Events & Announcements
For more information, call (919) 967-0861
Sengai Meditating Frog

View the CHZC Google Calendar of Events.
Download the September-October 2023 CHZC Newsletter in PDF format.
Sign up for email updates via the Chapel Hill Zen Center Email Announcement List.

Masks Are Now Optional at Chapel Hill Zen Center

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

Zoom zazen is offered Monday and Friday afternoons at 1 PM
and Monday through Friday mornings at 6 and 6:50 AM.

A Class with David Guy

Six Monday evenings, 7:30 to 9 PM
October 9 through November 13, 2023

Zen Meditation, or zazen, is the simple practice of being present with our experience. We hear the instructions in a matter of minutes, but spend a lifetime learning the practice. These six classes will introduce participants to zazen and give them support as they develop a daily sitting practice. It will also introduce them to other aspects of practice at the Zen Center.

For class details and to register, see the
Beginning Zen Practice Page

Sejiki Ceremony

Saturday evening October 28, at 7 PM

This year the Sejiki Ceremony will be held on October 28, at 7 PM. Children are welcome, and welcome to wear costumes. And we invite you to help decorate the entry garden and deck with your Jack-o-Lanterns!

Sejiki is a Japanese word meaning “feeding the hungry ghosts.” Hungry ghosts are depicted as beings with very large stomachs swollen from malnutrition, who have the tiniest of throats, and who are always hungry. They are symbolic of the state of mind which is never satisfied with who we are or what we have. In the ceremony we call forth hungry ghosts and beings who are stuck in intermediary states, as well the dark, unknown regions of our own psyches, bringing them into the light. We offer them the nourishment of Dharma with the hope of satisfying and releasing them.

The Sejiki Ceremony also has the feeling of a universal memorial service. In addition to releasing the spirits of the departed, the ceremony is intended to resolve our karmic relationships with the deceased. During the ceremony, the names of those for whom we have performed memorial services during the past year will be read. If you would like the name of a friend or relative, or other being read during the service, please leave the name in an envelop on the zendo bulletin board, or send it to no later than the day before the ceremony.

In the spirit of Sejiki, we invite you to bring a food offering for the Interfaith Council pantry of non-perishable goods, which will be collected in the entryway.

You can read more about the Bodhisattva Ceremony in this talk by Shosan Victoria Austin.

Annual Business Meeting

Sunday morning, November 12

The General Meeting, our annual members’ business meeting, will be held on Sunday morning, November 12, after morning service. The nominees for the next Board of Directors will be introduced and the budget for 2024 will be presented. Everyone is encouraged to attend, but only Participating Members are eligible to vote. If you have agenda items, please contact the Board President, John Paredes at

Restarting the Children’s Program

If you are interested in participating in the programs at the Zen Center and would like to check out possibilities for your children, we have offered child care and a full program of story, craft, and mindfulness activities on Sunday mornings in the past, for children 5 and older. If you’d like to find out more, please contact Maura at

Daily Dogen

Daily Dogen is a Google Group that sends a short passage from Dogen every day by email. Over the course of 2023-2024, the plan is to email the entire Shobogenzo. If you would like to join, go to and click: Ask to Join Group. Your email will not be shared or used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Sangha News

Craig Adamski has stepped down from being Ino. We grateful for everything he has done scheduling doans and in taking care of the Zen Center so well.

Lance Ashdown is the new Ino-in-training and has already taken on several of the Ino responsibili-ties. Thank you, Lance.

Alex Fine has relocated to Ohio and has resigned as Vice President of the ZC Board, after serving for a year and a half. We are grateful for his service.

Chris Censullo has generously agreed to step up into the position of Vice President.

Dokusan & Practice Discussion

If you would like to make an appointment, please write to

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 Roshi or contacting her at 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 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 at, and
Zenki at

Small Groups

The small groups at the Zen Center came out of Zoom discussions that we had at Practice Intensive teas during the pandemic. People were hungry for that kind of interaction, and wanted to continue it after the Practice Period was over. So we formed small groups of six members maximum where people could get together and informally discuss their practice. Since practice includes all of life, we found ourselves discussing everything. These really act as support groups for people who are trying to live their lives according to Buddhist principles.

We meet once a month, both in person and by Zoom. All members have an equal opportunity to share. We don’t try to fix or correct each other, just to sit and listen. It’s a wonderful feeling to be heard, and to talk about practice in an informal setting. If you’re interested in joining a small group, or would like more information, contact David Guy at

Recovery Meeting

by Zoom Tuesday Evenings at 7 PM
The Zen Recovery Program is planning to resume in-person meetings at the Zen Center soon. In the meantime, for the Zoom link or for questions, please email:

We start with a 20 minute meditation, followed by a reading about the connection between Buddhist principles and recovery, then there is an opportunity to share. We conclude with a five-minute meditation. We are a small group and open to everyone. There is no requirement to disclose your recovery status or have any knowledge of Buddhism. Most people who attend are part of a 12-Step Fellowship, and we often discuss the Steps, but our meeting is not affiliated with any other group. This is a link to the essays that inspired our meeting here in Chapel Hill:

Living with Impermanence

by Zoom Once a Month
Living with Impermanence is an informal discussion group that shares how we experience impermanence in our lives including life changes, illness, aging and death. We usually begin with participants sharing what they are currently thinking of or dealing with. Discussions then usually emerge spontaneously to raised concerns. Silence is frequently a response after someone shares and we trust in that silence. On occasion we’ve set an agenda in advance to study a topic of interest.

Please contact Carol Klein at, Kris Garvin at, or Senmyo Sherman at, if you would like more information. Everyone is welcome, regardless of age.

Eco-Dharma Group

The Chapel Hill Zen Center Eco-Dharma Group informally explores together Buddhist teachings on the natural world, and caring for the natural world as an expression of the Bodhisattva Vow. Please contact Chris at or Zenki at to be added to the CHZC Eco-Dharma mailing list.

Virtual Peer Group

Second Wednesday of the Month at 7 PM

Ananda knew that having good and encouraging friends was very important for the path.
He even wondered whether having good friends is half the path.

"No, Ananda," the Buddha told him, "having good friends isn’t half of the Holy Life. Having good friends is the whole of the Holy Life." (Meghiya Sutta)

The Zen Center Virtual Peer Group sessions are coordinated by Al-Nisa Berry and Maura High. These online meetings will give sangha members an opportunity to share their individual experiences, receive encouragement, and offer compassion in a safe, supportive environment. Our goal is to build a thriving virtual community based on Soto Zen principles and help one another deepen our practice in daily life.

The Peer Group will meet monthly on the Second Wednesday at 7 PM on:

  • October 11
  • November 8
  • December 13
  • January 10

For more information, please contact Al-Nisa Berry at or Maura High at

Joining the Virtual Peer Group
Via computer:
Via phone: (301) 715-8592
Meeting ID: 85185384652

Inter-faith Council Community

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

Members of the CHZC also continue to collect items for the IFC Community Market which provides approximately 1,300 bags of groceries to those in need every month. Both produce and non-perishable food and items such as dish washing soap, shampoo, toilet paper are needed, as well as gently used brown paper bags used to send groceries home. Please leave items on the front deck of the ZC in the large plastic containers. They are picked up about once a week.

Inter-Faith Council for Social Services

The IFC is looking for volunteers including receptionists and Community Market (formerly known as the Food Pantry) staff (a 3-hour shift, flexible schedule), and volunteers to assist staff with linking people to options such as social services ("Community Navigation"). It is also hiring kitchen staff. More details on their website:

We also have an updated list of current needs since the IFC has seen quite an increase in numbers recently at both lunch and dinner times, 60-70 for lunch and up to 40 for dinner.

The Community Market most needed items are baked beans, dry or canned pinto beans, pork and beans, peanut and other nut butters, canned chicken, ramen, spaghetti, Mac and Cheese, other pastas, hearty soups such as Progresso, canned vegetables (except corn and green beans, which are in good supply), spaghetti sauce, canned tomato sauce & paste, canned diced & whole tomatoes, canned fruit, cooking oils & fats, butter, grits, oats—including instant packets, baking & cake mixes, cereals, juice both bottles & boxes, coffee, tea, canned milk, powdered milk packets, jelly and other condiments. Personal hygiene items are also need including soap, small tissue packs, toothpaste, toilet paper, shampoo, lotion and moisturizing creams, deodorant, razors, size 4 and 5 children’s diapers. For questions, please contact Maura High at

2023 Board of Directors

We are pleased to announce that the Chapel Hill Zen Center Board of Directors for 2023 are: John Paredes, President; Chris Censullo, Vice President; Kenneth Wilson, Treasurer; Danielle Bouchard, Secretary; Al-Nisa Berry and Lance Ashdown, Members-at-Large; Josho Pat Phelan, ex officio.

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

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.

Three-Day Sesshin

Led by Zenki Kathleen Batson

Friday, September 29 - Monday, October 2

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.

In this sesshin we will explore the theme of water in some of Dogen’s writings, as well as in other teachings, consider what stories we tell ourselves about water, and how to engage with water as part of our practice in daily life.

If you plan to attend please register by this
Friday, September 22

Sesshin will begin Friday evening at 7PM with orientation and job assignments. In order to help everyone settle into the schedule, please arrive on time for orientation on Friday night. Following orientation, we will observe silence. The zendo will be open by 4PM on Friday. The sesshin day will include zazen beginning at 6AM, kinhin, a Dharma talk, work period, and oryoki meals. Dokusan with Zenki will also be available.

Download the
Sesshin Registration Form

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, and scholarships are available. If you would like to request a scholarship, please contact John at and let him know how much you are able to contribute. 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 with a $50 deposit.

You are welcome to sleep at the Zen Center, 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, towel and wash cloth, slip-on shoes, work clothes, and layered clothing. Camping on the Zen Center grounds is also available. Opportunities for bathing are limited. For more information, please contact Zenki at

Emergency contact: (919) 933-0776

Dharma Talks

All talks at 10:30 AM, following two periods of zazen at 9 and 9:50 AM. Everyone is welcome.

Zenki Kathleen Batson
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday mornings, September 30, October 1 and 2

Jakuko Mo Ferrell
Sunday morning, November 5

Study Groups via Zoom

New Evening Class
Begins This Thursday September 7

Thursday nights, 6:45-8 PM

Just to sit and be open to whatever comes up is zazen. If we can do that with every breath, without even thinking about it, resiliency is cultivated. Zazen is the actualization of availablity, openness, and resiliency.

— Tim Burkett

For this weekly study group, we will read and discuss selections of Tim Burkett’s book, Nothing Holy About It, The Zen of Being Just Who You Are, available for sale at the Zen Center book store or online at

Monday Evening Class Continues...

Monday evenings, 5:30 to 6:30 PM

The Monday evening Study Group continues studying the Yogacara sutra, the Samdhinirmocana Sutra, primarily the translation of John Powers, titled The Wisdom of Buddha. This book has been out of print, but a PDF of it is available here. Hardcover copies are now available for sale from Dharma Publishing.

Reb Anderson’s book, The Third Turning of the Wheel, discusses this sutra and refers to lines from it by page numbers, and Thomas Cleary has a translation, Buddhist Yoga, A Comprehensive Course. But the main text we will be reading is the John Powers translation.

Joining the Zoom Study Groups
Via computer:
Via phone: (646) 558-8656
Meeting ID: 821378615

Please log on 5-10 minutes before the study group begins so we can start on time. Everyone is welcome and there is no charge.

Rohatsu Sesshin

Led by Josho Pat Phelan Roshi

Friday evening, December 1, through Friday afternoon, December 8

Sesshin will begin Friday evening at 7PM with orientation and job assignments. In order to help everyone settle into the schedule, please arrive on time for orientation on Friday night. Following orientation, we will observe silence. The zendo will be open by 4PM on Friday. The sesshin day will include zazen beginning at 6AM, kinhin, a Dharma talk, work period, and oryoki meals. Dokusan with Josho Roshi will also be available.

Download the
Rohatsu Sesshin Registration Form

Outdoor Half-day Sitting

Sponsored by the Eco-Dharma Group

Saturday, October 14, 6 AM - 12:15 PM

Please bring a bag breakfast which you can either keep at your place or store in the annex refrigerator. Coffee and tea will be available on the back deck. For more information or to sign up, please email Zenki at or Chris at It is not necessary to participate for the entire event. If you would like to join us for only a portion of the morning, please let us know when signing up.

Half-day Sitting

Sunday morning, November 5

There will be an in person Half-day Sitting from 6 AM until 12:15 PM, on Sunday morning, November 5. Orientation will be on Saturday night at 7:30, and includes instruction in the formal oryoki zendo meal. The day will include zazen and a Dharma Talk, as well as breakfast.

Please speak to Josho Sensei if this is your first half-day sitting. The suggested donation is $10 for members, and $15 for others; however, if you are inclined to offer more, that would be very helpful in maintaining Zen Center. Oryoki sets are available for use by those who do not have their own, and a $5 donation is appreciated. Please sign up by Wednesday, November 1 at For more information on the oryoki meal form see:

In-Person Zazen

Sunday mornings at 9 and 9:50 AM
Tuesday evenings at 7 and 7:50 PM
Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 6 and 6:50 AM

You are welcome to join both periods of zazen or either one. Masks are now optional at Zen Center.

We will continue to post schedule updates via the CHZC email mailing list, here on the CHZC website, and on the CHZC Facebook page.

Zoom Zazen

Monday and Friday afternoons, 1 to 1:40 PM
Monday through Friday mornings at 6 and 6:50 AM

The CHZC continues to offer zazen via Zoom. You are welcome to join both periods of zazen or either one. All times EST.

Before joining the online zendo we ask that you please read the CHZC Online Zendo Guidelines to help create a settled and peaceful online space for our shared zazen experience.

Joining Zoom zazen
Via computer:
Via phone: (646) 558-8656
Meeting ID: 85659804526

Dress Guidelines for Zoom Zazen

To support our practice together during zazen and Dharma Talks, please wear respectful clothing. Pants and skirts that come below the knee are appropriate. If you are wearing Buddha’s robe, the rakusu, please wear long pants or skirts, rather than shorts. Please do not wear pajamas, bath robes, hoods, or bring refreshments, especially to Dharma Talks — please treat Zoom practice events with respect as you would in the Zendo.

Your presence and bearing in this way can support all of us in feeling connected and not slipping into a casual attitude toward our practice or the teaching efforts of others.

Practicing at Home: Ryaku Fusatsu —
The Bodhisattva Ceremony

Five Minute Talks

The Facebook page for Soto Zen Buddhism North America has a number of Five Minute Talks by Soto Zen Teachers from all over America. See: Look under the "Videos" section to find them.

Organizing Against Racism

The local organization Organizing Against Racism is holding virtual workshops with Racial Equity Institute instructors. For more information, see, and for workshop schedules see Over several years, some of us have taken this two-day workshop and have found it very informative and beneficial.

Scholarships for Racial Equity Workshops
The Chapel Hill Zen Center has a scholarship fund to help those who would like to take this workshop and other workshops on race who can’t afford the full fee. For more information or to request a partial scholarship, please contact John Paredes at Donations to this fund are also welcome!

Richmond Zen Group

Richmond Zen is affiliated with the Chapel Hill Zen Center, and Josho Roshi visits regularly. For information, contact Stan at (804) 833-1009 or visit

Zen Center Library

These books have been added to the Members’ Library:

  • The Healing Buddha by Raoul Birnbaum
  • Inside the Grass Hut by Ben Connelly
  • Meditations of the Pali Tradition by L.S. Cousins
  • Daughters of Emptiness, Beata Grant, ed.
  • Not Mixing up Buddhism, Deborah Hopkinson, Michelle Hill, and Eileen Kiera, eds.
  • The Shamanic Bones of Zen by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
  • Untangling Karma: Intimate Zen Stories on Healing Trauma by Judith Ragir
  • Buddhism through American Women’s Eyes, Kama Leksha Taomo, ed.
  • The Roots of Buddhist Psychology by Jack Kornfield (on cassette tape)

The library catalogue is online at

Sangha Net

The Sangha Net is a network of volunteers who can offer short-term assistance to those in the sangha in need of help due to transitions in one’s life such as illness, disability, or death of a loved one. Examples of tasks can include shopping, arranging for meals, or transportation. During the pandemic, we will assist in ways that can allow for mutual safety.

If you would like to volunteer or if you need assistance, please contact Kris Garvin at, Senmyo Jeff Sherman at, or Carol Klein at

CHZC Newsletter in PDF Format

Download the September-October 2023 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 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.

Shopping Online?

The Chapel Hill Zen Center is now registered with the online company 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. has 238 merchants registered with them, including LandsEnd, L.L. Bean, and After logging on to, 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 to make your purchase.

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.

Facebook and Instagram

The Chapel Hill Zen Center is on Facebook and Instagram! Please follow or like our official Facebook page at 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 to share news, articles, and other resources, ask questions, and interact with sangha members in a more informal way.

Also, follow us on Instagram at

Everyone is welcome to join.


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

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 If you are interested in serving as a flower arranger about once a month, please contact Jane at