For nearly thirty years, small groups of people have been practicing the way of the Buddha here in Anchorage. The Anchorage Zen Community evolved out of the Khawachen Dharma Center and the Dharma Study Group. We have been practicing zazen in living rooms, log cabins, converted garages and yoga studios. Week after week, year after year, we have driven through freezing darkness or come in from the warm sunshine to lay out cushions, light candles, burn incense and sit facing the wall. We have created places of peace and safety to practice Buddha’s way.
And we have carried our practice into our daily lives as we have cleaned creeks, visited prisoners, celebrated Buddha’s birthday and enlightenment, held services and activities for children, organized interfaith potlucks, and sat with the dying and chanted for the dead.
Throughout these years many teachers have generously given their time and energy to bring Buddha’s teachings to Alaska. Dainin Katagiri, Abbot of the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, was our first teacher. When he was no longer able to travel, six of the priests he ordained took time to come to Alaska to lead retreats and practice periods. More recently, Chozen and Hogen Bays of Zen Center of Oregon and Shohaku Okumura of the Soto Zen Education Center have traveled here to support our practice. In June 2001, Tozen Akiyama became our first Resident Teacher until he retired in 2006; Koun Franz, joined us in August of that year and served us through April 2010. From August 2010 through February 2011, AZC was served by Shodo Spring, a disciple of Shohaku Okumura who came to sit with us as interim priest while we search for a new, long-term priest.
In the midst of the busyness of life, we continue to offer a place to practice just sitting in silence. We invite you to join us.