Category Archives: Featured Events

Zen Movie Night

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projectorThe Greater Boston Zen Center sponsors an ongoing series of films whose Zen themes range from implicit to non-obvious. Each Movie Night is hosted by a Zen student or teacher who offers a brief introduction to that evening's film. A short break during the film and a brief talk afterwards gives us a moment to ask, listen, and reflect on the Zen threads that emerge as the film tells its tale.

Feel free to invite your partners, family and friends and to bring your favorite snacks!

Thursday August 6th, 7:15 PM
A Zen Life: D.T. Suzuki
Hosted by Harry Gordon
Run time 1 hour, 17 minutes.  Appropriate for all ages

Zen movie night at the Greater Boston Zen Center continues this Summer with a look into the life of one of the most important people in the history of Zen.  The spread of Zen Buddhism to the West had no greater broadcaster than Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and A Zen Life: D.T. Suzuki continues that same tradition long after his death in 1966.

This absorbing visual record presents Suzuki’s journey from a young Japanese boy raised in rural impoverishment, through his Zen training and to his powerful influence on key creative and political figures in the 20th century.

Beyond simply being an advocate and knowledge base for curious Western minds, Suzuki’s command of the English language and Western ways positioned him to become one of the first to introduce Zen to the West. Bridging the cultural divide between East and West, he made Zen and the Eastern mind comprehensible to Westerners. Suzuki authored hundreds of books that remain resources for Western students of Zen, as well as scholars of Japanese religion and culture.

He most famously conducted a series of lectures at Columbia University from 1951 to 1953 filled with audiences who would take his teachings and apply them to their own philosophies and advocacy for cultural change. Featured interviews, spanning from Zen luminary Roshi Robert Aitken to beat-culture icon Gary Snyder. render a view of Suzuki as both a master of this Buddhist school and also as the ideal conveyor of Zen Buddhism to Westerners.

Considered the ultimate celluloid biography of Suzuki, step into the world of no-thinking with us as we come to know the historical facts and the spiritual oeuvre that make up A Zen Life.


Being a Bodhisattva in the Modern World

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The Greater Boston Zen Center is co-sponsoring an event with the Natural Dharma Fellowship. More details can be found on the Natural Dharma Fellowship web site.

Tuesday Night Teachings: Transforming Self, Transforming Society
Being a Bodhisattva in the Modern World
with David Loy, Sensei Josh Bartok, Lama Willa Miller
Tuesday, May 5 7:00 pm
Cambridge Friends Meeting House, Longfellow Park, Cambridge, MA 02138

The Mahayana path encourages us to transform the self as a path to transforming society. While the archetype of the bodhisattva has been an inspiration for generations of an engaged, compassionate activist in the world, the practice of meditation requires a commitment to examining the inner life, a slowing down and staying put, a commitment to apparent non-action. How can we gracefully reconcile these two directions—outer and inner—as spiritual practitioners engaged in the world? Join David Loy, Sensei Josh Bartok and Willa Miller as they reflect on these questions individually and in dialogue.

Buddha’s Birthday Celebration

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Tuesday Evening, April 12th

7:00 P.M.

You are invited to the Celebration of Buddha's Birthday

During the regularly scheduled Tuesday evening practice period, we will have a special ceremony to celebrate Buddha's birthday.
The ceremony will be followed by a social gathering with our sangha-mates and the chance to enjoy birthday cake.
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Rohatsu Remembrance

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GBZC will have two special opportunities for
you to engage in this deeply held remembrance.

Rohatsu Sit: Fri night, Dec 12th, 8:30 – 10:00 pm

In symbolic observance of the Buddha's own all-night sitting, the Center will be open Friday night from 8:30 pm – 10:00 pm for zazen. Come for all or part of this special opportunity to sit together.

"This zazen is not meditation practice.
It is simply the Dharma gate of joyful ease, the
practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment.”
- Fukanzazengi


Rohatsu Commemoration: Sat, Dec 13th, 9:00 am – Noon
(during the weekly Saturday morning program)

In addition to the regular Saturday morning program of zazen and interviews, there will also be a special Dharma talk and ceremony to commemorate Buddha’s awakening and the awakening of all beings.

How has this practice changed your life? Let’s sit together and honor the gift of Buddha’s enlightenment.

Liturgy Study Group

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The Liturgical texts of Zen are powerful and provocative teaching tools. They can be pointers to practice, words of encouragement, and transformative acts-in-themselves. This group will use Shohaku Okumura's book LIVING BY VOW: A PRACTICAL INTRODUCTION TO EIGHT ESSENTIAL ZEN CHANTS AND TEXTS, as our main text to explore chants in Boundless Way Liturgy.

GBZC offers a Liturgy study and discussion group on
THIRD THURSDAY EVENINGS at 7:15 PM. Drop-ins are welcome!

For 2014-15, this group will be taught by Josh Bartok and Senior GBZC dharma teachers. John Vetrano will be the practice leader for the group.
We will be using Shohaku Okumura's Living by Vow as our primary text.

We'll meeting each month, September through May, except January.
Dates: 9/18, 10/16, 11/20, 12/18, (no meeting in January), 2/19, 3/19, 4/16, 5/21
Time: 7:15 – 8:45 pm

Suggested donation - GBZC members: $10 / non-members: $15

Reading will be:

Sep 18 -- Four Bodhisattva Vows (chap 1)
Oct 16 -- Verse of Repentence / Gatha of Atonement (Chap 2)
Nov 20 -- Three Refuges (Chap 3)
Dec 18 -- The Robe Chant / Verse of the Kesa (Chap 4)
Skip Jan
Feb 19 --- Heart Sutra (Chap 6)
Mar 19 --- Meal Chants (Chap 5)
April 16 --- Harmony of Difference and Unity (Chap 7.)
May 21 --- Gatha for Opening the Sutra (chap 8).

Dogen Study Group 2014-2015

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Recommended Dogen books:

Realizing Genjokoan (Okumura)
Living by Vow (Okumura)
Opening the Hand of Thought (Uchiyama)
Moon in a Dewdrop (Tanahashi)
How to Raise an Ox (Cook)
Eihei Dogen--Mystical Realist (Kim)

Eihei Dogen Zenji, the founder of Soto Zen in Japan, is one of the most influential Zen teachers who has ever lived. He is a peerless master of Dharma expression, and the study of Dogen is essential for anyone who practices shikantaza. And yet his writings are, to almost everyone who starts to read them, exceeding difficult to penetrate. We have found that a group study of his work is a wonderfully effective way of entering into these teachings. Some members of the study group refer to it as a "support group" for readers of Dogen.

GBZC offers a Dogen study and discussion group on
FIRST SUNDAYS at 3:30. Drop-ins are welcome!

For 2014-15, this group will be led by Josh Bartok
We will be using Kaz Tanahashi's Moon in a Dewdrop as our primary text.

We'll be meeting each month, September through May.
Please note the following exceptions to our typical schedule of meeting on the first Sunday of the month: in December we are meeting on the second Sunday and in January and April we will meet on the third Sunday.
Dates: 9/21, 10/5, 11/2, 12/14, 1/18, 2/1, 3/1, 4/19, 5/3
Time: 3:30 - 5:00pm

Suggested donation - GBZC members: $10 / non-members: $15

Discussion topics and pages

Sept: Instructions for the Tenzo (Tenzo Kyokun) sections 3-11
Oct: Spring and Autumn (Shunju)
Nov: Only a Buddha and a Buddha (Yuibutsu Yobutsu)
Dec: Painting of a Rice-Cake (Gabyo)
Jan: Actualizing the Fundamental Point (Genjokoan)
Feb: On the Endeavor of the Way 1-6, not including Q&A (Bendowa)
Mar: On the Endeavor of the Way, Q&A section (Bendowa)
Apr: Going beyond Buddha (Bukkojoji)
May: Twining Vines (Katto)

GBZC Teen Retreat June 14-16

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We invite students in high school and college, as well as recent graduates thereof, to join us for a somewhat-intensive three session "retreat." Sessions are to be held back-to-back - June 14th through 16th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. - so that our practice together deepens quickly.

It would be best if participants could come all three days, but anyone can sign up for any day(s) that she or he can make it by emailing me at [email protected]

Our retreat will include chants, precept study, forms, and meditation practices, as well as discussions about Zen, meditation more generally, and how to weave practice into daily life.

Please come!

Precepts Study Group 2014-2015

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Recommended books on the Precepts

The Mind of Clover (Aitken)
Waking Up to What You Do (Rizetto)
Being Upright (Anderson)
If You're Lucky, Your Heart Will Break (Ford)
The Heart of Being (Loori)

Recommended Books on the Precepts and Society

The Great Awakening (Loy)
The New Social Face of Buddhism (Jones)
Money Sex War Karma (Loy)
Pavement (Jensen)
Razor-Wire Dharma (Malone)

The Precepts of Skilfull Action are the heart of what it means to practice Zen off the cushion--and their study is an endlessly rich, ever-unfolding practice.

GBZC offers a Precepts study and discussion group on
FOURTH SUNDAYS at 3:30. Drop-ins are welcome!

For 2014-2015, the Precepts Study Group will be jointly led by Steve Wallace and Mike Cerone.

We will be using Robert Aitken's The Mind of Clover as our primary text.

We'll be meeting on the fourth Sunday of each month, except we will meet on the fifth Sunday in May.
Dates: 9/28, 10/26, 11/23, 12/28, 1/25, 2/22, 3/22, 4/26, 5/31
Time: 3:30-5pm

Suggested donation - GBZC members: $10 / non-members: $15

Discussion topics and pages to be discussed

Sept: Chapter 1 - The Nature of the Precepts.
Oct: Chapter 2 - Not Killing
Nov: Chapter 3 - Not Stealing
Dec: Chapters 4 & 5 - Not Misusing Sex, Not Lying
Jan: Chapter 6 - Not Intoxicating Mind & Body
Feb: Chapters 7 & 8 - Right Speech
Mar: Chapter 9 - Not Sparing the Dharma Assets
Apr: Chapter 10 - Not Indulging in Anger
May: Chapter 11 - Not Defaming the Three Treasures