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 sangha's Guiding Teacher is Nomon Tim Burnett who was installed as in 2017. Tim was ordained by Zoketsu Norman Fischer 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“.)  

Red Cedar Zen is also blessed with a fully ordained Tanto, Head of Practice, Shudo Chris Burkhart, a lay entrusted teacher in Seido John Wiley and several other priests and practice leaders. Please see the Teachers and Leaders to learn more.

The group’s Founding 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 annually for our 7-day sesshin in June on Samish Island.

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.


Red Cedar Zen Community is in the Soto Zen lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, author of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. From Suzuki Roshi the Dharma was passed to his son Hoitsu Suzuki, to Sojun Mel Weitsman, founder of Berkeley Zen Center, and on to our Founding Teacher Zoketsu Norman Fischer. Norman bestowed Dharma Transmission to our Guiding Teacher Nomon Tim Burnett in 2011.

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