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, all programs are on-line only.

Zen groups at UUC are offered every day of the week – see the schedule below. 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 buildings re-open.

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

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 pass around.

General Information about this meditation 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 two-hour meditation & study group on Tuesdays & Fridays includes brief opening and closing chanting services, two periods of silent sitting, walking meditation, refreshment, and teaching. Most often, the group explores a book; sometimes there may be a dharma talk or other discussion. (See the schedules for information on our other meditation gatherings.)

Dress comfortably. Most participants sit on chairs, which are provided when we meet in physical space. 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. The practice leader will ask if anyone needs meditation instruction, and may lead a guided meditation for all or open a separate room for those who wish assistance. Otherwise, simply follow this general advice for meditation practice:

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. 

– Rev. Janine Seitetsu Larsen, Resident Priest
Empty Moon Senior Dharma Teacher
Bright Cloud Zen students and teachers after May 2019 retreat
Sesshin, May 2019

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 Seitetsu Larsen, a Senior Dharma Teacher with Empty Moon Zen. Janine is also UUC’s Director of Ministries. She was ordained 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 First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, and Minister Emeritus of the First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island. James 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 Janine to learn more and discern readiness.

Opportunities to sit with Bright Cloud Zen Sangha (virtually for now, until public health guidelines allow physical gatherings again)

  • Mondays, 7-8 p.m., and Fridays, 10 a.m. to Noon, University Unitarian Church (Seattle).  Janine offers Dokusan (one-on-one practice interviews) at least once a month or by appointment. While we are meeting via Zoom,
  • Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to Noon, Woodinville UU Church. Janine offers Dokusan (one-on-one practice interviews) at least once a month or by appointment. While we are meeting via Zoom, dokusan is offered every week.
  • Saturday Zazenkai: Monthly, at UUC or WUUC when we are able to meet physically again. In the meantime we will join the Empty Moon Zen Sanghas for monthly Zazenkai. Full day participation is encouraged; drop-in attendanceis allowed. No charge. An offering bowl will be available for contributions to support sangha activities.
  • Multi-day retreats (Sesshin): Generally twice a year. May be residential (locations vary) or “commuter” (day-only; usually at UUC). While we are meeting via Zoom, we will join the Empty Moon Zen Sanghas for their quarterly sesshin.
  • See the Empty Moon Zen website or ask Janine for information on online programs offered daily by our larger Sangha. 
Rohatsu Sesshin and Janine’s ordination as a Zen priest, at UUC in December 2019

The links below offer additional information about Bright Cloud and Empty Moon Zen and other recommended practice opportunities.

Click below for:

Retreats & Events:

  • In addition to events offered by Bright Cloud/ Empty Moon Zen, we 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:

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