Vermont Zen Center


The basis of spiritual practice at the Vermont Zen Center is zazen, or meditation. In addition to daily zazen, the Zen Center offers private instruction in Zen Buddhism, chanting services, study groups, ceremonies, all-day sittings, Zen talks by the teacher (teisho), and talks by senior members of the community (Sangha).

Training Activities and Programs

Summary of Programs


Teishos are formal Zen commentaries on a Buddhist text, koan, or other topic presented by the teacher. They are usually held during Sunday morning sittings.


Sesshins are periods of intensive silent meditation lasting from three to seven days for experienced meditators. They are held regularly in Vermont as well as in Costa Rica at the Casa Zen in Santo Tomas.


Retreats are loosely-structured periods for silent meditation lasting two to three days. They are held once a year in Vermont and Costa Rica. Personal retreats can take place any time there is availablility in the Zen Center's solo retreat cabin.

Term Student Programs

Once a year members participate in an intensified practice schedule lasting four to eight weeks. During this time participants decide for themselves how to make an increased commitment to sitting, chanting, precept practice, community work and other Dharma-related activities. There is a meeting each week for Term Students to discuss their weekly progress and support each other.

Training Program

The Training Program offers the discipline of Zen training through total immersion. During the Training Program there is an enhanced daily schedule of sittings, private instruction, and talks.

Entering the Way Talks

The speakers, a senior members of the Sangha, talk about what led them to the practice of Zen—a spiritual autobiography. These take place during Training Programs.

All-Day Sittings

One-day sitting retreats beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m. Non-members are welcome to come to all-day sittings. Due to our full schedule in Vermont, all-day sittings are held only once or twice a year.

Dokusan/Private Instruction

Dokusan is a private meeting for students of the Roshi to discuss spiritual practice. Dokusan is offered three times a week at evening and Sunday sittings when Roshi is in town. During sesshins, dokusan is offered three times a day. Non-students may also attend dokusan during sesshin.

Private Instruction, for non-student members and trial members, is offered by Roshi when time permits during evening sittings.


A full listing and short description of the ceremonies regularly observed at our Center. The photo gallery has several sections with ceremony pictures.

Chanting Services

Chanting services are held every morning after zazen and either Tuesday or Thursday evening after the sitting.

Outreach Activities

Prison Outreach—For many years members of the Zen Center have sat zazen with inmates and corresponded with prisoners throughout the country. Members also prepare a meal for the residents of Dismas House in Burlington about once a month.

Famine Relief Ceremonies—Every quarter we conduct a ceremony to help those who are suffering from hunger. During the ceremony, members donate food for local emergency food shelves, and money which is sent to Oxfam. Over the years many tens of thousands of dollars have been donated to hunger relief through these ceremonies.

Hunger Banquet
—Every three years we conduct an Oxfam Hunger Banquet to aid Oxfam and the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger.

Other—During the ceremony celebrating the birth of the Buddha, participants bring baby gifts which are given to the Lund Home. During the Kannon Day ceremony, participants make a monetary donation which is presented to COTS, the Committee on Temporary Shelter. In addition, throughout the year ceremonies may be held to help people in need or to raise funds for disaster areas.