Red Cedar Zen Community, 1021 N Forest, Bellingham Washington

Our Sangha’s History

Founded in 1991 as the Bellingham Zen Practice Group, Red Cedar Zen Community is a cooperative group of Zen students practicing together in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

The Red Cedar Zen Community invites you to join us in the practice of Zen meditation. By settling the heart and mind in this very moment, we can bring a little more peace and openness to our lives and our world. Our Soto way emphasizes the daily practice of sitting meditation (zazen) and the integration of formal practice and daily life.

We follow a simplified version of the traditional forms of the Soto school of Zen with a spirit of warmth and inclusion. Everyone interested in meditation, whether brand new, experienced in other traditions, or schooled in formal Zen, is welcome to join our practice.

The group’s guiding teacher is Zoketsu Norman Fischer, former abbot of San Francisco Zen Center and founder of the Everyday Zen Foundation. Many members of the Group are students of Zoketsu. The spirit of the group is to be open to all Zen students, and some members also study with other teachers. Zoketsu lives in California and visits the group three times a year for retreats of two to seven days.

Our local teachers are Zen priest and Spiritual Director Nomon Tim Burnett and lay teachers Yuzan Nancy Welch and Seishu John Wiley and ordained priests Chris Burkhart and Edie Norton. Tim was ordained by Zoketsu in 2000, completed shuso (head student) training in 2004, and received Dharma Transmission from Norman in 2011. (Tim talked about the transmission process and what it means in his Dharma talk “Taking a Step“.) Nancy and John have both been shuso (in 2005 and 2006) and received Lay Teacher Entrustment from Norman in May, 2010. Chris was ordained in 2010 and Edie in 2013. For more on our teachers and to read or listen to recent Dharma Talks please see the teachings page. We are also blessed with several other senior students who have been shuso and can give talks and lead practice.

Tim, Nancy, and John, Edie, and Chris are available to all members for practice discussion as well. This private meeting with a teacher to bring up the Dharma is a core practice in Zen.

Norman founded the Everyday Zen Foundation or “EDZ” in 2000. Red Cedar Zen Community is one of several groups working in cooperation with Norman on the Everyday Zen vision of an engaged and accessible Zen practice appropriate to our times. Other groups include our sister sangha in Vancouver, Mountain Rain Zen CommunitySeattle Soto Zen, retreats at Mar de Jade in Chacala, Nyarit, Mexico, and students working with Norman in the Bay Area.

While all of these groups now have emerging local teachers, several of whom are close to or have completed Dharma Transmission, it is also very possible to study with Norman in the Pacific Northwest by attending retreats with him in Bellingham and Vancouver. Additional retreats with Norman can easily be added by addending sesshin and seminars in the San Francisco Bay Area or at Mar de Jade (there are daily direct flights to Puerto Vallarta from Seattle). Individual instruction from Zoketsu is usually received in the private one-on-one discussions of dokusan, but he is also available to established students for correspondence and interviews by phone.

If intested in studying with any of these teachers within the Everyday Zen Foundation network including Tim, John, or Nancy, and especially Norman, please read this article on becoming a student of Everyday Zen.

Red Cedar Zen overall group organizational decisions are made by the Board of Directors. Operation decisions and work are done in mutually supportive Workgroups. The Board is a volunteer body of 5 members who generally serve a two year term. The Board usually meets twice monthly and all sangha members are invited to attend the meetings to make suggestions and give input into Board decisions. Please see the Workgroups Site. Everyone is invited to help out as their schedule and energy allows.

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