Loyola University Maryland

Campus Ministry

The Heart of Zen Meditation Group

Heart of Zen

Heart of Zen Group

The profound benefits of meditation are well known, from stress reduction and peace of mind to an increase in concentration, mental agility, creativity, and kindness. 

Our group is dedicated to making the core practice of Zen, namely meditating in silence and stillness, available to all, regardless of religious affiliation or secular orientation.  While this practice is traditionally understood as a means of awakening and cultivating the twin Buddhist virtues of wisdom and compassion, participants are more than welcome to interpret the practice and these virtues in terms of their own faith or worldview.

The group meets year-round, currently on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm in Fava Chapel, located in Hammerman House up the hill from the library. Study sessions, special events, and retreats are periodically also offered. (If you are interested in participating, see the information at the bottom of this page.)
At our weekly meetings we meditate in silence, generally with two 25 minute sitting periods and a short walking meditation in between.  At the end of each meeting we take time for questions and discussion. Meditation cushions and benches are provided, and instructions for various sitting postures are given. Participants may sit either on the floor or on one of the benches along the wall.  Instructions for Zen (and sometimes other) methods of meditation are offered.

Heart of Zen MeditationThe Group is directed by Dr. Bret W. Davis, Professor & Higgins Chair in Philosophy, who studied and practiced Zen in Japan for 13 years, mostly at Shokokuji, one of the main Rinzai Zen monasteries in Kyoto.  In 2010, Kobayashi Gentoku Roshi, the abbot of Shokokuji, certified Dr. Davis as a Teacher (Sensei) and Director of a Zen Center (Zen Dojo Cho). The Group periodically hosts visits from Kobayashi Roshi and other guest teachers.

The Group is co-sponsored by Campus Ministry and the Philosophy Department of Loyola University Maryland.  Its establishment in 2005 was inspired by the late Father Greg Hartley and the Zen meditation group he led for many years at Loyola.

Professors at Loyola are welcome to consider using The Heart of Zen Meditation Group as a vehicle for class-related experiential education.  Dr. Drew Leder, Dr. Jessica Locke and Dr. Davis regularly offer the Meditation Group as an option within their various Asian philosophy courses. Several other Loyola faculty also regularly participate in the Group, including Dr. Ethan Duckworth, Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, who assists with the administration of the Group.

General orientation sessions are given at the beginning of each semester. Newcomers are also welcome to join the group at any time, provided they make an appointment to receive a brief orientation prior to their first day of sitting.

If you are interested in participating or have questions, please contact Dr. Davis at bwdavis@loyola.edu or Dr. Duckworth at educkworth@loyola.edu.

If you are interested in learning about Zen, you may want to read Dr. Davis's book, Zen Pathways: An Introduction to the Philosophy and Practice of Zen Buddhism (Oxford University Press, 2022), or watch his lecture series, Real Zen for Real Life (Great Courses, 2020), also available as an audiobook on Audible.