Chinese House Day Sit – Saturday Jan 20, 2018


Join us for a summer day-sit at the beautiful China House on Vashon Island—a chance to deepen your practice in the midst of a Javanese temple, rocks, trees and gardens.

Puget Sound Zen Center invites you to share in this special day, Saturday January 20, from 8:30-4:30. $60. general, $55. for PSZC members. Lunch is included.

Pre-registration is required, and space is limited. Please register below:


Not the Wind, Not the Flag

Sangha member Wes Borden talks on koan #29 in the Mumonkan collection. Wes trained at the Rochester Zen Center, and has taught Chemistry at the University of Washington and the University of North Texas.

Confession and Generosity

Genko Kathy Blackman at the Fall 2015 Sesshin.

Recipes from Spring 2015 Day Sit


Spiced Dal (Bonnie Wilkins)

1 1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil or ghee
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground coriander
2 hot green chiles, seeded and slivered
2 lrg tomatoes, diced, or a can of diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups red lentils
7 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp salt
juice of 1 lime
cilantro (garnish)

Saute onion and garlic in oil or ghee for a fe minutes. Raise heat to high, add coriander and green chiles, and stir for a minute or so. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, and allow to cook down 2-5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaf and turmeric. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender (15-30 minutes). Add salt and lime juice. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Fried Brown Rice with Red Pepper and Almond (Jim Hunziker)

1 Tablespoon peanut oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced almond (or cashews)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tsp yellow curry paste
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 tsp salt

Stir-fry onion and garlic 1 minute in oil over med-high heat. Add bell pepper and nuts; stir-fry 1 minute. Add rice; stir-fry 1 minute. Stir in lime juice, curry paste, cilantro and salt.

A Refreshing Fruit Salad (Kaj Wyn Berry)

two small seedless watermelons
one ripe canteloupe
one large sweet apple (I like Pacific pink or Envy)
one ripe pineapple
small carton of tiny baby arugula
juice of at least two limes. or more
crumbled feta cheese

Cut up first four ingredients into bite-size pieces, sprinkle
immediately, as you go, to keep from discoloring.
Add all the arugula. Sprinkle with salt–lightly.
Mix thoroughly.
Before serving, sprinkle with feta, or delete
if you can’t eat cheese.
Chill for a couple of hours.

Mindful Eating Discussion


Sissel Johannessen led a discussion at our February 4 Wednesday night service about Mindful Eating, and three books she has recently read on the topic. Our recording device unfortunately ate the recording of the talk (!) but here are some remarks from Sissel about the books she reviewed:

“Eating the Moment: 141 mindful practices to overcome overeating one meal at a time” by Pavel G. Somov (a psychologist). A light-hearted but useful collection of little experiential exercises to be practiced as shortcuts to mindful eating, with titles like “The Nose Knows,” “Tuning In to the Tuning Out,” and “It’s Just a Craving, For Crying Out Loud!”.

“Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life” by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung. This is a more serious collaboration between the renowned Buddhist teacher and a nutritionist. The book discusses a Buddhist perspective on weight control and well-being, and offers a guide and tools to coming up with mindful action plans for eating, moving, and living.

“Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food”, by Jan Chozen Bays. The author is a physician and a Zen teacher at the Zen Community in Portland. She is also co-Abbot of Great Vow Zen monastery in Oregon. She has taught mindful eating for more than twenty years, and this book is one of the fruits of that experience. This is my favorite of the three books. The book is really a manual for learning mindfulness while eating- teaching us how to bring skillful attention and curiosity to all our activities around eating. She teaches us how to recognize seven kinds of hunger (eye, nose, mouth, stomach, cellular, mind and heart hungers), and includes a thoughtful section on exploring our habits and patterns around eating, plus six simple guidelines for mindful eating. The book includes a CD with 14 short guided exercises/meditations for practicing awareness.

I would love to work through the Chozen Bays book with a small group of people- we could read and discuss sections and try the exercises together. Anyone interested? Email sissel (at) centurytel.net.

Audio of Wednesday night talk–Nov 5, 2014: “Lightening our Burden” by Koshin Cain


Click here to listen to the talk.

“Death our companion” service Wed Oct 29

Slide-sitting-1Join us on Wed Oct 30 for a service where we honor people we love who’ve died. Feel free to bring a remembrance to place on our altar.

Fall 2014 sesshin photos; congratulations to our preceptors!

Fall 2014 retreat collage

Talks from Koshin Christopher Cain and Genko Kathy Blackman are now available from our Fall 2014 Sesshin, the Full Awareness of Breathing, which took place at Camp Sealth on Vashon Island October 8-12, 2014. Talks will be available soon on the talks page here.

On the last day of the Sesshin, Kaj Wyn Berry, David Steel and Van Crozier took their preceptor vows. Be sure to congratulate our first class of preceptors!

Sunday October 12–Precepts lunch at Camp Sealth


A precepts ceremony will mark the end of this Fall’s Sesshin/retreat. The retreat silence will be broken at 12 noon, and the precepts ceremony will take place at 12:30. An informal lunch will follow.  Even if you are NOT attending the Sesshin you are welcome to attend this event. Please email office@pszc if you plan to come. A $5 donation is suggested.

Saturday October 4 morning of silence

Kaj-picture-1Drop in to the Zendo from 8am-12pm on Saturday October 4–come and go any time you like.  Read, meditate, write, draw, have a cup of tea.

Cemetery Sit Photos

Cemetery Sit Photos

photo photo 3 photo 2 photo 1

The heart of Zen–Full day sit September 21

Kaj-picture-1Please join us at Havurat Ee Shalom on Vashon’s Westside for a day of sitting, with Vancouver Zen Center’s Abbot, Eshin John Godfrey, on the Heart of Zen. The sit will run from 8:30am to 4:30pm and lunch will be provided.

For more information and to sign up see here


Kudus house reflection by Sissel–beet soup recipe included!


A Hot Time in the Old House

Early last Saturday morning, 30 people drove through the woods, parked, and walked up the hill towards an exotic roofline- intricately carved and decidedly Eastern in outline- the 150-year-old Kudus* House– imported to Vashon piece by piece by David Smith some 20 years ago and reassembled here by Indonesian craftsmen.

The wide swooping roof of the Kudus House curves over a large central wooden platform surrounded by a walk way veranda floored with cool stone. In the dim light under the roof, candles flickered on the butsudan, and people began to take their places on the rows of dark cushions covering the wooden platform.

I, for one, was not looking forward to the day. I was a little grumpy about signing up to sit still in black robes all day on what was forecast to be a very hot day, a little nervous about fulfilling my role as jikijitsu for the day sit, and a little anxious about the success of the day for our many guests from the Seattle Soto Zen sangha.

We began: we drank tea, we chanted, we sat zazen. We walked kinhin under the shade of the trees. The morning was cool, the birds sang (hey, this wasn’t so bad!). The sun rose higher, we squinted against it as the kinhin line crossed the hot stone courtyard.

Sitting zazen in the dim hot interior, the knee started to ache, the breath came a little heavier, the sweat began to trickle down the back.

Our guest teacher, Eko Jeff Kelley of Seattle Soto Zen, gave a dharma talk about Dogen’s saying – “to study Zen is to study the self. To study the self is to lose the self……” the familiar lines began to live and shift into nuances of meaning, feeling and understanding as he spoke. The day came alive, and the heat became our teacher.

When I was growing up in Illinois, summers were hot and we had no air conditioning. The sensations of those hot summers were so many – hot still nights, unable to sleep, with the sweat trickling down your ribs; a little breeze coming to give relief in the evenings, the smell of tarmac roads starting to soften under the heat of noon; running across hot concrete in bare feet (ouch, ouch, ouch); the bliss of jumping into the pool.

Somehow they all came back to me on Saturday in all their richness- my small grumpiness about the discomfort of sitting in the heat let go it’s hold on me, and became just one of all the ever-changing sensations of the day.

Walking through patches of hot sun and pools of shade as we walked kinhin. The colors, tastes, and associations of our lovely lunch (bearing tenzo David Steel’s inimitable touch) spread out under the trees- bowls of salad grown by sangha friends the Yarkins, colorful soups** contributed by sangha members, and a gorgeous huge pan of tasty bread made by Adam at Snapdragon. The shifting sensations of sitting zazen as the hot afternoon progressed– neck feels tight, lift sternum, back muscles relax, full breath, shallow breath, foot is going to sleep, someone coughs, flies buzzing, sweat rolls, – can I ring the dang bell yet?- full breath open heart. The cool stone on bare feet as we try walking meditation, Soto-style, around the veranda. More sitting- my mind wanders to complicated plans with my children tomorrow- my shoulders have scrunched- back to the cave of the heart- it’s still there! I make a mistake in the form- a moment of embarrassment- form resumes seamlessly around me, supported by the sangha and the universe.

The quality of light changes, the shade has moved to the other side, the last bell- we all bow.

What a day! Many thanks to Robert and Helen, our hosts at the Kudus House; to Chris Ezzell, shoji and master planner and organizer; to tenzo David and all who grew, baked, chopped, blended, served and washed up our lunch; teachers Eko Jeff Kelleyand Koshin, our eye-openers; all the officers who worked to make it happen; and all of the sangha, both Soto and Rinzai, who sat together throughout a hot day in the old house

* Kudus is a Javanese town founded by and named for the Muslim saint Sunan Kudus (“kudus” is derived from the Arabic word for holy- al-Quds). The traditional wooden houses of Kudus, intricately carved with Hindu and Islamic symbols, were mostly built before 1810.

** BEET SOUP RECIPE: A cool and colorful soup for a hot day in the old house: cold beet soup ( the Lithuanian traditional saltibarsciai): combine four chopped hard-boiled eggs. a pound of peeled grated beets, a large peeled and chopped cucumber, a quart of buttermilk, a generous bunch of chopped fresh dill, and quarter-cup of chopped chives, a little salt. Some recipes call for cooked beets, some for raw. I used raw, but thought the flavor was improved by a can of pickled beets, juice and all. The important thing is that the soup should sit for at least a full day in the fridge before serving ice-cold.

Intro to Zen, August 16


Please join us for this free class on Saturday August 16 from 9-10:30am in the Zendo. Newcomers and seasoned practitioners are welcome–feel free to bring lots of questions!

Family Zen July 13, 9-11am


Please join us for tea, chanting, meditation and breakfast for all ages at the Zendo on Sunday July 13 from 10-12. Note the date change from our usual first Sunday of the month time.

More details as the date approaches!

Kudus house sit July 12


A wonderful chance to sit on a summer’s day at the Kudus House- an imported Indonesian house on David Smith’s former estate.

The new owners have kindly invited us back for a day of meditation in that remarkable setting. Saturday 12 July, from 8:30am-4:30pm. Lunch will be served. Our guest teacher will be Eko Jeff Kelley of the Seattle Soto Zen sangha.

REGISTRATION FOR THIS EVENT IS ON A WAIT-LIST STATUS–please email trez@pszc.org to get on the wait list and we’ll let you know if space opens up

This building is a one-of-a kind structure. Kudus is the only city in Java with an Arabic name (Kudus means “holy”). The mosque in Kudus dates back to at least the 16th century. It was said that 7 pilgrimages to the Kudus mosque was equivalent to one pilgrimage to Mecca, so the street on which the mosque was located, Jalan Menara (Tower Street), saw a fair amount of travelers over the years.

The Kudus house was built right on Jalan Menara for a wealthy family in the late 1800s or early 1900s. It is said to have been built from one piece of teak, and is covered with intricate carvings–the Kudus house was the price of about 200 average houses in Java at the time it was built.

David Smith bought the house in Java from the grandson of the original owners, then oversaw 2 years of reconstruction in Java by 9 carvers and 3 carpenters (including the addition of a wrap-around porch). After the house had been painstakingly restored, it was then dismantled and shipped to Vashon Island, where the 3 Javanese carpenters worked over a period of years to reassemble it.

Several Zen Center events have been held at the Kudus house over the years. We are so thankful to Helen Luce and and Robert Litman for their allowing us to use this space once again!

Half-day sit June 7, 6:30-11:30am


Our half day sits include breakfast, a dharma talk, meditation, work, and rest periods. To sign up click here.

June 4 at 7pm: Poetry night! Bring a poem to share


Our weekly Wednesday night service is from 7-8:30pm and includes tea, chanting, meditation and a dharma talk or discussion. Newcomers welcome–newcomer orientation each week at 6:45.

May 28 at 7pm: Joshu’s Resounding “No”


Our weekly Wednesday night service is from 7-8:30pm and includes tea, chanting, meditation and a dharma talk or discussion. Newcomers welcome–newcomer orientation each week at 6:45.

May 21: Discussion night–Zen at work: How do we bring our practice to the jobs we do?


Our weekly Wednesday night service is from 7-8:30pm and includes tea, chanting, meditation and a dharma talk or discussion. Newcomers welcome–newcomer orientation each week at 6:45.

This week’s session includes a discussion on Zen at Work--the discussion guide for the session can be found here. 


Intro to Zen Sat May 17, 9-10:30am


Everyone is welcome to our quarterly Introduction to Zen gathering. This month we meet on Saturday 17 May from (9-10:30am) in the zendo. Brand new to the Zen Center? Want to tweak your meditation posture? Have questions for Koshin? Come on by! No charge.

Buddha’s birthday celebration Sun May 11, 11am


Dear Sangha, please join the Family Zen kidsfor Hana matsuri, a spring flower festival and celebration of the Buddha’s birthday, on Sunday May 11th, at 11:00 in the Zendo. All are welcome- bring your kids and friends

Women’s sunset sit April 26


A women’s sunset sit will be held Saturday April 26 from 4-9pm at the home of Elaine Hanowell.
For more information, and to sign up, click here

Register: Spring Retreat, May 2-4


Announcing our 2014 Spring Retreat

May 2-4, 2014

“The Eight-fold Path”
Camp Sealth, Vashon Island

Led by Koshin Chris Cain and Giko David Rubin


Friday May 2: 8am-8:30pm

Saturday May 3: 4:30am-8:30pm

Sunday May 4: 4:30am-5pm

Register below--early bird registration prices in effect until April 1.

Registration policy: Please register by April 25 to reserve your space. You may cancel your registration at any time up until April 25 for a refund.  After April 25 (a week before the retreat begins), no refunds are available. 

Questions? Email trez@pszc.org

Spring 2014 retreat at Camp Sealth, May 2-4

Fall Retreat

October 8-12 2014 (5 days)

Camp Sealth, Vashon Island

Leaders TBA, including Koshin Chris Cain

Register here–early bird registration prices in effect through June:

Fall 2014 retreat at Camp Sealth, October 8-12

Please consider donating to our Scholarship Fund to increase participation at retreats and other programs:

PSZ Scholarship fund donation


Day 1:

8:00am Arrival, settle in, informal coffee
9:00 zazen
10:00 Koshin dharma talk, zazen (teacher meeting w. Genko)
12:00pm lunch
12:45 samu
1:15 change for hike
1:25 hike
2:30 break
3:00 zazen, chanting, zazen (teacher meeting w. Koshin)
4:45 qi-gong
5:15 dinner
6:00 break
6:30 gyodo, zazen
8:30 tea & chanting, closing

Subsequent days:

4:30am wake up, tea & chanting, zazen
7:00 breakfast
7:45 cleaning
8:00 break
8:30 zazen
10:00 Genko/Koshin dharma talk, zazen (teacher meeting w. Koshin/Genko)
12:00pm lunch
12:45 samu
1:15 change for hike
1:25 hike
2:30 break
3:00 zazen, chanting, zazen (teacher meeting w. Genko/Koshin)
4:45 qi-gong
5:15 dinner
6:00 break
6:30 gyodo, zazen
8:30 tea & chanting, closing

Last day:

4:30am wake up, tea & chanting, zazen
7:00 breakfast
7:45 cleaning
8:00 break
8:30 zazen
10:00 Genko dharma talk, zazen (teacher meeting w. Koshin)
12:00 lunch
12:45pm samu
1:15 break
1:45 qi-gong
2:15 zazen (teacher meeting w. Genko)
4:00 closing


“Waking Fully to Living and Dying” class series

carolwakingfullygraphic (1)

It’s time to register for our fourth offering of this class that many have described as life-changing. See here for more information and to register.

“Being with Dying” discussion Thurs the 13th at 7:30


Friends of Living and Dying (FOLD)
book discussion
Thurs Feb 13
7:30pm at the Zendo

We are going to discuss the intro, foreward, and first two chapters
of “Being with Dying” by Joan Halifax.

All those who are interested to read and discuss are welcome.

Need a copy of the book or have any questions? Contact Moira at moira.thrive (at) comcast.net

Registrations open for retreats, class series


Feb 24: The fourth 6-week series of “Waking Fully to Living and Dying” led by Carol Spangler and Cheryl Ellsworth, begins. <a href=”http://pszc.org/waking-to-living-and-dying/”>For details and to reserve your spot click here</a>

May 2-4: <a href=”http://pszc.org/retreats/”>Sign up now for our Spring residential retreat at Camp Sealth</a>.

October 8-12: <a href=”http://pszc.org/retreats/”>Sign up now for our Fall residential retreat at Camp Sealth</a>


Intro to Zen, Sat Feb 8 9am


Feb 8: Intro to Zen, 9:00-10:30am at the Zendo, free of charge. Led by Jodo John Candy and Sissel Johannessen. All are welcome.

Tonglen practice workshop with Genko Kathy Blackman, Jan 25



Tonglen Practice Workshop with Genko Kathy Blackman

Saturday 25th Jan from 10:AM-2PM.

Lunch will be served.
cost $30 member/$35 non-member. Registration is limited to 22 people. Sponsored by the Puget Sound Zen Center Women’s Group. Both Men and Women are invited.

Register here: 

Tonglen workshop with Genko Kathy Blackman


More information on the workshop:

From her studies in the Tibetan tradition, Genko brings us a workshop in tonglen practice. “Tonglen” means “giving and receiving.” In tonglen practice, one visualizes taking in the sufferings of others on the in-breath, and breathing out happiness and well-being to all sentient beings.

Here’s a talk on tonglen Genko gave earlier this year at the Zen Center

More information on Genko: 

Genko is an Osho in the Rinzai Zen tradition, ordained and trained by Genki Takabayashi Roshi at Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Ji in Seattle. After 30 years of Zen training, she is currently a student of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche of Nalandabodhi, a practice community in the Nyingma and Kagyu Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Genko is a longtime volunteer with Buddhist inmates at Monroe Correctional Complex and King County Jail as well as at Bailey-Boushay House, a local hospice with a day program for clients living with HIV/AIDS. She also teaches Japanese tea ceremony and is a avid gardener.

For more information:

Contact Sissel Johannessen at 463-9326 or sissel@centurytel.net


Half-day sit Sat Jan 4: Register now


Eko Jeff Kelley will be speaking at our half-day sit on Saturday January 4, from 6:30-11:30am.

The half-day sit includes breakfast, breaks, meditation and walking. Contact Chris Ezzell at chris@eworkshopdesign.com for more information.

You can register below or contact Christopher Ezzel at (206) 356-5591 for more info.

Half-day sit registration

Please consider a donation to our scholarship fund to help others attend retreats and programs.

PSZ Scholarship fund donation

A Zen New Year’s Eve


Come ring in the new year with us at our annual New Year’s Eve gathering, Stillness at the Turning Point. Music, meditation, and celebration starting at 10:30pm New Year’s Eve–bring a finger food snack to share at midnight. All are welcome!

If you’d like to help decorate the Zendo, bring some greenery on Monday December 30 at 10am–kids are welcome!

Enlightenment Day

Enlightenment Day


Save the date!
Enlightenment Day 2013

December 7 – 10:30pm All-night sit
December 8 – 7:00am Ceremony and breakfast
December 8 – 10:00am Family Zen

Welcome the the new website

Welcome the the new website


Welcome to PSZ’s new site. We want to make this a resource to you for all your zen needs…

New to Zen? Come to our 6:45pm Wednesday night newcomer orientation each week, or drop by 10 minutes before any of our sits. No previous meditation experience is required.