Educational Opportunities

Beginners' Class

The easiest way to become familiar with AZC and our practice is to come to the Beginners’ Class held on Saturdays at 8–9:00am. This event is held in the zendo (meditation hall) in the main building. You will be given meditation instruction (the core practice of Zen Buddhism) and a general orientation to the Center and what it has to offer you. Following the orientation you are invited to join the Saturday Morning Program. There is no charge for this group. Donations to the Austin Zen Center are always welcome.

Environmental Studies Group

The AZC Environmental Studies group meets on the 1st Saturday of the month upstairs at AZC approximately one hour after the Saturday morning program. This is usually around 1:00 or 1:30 pm. Here are some of the projects we completed in 2012.

Austin Zen Center’s Shrinking Carbon Footprint
  • In 2011 Austin Zen Center members began attending the Austin Interfaith Environmental Network meetings and in the Fall of 2011 created the Austin Zen Center’s Environmental Studies Group.

  • During the first meeting of the AZC ESG new members unanimously voted to become a dues paying member of the Austin Interfaith Environmental Network.

  • By early 2012 the AZC ESG, in collaboration with Appamada’s Gaia Group, held a one day environmental stewardship workshop based on the teachings of Buddhist environmentalist Joanna Macy.

  • In 2012 AZC obtained a carbon impact audit through Climate Buddies, installed solar panels, insulated the floors, obtained the Best of Texas Wildlife Habitat certification, participated in now annual Keep Austin Beautiful cleanups, and started bi-annual group camping trips.

  • In 2013 AZC became a Green Choice customer, joined the IEN’s Green Shepherds, provided 100 reusable grocery totes for AZC members, held an “Earthship” presentation, and participated in the Austin Environmental Preach-off for the first time.

  • In 2014 AZC joined the Energy Action Team, held a well attended public viewing of the movie Bidder 70, completed a comprehensive energy weatherization of its center, started an organic garden, and held an Earth Celebration and tree dedication/ordination.

  • In 2015 a majority of light bulbs at the Zen Center were replaced with LED lighting. AZC’s engagement and action in reducing our carbon footprint could not have been accomplished without the guidance and support provided by the IEN, EAT, and Climate Buddies during monthly meetings, referencing the Becoming Carbon Neutral handbook, and individual consultations with these groups.

  • We held public viewings of movies “The Yes Men are Revolting” and “The Merchants of Doubt”.

  • We have planted many native plants and are preparing a wildflower garden for bees and butterflies to enjoy.

  • A recent carbon footprint assessment of Austin Zen Center’s total organizational greenhouse gas impact estimates that AZC emits about 33 tons of carbon annually.

  • On July 20, 2015 AZC made a donation to Rainforest Trust to protect the Sierra del Divisor, an irreplaceable ecosystem home to a large diversity of animal and plant species and two ancient Amazonian cultures. AZC’s donation will keep approximately 100,000 tons of tree-stored CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, in perpetuity. This level of environmental protection will offset AZC’s carbon footprint for approximately 3,000 years and preserve annual carbon sequestration on 400 acres of dense, primary-growth tropical forest. With annual tree growth rates generally net positive in the Amazon, this donation will protect roughly 320 tons of additional annual carbon sequestration, offsetting AZC's carbon footprint by nearly tenfold in most years.

  • In November 2015 AZC endorsed the Texas Climate Resolution which was presented at City Hall and the Paris Climate Talks.

For updates and more information please check out our blog:

We aspire to cultivate awareness of the interdependence of all life and to respond appropriately.

Next Step Meditation Instruction

Next Step is for people who have attended a Beginner's Instruction class, and who are interested in bringing what they have learned to the zendo. Next Step is an hour and a half class where we will go over the forms and ceremonies in Soto Zen. We'll have a refresher of meditation instruction and will touch on things like how to move around in the zendo, bowing, chanting, and service. We'll also cover kinhin (walking meditation) as well. There will be time for questions and answers. We will meet in the main building (3014 Washington Square). There is $15 charge for the class. To register or for further information please call the office at 512-452-5777.

Outdoor Work Practice

Getting ahead of the Winter dormancy with pruning, planting, mulching, bagging, cleanup and trash hauling. This is an opportunity for anyone who enjoys working together outside, preparing the Austin Zen Center grounds for the Upcoming Mountain Seat Ceremony in April

Social Justice Group

This newly forming group will be focusing on social justice action and issues from Buddhist perspectives. More information to follow.

Urban Zen

Urban Zen is in the process of being reformulated. Please check back at a later time for more specific information about this unique practice opportunity.

Urban Zen is an ongoing group where you can learn the mechanics of Zen practice and collaborate with your peers to develop and integrate a stronger sense of ‘here’ and ‘now’ into your individual lives. It is, in short, about how you practice Zen in your life outside the zendo.

Wednesday Night Book Group

Wednesday evenings, 7–8:15pm

This group studies various Buddhist books in a warm, fun and contemplative atmosphere. You need not have read the book beforehand. No cost for this group, but any donations are gratefully accepted.

Zen Writing Group

Tuesday Evenings, 7:30–9pm

The Zen Writing group gives us a chance to write and share about the writing. The focus is on the process of writing, writing as awareness. Participants form a nucleus of contributors to JustThis.

Long-term participation is nice, but new people are always welcome. Please join and sign up on Meetup to come:

There is no charge for this group. Donations to the Austin Zen Center are always welcome.

Donna Birdwell

Our online magazine, JustThis, is an active, alive blog rather than a magazine which comes out in issues. We post pieces as they come in to encourage conversation and interaction between the readers and the writers.

We use the Tuesday night Zen Writing group as the source of many of the postings. As well, we welcome other submissions for consideration.

Visit the JustThis writers and artists in their endeavors.