discussion Group

Contacts: Carol Klein at, Kris Garvin at or Senmyo Jeff Sherman at

Eco-Dharma Discussion Group

Contacts: Zenki Kathleen Batson at or
Chris Censullo at

Sangha Blog

Library Catalog

Friends of the
Chapel Hill Zen Center

Richmond Zen Group
Eden Kevin Heffernan, Head Priest
Meeting Place: Ekoji Buddhist Sangha of Richmond
3411 Grove Avenue, Richmond, VA 23221
Contact Person: Stan (804) 833-1009

Other Zen Meditation Groups in North Carolina

Charlotte Zen Meditation Society
Meeting Place: Harmony House
726 East Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28209

Great Tree Zen Temple
Teijo Munnich, Head Priest
679 Lower Flat Creek Road, Alexander, NC 28701
(828) 645-2085

North Carolina Zen Center
Brooks Branch Zendo
390 Ironwood Road, Pittsboro, NC 27312
(919) 542-7411

Wilmington Zen Group
Meeting Place: Unitarian Universal Fellowship
4313 Lake Avenue, Wilmington, NC 28403
Contact Person: Elizabeth Darrow

Winston Zen
Meeting Place: 18 Springs Community Healing Center
2424 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC, 27106
Monday mornings, 7:30 to 8:20 AM

Zen Center of Asheville
Rev. Teijo Munnich
Meeting Place: Friends Meeting House
227 Edgewood Avenue, Asheville, NC 28804
(828) 398-4212