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The Fukan-Zazengi is a thirteenth-century text in which Eihei Dogen, the Japanese monk who founded Soto Zen, exhorted not only the monks of his temple but also people generally to practice zazen. Many centuries later people still read this text - ‘How to Practice Zazen which is Recommended Universally’ - for its clarity, simplicity and authenticity. At the beginning of the twentieth-century in Japan the great zen teacher, Kodo Sawaki, widely advocated the practice of zazen as described in Dogen’s Fukan-Zazengi.

The meaning of the word zen is meditation, zazen means sitting meditation. In zazen practice we begin to know ourselves, and to go beyond the limits of our personal ego. Within our tradition zazen is referred to as shikantaza (just sitting), not doing, letting go of thoughts, dropping off body and mind. This sitting meditation is the focus of our practice. Language limits our ability to communicate the true nature of zen; it is something that is better understood through practice. We are open to everyone interested in learning about meditation.

The Irish Zen Group has been active since 1991 and has four practice centres (Zen Dojos), in Galway, Dublin, Ranelagh and Cork. We practice according to the Soto Zen tradition, as transmitted by the monk Taisen Deshimaru, who brought Zen from Japan to Europe in 1967. Deshimaru was a disciple of Kodo Sawaki.

Alain TAI NAN Liebmann, who brought this lineage to Ireland, received monk ordination from Deshimaru in 1976. Shortly after coming to Ireland in the 1990s he set up the Galway, Dublin and Cork dojos. In later years Alain spent time living at Gotanjoji Temple, located not far from Kyoto in Japan, and received shiho (Dharma transmission) from the abbot of that temple, Koshu Itabashi Zenji, in 2013, followed by zuise (transmission certificate) from the Sotoshu school. He left Ireland in 2014.

Tom JI KAI, the person responsible for the Galway dojo, and Mary MYO REN, responsible for the Dublin dojo, also received ordination from Itabashi Zenji, and have spent extended periods in Gotanjoji participating in temple life. They practised with Alain from the beginning of his stay in Ireland and continue to participate in sesshins at the Temple of La Gendronniére in the Loire Valley in France, where there are a series of retreats all year around, and a summer camp during July and August.

In our lineage we encourage people to practice daily meditation, something that has become central to the lives of zen practitioners in our community, even though we have jobs, families and worldly responsibilities. We live ‘in the world’ and we try, through our practice, to bring zen mind into daily life. We also organise Zazen days in the various dojos, weekend retreats, and week-long retreats during the summer.


  • Zen Mind Beginner's Mind (Shunryu Suzuki)
  • Opening the Hand of Thought (Kosho Uchiyama)
  • The Compass of Zen (Seung Sahn)

Recent Publications of Interest

  • Dogen's Extensive Record: A Translation of the Eihei Koroku (Leighton and Okumura)
  • Living by Vow: A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts (Shohaku Okumura)
  • Realising Genjokoan: The Key to Dogen's Shobogenzo (Shohaku Okumura)
  • Zen women: Beyond Tea ladies, Iron Maidens and Macho Masters (Grace Jill Schireson)
  • Online Resources