Zen Meditation Instruction for Newcomers

Zen Center of Los Angeles is committed to offering meditation instruction to all who enter the temple gate, as we have done for almost 48 years. Our introductory Zen practice program includes (1) an Introduction to Zen Meditation, and (2) a Practice Day at ZCLA which includes a Day of Reflection on one of the Zen Bodhisattva Precepts.

For Zendo (meditation hall) guidelines click here.



Dressing for the Zendo

Dress neatly, modestly, and discreetly.

Your clothing should cover your legs and shoulders.

Long pants, skirts, and dresses that are clean, loose-fitting, and of subdued colors, are appropriate.

Slip-on shoes are suggested, since they are more easily removed for entering the Zendo, the Buddha Hall, and the Dharma Hall.

Do not wear:

  • jeans, shorts, or short skirts and dresses
  • noisy jewelry
  • tank-tops or shirts with messages
  • perfume or cologne
  • anything ripped or torn
  • hats

Your attire should in no way call attention to itself or disturb the spirit of silence and harmony in the Zendo.

Do not bring into the meditation hall any device that can make sounds (such as phone, alarm watch, pager, tablet). If at all possible, leave these in your car. If you must bring it with you, leave it with your shoes and ensure that it will not ring, beep, vibrate, or attract attention in any way while in the building.


Introduction to Zen Meditation

This class is offered on Sunday mornings. Advance registration is not required. Instruction on the basics of sitting Zazen and walking Zazen are given, focusing on the postures of the Body, Breath, and Mind.  $20 fee requested.

1) Arrive by 8:15 am to register. Donations are accepted.

2) 8:30 to 10:30 am. Zazen instruction, short practice sessions, and Q&A, followed by Zazen in the Zendo.

3) Proper dress is required. Those not dressed properly will not be admitted to the Zendo.

4) 11 am to noon. Attendees are invited to a stay for a Dharma talk and lunch, offered on most Sundays.

A Practice Day at ZCLA

This class is offered on the third Saturday of every month. An instructor will take you through an entire day of practice at ZCLA. The focus of this day is on working with one of the Zen Bodhisattva Precepts, and seeing how it is manifested in our own lives. There will be ample time for questions and discussions with the instructor.  $40 fee requested.

1) 8:30 am. You will attend morning Service.

2) 9:00 to 11:00 am. Zazen, Face-to-Face meeting with a Zen teacher, and a short talk on one of the Zen Bodhisattva Precepts.

3) 11:00 am. A short tea snack.

4) 11:30 to 1:00 pm. The monthly Day of Reflection Council, where the focus is on one’s personal practice with the Zen Bodhisattva Precepts.

Core Practices at ZCLA

This is a series of four classes normally offered on the second Sunday of each month. The series is offered three times a year and the classes can be taken in any order. It is open to everyone and has no fee. Pre-registration is requested but not required.

1) 8:15 am. Registration in Sangha House.

2) 8:30 am. Service in Buddha Hall.

3) 9:00 am. Zazen.

4) 9:45 am to 10:35 am. Class with the instructor in the Buddha Hall.

1. Forms of Practice

This class covers the forms of practice at ZCLA, including a review of the basics of zazen and the postures of the body, breath, and mind; the practices of breathing, shikan taza, and koan; zendo procedures; the role of dokusan/interview; the teacher-student relationship and circle practice at ZCLA. Class ends with a recitation of the Fukanzazengi. Class materials: Fukanzazengi and The Zendo (ZCLA Bulletin #2).

2. Service, Liturgy and Lineage

This class covers our temple and teaching lineage. Included is a discussion of how service is conducted at ZCLA, the role of ritual and ceremony, our practice of linking service to events in the world, the sick list, monthly memorial service, rites of passage services for the Sangha (baby blessings, weddings, funerals, etc.), and a description of the Gate of Sweet Nectar service. The class does a service together. Also included is Buddha Hall protocol. Text: ZCLA sutra book.

3. Everyday Life as Practice

This class explores the Three Treasures and Precepts as a point of reference in everyday life activities, including work, family, relationships, and ordinary life tasks. The main point is the inherent practicality of the teachings. Materials: Precepts (Day of Reflection document).

4. ZCLA’s Organizational Mandala

This class looks into the evolving organizational structure of ZCLA. We will discuss Shared Stewardship, the Center’s organizational mandala (the Five Buddha Families’ perspective and its components), ZCLA’s Mission and Vision statements, Core Values, and the decision-making structure of ZCLA. Materials: ZCLA Mandala, the Mission and Vision statements, the Core Values document.

To learn more about the ZCLA Curriculum, please click here.

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