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. ”

 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

Delaware Valley Zen Center is hosting an online retreat

Saturday 6.26.21 see the retreat page for information


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





Kwan Um School of  Zen Teaching:

Effort: My Father Walking to the Other Shore

When I started meditation I was very determined. So, when I was sitting in meditation I was giving all I had. After some time I noticed that there was something not in balance. So I started to check: Maybe I'm putting in too much effort. Maybe I should fine-tune my effort. We call that checking mind. Tha's a big mistake. But how can we avoid this checking mind? Once, my father told me a story. When he was a kid he lived on the coast of Belgium. Of course the sea is very dangerous for children. There he learned a very effective way to avoid any risk: just don't swim! And indeed, he never got in danger. Later, he fell in love with my mother and they decided to go to the Italian coast. So they spent a good time at the beach. And the sea was so inviting, the water was so calm. So he used a big inner tube and went into the sea.

He closed his eyes and started to doze off. He was in heaven. After a while he opened his eyes and noticed that the beach was very far away. He started to swim back to the beach, but there was a strong current. No matter how much he tried he only got farther and farther away from land.

Now heaven was far away. He got really worried and started to wave his arms and shout for help. After a while somebody swam out to meet him. This man tried to pull my father back to the beach, but it just wasn't possible. Now both of them started waving their arms: Hey! Help us! Soon they saw another man approaching very fast. Right away, he said, Don't worry, I'm into competitive swimming. I will get you back. But no matter how hard he tried, the current was too strong. So he said, You are too heavy. I will swim back to the beach and get help. But after some time he was back, completely exhausted. Luckily my father had this very big inner tube to help these two men, so that they could rest a bit. Again, the three of them started to shout for help. This time, it was the lifeguard who jumped in the water. When he arrived, he said, Guys, you are swimming in the wrong direction! Just follow me. They swam about ten meters to the right, and then—big surprise—they could stand on their feet! The current had made a sandbar, so they could simply walk back to the beach.

Our mind is always making something, and then we enter the ocean of suffering. So we want to go back to the shore. And if we see somebody who is about to drown, naturally we want to help. We all have this direction. Everybody in this story has a clear direction and understands his job. Sometimes, just relax. Sometimes, ask for help. Sometimes, help others. From moment to moment, just do it. That is correct practice. That is correct effort. We call it try-mind.

In this story, everybody has this try-mind. Everybody trains in the paramita of effort, and also generosity, ethics or precepts, perseverance and unmoving mind or meditation. This does not happen by accident. We all have something precious in our heart: How can I help you? This is what drives us on this path.

However, even if our direction is OK, we still have a problem. We make I, and as a result we perceive the ocean as suffering. Within this I-view, we cannot see clearly and we think that the other shore is far away. Then it is impossible to see that the way out of suffering is nearby. No matter how much effort we put forth, we cannot reach the other shore. The paramitas, which are an expression of our true self, are blinded by our ignorance, by our small I. Only when our wisdom sword cuts through the wall of I-my-me, then the sandbank appears clearly.

This I is created by our thinking. So, only cut off your thinking and return to before thinking. Then you can see clearly and walk the bodhisattva path on the sandbar, transcending the ocean of suffering. This is called the perfection of the six paramitas.

by Koen Vermeulen JDPSN

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: