Private Interviews with the Teachers

Meeting privately with a Zen teacher is an essential part of Zen training. The best Zen teaching and support is individual and one-on-one. As Zen Master Dogen pointed out 800 years ago, "there are as many minds as there are persons." It's a normal to feel a bit nervous and uncertain at first as it's a vulnerable process. And there are many myths about what happens in the Zen interview room, not all of which are that helpful. Please read on to learn more about Zen interviews at Red Cedar Zen Community.

Interviews at Red Cedar Zen

Fully ordained teachers available for Dokusan:

Nomon Tim BurnettAvailable for dokusan whenever
present at zazen meetings.
By appointment when needed.

Shudo Christine Burkhart Available by appointment and
at some zazen meetings.

Teachers available for Practice Discussion:

Practice Discussion offered in person on occasion, but most often arranged by contacting them directly. Members can access contact info at the online Sangha Directory when logged in to the website.

 Seishu John Wiley  Lay Entrusted Teacher
 Heigaku Talus Latona  Lay Entrusted Teacher
 Shuko Edie Norton   Zen Priest

Practice Leaders available for Mentorship

Use the Mentorship Request form to request a mentor assignment.

 Seishu John Wiley  Lay Entrusted Teacher
 Heigaku Talus Latona  Lay Entrusted Teacher
 Shuko Edie Norton   Zen Priest
 Shinyu Scott Allen  Practice Leader
 Seiu Hannah Sullivan  Practice Leader
 Joden Bob Rose  Practice Leader
 Ikushun Desiree Webster  Practice Leader

Learn more about our teachers and practice leaders here.

How to Request a Meeting

Requesting Dokusan 

Dokusan with Guiding Teacher Nomon Tim Burnett:

Doksuan with Nomon Tim is offered during every sangha zazen when he is present both online and in person. See the Weekly Schedule for options or come to a retreat when Nomon is teaching.

To request dokusan during Zoom zazen: use the Zoom chat to send Nomon a chat requesting dokusan. He will create a private breakout room for your meeting.

To request dokusan during in person zazen: put out the white card at your place and the jisha (priest's assistant) will let you know where to go and how to do the formalities of in person dokusan.

If none of our regular practice times are possible for your schedule please email Nomon directly at

Dokusan with Head of Practice Shudo Chris Burkhart:

Shudo Chris often offers in person doksuan when we are at the Unitarian church. The Ino (meditation hall coordinator) will announce if she's available to see by putting out a blue index card on your sitting cushion mat.

But most often Chris meets with people by appointment over Zoom. Contact her directly at to arrange a meeting.

Requesting Practice Discussion

Request Practice Discussion with our lay teachers and priests by contacting them directly. They also offer Practice Discussion periodically at our in person sittings - as announced by the Ino.

Requesting Mentorship

If you're interested in being paired with a mentor for a series of one one meetings to study a Zen related text and discuss your practice, use the Mentorship Request form to request a mentor assignment.

Three Types of Meetings


A private one-on-one meeting with a fully authorized ordained Zen teacher is called "dokusan" (独参) meaning "going alone:" meeting yourself with the support of a teacher. In person dokusan includes a ritualized way of entering the interview room which will be explained by the teacher's attendance before you go.

Practice Discussion

When the private meeting is with a lay teacher it's called "Practice Discussion." The ritual for in person Practice Discussion is a bit simpler. 


We also have a Mentorship Program where you meet regularly with one of our teachers to study and explore practice in an ongoing way - typically meeting a couple times a month for 6 months. 

Use the Mentorship Request form to request a mentor assignment.

What's discussed during dokusan?

Here are some notes from Guiding Teacher Nomon Tim about what's discussed during dokusan:

Anything related to your Zen practice can be discussed in dokusan or practice discussion. And as Zen practice is all about how to live our lives with more clarity, understanding, and compassion we can talk about just about anything in dokusan.

The meetings are brief and to the point and I may prompt you with a simple question such as "what feels most important to discuss?" 

We can, and should, talk some about the details of zazen meditation as well. What's your experience? Any questions about zazen? Sometimes I may suggest a shift in approach, other times I will encourage you to stay the course.

Overall the practice of dokusan is to show up and be yourself: something almost always arises in our meeting that's interesting or valuable.

If this all sounds mysterious, just think of dokusan as a chance to check in and say hello to the teacher. We can explore from there.

My goal isn’t to figure you out, or give you great advice, but rather to listen deeply and be a mirror to help you see for yourself what's most alive and important in your life and practice. Often we leave dokusan with a feeling of renewed energy and inspiration - and to be honest I don't fully know how it all "works!"

-Nomon Tim Burnett, Guiding Teacher

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software