Our Zen Community

Zen Open Circle began as a group meeting on a Sydney Verandah and has grown into a diverse community with members across Australia.

At the heart of all Zen practice is a radical experience of community, what beloved Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh calls interbeing, a sense that we are interdependent with and interpenetrated by one another and the “10,000 things” that make up the vastness of the world.

At Zen Open Circle we come together in various ways, as spiritual friends, to nourish that intrinsic sense of oneness: to discover what John Tarrant Roshi calls “the intrinsic clarity that arises when people collaborate.”


The History of Our Sangha

Zen Open Circle was born in 1999 on a back veranda in the Sydney suburb of Balmain. Regular 6am Sunday sits became our first ‘Zen Corners’, and shared breakfasts began to feed the body of this sangha. Curiously, even in those earliest days, our ‘local’ sangha stretched hundreds of kilometres from the Blue Mountains to the Central Coast. Nine months later we began regular Friday evening sitting in the Buddhist Library nearby. This established what became a deeply etched pattern of weekly teacher-led sits, with dokusan available to all comers and rich dharma talks.

Our sangha has continued to grow and spread over time. ZOC is as wide as Australia – literally! Although based primarily in Sydney (and with our Cloud Mountain Zendo in Berry), our members live everywhere from Western Australia to Tasmania. Roshi Susan has responded to the geography of this sangha by visiting interstate and working closely with affiliated groups such as those in Melbourne and Castlemaine. This unique expression of Australian Zen practice has flourished. We have discovered ways to build our family of practice across space and time.

Now well into our teenage years, ZOC is shaped by a wide diversity of practice opportunities: regular annual sesshin (retreats), zen corners, monthly practice days in Sydney and Berry, and an online project exploring the ‘digital’ expressions of our dharma.

We are a sangha that fosters creativity and a deep engagement with zen tradition. We feel the unique and powerful expression of this land rising through our practice – gradually revealing to us the dharma of this place and this time.

Zen Open Circle

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