Living Vow Zen

We warmly welcome you to Living Vow Zen, a community of Zen practice groups with lineage roots in Japanese Soto, the Harada-Yasutani koan curriculum, and Korean Seon.   


Living Vow Zen practice groups offer different forms of Zen meditation, including breath practice, koan introspection, hwadu, and the subtle art of shikantaza ("just sitting" together in stillness). 

We are a community of Dharma practitioners who follow the path of Zen with the intention to wake up and live our lives more fully. Our teachers are Mike Fieleke and Bob Waldinger, dharma heirs of Melissa Blacker and David Rynick. Our root teacher is Shakyamuni Buddha. 

We welcome you to join us in practicing these ancient Buddhist traditions which reveal your innate wisdom and compassion.

Practice Locations:  We are comprised of three affiliated practice groups or "sanghas."  More information about opportunities to practice Zen meditation, our sangha locations, calendars, retreats, teachers, mission, and values can be found here for each practice group:

  • MORNING STAR ZEN SANGHA, Newton, MA | We practice Wednesday evenings at 7:30pm eastern / 6:30 central time at St. John's Episcopal Church, 297 Lowell Avenue, Newton, MA.  LEARN MORE  



Inclusion:  Living Vow Zen welcomes people of any cultural and religious background, race, socio-economic class, education, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical ability, and age.  

Mission:  The purpose of LiVZ is to provide inclusive opportunities for the study and practice of Zen Buddhism, emphasizing the realization of nonduality and its compassionate actualization. 

According to mythology, the one who would become Buddha reflected that, if he were to practice diligently, he could free himself from suffering in his own lifetime. But rather than practice for his liberation alone, he decided that it would be better to delay his liberation and to train for many lifetimes, so that he could guide others across the river of suffering to the farther shore.

In his final incarnation, Shakyamuni Buddha was born into nobility and great wealth, but he again renounced that place of comfort when he saw that others in the world were suffering. Once more he vowed to attain enlightenment so that he might conquer suffering not only for himself but for all beings.

Upon awakening, Buddha was true to his vow. He returned to his sangha that he might share with them his teachings. Because of his generosity, Buddha’s awakening reverberates to this day, and it is in the spirit of his living vow that we practice not only for our own awakening, but to alleviate suffering in the world.

Those of us in Living Vow Zen aim to embody the Mahayana Way by cultivating compassion and wisdom and alleviating suffering in the world. The Four Bodhisattva Vows are a guiding light in our practice:


Beings are numberless; I vow to free them.
Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to end them.
Dharma gates are boundless; I vow to enter them.
The Buddha Way is unsurpassable; I vow to embody it.  


Membership: All who come and practice even a few times with Hank, Morning Star, or Shining Window Zen may consider themselves part of a sangha, and their participation is valued and appreciated. You do not need to become a member to participate, but everyone is invited to join our inclusive Zen community by becoming a formal member.

You may wish to become a formal member of Living Vow Zen to support its central missions: nurturing the Dharma in our communities, providing practice and retreat (sesshin) opportunities for those who want to follow the Zen way, supporting engaged practices, and training future practice leaders, priests and teachers. With membership, comes the right to vote at annual meetings, to become officers, to choose officers and members of our Board of Trustees, to help determine budget priorities, and to participate in setting overall policies for the organization.

To become a member, please submit an application

Donations:  Living Vow Zen is supported through the financial contributions of its members and friends. For more information about donating to Living Vow Zen, please see this donation info.

Ethics Code:  As members of the Living Vow Zen community, we are committed to ethical conduct.  We therefore bind ourselves to a code of conduct in order to nurture and protect our community and our continuing practice. To ensure that ethical concerns can be addressed confidentially and responsibly, we have published our ethics code of conduct and have established an EAR Committee (Ethics and Reconciliation Committee) to address any concerns that may arise.

Please email the EAR committee contact listed at the top of our ethics code if you have any concerns. 

Living Vow Zen is a non-profit religious corporation.

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