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Outstanding company at our September retreat

Join us For a One-Day October Retreat

One Day Retreat: Indianapolis Zen Center
Saturday, October 21, 2017

Spend the day chanting, sitting, walking, and working with us on Saturday, October 21 at the Indianapolis Zen Center. We'll start at 9am with 108 bows. A full day of mindfulness and camaraderie will follow. 

The retreat will be led by our guiding teacher, Lincoln Rhodes. Linc will offer interviews throughout the day. Students may discuss their practice, puzzle over kong-ans, or chat about whatever comes to mind.

Retreats include lunch, coffee, tea, and other refreshments from the IZC kitchen and our bountiful gardens. Please RSVP at, or contact IZC Director John Melvin at to make alternative arrangements if the fee is out of reach. Comfortable clothing and previous experience with meditation is recommended, but not required.


Residential Practice Opening

The Indianapolis Zen Center currently has one opening for residential practice, including a private, third-floor bedroom. Communal living in a Zen Center is a powerful way to develop your practice with like-minded sangha members. There are abundant opportunities to increase your sense of patience, empathy, and compassion. This is also a rare opportunity to live and work with two highly experienced practitioners of Zen: Dharma teacher John Melvin, and Linc Rhodes, JDPSN. For more information on how to apply, contact us at, or come by in person during any of our weekly practice sessions.
Dharma Teacher David Culp

Prison Practice

Every Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 pm, I enter prison at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Pendleton, Indiana. After checking in at the front desk, going through a metal detector, and being patted down by a guard, I proceed through six locked gates, across the central prison yard to the chapel. There, from 3 pm until 4:30 pm, I lead a Buddhist group practice. 

This began about a year and a half ago, when I was contacted by the girlfriend of one of the inmates who asked if I could start a Buddhist group there. I was also contacted by the prison psychologist, who encouraged me to do so. As I am retired, and had the time, and as I had previously visited other Buddhist groups in other prisons in New Castle and the Pendleton Industrial Correctional Facility to talk about the Indianapolis Zen Center, with some trepidation, I decided to give it a shot. 

After some volunteer training, I had my first session with about 30 inmates in April of 2016. The first session was just a talk about Buddhism and Zen. As we proceeded, week after week, we gradually decided to spend our time doing Zen practice very similar to that practice that we do at the Indianapolis Zen Center, followed by about 20 minutes of discussion and teaching. After a while our group settled down to about 10 or 12 inmates, as those who were serious about practice remained, and the merely curious dropped away. We have been steady at about 10 to 12 inmates each week for about a year now. One of them has learned to be our regular moktak master.

The prison supplied us with blankets that we use for our mats, and generously bought us zafu cushions from Dharma Crafts. We generally start our practice with a few bows, then we do Kwan Se Um Bosal and the Heart Sutra in English, followed by 25 or 30 minutes of mediation. Then we do some discussion and teaching, sometimes using books that I provide, sometimes watching videos. Sometimes one of the inmates will bring in a reading to share as well. I have also taught them some of the other chants from our chanting manual, just to add variety. Occasionally we are visited by a teacher from another group or tradition. We have hosted a Theravadan Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka who now lives in the Fort Wayne area, as well as Ron Craig who is a Theravadan teacher in the New Castle Prison, and David Cross who is a Kwan Um teacher and runs the group at the Michigan City prison. At our last meeting, we watched a video by Jetsuma Tenzing, a Buddhist nun in India, with a talk about the mind and how we can learn to not let our fleeting negative emotions control us.

Leading this prison sangha has been both challenging and rewarding. The best thing for me has been seeing the inmates learning to meditate. In the beginning, they were very restless, hardly able to sit still for five minutes, but now they can sit quietly for the full 25 or 30 minutes. I believe and hope that the practice is helping them cope with their difficult situation. And I also have learned a lot by being with them, getting to know them as intelligent human beings with their own strengths and weaknesses, and learning about what life in prison is like. I listen to all their complaints about the indignities they suffer there, and understand that it is difficult, but hope that with this practice, they are learning to cope better by keeping a moment to moment mind.

- Dharma Teacher David Culp

The Indianapolis Zen Center provides free access to Buddhist teachings and meditation practice for the Central Indiana community. 

We are funded entirely by your generous donations. Click below to donate online, or visit us in person anytime.

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Kwan Um Weekly Teaching Piece: 
What is the Point of Living?

Zen Master Bon Soeng talks about life and death and the preciousness of this moment. We have Dharma talks every Wednesday evening at the Empty Gate Zen Center in Berkeley..

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