Questions about Milwaukee Zen Center

If you're new to Zen practice, or new to MZC, don't worry. You're very welcome at our center, and there are some easy ways to get started. Visitors and new practitioners arrive all the time. Some of our sangha members have been here for many years, but some are just establishing their practice. Everyone had to start somehow and sometime. Maybe this is the time for you!

I've never done anything like this before. Where do I begin?

A good place to start is our free Introduction to Zazen session, offered at 9:15 on Sundays(unless we're closed for a holiday). Zazen (seated meditation) is the central activity of our Soto Zen practice, and this one-hour session will give you the basics as well as other helpful information about our customs and activities. There's no preregistration necessary -- just show up and join in.  

Following the introduction, you may choose to stay for the regular 30-minute zazen period and the dharma talk. We end the day with informal tea and the chance to chat and get to know each other.

We are also offering an on-going class on Wednesday nights called "Introduction to Zen Practice."  

I'm not sure Zen practice is for me. Can I try it out?

You are welcome to attend zazen, services, dharma talks, book discussions or anything else on our schedule as your life and circumstances permit. There's no prerequisite for any of our activities. See whether Buddha's teachings make sense to you, and whether our center feels like a good place to practice.

I'm writing a paper on Buddhism for school. Can I come and observe your practice, or can someone there talk to me about it?

We often have visits from students of comparative religion, Asian studies, sociology or other disciplines. Many come to the Introduction to Zazen and get most of the information they need.  For an interview with the resident priest, please call Reirin at (414)-963-0526.  

Can my class or group make a field trip to MZC?

Yes. Please, call us for a date. 

I've read that Zen practice is strict and difficult, and I'm a little intimidated. Can an ordinary person like me really do this?

Milwaukee Zen Center is a lay center, and we accommodate the practice for people from all ways of life.  Please, talk to the priest about your needs.

Do I need any special clothing or supplies to begin Zen practice?

Please, wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes in neutral colors.  Anything distracting, like logos on t-shirts and jewelry, should be avoided.  Watches, phones, water-bottles, and and personal items need to stay outside the zendo.

I'd like to come to the morning or evening zazen, but I can't come for both periods. Can I come to just one?

Yes! Please come and go during the 10 minutes of walking meditation between the two zazen periods.  For longer sittings, we require you to commit for a whole day.  

I've read that meditation is good for stress (or for anger management, addictions, or depression). Can Zen practice help me get my life together?

Buddhist practice promotes a healthy way of life, but is not a form of therapy.  If there are issues with mental health, zazen may not be recommended.  Please, speak with the resident priest if you have questions in this regard.

Is there any cost to practice at MZC?

In general, most of our offerings are free of charge. However, MZC is dependent on donations, which are our only income.  When you feel that this place helps you with your life, you may choose to become a financially supporting member.

Membership levels