Living Vow Zen


BuddhaLiving Vow Zen is a collective of Zen practice groups (sanghas) with lineage roots in Japanese Soto, the Harada-Yasutani koan curriculum, and Korean Seon. We are comprised of three practice groups: Shining Window Sangha, Henry David Thoreau Sangha ("Hank"), and Morning Star Zen Sangha. Our guiding teachers are Bob Waldinger and Mike Fieleke, dharma heirs of Melissa Blacker and David Rynick. Our root teacher is Shakyamuni Buddha.

Why "Living Vow Zen?" According to mythology, in a previous life, the one who would become Buddha reflected that, were he to practice diligently, he could free himself from Samsara in that very lifetime. But rather than practice for his liberation alone, he decided that it would be better to delay his liberation to train for many lifetimes so that he could guide others across the river of suffering to the farther shore.

In his final incarnation, Shakyamuni Buddha was born into nobility and great wealth, but he again renounced that place of comfort when he saw that others in the world were suffering. Once more he vowed to attain enlightenment so that he might conquer suffering not only for himself but for all beings.

Upon awakening, Buddha was true to his vow. He returned to his sangha that he might share with them his teachings. Because of his generosity, Buddha's awakening reverberates to this day, and it is in the spirit of his living vow that we practice not only for our own awakening but to alleviate suffering in the world.

Those of us in Living Vow Zen aim to embody the Mahayana Way by cultivating compassion and wisdom and alleviating suffering in the world. The Four Bodhisattva Vows are a guiding light in our practice.

  •     Beings are numberless; I vow to free them.
  •     Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to end them.
  •     Dharma gates are boundless; I vow to enter them.
  •     The Buddha Way is unsurpassable; I vow to embody it.


LiVZ Organizational Structure

Living Vow Zen's members help shape the organization in meaningful ways. In addition to participating in rich sangha offerings, members have the right to vote at annual meetings, become or choose officers on our Board of Trustees, help determine budget priorities, and contribute to visions for the organization.

Living Vow Zen's Board of Trustees is responsible for the administration of the organization's business and the appointment of Guiding Teachers. The Board maintains financial accounts and collaborates with the Guiding Teachers to support the activities of LiVZ.

Living Vow Zen's Guiding Teachers are responsible for the activities and programming of Living Vow Zen, including all aspects of spiritual training, appointing and removing practice leaders, establishing forms of practice, providing pastoral services, facilitating engaged practice, and more. Please feel free to reach out to the Guiding Teachers with any programmatic questions.