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“What is Zen?” A day retreat lead by Peter Nichols

February 3 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Join us on Saturday, FEBRUARY 3rd, 2024, 9AM-5PM, for the hybrid silent retreat, “What is Zen?with Zen teacher Peter Nichols at Plymouth Meeting Friends.

Most people think of religion as something that you…DO—like believing in creeds or professing doctrines or practicing sacred observances such as going to weekly service or doing meditation.

That’s not Zen.

Zen has no answers to big questions. But it does pose questions: Who are you? The question isn’t asking for a definition or an explanation. Who are you really? When you sit down on the cushion, what do you tell yourself you’re doing? Are you trying to fix something? To find something? To get something? What is it that you think you’re lacking? How do you know if you’re being honest with yourself? In your ordinary, day-to-day life, when you’re not trying to make it into something special or “spiritual,” who are you?

Our What Is Zen? retreat puts you in touch with those questions. It will be a day of Zen training—together as a group—with how-to instruction for zazen (meditation), plenty of sitting periods (approx. 25 min) broken up by walking, a dharma talk, a little chanting and bowing, time for eating and resting, private face-to-face interview with the teacher (optional), and a chance to ask questions and talk about your experience at the end. Come prepared to surrender being in control, to practice hard, and to see what happens when you just pay attention without trying to make Zen practice into something special, something religious.

All PBA activities are free of charge, but we recommend a donation of $25-$50 to the teacher if you can. Please don’t let financial issues keep you from attending. This will be a hybrid retreat, so for those who are not able to join in-person, please use the Zoom link provided during registration. We encourage you to commit to as much of the retreat as possible. If you are only able to attend a half day, you are welcome to join either morning or afternoon sessions. The schedule is included below.

Register HERE


9:00 – 9:40 Welcome & Orientation
9:50 – 10:20 Zazen (meditation) *
10:30 – 10:50 Service
11:00 – 11:25 Zazen (meditation)
11:35 – 12:00 Zazen (meditation)
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch (in silence)

Private interviews for morning retreatants (optional)


1:00 – 1:30 Zazen (meditation)
1:40 – 2:10 Zazen (meditation)
2:20 – 2:50 Dharma Talk
3:00 – 3:30 Zazen/Private Interviews (optional)
3:40 – 4:10 Zazen/Private Interviews (optional)
4:20 – 5:00 Open Discussion
* Each period of sitting meditation (zazen) is followed by 10 minutes of walking meditation (kinhin). There are no “breaks.” Use restrooms during walking meditation and at lunch.


February 3
9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Philadelphia Buddhist Association


Plymouth Meeting Friends
2150 Butler Pike
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462 United States
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Philadelphia Buddhist Association
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E-mail: info@philabuddhist.org

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