Chapel Hill Zen Center
What is Zen? Reading List Teacher. Event Calendar. Zen Links. Talks on Practice.
Need a Group? Meditation Schedule. Membership. Mondo Dharma. Where & When; History of the Group

Due to concerns about the Novel Coronavirus,
Chapel Hill Zen Center
will be closed until further notice.

Dear Chapel Hill Zen Center Community,

As we grieve over the extreme racial-based injustice in this nation, we want to express our condemnation of the ongoing systemic racialized brutality since this nation's founding, including the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, and so many others. This reminds us that racism and hatred are pervasive in our society, community, and neighborhoods.

We remain dedicated to our Affirmation of Welcome:

Embracing diversity, the Chapel Hill Zen Center
expresses the fundamental connection of all beings
by welcoming everyone to the practice of zazen.
May all beings realize their true nature.

Let us all work together to make every member of our community feel valued, respected, and safe. Below you will find some books among many about racism for your exploration.

With deep bows,
Josho Pat Phelan, Jakuko Mo Ferrell, Zenki Kathleen Batson
and Senmyo Jeff Sherman

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
by Robin DiAngelo
How to be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches and Meditations
by Toni Morrison
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Due to concerns about the Novel Coronavirus,
Chapel Hill Zen Center
will be closed until further notice.

Dear Members and Friends,

We feel that sheltering in place and closing the Zen Center is the most prudent and best possible way to help slow the spread of the virus. We will re-evaluate the necessity of this temporary closure over time and continue to update you through the CHZC listserv, the CHZC website, and the CHZC Facebook pages.

As this situation continues to unfold, we are currently creating ways to provide assistance to one another, and to reach out for help if need arises. We are offering three evening Study Groups via Zoom, Chanting Services and zazen on Zoom, and Dharma talks recorded on YouTube. Please see the Event Calendar section of this site for links. We encourage you to continue sitting zazen at home.

On Facebook we have two groups you can join: Chapel Hill Zen Center and Chapel Hill Zen Center Friends and Families.

If you are not receiving the CHZC listserv announcements and would like to, please type "Subscribe" in the subject line of a message from your email account and send an email to:

We will also post updates here on our Homepage and on the Event Calendar. Please contact us at with any questions or concerns you may have.

While you are sitting at home, others will also be sitting in their homes. We are all sitting together in the universe. You may find the Soto Zen morning verse helpful during this time:

This morning as I wake,
I vow with all beings
To see each thing as it is
and not forsake the world.

May the strength of your practice provide perspective and calm for you and others.

With a bow,
Josho and the CHZC Board of Directors

"Even if just one person sits zazen for a short time, this zazen is imperceptibly one with each and all myriad things, and completely permeates all time, so that within the limitless universe, throughout past, present and future, it performs the eternal and ceaseless work of guiding beings to enlightenment, Zazen is equally the same practice and same realization for both the person sitting and for all dharmas."
— Eihei Dogen from Jijuyu Zammai

Zen means "meditation"

Zen is the school of Buddhism which emphasizes the religious practice of meditation. The Buddha taught that Ignorance, created by our greed, hate, and delusion, prevents us from realizing that we are all enlightened. Zen Buddhism teaches that the practice of sitting in meditation (Jap.: zazen) directly manifests our inborn enlightenment, our Buddha Nature. In Zen practice, seated meditation and enlightenment are one. No preliminary training or long preparation is necessary to realize the Way.

Zen Founder Cutting Bamboo

Zen Sixth Patriarch
Cutting Bamboo
(Ryankai, 13th century)

The Soto school of Japanese Zen practice was founded in the 13th century by the Zen Master Eihei Dogen. In his instructions on how to meditate, Dogen writes,
"You should...cease from practice based on intellectual understanding...and learn the backward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate your self. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will be manifest....The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the...gate of repose and bliss, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the manifestation of ultimate reality."

Zen also stresses that the world of enlightenment is the everyday world we all know. "Carrying water and chopping wood are the activities of the Buddha," and "The everyday mind is Buddha, " are two of the most well known Zen sayings. Zen realization shows us that we are directly connected to, and dependent on, all living beings and everything that exists. Compassionate concern for the welfare of others and for the environment flow naturally from this insight.

Affirmation of

Embracing diversity, the Chapel Hill Zen Center expresses the fundamental connection of all beings by welcoming everyone to the practice of zazen. May all beings realize their true nature.

For Information or Questions

Call (919) 967-0861 or email


Make a donation to Chapel Hill Zen Center,
or pay a workshop, sesshin or other fee.

Brief History
of the Center

The Chapel Hill Zen Group came into existence in 1981. It was formed by a small group of friends who took turns meditating in each other's homes in the Durham-Chapel Hill area in North Carolina. In December, 1997, the Board of Directors voted to change the group's legal name to the Chapel Hill Zen Center to reflect the group's growing membership and more established status. Several members of the original group practiced at the San Francisco Zen Center, and the Center is now formally affiliated with SFZC. The S.F. Zen Center was founded by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Before he died in 1971, Suzuki also founded the first Zen monastery in America, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, near Carmel, California. His teaching has been continued by his American disciples.

Where & When
We Meet

The Chapel Hill Zen Center now has a permanent meeting place at 5322 NC Highway 86, Chapel Hill, 27514 (2.5 miles north of I-40 Exit 266). All meetings are open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend. (The building has wheelchair access.) See the schedule posted below for times. Zen meditation instruction and orientation can be given on Tuesday evenings or Sunday mornings. Please call (919) 967-0861 for information and to make an appointment before coming for instruction.

Our Events Page has dates and times for lectures, workshops, groups, other events and special announcements. Click here for a map to Chapel Hill Zen Center. Email contact for general questions:

Guidelines for Dress

Please wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes. Pants, or skirts that come below the knee, are appropriate. It is also alright to wear longer shorts that come to the knee, and short sleeved shirts, but not tank tops or halter tops. It is traditional to go barefoot in the meditation hall, but it is alright to wear socks, particularly in cool weather.

Meditation Schedule

Adverse Weather
As a general rule, if driving may be risky, don't do it. When it is snowing or sleeting, or if either snow or sleet is predicted to occur before or during zazen, you can assume that the zendo will be closed, particularly for 6 AM zazen.

Monday to Friday


6:00 AM

Zazen (zen meditation)

6:40 AM

Kinhin (walking meditation)

6:50 AM


7:20 AM

Sutra Chanting Service

Tuesday Evenings


7:00 PM

Zazen (zen meditation)

7:40 PM

Kinhin (walking meditation)

7:50 PM


8:20 PM

Sutra Chanting Service

Thursday Evenings


6:00 PM

Zazen (zen meditation)

Sunday Mornings

Children's Program starts at 9 AM, see Events page.

9:00 AM

Zazen (zen meditation)

9:40 AM

Kinhin (walking meditation)

9:50 AM


10:20 AM

Lecture (once a month) or Sutra Chanting Service (when there is no lecture)

Recovery Group

Tuesday evenings, 7:30 to 8:30 PM
Contact: (919) 265-7600 or

Study Group

Thursday evenings, 6:45 to 8 PM. See Events Page for details.

People of Color Meditation Group

Wednesday evenings, 6 to 7:30 PM
Contact Kriti Sharma, Conal Ho or John Paredes at

Aging Gracefully, Befriending Death Discussion Group

Contacts: Carol Klein at, Kris Garvin at or Senmyo Jeff Sherman at

Eco-Dharma Discussion Group

Contact: Zenki Kathleen Batson at

Children's Program

Contact: Maura High at

Sangha Blog

Library Catalog

Friends of the
Chapel Hill Zen Center

Richmond Zen Group
Eden Kevin Heffernan, Head Priest
Meeting Place: Ekoji Buddhist Sangha of Richmond
3411 Grove Avenue, Richmond, VA 23221
Contact Person: Stan (804) 833-1009

Other Zen Meditation Groups in North Carolina

Charlotte Zen Meditation Society
Meeting Place: Harmony House
726 East Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28209

Gate City Zen Group
Contact Person: Denise
(336) 324-9970

Great Tree Zen Temple
Teijo Munnich, Head Priest
679 Lower Flat Creek Road, Alexander, NC 28701
(828) 645-2085

North Carolina Zen Center
Brooks Branch Zendo
390 Ironwood Road, Pittsboro, NC 27312
(919) 542-7411

Wilmington Zen Group
Meeting Place: Unitarian Universal Fellowship
4313 Lake Avenue, Wilmington, NC 28403
Contact Person: Elizabeth Darrow

Winston Zen
Meeting Place: 18 Springs Community Healing Center
2424 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC, 27106
Monday mornings, 7:30 to 8:20 AM

Zen Center of Asheville
Rev. Teijo Munnich
Meeting Place: 5 Ravenscroft Drive, Asheville, NC 28816
Mailing Address: PO Box 17274, Asheville, NC 28816
(828) 398-4212