The heart of Zen

goes beyond words and phrases.
So What is Zen?
It’s a direct, felt experience of life,

precious moment after precious moment,

eternal breath by eternal breath.

Zen is a tiny word that’s tossed about by just everyone to describe just about everything from gardens to spa treatments to blissed-out mystical experiences.

This four-week introductory self-guided course, taught by Zen teacher Anshi Zachary Smith, offers a concise history of Zen: its origins, teachings and practice.


Gain an understanding of Dhayana, Chan, Zen, and the meaning of concentrated practice. 


Explore how everything of significance in the pursuit of the way happens in relationship.

Including a wide breadth of articles to provide support for your learning of key Buddhist concepts.


Context matters. Discover Zen as a living tradition, transformed through the cultures and societies that have embraced it.

See What Others Had to Say

"I appreciated Zach's conversational style. It is exactly what an absolute beginner like me needs, to figure out what's on offer."

"His teaching style and pace was great! I really enjoyed the break-out rooms since it felt like a good opportunity for discussion. The biggest and most impactful thing that I learned was how to practice Zazen."

"The greatest benefit for me was to start a daily practice. Learning some of the language of Zen was another. The literature is still intimidating but I feel a bit more confident about being able to ask a coherent question."

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About Your Instructor

Anshi Daigi Zachary Smith has been practicing Zen since 1993. He took jukai in 1995, was Shuso (Head Student) in 2007, ordained as a Zen priest in 2014 and received Dharma Transmission on April 17, 2019, all with former abbot and Senior Dharma Teacher Ryushin Paul Haller. He currently directs North Mountain Zendo, a zazenkai (sitting) group in North Beach. In addition to his involvement with Zen, Zachary is a husband, a father of four, an engineer, a musician, a bike fanatic, and an avid but mediocre poet. He may be the only person in the history of Zen in the West to have interrupted a residential practice period to tour with a rock band.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get a refund if I'm unhappy with my purchase?

If you are unsatisfied with your course, reach out to us to see if your purchase is eligible for a refund: [email protected].

Please see About SFZC Public Programs, Fees, and Cancellations for more information.