San Luis Obispo Zen Circle

The San Luis Obispo Zen Circle has been practicing for over seventeen years.

We are affiliated with the Zen Center of Los Angeles, a Buddhist training center founded by Maezumi Roshi in 1967 in the Soto Zen lineage. Our meditation practice is zazen and kinhin.

We have studied such works as Kosho Uchiyama Roshi's Opening the Hand of Thought, Yoel Hoffmann's Japanese Death Poems, and Pema Chodron's No Time to Lose (her commentary on Shantideva’s The Way of the Bodhisattva). We also used Stephen Levine's A Year to Live as a workbook for living a hypothetical final year of life.

More recently we studied the Heart Sutra, an essential text of Zen Buddhism, and enjoyed Norman Fischer's Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong. We are currently studying How to Cook Your Life, by Thomas Wright – a translation of Eihei Dōgen's Tenzo Kyōkun · Instructions for the Zen Cook

New visitors are encouraged to contact Sensei Shōgen directly for an introduction to Zen practice. The session covers the basics of zazen and our zendo procedures in order to help new participants feel comfortable with the program.

To receive the weekly SLO Zen Circle schedule by email, click/tap here.

No prior experience is required. We honor diversity, and actively welcome all people, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic background. There is no cost to attend, but dāna (any form of giving) is welcome.

Our Practicing Together page covers procedures in our zendo, including bowing, service, zazen (sitting meditation), and kinhin (walking meditation). Zen procedures may seem a bit daunting at first, but don't be put off. We are a relaxed group, and it’s easy to pick up the routine over time and by watching others.

If you have your own zafu (meditation cushion), feel free to bring it. Otherwise, zafus, seiza benches, and chairs are available, as well as plenty of zabutons (the floor mats under the cushions).

UPDATED COVID PROTOCOL (as of July 16 , 2022)

  1. Those who are up-to-date on their COVID vaccination schedule and who are also free of cold or flu symptoms may attend in person; those who are not up-to-date on their COVID vaccination schedule, or who are ill, please attend by Zoom. For those visiting us for the first time, please bring proof of vaccination.

  2. Although State and County mandates have been lifted, we still ask that masks be worn when inside at Crows End. Per the CA State Department of Public Health, surgical masks or higher-level respirators (e.g., N95s, KN95s, KF94s) are recommended over cloth masks.

  3. We will honor the White Heron Sangha Meditation Center's current protocol: masking in the Center is optional but still highly recommended for all attendees current with their vaccine schedules. For attendees who are not current on their vaccine schedules, high-quality masks are required to be worn while in the Center. Either doors or windows must be open to increase fresh air flow.

  4. We will continue with only doing slow kinhin (walking meditation) on Thursday nights at Crows End in between zazen periods and request that we keep at least a 3 to 4 foot distance between one another as we walk. Sitters can also go outside for these kinhin periods, if desired. The windows at Crows End will be open for better ventilation so dress appropriately. The venue at White Heron allows for even greater distancing and fast kinhin.

  5. During our short break periods, we ask that you go outside for tea and cookies and always wear your mask when indoors. Please bring your own cup.