Zen Meditation and Study

PLEASE NOTE: Due to public health concerns related to the spread of coronavirus, the church building is closed. For the time being, Zen Meditation & Study will be held on-line only. Drop-in attendance via Zoom Meetings on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

NEW! Evening Zen meditation will begin every week on Mondays, 7-8 p.m., as of October 19, 2020. Coordinated by Dinah Hartley, one of our senior students. Will include Zazen, brief opening and closing chants, video dharma talk. Beginner & drop-in friendly!

Zen Meditation & Study is offered every Friday and Tuesday* from 10 a.m. – Noon. You do not have to be a Zen practitioner, a Buddhist, an experienced meditator, or a Unitarian Universalist (UU) to attend. Drop-in attendance is welcome. Come when you can! There is no charge to participate.

* When we resume physical-space meetings once again, we will meet Friday mornings and Monday evenings at UUC and Tuesday mornings at the Woodinville UU Church. We anticipate continuing the Zoom connection as an attendance option even after the church building re-opens.

Our schedule for online Zen practice on Tuesdays & Fridays:
10:00 Welcome, opening chant & dedication to those who are ill, in distress, or who have recently died
Zazen (silent sitting)
10:35 Posture bell; resume Zazen
11:00 BREAK – 10 minutes
11:10 Individual greetings & check-in
Shared reading & discussion
11:55 Closing chant

Cover of Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy

We have finished our study of Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy. We found this book so helpful that UUC will be offering several groups this fall to engage this book and its exercises more deeply. Stay tuned for information. These groups will be open to all.

Our current study book is The Book of Householder Koans: Waking Up in the Land of Attachments, by Eve Myonen Marko and Wendy Egyoku Nakao.

We use a shared reading model to engage the book’s teachings during our study time. No assignments to read ahead. Bring the book if you have it; when we are meeting in physical space, we’ll have a copy on hand to read from.

General Information about this meditation and study group:

The purpose of this spiritual practice group is to provide a convenient and supportive environment to meditate and learn with others. You’ll encounter regular participants who have an established practice in Zen or another contemplative tradition, and you’ll also meet first-time or occasional attendees, some of whom are just beginning a meditation practice. Most attendees are UU, some are not. All are invited.

Evening Zen practice setting at UUC – Rohatsu 2017

Each meeting of the group includes brief opening and closing chanting services, two periods of silent sitting, walking meditation, refreshment, and teaching. Most often, the group engages a shared reading practice to explore a book – no need to read anything in advance. Sometimes there may be a dharma talk or other discussion.

Dress comfortably. Most participants sit on chairs, which are provided. Some floor sitting supplies are available, or bring your own cushions or meditation bench. Arrive 5-10 minutes early if possible. Choose your seat and settle into your posture. If you arrive after the sitting period has begun, please enter quietly and take any available seat.

Sitting still, just pay attention to what is going on around you and within you. Notice your breathing or other sensations in the body. Allow curiosity to arise in its own time. Be gentle with yourself. Just start again when the mind wanders. 

– Janine Seitetsu Larsen, Dharma Teacher

This group, along with the practice group at the Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church, sits as Bright Cloud Zen, an affiliate of the Empty Moon Zen Sanghas and a member sangha of the UU Buddhist Fellowship. Bright Cloud Zen practice groups are supported by Janine Larsen, a Dharma Teacher with Empty Moon. Janine is UUC’s Director of Ministries. She was ordained as a Zen priest in December 2019 by her teacher, James Myoun Ford, Roshi, a Soto Zen Priest and Guiding Teacher of Empty Moon Zen. James is also a UU minister, currently consulting with the Los Angeles UU Church. He is Minister Emeritus of the UU church of Providence, Rhode Island, and is the author of several books on Zen, as well as many of the materials used by the UUA to introduce Buddhism to UU audiences. 

The Bright Cloud Zen practice groups regularly offer precept study for those who wish to receive the first five precepts (sewing the Wagessa and vowing to live ethically), or  Jukai (sewing the Rakusu and committing to the 16 Bodhisattva Precepts and the Empty Moon lineage). Talk to a teacher to learn more and discern readiness.

Bright Cloud Zen students and teachers after May 2019 retreat
Sesshin, May 2019

Opportunities to sit with Bright Cloud Zen Sangha (when public health guidelines allow)

  • Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to Noon, Woodinville UU Church, Portable 2 (behind the church). Janine usually offers one-on-one practice interviews the first meeting of each month.
  • Fridays, 10 a.m. to Noon, University Unitarian Church (Seattle), in the Knatvold room (lower floor).  Janine usually offers one-on-one practice interviews the fourth meeting of each month.
  • Saturday Zazenkai: Monthly, when we are able to meet physically again. Drop-in attendance; no charge. At UUC or WUUC; check calendar for location. An offering bowl will be available for contributions to support the sangha. 
  • Multi-day retreats (Sesshin): generally twice a year. May be residential (locations vary) or day-only (usually at UUC).
  • See the Empty Moon Zen website or ask Janine for information on online programs offered weekly by our larger Sangha. 
Rohatsu Sesshin and Janine’s ordination as a Zen priest, at UUC in December 2019

Please review the links below for additional information about Bright Cloud Zen and other practice opportunities.

Still have questions, or want to join the email list-serve for group communications? Email Janine or call her at UUC, (206) 454-7724.

Click below for:

Retreats & Events:

  • When circumstances permit, we look forward to scheduling commuter or residential retreats and Saturday Zazenkai. 
  • We also recommend teaching and residential retreats (sesshin) at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, OR. See their schedule here. The “Beginner’s Mind” introductory retreat is offered monthly. Practitioners over age 60 may wish to inquire about “Silver Dragons” retreat options.

Practice opportunities with other Seattle area Zen groups we recommend: