Help Wanted: We’re Creating a progressive and open Zen community in Long Beach & Orange County

Help Wanted: We’re Creating a progressive and open Zen community in Long Beach & Orange County June 3, 2021



A note from James Ford and the Empty Moon Zen in Long Beach and Orange County organizing team:

As we begin to contemplate resuming in person gatherings, our Long Beach and Orange County part of Empty Moon Zen is beginning to wonder what we want to be.

I find myself wondering, here at the beginning of my eighth decade, landed here in Long Beach, while I can feel the sands slipping through the glass, feeling called to help with the creation of a community that is open and progressive and believes ordinary lives and raising children are in fact the context of liberation for ourselves and the whole blessed world.

So! I have a wild eyed scheme. Maybe you’ll find it interesting.

I see what we’re doing here is something radical. If the first wave of Zen arising in China was nestled within the monastic community, and if the second wave in Japan was protected by the rising priestly community, here in North America, while those two ways absolutely continue, what I feel in my bones called to is a third wave, where the Zen tradition is fully expressed within a householder tradition.

Even our ordinations are more about ministry than priesthood in the Japanese sense, where clerical formation is about supporting people in their ordinary lives rather than a focused time of intensive monastic training. For us the call into spiritual direction, guiding people on the inner life is not limited to nor even primarily the responsibility of the ordained. Our teachers arise out of many years of practice, and minute investigations of the koan way. They are formed out of the community of practice and care and attention.

And it is that community of care and attention that I hope we can form.

Wanna be part of a community that wishes to form with a focus on householder Zen, less liturgical, more social, centering people who want children as part of the project? Want to join people who don’t forget zazen, want to be Buddhist, but manifesting an open and self-critical and heartfelt Buddhism? Something totally respectful of and grateful for our Asian roots, but delightfully forming within a Western and Christian and Jewish dominated culture. A community with a love for the humanist inheritance and respect for science? Want a community that wants to be wildly inclusive and willing take some risks?

Right now we’re a tiny handful. We’re supported by our sister Empty Moon sanghas in Washington state and Pennsylvania. Each of them have their own visions. And it’s time to cast ours, and to begin to put it together.

So: Help wanted. We’re creating a progressive and open Zen community.

Come join us.

Right now we’re looking for a place to meet. Our geographical need could fit anywhere between Long Beach and Huntington Beach. have a pointer? Have a space you want to give us or rent (cheaply)?

Wanna give us some money? We’re a nonprofit. We’ll spend it wisely…

But more than anything, do you hear in this something you might want to be a part of? Want to be part of a community that is at once ancient and totally invested in life in this moment. This one, the one that is so sad and so beautiful?

Well. Let us know.

Chris Hoff
Jan Seymour-Ford
James Ishmael Ford, chair

Empty Moon Zen in Long Beach & Orange County organizing team

write: jamesishmaelford @

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