The basis of spiritual practice at the Toronto Zen Centre is zazen, or meditation. In addition to regularly scheduled meditation (zazen), the Zen Centre 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). More information about each of these activities is below.
Zen Centre Activities and Programs
- All-day Sittings
- Dokusan & Private Instruction
- Entering the Way Talks
- Finding Your Seat
- Outreach Activities
- Study Groups
Teishos are formal Zen commentaries on a Buddhist text, koan, or other topic presented by Roshi. They are usually held during Sunday morning sittings.
Study Groups give members a chance to engage in informal discussion, ask questions, and share understanding of various topics related to Buddhism. For example, How can I live the practice of Buddhism? What is right livelihood? How can I balance the demands of family life, work,and Zen practice?
Talks presented by senior members of the Centre dealing with different aspects of Zen practice and training.
Entering the Way Talks
The speaker talks about what led him or her to the practice of Zen—a spiritual autobiography.
One-day sitting retreats beginning at 8 a.m. and ending in the mid-afternoon. Non-members are welcome to come to all-day sittings. The Calendar has dates of all-day sittings.
Finding Your Seat
A program especially for newcomers to help them acclimate to practice so that they can become more easily involved in Zen Centre activities. The monthly meetings are an informal opportunity for new and trial members to ask questions about the practice and procedures of Zen.
Sesshins are retreats for intensive silent meditation lasting from two to seven days. They are held regularly in Toronto as well as at our sister centres in Vermont and Costa Rica at the Casa Zen in Santo Tomas. See the Sesshin page for the sesshin schedule.
Term Student Programs
Once or twice a year members participate in an intensified practice schedule lasting from two to six 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. During the Term period there is additional dokusan in the mornings.
Chanting services are held every morning, and either Tuesday or Thursday evenings. See the Chant page for a list of chants, chanting services, and audio files of the chants.
Dokusan is a private meeting with Roshi Henderson to discuss spiritual practice. It is only for his students. Dokusan is offered two or three times a week (check the calendar for specific days and times). Private Instruction, for non-student members and trial members, is offered after dokusan.
During sesshins, dokusan is offered three times a day, and non-students may also attend.
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 a famine relief organization.
Hunger Banquet: Every few years we conduct a Hunger Banquet to aid such organizations as Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders, The Children’s Breakfast Clubs, and Oxfam.
Prison Work: Various members do prison outreach.
A full listing and short description of the ceremonies regularly observed at our Centre. There is also a photo gallery with pictures from the Buddha's Birthday celebration as well as other ceremonies.
Glossary of terms used in this website.