Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 6 June 2013.Phone: 804-355-7524
HistoryThe current Ekoji Zen group has two separate origins. It first began with a small Zen meditation group that formed at a local New Age shop in 1988. This group then migrated to Ekoji in 1991 and merged with the Chimborazo Zen Group that had been meeting there. Rechristened the Ekoji Zen Group, it grew in members until 2003, when it changed its name to Richmond Zen Group. No members of Chimborazo still attend (though one is now with the Ekoji Pure Land group), but several original members of the New Age store group remain in senior positions. In the mid-1990s the group began to affiliate with the San Francisco Zen Center lineage, both via San Francisco and the lineage's branch temple in Chapel Hill. The leader of Chapel Hill Zen Center, Taitaku Pat Phelan, is now the leader of Richmond Zen Group. She comes to Ekoji every five or six weeks to assist with services and offer teachings.
Activities and ScheduleRichmond Zen Group meets at Ekoji temple on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. They hold their services in the hondo downstairs, which begin with a brief ritual offering of incense by the lay leader. The primary part of the service consists of three periods of silent meditation: 30 minutes of seated meditation, 10 minutes of walking meditation, and 30 more minutes of seated meditation. The service ends with chanting by the congregation, led by senior students. Chants include the Heart Sutra, the four great bodhisattva vows, and a dedication verse. All chants are in English and three full bows are performed as part of the closing service. After the chanting on Sunday mornings, members arrange the cushions in a circle and hold a book discussion while enjoying tea. The Zen group holds a number of overnight retreats during the year, and hosts visiting Zen teachers who give lectures and guide meditation sessions. Members also attend some events at Chapel Hill Zen Center and San Francisco Zen Center.
DemographicsRichmond Zen is the largest and most active of the four main sub-groups at Ekoji. It has about 40 members and regular services usually draw 17-18 people on average. Almost all are European-Americans, though there are a few African-Americans and Asian-Americans. Although most participants are baby boomers between 40-60 years old, the group has a very broad range of ages, including twentysomethings and people over 70 years of age.