Bozeman Zen Group

This profile was last updated in 2006


In February 1999 the Bozeman VipassanaVipassana is a form of Theravada Buddhist meditation, also called “insight mediation.” This method directs the attention toward the moment-to-moment workings of the mind and body, thereby developing “mindfulness” of the contents of consciousness a... SanghaThe Sangha is the community of monks or, more broadly, the community of Buddhists. To formally become a Buddhist, one takes refuge in the Three Treasures: the Buddha, Dharma (the Buddha’s teachings), and Sangha. In its widest sense, “sangha” refers ... hosted a weekend retreat with Reb Anderson, senior dharmaDharma means religion, religious duty, religious teaching. The word dharma comes from a Sanskrit root meaning “to uphold, support, bear,” thus dharma is that order of things which informs the whole world, from the laws of nature to the inner workings ... teacher at the San Francisco Zen Center. At the time there was no Zen group in Bozeman. Anderson came to Bozeman at Wendy Roberts’ invitation after she spent two months at Green Gulch Zen Center in 1998 attending a practice period with him.

In October 1999 Roberts had a potluck at her house and invited the 10 or so people in Bozeman who might be interested in Zen practice. She asked if there was any interest in starting a Zen sitting group. They said “yes” and began sitting together on Monday evenings in the basement of Roberts’ home. Initially there were times when only two or three people would attend. An evening program of sitting, chanting, and dharma discussion eventually evolved out of the basement-meetings.
Since then things have gradually expanded. Reb Anderson returned to Bozeman in September 2003 for the fifth year. The Bozeman Zen Group has hosted weekend retreats with Layla Smith of the San Francisco Zen Center and a day sit with Gus Adams, a Zen priestA priest is the leader of a religious community or congregation, specially trained and often ordained to service, who leads members of the community in the rituals and practice of shared and individual life. Many traditions have forms of priesthood.In the... from Missoula. They have hosted ‘all Buddhist’ picnics in Bozeman, a yogaYoga is a Sanskrit word, deriving from a verb meaning “to yoke” or “to join.” Body and consciousness are joined together in the discipline of yoga. Yoga practice involves ethical restraints, the mastery of bodily postures (called asanas), the cont... workshop for sitters, a New Year’s Eve sit in a Mongolian yurt, and a trip to Missoula to sit with Genki Roshi. The Bozeman Zen Group has also given a talk on BuddhismBuddhism is a multi-hued tradition of life, thought, and practice that has developed from the teaching and practice of Siddhartha Gautama (6th century BCE) who came to be called the Buddha, the awakened one. The three major streams of the tradition—Ther... to seventh graders at Sacajewea Middle School. In April 2003 the website was launched.
The sangha has slowly grown. The mailing list for retreats contains almost 400 people and the email list of locals is about 25 people. As many as 10 people sit on weekdays and the retreats attract 15 to 40 people.

Activities and Schedule

Monday evening sitting
The group gathers at 6:45 p.m. and practices zazenZazen is the Japanese term for the practice of sitting in meditation, bringing body, breath, and mind to alert and wakeful stillness. from 7:00 until 7:40 p.m., which is followed by tea and discussion. The session closes at 8:30 p.m.

Thursday morning sitting
The group meets at 6:00 a.m. for refuge, followed by 40 minute zazen, and concluded with vows.
Semiannual Publication
Monthly Instruction on MeditationMeditation is the disciplined practice of quieting and focusing the mind or cultivating the heart’s attention. Different meditation practices commend focusing attention on a word, a prayer, a form, or the breath as a way of practice. Meditation is commo...
Through the generosity of a member of the Vipassana Insight MeditationVipassana is a form of Theravada Buddhist meditation, also called “insight mediation.” This method directs the attention toward the moment-to-moment workings of the mind and body, thereby developing “mindfulness” of the contents of consciousness a... Community, the Bozeman Zen Group is sharing a home zendoA zendo is a hall for sitting meditation in the Japanese Zen tradition..
Call Jenny McCune at (406) 586-7044 or Joan Montagne at (406) 587-2406 or email for the address.

Outreach and Intersangha Work

Many members of the Zen Group are activists in environmental, humanitarian, and peace efforts. As a sangha they have taken on a few projects including a food drive for the Gallatin County Food Bank and a book drive for Full CircleIn some Pagan traditions, a “circle” refers to the people who gather for a ritual. When standing in a circle, all the participants are able to see each other, with no one member elevated over any other. This practice is often felt to encourage egalita... Sangha, a sangha of incarcerated men.

The Bozeman Zen Group helps lead the Full Circle Sangha at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge. The Zen Group also works with Open Circle Sangha of Helena and the Open Gate Community of Missoula (a non profit corporation dedicated to prison outreach that grew out of the Open Way Sangha of Missoula.) Full Circle meets regularly on Sunday evenings for seated meditation and dharma discussion. They occasionally are allowed to have weekend retreats.
The Bozeman Zen Group sometimes partners with the Open Circle Sangha in Helena to host retreats. The Zen Group currently shares sitting space with the Vipassana Insight Meditation Community of Bozeman. They are currently involved in negotiations and have long term plans to aquire a public building of their own, or to share with other like-minded groups.