Soto Zen meditation in Echo Park, Los Angeles. Founded by Brad Warner in the tradition of Gudo Wafu Nishijima and Dogen Zenji.
1407 W 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90026
We are just west of downtown on the southern end of Echo Park in between the 110 and the 101.
ACZC offers traditional soto zen practice in a casual atmosphere, open to every kind of person who would like to join us. We take our zen practice seriously, but ourselves a little less so. We offer meditation, yoga, classes, and discussion, as well as retreats, weekly lunches, and other community events.
Dogen Sangha Los Angeles was founded by Brad Warner in 2005 after his return to the US from Japan where he received dharma transmission from Gudo Wafu Nishijima. After renting various spaces around town for several years, DSLA found a permanent home when Brad and the group opened Angel City Zen Center in September 2016.
- Please arrive a few minutes early if you would like meditation instruction
- Feel free to park in our small lot attached to the center - parking is tight, but it is ok to pull in and park behind other cars. If you need to leave early you may want to park on the street so that you will be able to get out before others leave
- Please remove your shoes and leave them on the rack outside the door before entering the zendo
- Remember to completely silence your cell phone
- There are hooks in the hallway leading to the bathroom to store your personal items
- Take any open cushion you like
Q: Do you have parking available?
A: Yes! I just told you that above. There is a small lot attached to the center. The parking can be tight, but feel free to pull in and park behind other cars. If you need to leave early you may want to find street parking so that you will be able to get out before others leave.
Q: Can I come late or leave early?
A: Yes, absolutely. Come and go as you need, we are always happy to have you. If you need to arrive after meditation has started please just be mindful of others who are sitting and come in quietly and find a seat as unobtrusively as you can.
Q: Is there a place to put my stuff?
A: Yes! I just said this above too. Jeez. There are hooks in the hallway leading to the bathroom to hang your personal items, or you can put them on the floor below the hooks.
Q: Can I get up to use the bathroom during meditation if I need to? Am I allowed to move during meditation?!
A: As still and perfect as his statues look these days, I guarantee you Buddha adjusted once in a while or got up to take a quick pee now and then.
While meditation is generally a practice of stillness, if you need to adjust or move, do what you need. Especially if your legs start falling asleep, you may need to switch the cross of your legs or change your sitting position.
During walking meditation is the best time to go use the bathroom. But please, if you have to go during the sit, get up and go. Don't be too proud to move and end up injuring your bladder or accidentally pooping your zafu. They aren't cheap and we're still not sure how to wash them.
Q: Do you serve meals or tea? Can I have some too??
A: Yes! We serve delicious herbal teas at all meditations and other events and you are welcome to have some.
We also serve community lunch on Saturday afternoons after discussion. It is open to all and we'd be delighted if you joined us. We do ask a $5-$10 donation in addition to your general donation for the meditation if you are staying for lunch to help us cover the costs of the meal.
Q: What do I need to bring for meditation or yoga? Do I need my own cushion or yoga mat?
A: We have plenty of meditation cushions here for you to use, but if you have one that fits your butt just the way you like it, feel free to bring it. We have a few spare yoga mats that you can use, but if you have your own it is probably better to bring it.
Q: When do you have retreats? Can I come? Do I have to stay for the whole thing or can I sit just a couple periods and then leave?
A: Jeez, you ask so many question. But yes! We love retreats. We currently hold two overnight retreats a year at the Mt Baldy Zen Center in the spring and fall, as well as two here at our main location in the summer and winter. The Mt Baldy retreats are designed more for full attendance, while the local ones are designed to be drop in commuter retreats that are accessible for however much or little you are able to attend. Overnight accommodations are offered for all retreats.
Schedules and registration will be posted well in advance, so check back here, follow us on your favorite social media, or join the email list for more info.
Q: Do you do big complicated ceremonies that will intimidate me, look cultish, and make me feel stupid for not owning fancy zen clothes?
A: Yes! I mean no! I mean, sort of. We do a traditional Heart Sutra chanting service the first Saturday of every month after the meditation, and we also do a full moon ceremony once a month at 7:30 pm on the Sunday closest to the full moon. We do these because they can be a nice part of community practice and because we like them. That said, we try to keep them as unpretentious and accessible as possible so that everyone from newcomers to old experienced zen masters can join in and feel inspired and comfortable. Chant books are provided so there is nothing to memorize or know beforehand. While some of us wear robes or other vestments during the ceremonies, you are welcome to join in your favorite tattered Ramones shirt or whatever feels comfortable.
Q: Do people wear robes or rakusus regularly at the center?
A: While we do have ordained priests and people who have received jukai that practice at the center, in general we don't wear our fancy gear except during ceremonies. We like to feel comfortable just like we want everyone who comes to feel comfortable. We would hate to accidentally present the idea that there is some exclusive club or ranking system that sets people apart from each other. Also, robes are not very comfortable or great looking. At least not when we wear them it seems.
Q: Do you sell books there?
A: Why yes we do! We sell all of Brad Warner's books, as well as Nishijima's translation of the Shinji Shobogenjo koan collection which we use for our Wednesday night koan discussion.
Q: Are there any rules or protocol for joining in group discussion?
A: Good question! I'm so glad you asked that. In general the answer is no. We try to keep the discussions as loose and open as possible. That said, discussion is just as important and challenging a part of practice as sitting silently is. Often, speaking is more challenging... We recommend approaching it with the same spirit of care and curiosity you would with meditation. Here are a few suggestions to help the conversation flow as freely and openly as possible for all involved:
- Speak! - have no fear! No one is judging what you say. Or if they are, that's their problem. The people who seem to go the deepest in practice are the ones who aren't afraid to ask a "stupid" question or say what's honestly on their mind. If you're worried you have nothing to say, say that, maybe say why. Odds are you're not the only one who feels that way and others would benefit from hearing your perspective.
- Feel free not to speak - silence can be great wisdom, or at least look like it.
- Be aware of time and space - while we want everyone to express themselves, it is important to remember to give others a chance to speak and not have one or two individuals dominating the conversation.
- Please don't interrupt others while they are speaking - yes, what you have to say is extremely important and insightful, but it can wait.
- Really listen - one of the hardest things for a human to do is to actually listen to someone without focusing on what you want to say in response. Try it! It's good practice. Also you might be surprised what you end up saying once you stop thinking so much about it.
- Speak to the moment - the goal of discussion is not to impress others with your deep wisdom. Even if you have that kind of insight, chances are the rest of us might not get it anyway. Try focusing on what's coming up right now, or exploring what confuses you instead of what you already know. Knowing something often has a way of shutting down discussion while curiosity and confusion have an uncanny ability to open up a room.
ACZC is a residential Zen center where a few practitioners live full time. While we rarely have openings, please feel free to fill out an application for the next time a space becomes available. Residents pay standard rental rates and in general we are looking for people who want an immersive Zen practice experience and will be interested in attending the majority of the schedule, as well as helping out with the general chores and maintenance of the center.