Members are eligible to participate in all Temple activities, including regular dokusan, Sangha meetings, Board of Directors meetings, the formal student relationship with Karin Sensei, Ken Sensei or Peggy Sensei, lay ordination, and the Clouds and Water program. Members pay lower rates for sesshin.

A member must be thoroughly acquainted with the Temple forms, including:

  • the proper way to wear and use the sitting robe
  • zazen posture (ability to sit motionless and quiet in a correct zazen posture during the formal periods of zazen)
  • kinhin
  • entering, leaving and walking in the zendo
  • taking a seat in the zendo and leaving one’s place in proper order
  • gassho
  • raihai
  • chanting
  • dokusan procedures

A member supports the ZCD by making monthly monetary contributions and by attending and voting at the two All-Sangha Meetings held in the fall and spring training periods. They may also support the Center through rotation in the committee system.

Prospective members must complete an introductory seminar on Zen Buddhism. Those with extensive experience with Zen practice at other centers are waived from this requirement; however, it is still recommended that such a person attend a seminar to become familiar with the approach to Zen offered at this temple. After attending several sittings, a person may pursue membership by filling out a membership questionnaire, found in the foyer, and placing it in the donation box. A meeting with the Head of the Zendo will be arranged to explain membership, zendo forms, zazen posture, and answer questions. Upon completion of the interview the prospective member will begin paying dues and may attend dokusan on a regular basis. Applicants are encouraged to read Taking the Path of Zen and The Mind of Clover by Robert Aitken (available in the ZCD Store), The Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau, and Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. An Entering the Gate ceremony is held in conjunction with a Sunday sitting to acknowledge and welcome new members.

After fulfilling these requirements and becoming a member, thereby ensuring a thorough understanding of the Temple forms and the ability to contribute to a strong zendo atmosphere, a member’s level of participation at the Temple is entirely up to them.

Membership Contributions

Although there is a suggested monthly contribution, no one is turned away from the Temple due to lack of personal financial resources. Contributions are adjustable according to one's ability to pay. Please make arrangements with the Head of the Zendo if this is necessary. All members living within a 100-mile radius of Denver are considered in-town and the current suggested amount is set at $50 per month. Members living farther than a 100-mile radius from the Temple are classified as out-of-town members and the current suggested amount is set at $35 per month.

Because the Temple has no endowment or subsidies and is supported almost entirely by membership contributions, the timely payments of financial commitments are crucial for its financial viability. Monthly contributions are due the first of each month. If there is financial difficulty in meeting your commitment, please contact the office, Head of the Zendo, or Temple Treasurer. Members who are in arrears and who have not made arrangements to address this will be contacted and requested to bring their commitments up-to-date. 

The Zen Center of Denver is maintained, governed, and run by its members. The Center is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership. Board meetings are open to all members. Meetings of the entire membership are held at least twice a year for elections and general discussion of anything relating to the Center. The fall meeting involves elections to the Board of Directors that requires a vote from a quorum of the membership. If you can attend only one Sangha meeting per year, please try to make this one. Suggestions, complaints, and observations will also reach the Board of Directors and the Lotus in the Flame Order by placement in the donations box in the foyer at any time.

The day-to-day operations of the Center are performed through a committee system made up of Center members. Members may help run the Center by participating in one or more committees. The committees include Computer, Family, Community Outreach, Finance and Budget, Housekeeping, Kitchen, Library/Book, Library/Teisho CDs, Construction and Maintenance, Membership, Photo and Art, Publications, Sewing, Yard, Income Generation, Design and Architecture, and Fundraising. When you join, leave, or change committees, please notify the Head of the Zendo so that the committee list can be periodically updated. Because the interaction of members required in administering and running the Center in the Zen training atmosphere provides an important arena for ego attrition and the cultivation and expression of dana (generosity or giving), the committee system is much more than simply a mechanism for maintaining the Center’s activities.

The Center’s bylaws are in the library, and the minutes of the Board of Directors and Sangha meetings are posted on the bulletin board and also available from the office. The minutes set forth a summary of the content of the meetings, including detailed financial reports accounting for the use of all Center income. The Center’s bylaws provide detailed grievance procedures that could be initiated by any member, and which could result in the dismissal of any person in a position of authority or power, including a Spiritual Director. Also included in the bylaws is a sexual harassment clause and an anti-discrimination clause.