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Zen practice is about getting in touch with your own values

As we find our way through uncertain times, we hope you are receiving some comfort in our meditations, podcasts and dharma talks. We certainly feel held by being together and sharing our practice with you.

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 with either Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison or Sensei Chodo Robert Campbell, scroll down to learn more about becoming a Formal Zen student.

Zen Student FAQ

Entering into the teacher/student relationship is a serious commitment and should be given careful consideration and discernment. The student-teacher relationship is an entrustment through the lineage to maintain the forms, the rituals, and the Three Treasures for generations to come. 


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.

Attend Monday, Wednesday and/or Sunday morning practice regularly for a year. Six Half Day Sits are also required.


Attend an in person four day or week-long intensive silent meditation retreat(sesshin).


Step into a service position (examples include supporting practice at the center by learning Zen forms, caretaking the physical space, Zoom monitoring and assisting with weekly sits or classes).


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. After establishing a regular practice with NYZC and completing six half day sits, you may reach out to info@zencare.org to request dokusan.


Sit Tangaryo (a day long Zazen) and participate in the student initiation ceremonies that follow. Tangaryo is offered once a year.


Become a 108 or 216 Member to fulfill formal student dues.  Formal Student dues cover 18% of the New York Zen Center’s expenses in offering our Soto Zen practice, including daily sits, dharma talks, monthly retreats, and sesshin. We deeply appreciate all support for our shared practice.


Both local and nonlocal students are invited to study with us.

  • Attend weekly practice with the sangha.
  • Attend at least one Sesshin (silent meditation retreat) a year.
  • Learn the Zen forms and liturgy of the Zen Center.

  • Attend at least six-half day retreats a year.

  • Regular dokusan (one-on-one meetings with a guiding teacher).

  • Engage in the Sutra study classes & Zen History.

  • Participate in Catch Your Mind & Precepts Study as an ongoing expression of practice.

  • Participate in both Practice Periods (90-day training intensives) each year.

  • Help maintain and support the Zen Center through service.

zen training resources

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Deepen your understanding with the tradition of meditation
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zen terms
Knowledge leads to enlightenment
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Practice of Sutra chanting, for the benefit of all beings.

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