The community

As mentioned, the Zen Centre is a lay community. All members reside outside of the Centre and many are directly involved in running the Center, from looking after the grounds and buildings to supervising daily practice, both in the mornings and evenings.

This form of self-reliance of the Community has always been – and still is today – one of the fundamental tenets of the Centre. The tasks and the maintenance to be undertaken are very diversified and provide the opportunity for everyone to help the Community in accordance with each person’s aptitudes, talents and competence. Two general workdays take place each year, one in the Spring and one in the Fall, to carry out more important projects.

Our community is composed of men and women drawn from all walks of life: from academia, from the technical world, teachers, artists, men and women from different disciplines…

Most of them live in the greater Montreal metropolitan area, but the Centre is also made up of members who meet together and have regrouped in Quebec City, Granby, Rimouski and Kingston in Ontario.

The practice

Photos © Canadian Museum of History, IMG2008-0591-0107.Dm

Zen Buddhism is an ancient tradition that has its origins with the teachings of Buddha. This teaching is the same as the one given at the Montreal Zen Center for more than thirty years.

Members are expected to have a regular practice at home and to clearly see that everyday mind, that is, daily life as it unfolds itself is the true heart of practice.We do not look for any special spiritual experience, vision, revelation or ecstasy. We can awaken; we can come to see that we are not a thing, a body, a soul, a person, or even a spirit. Fundamentally, we are beyond all forms and ideas. This freedom is called awakening and awakening, seeing into our true nature, is the teaching of our tradition.

Members can attend daily practice at the Center, which takes place both in the mornings and the evenings. The morning sittings start at 6:30 am and continue until 7:30 am from Monday to Friday. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings there are three periods of sitting that all begin at 7:30 pm. On Monday and Tuesday evenings, the periods of zazen (sitting meditation) last thirty minutes each, with five minutes of kinhin (walking meditation) in between. On Wednesday evenings the periods of zazen last 25 minutes, with walking meditation in between, the shorter period being to facilitate the integration of new members. The evenings all end with chanting and prostrations. On certain evenings, a teisho accompanies one of the periods of zazen. Each second week, an afternoon zazen will be held on tuesday from 2:00 to 3:40 pm. See the calendar for the exact dates.

Each year, the Centre also holds eight sesshins (lasting from two to seven days), half days (mornings) of zazen and other events, allowing for the pursuit of a deep and regular practice.

The Monitors

Photos © Canadian Museum of History, IMG2008-0591-0097.Dm

The smooth running of the regular day-to-day practice of meditation at the Center is to a large extent assured by the work of a team of monitors. They are present during the regular evenings of zazen, the half-day Sunday zazen and during all the sesshins. They also lead the Workshops and Beginners’ courses and are available as mentors to new members to assist them in undertaking their practice under the best possible conditions.

The monitors of the Centre have all studied for many years with Albert Low who has personally trained them to practice as monitors.

Becoming a member

Photos © Canadian Museum of History, IMG2008-0591-0134.Dm

The first step to becoming a member is to attend an Introductory Workshop. This Workshop introduces you to the practice and allows you to begin practicing at home. This is followed by attending a Beginners' Course, given for those who have attended a workshop.

After this, one is invited to come to two regular zazen evenings as a visitor. Then one may become a member. Although the Center is a nonprofit organization, a monthly fee is charged in order that the costs of running the facility can be met. No one in particular benefits from these contributions; they are all used for the community as a whole.

The only reason for the existence of the Montreal Zen Center is to help people to practice Zen. All the resources of the Community are dedicated to this purpose.

Hakuin - Daio / Kanzan / Daito

Introductory Workshops

The Introductory Workshops begin at 9:00 am and finish at about 2:30 pm. They open with an introductory lecture that puts zen meditation in its proper context and sheds some light on the purpose of the practice. After a short tea break, the Workshop continues by providing a demonstration of the different postures and methods of meditation. This is followed by two twenty-minute periods of guided meditation, separated by a short period of walking meditation. The Workshop then concludes with a second lecture, an exchange of questions and answers and a description of how to practice at home and at the Centre.

Reservations for the Workshops can be made by contacting Robert Godin at

The fee to attend a Workshop is $50 ($25 for students). Each year workshops are held on September, January and March. You will find the exact dates on which these Courses are held on the calendar of events.

Those who wish to undertake the practice at the Centre must then register for the Beginners’ Courses. These courses are given on Thursday evenings. You will find their exact dates on which these Courses are held on the calendar of events. The fee is $40 for the series.

Each course develops a specific theme directly related to the practice, offers two periods of meditation and a question-and-answer period. At the conclusion of each course, an exercise is proposed to the participants in order to help them to maintain and deepen in a practical way their initiation to the practice.