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Ordinary Mind Zen Brisbane

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Ordinary Mind Zen Brisbane

Ordinary Mind Zen Brisbane

Tradition/Linage Zen
Main School Mahayana
Founder(s) BUORG-Names::Names::Charlotte Joko Beck
Contact Infotmation
Queensland 4064
Country Australia
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Learning to meet our life with honesty, intelligence, kindness and courage is our core practice. To do that requires systematic training both on and off our sitting cushions.

To this end, the Ordinary Mind path incorporates both dedicated practice of formal Zen sitting (zazen) and active practice in the midst of daily life. We learn what it means to practice with our life on many levels: those of thought, feeling and emotion; those of action and behaviour; those of mindful presence and direct experiencing; and those of deep listening and intentionless residing.

To encourage and support us in this work, Ordinary Mind Zen Brisbane provides regular Zen practice and training activities in a lay context. Although our practice orientation is Buddhist, we welcome people from any background who wish to take up our distinctive approach to Zen training.

In this process, we are guided by the Group’s resident teacher, Gregg Howard, who received Dharma Transmission from Charlotte Joko Beck in the Ordinary Mind Zen School.

Our Purpose

The Ordinary Mind Zen School intends to manifest and support practice of the Awakened Way, as expressed in the teaching of Charlotte Joko Beck. The School is composed of Charlotte Joko Beck, her Dharma Successors, and teachers and successors they, as individuals, have formally authorized. There is no affiliation with other Zen groups or religious denominations; however, membership in this school does not preclude individual affiliation with other groups. Within the school there is no hierarchy of Dharma Successors.

The Awakened Way is universal; the medium and methods of realization vary according to circumstances. Each Dharma Successor in the School may apply diverse practice approaches and determine the structure of any organization that s/he may develop to facilitate practice.

The Successors acknowledge that they are ongoing students, and that the quality of their teaching derives from the quality of their practice. As ongoing students, teachers are committed to the openness and fluidity of practice, wherein the wisdom of the absolute may be manifested in and as our life. An important function of this School is the ongoing examination and development of effective teaching approaches to insure comprehensive practice in all aspects of living.

May the practice of this School manifest wisdom and compassion, benefiting all beings.



The group meets for its main weekly sitting on Sunday evening from 7.00-9.00 pm. Our sittings are held at the Lavalla Centre in the inner western suburb of Paddington. Sunday sittings consist of a number of 30 minute periods of zazen (sitting practice) interspersed with short periods of formal walking (kinhin). Interviews with the resident teacher are offered on some Sunday nights, and dharma talks are given regularly. Tea and conversation sometimes follows. If you wish to attend, please see Participating in this website.

Weekly sittings are held every Sunday evening except when Silent Practice Days or Sesshin are being held (see below). There is a recess from late December until mid-January each year.

University of Queensland group

This offshoot group is organised by OMZB members and meets weekly for lunch hour sittings during university semesters. It is open to anyone with a compatible sitting practice or interested in beginning a sitting practice.

Silent Practice Days

These are opportunities for longer sitting, usually running from 9.00-5.00 daily, and are one or two days in duration. Silent Practice Days are held eight times a year and there is an SPD or Sesshin in most months. As well as sitting periods, they include dharma talks or dialogues, and interviews with the teacher. SPDs are non-residential and are held in Brisbane at various locations.


Sesshin is a residential training period of several days, in which we observe silence and follow a fixed daily schedule centered on sitting practice (zazen), as well as periods of exercise, work (samu), formal meals (oryoki) and rest. Currently, a 5-day residential Sesshin is held in September each year at a retreat centre at Springbrook in the Border Ranges. Sesshin is taught by the group’s resident teacher. Occasionally, visiting teachers are invited to lead sesshins. Attendance at Sesshin assumes a well-established practice and some experience of longer sitting, such as in Silent Practice Days.

Our Teacher

Gregg Howard

Gregg Howard is the Teacher of Ordinary Mind Zen Brisbane. He commenced Zen practice in the 1970′s in Australia and the US, and in 1981 helped found Brisbane’s first Zen group. Soon after, he became a student of Charlotte Joko Beck, and arranged her annual visits to Brisbane in the 1980′s. He spent a year in Japan studying the Zen tradition of Japanese shakuhachi (bamboo flute) and practising Zen, and regularly travelled to the US to study with Charlotte Joko Beck at Zen Center of San Diego. In the early 1990s, he established the Everyday Zen Group in Brisbane, later renamed Ordinary Mind Zen Brisbane, and modelled on Joko Beck’s Ordinary Mind practice approach. He was given permission to teach in 1996, and in 2004, received Dharma Transmission from his teacher. He is currently a member of the Ordinary Mind Zen teachers’ circle, the American Zen Teachers’ Association (AZTA) and the Lay Zen Teachers’ Association (LZTA). Retiring in 2012 from the Queensland Conservatorium after 35 years of university teaching in the field of ethnomusicology, he continues one of his main musical interests, playing and teaching Javanese Gamelan.

Charlotte Joko Beck

Charlotte Joko Beck

Charlotte Joko Beck, founding teacher of Ordinary Mind Zen, passed into deepest samadhi on Wednesday 15 June 2011 in Prescott, Arizona, aged 94. In the 1960s, Charlotte Joko Beck studied with Hakuun Yasutani Roshi and Soen Nakagawa Roshi. In 1983 she became the 3rd Dharma heir of Hakuyu Maezumi Roshi. Today, her Dharma Successors lead centres in the United States and Australia. From 1983 until moving to Prescott Arizona in mid-2006, Charlotte Joko Beck was head teacher at Zen Center of San Diego.


Ordinary Mind Zen Brisbane