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

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

Gathered sangha after the Vice Abbess Installation at Chapel Hill Zen Center on September 17, 2023

Vice Abbess Installation Ceremony, September 17, 2023

Virtual Peer Group

Wednesday, December 13 at 7PM

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 meets monthly on the Second Wednesday at 7 PM. Upcoming meeting schedule:

  • 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

New Year’s Eve

Sunday evening, December 31

We will welcome the New Year with two periods of zazen at 8 and 8:50 PM followed by the Bodhisattva Ceremony at 9:20 PM, and a Fire Ceremony at 9:50 PM followed by 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.

Winter Holidays

The Zen Center will be closed Wednesday, December 20, through Monday, January 1 (except for the evening New Year’s Eve Program).

Morning Zoom Zazen will continue during this time, but Monday and Friday afternoon Zoom Zazen will not.

In-person zazen will resume on Tuesday night, January 2.

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

Senmyo Jeff Sherman is stepping down from his position as Work Leader, but he will continue doing maintenance projects, while Maura High will step up and lead Soji or Temple Cleaning on Sunday mornings and the Work Period for All-day Sittings and Sesshin. Many thanks and deep bows to both Senmyo and Maura.

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 or Vice Abbess to talk about your practice. You may schedule Dokusan by speaking to Josho Roshi, or Zenki in person, or by contacting them 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 or Zazen Instruction Room will signal when it is time for you to come back. When it is your turn, 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 is 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 Jakuko at the zendo or by email 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

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 Zen Center Eco-Dharma Group explores 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.

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:

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 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 Tim West at Tim West at or 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.

Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony

Sunday morning, December 10

We will commemorate Buddha’s Enlightenment at 10:30 AM with a short talk by Zenki Kathleen Batson 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.

Study Groups via Zoom

Monday Evening Class

Monday evenings, 5:30 to 6:30 PM

The Monday evening Study Group will begin a break on December 4, and will resume meeting on January 8, 2024.

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.

Thursday Evening Class

Thursday nights, 7 to 8 PM — New time!

The Thursday evening Study Group will begin a break on November 23, and resume on January 11, 2024, meeting from 7 to 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

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.

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:

  • TTreasury of the True Dharma Eye: Dogen’s Shobogenzo (8 vol.)
  • The Whole World Is a Single Flower: 365 Kung-ans for Everyday Life by Seung Sahn
  • The Zen Way of Recovery: An Illuminated Path out of the Darkness of Addiction by Laura Burgess
  • Zen for Kids: 50+ Mindful Activities and Stories to Shine Loving-Kindness in the World by Laura Burgess
  • Chan Buddhism by Peter D. Hershock
  • Throw Yourself into the House of Buddha by Tangen Harada Roshi
  • Zen Pioneer: The Life and Works of Ruth Fuller Sasaki by Isabel Sterling

The library catalogue is online at

Sangha Net

The Sangha Net is a network of volunteers who offer short-term assistance to those in the sangha in need of help due to transitions in life such as illness, disability, or death of a loved one. Examples of tasks include shopping, arranging for meals, or transportation. It is time to update our Volunteer List. Please contact us if you would like to stay on or be added to the list.

If you need assistance, please contact Kris Garvin at, Senmyo Jeff Sherman at, or Carol Klein at

CHZC Newsletter in PDF Format

Download the November-December 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