Classes for Newcomers


During normal times, ZCLA offers a series of on-campus classes for those new to Zen meditation and practice. However, because of COVID-19, our campus is temporarily closed. We are starting to offer basic meditation classes via Zoom. If you are interested in attending one of these classes, visit the class page. If you have any questions, please email Senshin at

In the meantime, you can peruse our normal offerings for newcomers, which are described below. We hope to be open to the public and to resume our full class schedule soon!




ZCLA offers meditation instruction to all who enter the temple gate. Our Zen training begins the moment we enter the temple gate. Introduction to Zen classes include:

  1. Introduction to Zen Meditation: Sundays 8:30—10:30 a.m. (Arrive by 8:15am.)
  2. Beginner’s Wednesday: Wednesdays 7:15—9:00 p.m. (Arrive by 7:00 p.m.)
  3. Core Practice Classes: 2nd Sunday 9:40—10:40 a.m,
  4. A Practice Day at ZCLA: 3rd Saturday 8:00—1:00 p.m, (Arrive by 7:50 a.m.)
  5. Tangaryo: Saturdays twice a year, a quiet day of Zen chanting, sitting and walking practice
Introduction to Zen Meditation

In this class you will learn the basics of Zen meditation, specifically how to sit in a stable body posture, count and follow the breath, to develop concentration and settle the mind. Meditation instruction, short practice sessions, questions and answers will be followed the opportunity to sit in the Meditation Hall (Zendo) with the ZCLA sangha.

Day:    Sunday morning

Time:   8:30—10:30 a.m. Arrive by 8:15am.

Attendees are welcome to stay for the 11 a.m. Dharma Talk or Chat followed by lunch. The suggested donation is $20. We turn no one away for lack of funds.

Beginner’s Wednesday

This is an evening where we all practice being beginners by giving and receiving Zen instruction, forms and practices. Newcomers will be guided through the Wednesday evening schedule and have the opportunity to speak with a teacher.

Day:    Wednesday evening

Time:   7:15—9:00 p.m., Arrive by 7:00 p.m.

Attendees will experience the basics of Zen sitting, walking, bowing and chanting practices. The suggested donation is $10—$20. We turn no one away for lack of funds.


Core Practice Classes

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.

These classes offer both instructors and participants the opportunity to learn and study the ways Zen meditation, forms, ceremony, tenets, and organizational mandala integrate within daily life. The series of four classes are offered on the 2nd Sunday of each month 3 times per year, and can be taken in any order.

Day:    Sunday mornings, once a month

Time:   9:40—10:40 a.m, Meet by Zendo stairs after slow walking meditation (kinhin).

Attendees will explore various ways Zen training can be taken off the cushion and embodied more deeply. The is no suggested donation for these classes, however we encourage everyone to engage in the practice giving (dana).

 A Practice Day at ZCLA

In this class newcomers to ZCLA and/or beginners to Zen will be guided through a  half day of Zen training. Instruction will be given on how to go into Face-to-Face meeting with a Zen teacher.

Day:    Saturday morning

Time:   8:00—1:00 p.m, Please arrive by 7:50 a.m.

Attendees will experience morning Zen chanting, seated meditation, (zazen), face-to-face meeting with a Zen teacher, a Precept Talk given by a Zen student, and a council style Precept Circle. There will be a light snack at 11a.m. and time for questions and discussions with the instructor after the Precept Circle. Please register in advance by calling the office.

The suggested donation is $40, we encourage everyone to practice giving something, however nobody is turned away for lack of funds. For precise schedule click here.


Traditionally, Tangaryo is an all-day sitting traditionally done by members upon entering the temple. At ZCLA, Tangaryo is required of new members, a step to becoming a formal member of the Center, but is open to all, and frequently attended by long-time Zen students.

Day:    Saturday

Time:   8:00—4:00 p.m. (Arrive by 7:50 a.m.)

Attendees will experience a Chant Circle followed by unstructured seated and walking meditation, i.e., no bells, no teacher. There will be a 1-hour informal lunch provided and a tea/discussion to end the day. Everyone is encouraged to engage in the practice of giving (dana) by offing a donation to ZCLA for this Tangaryo tradition.