First Time Visit

Related topics:

Welcome to our zendo!

If you are visiting us for the first time, welcome! All meditation sessions are free and open to the public, as are all events listed on our site, unless otherwise noted (although we will gratefully accept your donations so that our practice may continue!) You can practice meditation without subscribing to any particular set of beliefs, so people of all faith backgrounds (and no faith background) are welcome.

We recommend that all newcomers join us for our Thursday night service, no RSVPs required. A thorough orientation is offered at 5:30pm. From 6-8pm, there are 3 periods of meditation that last approximately half an hour each; in between each period of sitting meditation, there is a period of walking meditation. If you are unable to stay at the Zen Center from 5:30-8pm, it is fine to leave quietly during walking meditation, although we encourage you to stay for the whole evening if your schedule permits. On the first Thursday of each month, the final meditation period is replaced by tea and informal discussion; this is a particularly good opportunity to ask questions and meet others interested in meditation.

If you are unable to attend on Thursday evenings, you are welcome at any of our other meditation times. For your first visit, please arrive 15 minutes early and request an orientation.

Most of the events and programming offered at the Zen Center follow Rinzai Zen Buddhist traditions. We are fortunate to also have a small, dedicated group of practitioners of Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhism who offer meditations in their style on Saturday mornings. There are some differences in the Zen and Tibetan customs, but if you’re here to experience meditation, either is a fine choice. In fact, several of our members attend both Tibetan and Zen sittings.

Please be advised that our regularly scheduled activities are subject to change. We close for New Year’s Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. We are also effectively closed during the Zen Center of Syracuse's sesshins, intensive meditation retreats held four times each year. Please check our events page to make sure that your intended visit does not conflict with the Zen Center of Syracuse's sesshin (Dai Bosatsu sesshins are separate and do not impact our programing).

We are fortunate to have a strong group of residential practitioners who live at the Zen Center; as a result, we are rarely closed for weather-related events. Any closings will be posted to our website and sent over our email list.

We hope you enjoy your first visit to the Zen Center. Feel free to come to as many (or few) meditations, events, and service as you like without any obligation to become an official member of our community. If, after several visits, you come to feel that the Zen Center is a spiritual home for you, we encourage you to use the link above or talk with a Zen Center member to learn more about what membership means whenever you’re ready.

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us at admin@hoenji.org. Thank you, and welcome!