San Luis Obispo Zen Circle

Zen Practice in San Luis Obispo

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 Eihei Dōgen's Genjōkōan.

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).

COVID-19 Protocol

1. We will begin limiting the number of participants to 9 in the Zendo at Crows End. If we have more than 9 we will have some participants sit in the chairs in the adjacent room.

2. As of September 1, 2021, the SLO County Public Health Department has mandated that all individuals in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccine status, wear face coverings.

3. We are further requiring that only those fully vaccinated attend our in-person programs. For those visiting us for the first time, please bring proof of vaccination.

4. For the time being, we will only do slow kinhin (walking meditation) 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.

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

6. We continue to monitor the recommendations and/or mandates of the CDC, the California Department of Public Health, and the SLO County Public Health Department. If necessary, we will certainly consider moving back to a Zoom-only status.