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

View the CHZC Google Calendar of Events.
Download the July-August 2024 CHZC Newsletter in PDF format.
Sign up for email updates via the Chapel Hill Zen Center Email Announcement List.

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
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.

You Have to Say Something

A Poetry Workshop with Maura High

July 27, 9 AM to noon

This will be a place-based poetry workshop, and will focus on careful observation of the natural world and our responses to it. We’ll look at work by such poets as Jane Hirshfield, Camille Dungy, John Clare, Gary Snyder, and Kimiko Han, and do some free writing in response to our observations and some prompts.

Participants may sign up by contacting Maura at, or sign up at the Zen Center. Readings will be emailed to registered participants before the meeting. Tea, coffee and snacks will be offered.

Baikaryu Eisanka

Saturday, August 17, 10 AM to noon

You are invited to join the second session of Baikaryu Eisanka, the practice of singing Japanese Soto Zen Buddhist hymns with bell accompaniment. No experience necessary! Please contact Chris at or Zenki at, or sign up at the bulletin board if you are interested in attending. For more information about Baikaryu Eisanka, see

Animals Absorb Scriptures through Their Pores: Ritual Life Release Liturgies in Early Modern Japan

By Professor Myojun Barbara Ambros

Sunday Morning, August 18 at 11:20 AM

The ritual liberation of captive animals has a long history in Japan that dates back to the 17th century, about two centuries after the practice arose in China. From the mid-8th century, these releases became large-scale state rites. The arrival of Chinese clerics after the fall of the Ming dynasty led not only to the founding of the Obaku Zen school but also the publication of a Japanese edition of Tract on Refraining from Killing and Releasing Life and various Chinese morality books promoting life releases.

These early modern ritual texts shed light on how proponents of life releases understood the power of Buddhist rituals and the animals’ cognitive potential and ontological status, as well as human responsibilities toward other living beings.

Barbara Myojun R. Ambros is a professor of East Asian Religions in the Department of Religious Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. She served as the co-chair of the Animals and Religion Group of the American Academy of Religion from 2014 to 2021. Her books include Women in Japanese Religions, and Bones of Contention: Animals and Religion in Contemporary Japan. She is currently working on a monograph on ritual releases of captive animals in early modern Japan.

New to the Library

Lotus Girl: My Life at the Crossroads of
Buddhism and America
by Helen Tworkov

The subtitle of Tworkov’s memoir is apt: she has lived her life at that crossroads ever since, at the age of 20, she saw the famous photograph of a Vietnamese monk self-immolating in protest of the way Buddhist monks were being treated in Vietnam. She was amazed at the thought of someone sitting there calmly as he burned to death. She traveled first to India, then Vietnam, and finally to Japan, trying to understand these cultures and their connection to Buddhism. For a time she practiced in the Tibetan tradition, with the Tibetan exiles that she met in India. Later she practiced with Maezumi Roshi in L.A., and wrote an important book about Zen practice, Zen in America, with profiles of five American-born priests who were then practicing Zen. In later life she’s moved back to Tibetan practice, and studied with Mingyur Rinpoche, helping him with his books.

In the meantime she met virtually everyone in American Buddhism. She didn’t set out to do that; her paths just crossed with those of other people. In the early nineties she and Rick Fields got the idea for a magazine about Buddhism; he eventually pulled out of the project, but she became the founding editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review for many years, and actually formed the vision for the magazine and gave it its high standards.

Tworkov composes her memoir in short, beau-tifully written vignettes, which are much richer than I can convey in this short review. If Bud-dhism in America interests you, as it does me, you’ll want to read Lotus Girl.

— David Guy

Library Acquisitions

Zen Comments on the Mumonkan by Zenkei Shibayama; Hakuin’s Song of Zazen commentary by Mumon Yamada.

The library catalogue is online at

Holiday Closures

The Zen Center will be closed on Labor Day, Monday, September 2.

Virtual Peer Group

Wednesday, August 14 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)

These online meetings 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 of the month. 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

Sangha Net Is Looking for More Volunteers!

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. If you are interested in volunteering or need help, please contact Kris Garvin at, Senmyo Jeff Sherman at, or Carol Klein at

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 Intensive 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 About 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.

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 flower arranging or chidening. 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.

Creating flower arrangements and chidening 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 flower arranger about once a month, please contact Kris at If you are interested in serving as a chiden about once a month, please contact John at

Grounds and Buildings Volunteers Needed

Would you like to help take care of the Chapel Hill Zen Center's grounds and buildings? We're updating our contact list of people who could come for organized work sessions or take on particular responsibilities on their own schedule.

Tasks would include such things as assisting with construction projects, yard work, windfall and brush removal, trail maintenance, hauling items to the Orange County landfill, tool cleaning and maintenance, and repair and maintenance work on siding and interior surfaces. Experience and equipment, such as power tools, pickup truck, or trailer, are useful but by no means necessary. This contact list complements the quarterly sign-up sheet for temple tasks, in the entryway in the main Zen Center building.

For more information, or to sign on to the contact list, please email Maura High (work leader) 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.

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

2024 Board of Directors

We are pleased to announce that the Chapel Hill Zen Center Board of Directors for 2024 are: John Paredes, president; Chris Censullo, vice president; Mike McKillip, treasurer; Danielle Bouchard, secretary; Al-Nisa Berry and Lance Ashdown, members-at-large; and Josho Pat Phelan, ex officio.

We offer deep gratitude to Ken Wilson who has served as president, vice president and, most recently, treasurer.

August Sesshin

Led by Zenki Kathleen Batson

Friday night, August 23 through Monday, August 26

Sesshin is an intimate way to practice with ourselves
and others. We begin sesshin together, sit zazen together, walk together, eat together, and work together.

Our practice is supported by the entire universe
and each of us is supporting everyone else.

We will begin Friday evening at 7 PM 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 5 PM on Friday. The sesshin day will include zazen beginning at 6 AM, kinhin, a Dharma talk, work period, and oryoki meals. Dokusan with Zenki will also be available.

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. Contributions received for scholarships are 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 by Wednesday, August 14.

Download the
August Sesshin Registration Form.

Please consider filling out your form before saving it to your computer. Then send by email to without needing to print.

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. Masks are available at the Zen Center if you would like to wear one. For more information, please contact Zenki at

The Zen Center Emergency Phone is
(919) 933-0776

Dharma Talks

Zenki Kathleen Batson
The mornings of August 24, 25 and 26 (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) around 10:30 AM, following two periods of zazen at 9 and 9:50 AM.

All are welcome.

All-Day Sittings

Sunday, September 22, 6 AM to 5 PM

The day includes zazen, a Dharma Talk, Dokusan, and a work period, as well as breakfast and lunch. Orientations will be on the Saturday night prior at 7:30 PM, and includes instruction in the meal form.

It is alright to sit half of the day, but please sign up in advance, and please speak to Josho Roshi or Zenki if this is your first All-day Sitting.

The suggested donation is $15 for members and $25 for others; however, if you are inclined to offer more, that would be very helpful in maintaining the 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 the Wednesday before at or on the clipboard in the entryway. For more information on the oryoki meal form see:

Looking Ahead

Join our mailing list for updates.

Beginning Zen Practice: A Class With David Guy

Six Monday Nights, 7:30 9PM, Oct. 14 – Nov. 18

More information to follow. Contact David David Guy at with questions.

Lama Rod Owens

November 2 & 3 at Eno River Unitarian Church

Lama Rod will lead a one-day retreat open to all on Saturday, November 2, at Eno River Unitarian Church in Durham. He will lead a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) one-day retreat at Avila Center in Durham on Sunday November 3. Housing will be available at Avila for all out-of-town guests at a cost of $60–70 per night.

“Lama Rod was … thinking intentionally about the election and imagined this retreat as a space to spiritually prepare for that political moment.” Having just returned from his Eco-Dharma retreat in Colorado, I can say that the work Lama Rod is doing is more powerful than ever, especially around connecting with the land, working with ancestors, and being very clear about how to respond to all that is happening right now. For more information, contact Karen Ziegler at:

December Sesshin

Friday, December 6 to Friday, December 13

We are planning to have a 7-day Rohatsu sesshin in December. More information to follow.

Study Groups via Zoom

Monday Evening Study Group

Monday Evenings from 5:30 to 6:30 PM

The Monday evening Study Group will continue studying the Yogacara sutra, the Samdhinirmocana Sutra, primarily the translation of John Powers, titled the Wisdom of Buddha, and Reb Anderson’s book, The Third Turning of the Wheel. We will begin with Chapter 6 in Wisdom of Buddha and Chapter 5 in The Third Turning of the Wheel.

Reb Anderson’s book, The Third Turning of the Wheel, discusses this sutra and refers to lines from it by page numbers. Thomas Cleary also has a translation, Buddhist Yoga, A Comprehensive Course.

Wednesday Evening Precepts Study Group

Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8 PM
Except for the second Wednesday of each month: July 10 and August14*

Jakuko Mo Ferrell is leading a Precepts study group, now meeting Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8 PM. We are reading Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion by Diane Eshin Rizzetto and also looking at supplemental materials.

Waking Up to What You Do can be purchased at the Zen Center book store, or online from Used copies are available at

Contact Jakuko Mo Ferrell at for questions and updates.
* The Precepts Study Group will not meet the second Wednesday of each month when the Virtual Peer Group meets.

Thursday Evening Study Group
Master Dogen’s Zazen Meditation Handbook

Thursday nights, 7 to 8 PM

On Thursday, July 11, we will return to read and discuss Master Dogen’s Zazen Meditation Handbook, A Translation of Eihei Dogen’s Bendowa: a Discourse on the Practice of Zazen, written by Eihei Dogen with Kosho Uchiyama’s commentary, beginning on page 95. Copies are for sale at the Zen Center.

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 through 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 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.

We have discontinued the Monday and Friday 1 PM Zoom zazen sessions. Thank you to everyone who participated.

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

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.

In brief, 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

CHZC Newsletter in PDF Format

Download the July-August 2024 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.

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:

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.

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.