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Becoming A Formal Zen Student

Practicing under the guidance of a teacher has been the traditional path for seekers of the Way since the beginning of Zen, in China, more than 1,500 years ago. This teacher-student relationship is one of the key aspects of a Zen meditation practice.

If you wish to make an ongoing commitment to Zen training and enter into a teacher/student relationship either Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison or Sensei Robert Chodo Campbell, you can become a Formal Zen Student at New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care.


Why Become a Formal Zen Student?

  • Entering into the teacher/student relationship is a serious commitment and should be given careful consideration.
  • Deep personal reflection is encouraged.
  • The teacher/student relationship at the Zen Center is a spiritual friend model. Spiritual friendship is the practice itself; we give and we receive. It is an intimate relationship that can last a lifetime.


How to Become a Formal Student?

  • Attend Monday, Wednesday and/or Sunday morning practice regularly. Two Half Day Sits are also recommended.
  • Meet with Koshin or Chodo in Dokusan (a private face to face meeting) and request to formally become a student and enter into a formal training relationship.
  • Sit Tangaryo* (a day long Zazen) and participate in the student initiation ceremonies that follow. Tangaryo is offered twice a year.
  • Attend a four day or week long silent sesshin.
  • Become a 108 or 216 Member.


Practice Recommendations for Formal Students

  • Attend at least one Sesshin (silent meditation retreat) a year.
  • Learn the Zen forms of the Zen Center.
  • Attend at least six-half day retreats a year.
  • Weekly or bi-weekly dokusan (one-on-one meetings with a guiding teacher).
  • Engage in the Sutra study classes & Zen History.
  • Participate in Catch Your Mind and & Precepts Study as an ongoing expression of practice.
  • Participate in Practice Periods (90-day training intensives).
  • Help maintain and support the Zen Center through service.


*Tangaryo is an all day sit that is required of all Formal Zen Students. Typically the sit lasts from 9am to 4pm with an hour for lunch and tea at the end of the day. Before signing up for Tangaryo, one must request either Sensei Koshin or Sensei Chodo to be their teacher.

Membership in the Zen Center is required for all Formal Students. The fee for Formal Student members is a monthly contribution of either $108 or $216. Membership fees directly support the mission and vision of the Zen Center.

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