Morning Star Zendo
Virtual retreat: October 14-16, 2022
Register now by clicking here.
See Retreat tab for more details.
We invite you to join Morning Star’s online virtual zendo, a silent space for joining others in the practice of seated meditation or zazen. Note that initially only, you must make a quick one time initial registration.
Monday through Friday at 7:00-7:45am. 25 minutes, followed by chants on M/W/F, or by a short talk on T/Th.
Saturday mornings at 9:00-10:00am. 25 minutes, followed by a dharma talk, followed by sitting and discussion.
Who we are
Morning Star Zendo is a center for zen meditation practice in Jersey City, NJ. Our founding teacher, Robert Kennedy, is a Catholic Jesuit priest (ordained 1965) as well as a Zen Buddhist teacher (sensei 1991, roshi 1997). Roshi Kennedy has devoted his career to inter-religious understanding and dialogue, and he welcomes people of all faiths and spiritual practices to Morning Star Zendo.
The spirit at the zendo reflects and builds upon Kennedy's deep respect for and knowledge of Buddhism. It carries out the principles laid out in the Jesuit statement on mission and inter-religious dialogue, which demands that Jesuits be not only familiar with the thought of men and women of other religious traditions, but be immersed with them in theological exchange and in a dialogue of life, action, and religious experience.
As peacemakers at Morning Star, we believe that our differences are enriching and seek the common ground in which all beings can co-exist in peace. Therefore, we commit not to turn away from the reality of discrimination and the brutality of racism, even our own. We seek to change that reality by listening carefully, living generously, and working to manifest the shared values of justice, compassion and opportunity.
What is the practice of Zen meditation?
Zazen is the practice of stilling the mind through wholehearted attentiveness to the breath. This steady attentiveness, coupled with the stillness of the body, frees the mind from its ordinary activities of thinking, daydreaming, or speculating on the nature of life. Zen demands discipline and effort. The support of group sitting is a strong encouragement to practice.
The attraction to Zen
In Zen Gifts to Christians, Roshi Kennedy suggests that people, leaning toward a deeper form of prayer, are often attracted to studying Zen. It is not because they wish to become Buddhists but because they seek a more contemplative prayer life. He writes:
"Zen gives us a method to put contemplation into practice. Zen training does not allow us to analyze or theorize about prayer or life. Instead, it plunges us at the outset into the contemplative act in which there is no subject or object."
When practiced attentively, Zen offers an ever-deepening insight into the oneness of life. This insight reveals to us our own human potential and calls us to use this potential in the service of others, and brings us to the present moment, clarifying and supporting our readiness to meet the ever-changing circumstances of daily life.
Grass gives to the contentment of chairs
chairs to the contentment of rivers
rivers to the shimmer of every day
drying our dishes sustains the vigor of tall pines
pines give to the circling wind
so generous the moment.
Susan Efird, Sensei, from Seventy-Two Labors,
forthcoming from Antrim House Books, 2022
Morning Star Zendo is affiliated with the White Plum Asanga and Zen Peacemakers: