Dear Friends, in support of the efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, DVZC will continue to hold practice online. If you wish to attend the online practice send an email to and request to be added to the weekly practice invitation list. ”

August 5, 2021:  practice this week will include Ji Jang Bosal Chanting

Ji Jang Bosal chanting is done when someone has died. Ji Jang Bosal is the bodhisattva of transition: travelers, children, pregnant women, and the recently dead. It is common for people to chant this for 49 days after a loved one has died, and the sangha will chant it when someone in the sangha requests it for a loved one who has died.

In recognition of the many lost during the pandemic and the loss of  the sangha's loved ones over the past year, practice this week will start with Ji Jang Bosal chanting.



 The Kwan Um School's Zen Centers are conducting many online  practice offerings.

Follow this link to see all of the  Kwan Um Online Practice Offerings


Statement Regarding 

Racial Justice and Equality

The Kwan Um School of Zen, an international community of Zen Buddhists, condemns police violence targeted at African-Americans and the larger, systemic racism that engenders this violence. As Buddhists, we are called to wake up to the reality of our world and to be of service to all beings. We support the goal of racial equality and affirm that we will work within our own organization and with others everywhere to create a more just and egalitarian nation and world. 

Our school is named for the Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion, Kwan Se Um Bosal, whose name means “one who hears the cries of the world.” It is time for all of us to listen more closely to the voices the victims of racism and state violence. For those of us born to white privilege, it is time to recognize that much of the “progress” our country has made toward racial and economic equality has been a delusion. 

In listening, let our actions be led by those whose cries have gone unheard and unheeded for centuries. Our enlightenment is the world’s enlightenment, and it must shine everywhere. The Australian activist Lilla Watson said “If you have come to help me, you’re wasting your time; but if you recognize that your liberation and mine are bound up together, we can walk together.”

One action is worth a thousand words. That one action of a white police officer murdering with impunity, a black man, George Floyd, by placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty seconds is just the tip of the iceberg. Can our practice lead us to compassionate engagement with our communities? Can it help us to step out of our comfortable white social bubble and see that we have been complicit and added to racial injustice just by not seeing or hearing the cries of our brothers and sisters?

Without quoting the Buddha or the Bodhisattvas, what is our path? How do we open up to our innate compassion and wisdom? How do we stop all thoughts of self and other and enter into JUST THIS? The only true way we can be in a clear relationship with this planet and all of its many manifestations is to be willing to break the wall of self and other, and see things just as they are. Let us use our sadness and confusion as fuel and take a deeper look at our responsibility to each other. There’s never been a better time than right now!

In the dharma,

Zen Master Soeng Hyang (Bobby Rhodes)
Zen Master Wu Kwang (Richard Shrobe)
Zen Master Jok Um (Ken Kessel)
Kwan Haeng Sunim
Garret Condon






No Inside or Outside

Student: What is the significance of a 49-day ceremony? Chong Hae Sunim JDPS: When someone passes away, in addition to a funeral service that usually occurs three or seven days after the death, we have a ceremony on the 49th day. Traditionally, the period of 49 days after someone dies is seen as a time for that person to check their consciousness and digest their karma. According to Buddhist teaching the bodhisattva Ji Jang Bosal helps the deceased during these 49 days to perceive their karma so when they return they are reborn to help this world, rather than continue in the cycle of birth and death. Religious Buddhism teachers that there is a life in this body, then a time of investigation or consideration, and then a new life in a new body.

But the truth is, we don't know what happens when we die. The Buddhist teaching about death can be helpful in that it gives us a good feeling, some sense of comfort in this mystery. This framework that can be helpful in the grieving process, but the Buddha taught that originally there is no life or death? our true self is infinite in time and space. Don't Know Mind doesn't have a beginning or an ending. Zen Master Seung Sahn's teaching is to wake up in this moment and attain our true nature. When we keep a Don't Know Mind we are addressing the big question of life and death moment to moment. The big meaning of a 49-day ceremony is to wake up just now. Actually, whenever anybody dies, they are teaching us that we must wake up, because our lives only occur in this moment [snaps fingers]. Just that.

We don't actually have a thing called a "life." When we talk about our lives we are usually referring to what happened in the past or speculating about what might happen in the future. But that is only thinking about what has already happened, already gone, or what may never happen. In Zen we say, "The past is already dead, and the future is just a dream." In the midst of all that talking and thinking about our so-called lives we overlook something? this moment. This moment is the only place where anything that we might call "our life" is actually happening. Indeed, the poignant meaning of someone dying is: wake up now!

Zen Master Seung Sahn has said that there are only two kinds of people: soon die and later die. We all like to think that we are in the later die category, but we really don't know, do we? So will we wake up, or will we just keep dreaming about the past and the future? During the ceremony we invite the deceased to wake up and attain their correct job. We invite all the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, all the great teachers and the deceased to the dharma room and we chant so that everybody wakes up together. At that moment, we wake up, the deceased wakes up, and this whole universe wakes up.

Someone once said to me, "It seems that these ceremonies with all the chanting are not about the inside Buddha, but about some outside Buddha, asking some outside Buddha for help." I explained that when we just chant Ji Jang Bosal, at that time the true meaning of Ji Jang Bosal appears. That is not an idea about Ji Jang Bosal. We're not looking inside or outside. We're not chanting to anything. We cut off all thinking and just do it. At that point, the whole universe completely becomes one. Life and death fall away. There is no inside or outside, coming or going. We completely become one? Ji Jang Bosal. This is the way we attain our life.


Redwood Dharma

Redwood trees have lived on Earth for over 240 million years.
Homo sapiens, about 200 thousand. 

Despite massive size,
old growth redwood
root systems are shallow.
Trees reach 350 feet tall
yet don’t topple in the strongest winds.

Each one’s roots interlace
with its neighbors’ roots,
creating a vast network of support
unseen on the surface.

They hold on for a thousand,
two thousand years, maybe more,
all the while showing us
how to grow up. 

-Laura Grace Weldon


About DVZC:

Founded in 1999, Delaware Valley Zen Center (DVZC) offers to the community an environment for Zen practice. Our weekly practice includes chanting, sitting meditation and walking meditation. DVZC is one of more than sixty centers and groups worldwide affiliated with the Kwan Um School of Zen, an international organization founded by Zen Master Seung Sahn. Our guiding teacher is José Ramírez, JDPSN, who received Inka in April 2009. The Delaware Valley Zen Center (DVZC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit religious corporation of the State of Delaware. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. DVZC is supported, administered and maintained by its members.                                                                                                                         

About the Kwan Um School: 

Seung Sahn & The Kwan Um School of Zen: A brief introduction   


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Practice Schedule

Practice is held every Thursday evening at the New Ark United Church of Christ, 300 E. Main St, Newark, DE 19711.


Practice begins at 6:30pm with a short orientation for beginners, followed by chanting. We then have two 25 minute periods of sitting meditation with a 10 minute period of walking meditation in between.

Beginners are encouraged to attend the free Meditation Instruction session offered the first Thursday of each month at 6:30pm

There is no fee to attend our practice, you do not have to be a member.


Monkey Mind Zen,

is a new DVZC satellite.

The group meets in Philadelphia.

For information about their practice visit: