Meeting This Moment

Transforming Your Life Through Zen Practice


A six-week experiential online course exploring the
fundamental principles and transformational practices of Zen Buddhism

with Do-On Robert Thomas

and featuring Eijun Linda Cutts, Furyu Schroeder, Norman Fischer, Marc Lesser, and Susan O’Connell

Register Now

Discover how the essential principles and practices of Zen Buddhism awaken you to greater self-awareness, lasting peace, and deep fulfillment.

You are Buddha. And you know this is true. You’ve experienced it for yourself, if only for a moment. This is when everything drops away, and what is left is just this. Your true nature. Your Buddha-nature. It fulfills you completely, with nothing lacking, in the boundless freedom of the present moment.

Quite naturally, you desire to meet every moment in this way, more fully present, alive and self-aware. You yearn to live each moment grounded in the experience of your body, with a feeling of openness, ease and joy… meeting the challenges and opportunities of your life with wisdom and compassion.

woman meditatingPerhaps you hear the growing presence of an inner voice calling you to live a more purposeful and deeply fulfilling life. A life in which every moment is a moment of waking up to the way things are. Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi said of this inner voice, “This is the voice of Buddha.”

However, like many others, you may sense a large gap between the transformational possibilities for your life and the reality of your lived experience.

We all live in a world of ever-increasing volatility, complexity, uncertainty and fast-paced change. And if you’re like many people, your life is an ongoing effort to cope with overwhelming stress, anxiety, frustration and fear.

This affects your ability to focus your attention and maintain a sense of stability and balance in your life. You can easily find yourself stuck in habitual and reactive patterns that hold you back. These patterns are ways of being that prevent you from having a clear sense of possibility and from realizing your full potential.

Moment after moment, you should completely devote yourself to listening to your inner voice. That is how to see someone who is great in its true sense.

~ Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

One day you may get up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror and wonder: How did I get to be like this? Is this really my life? Who am I? Is this who I always wanted to be?

In his infinite wisdom and compassion, the Buddha realized that all of us, as human beings, participate in the creation of our stress, anxiety and frustration when we try to resist, or grasp and cling to the ever-changing experience of our life.

The Buddha taught that if you hold too tightly to your fixed views—to your own version of reality—and see yourself as fixed and static, separate and disconnected from everything around you, your experience of life is a perpetual state of unease and dissatisfaction.

He saw that the solution to this problem was not to be found in the usual places. It’s not to be discovered in distracting yourself with temporary pleasures, or by changing the external circumstances of your life. It’s not to be realized by getting more of what you like, and less of what you don’t like.

man-with-a-viewInstead, what is required is a fundamental shift in how you see and relate to your world.

What is needed is to wake up to your true nature—your Buddha-nature. Maybe this sounds way too big and impossible, but it’s actually quite simple.

The Buddha discovered that there is one, very simple and direct way to experience this: by being completely and fully in the present moment. He said, “Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future; concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

Zen is the practice of meeting this moment.

It is training your attention and increasing your self-awareness so that in every moment of your life, you become finely attuned to the constant flow of your experience—as it’s happening.

The most important point is to live on each moment. You should live with the things you have right now and find new meaning in them. That is our practice.

~ Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

Zen practice is a dynamic learning-by-doing process that involves your whole body and mind. It is the day-by-day, moment-by-moment path to waking up to the truest sense of yourself as a human being.

Open your life to the Zen path of wisdom and compassion.

In this six-week, interactive online course, you will get direct and insightful teachings on the fundamental principles and practices of Zen Buddhism.

You’ll be introduced to the practice of Zen meditation, or zazen, and taught how to work skillfully with the habits of your mind. If you already have a Zen practice, this course will help you focus and deepen your understanding and commitment.

You will personally connect with experienced Zen teachers, who will encourage and guide you in your daily practice. Gradually, you will find yourself more settled and open, more able to access your inner stillness and freedom, and in so doing, you will discover your path in ways and at a pace that makes sense for you.

By the end of this course, you will have experienced an embodied Zen practice that will help you in all aspects of your life. Deepening your innate capacity for self-awareness, you will have new abilities to meet your real-life challenges and pursue new opportunities with greater clarity, creativity and possibility.

Transforming your life through Zen practice, you will gain the rare capacity to meet each moment with wisdom and compassion, and be inspired to start living your practice in the world for the benefit of all beings.

In Meeting This Moment
You’ll Discover How To:

Make gratitude an essential part
of your practice

There is a very simple reason why you should adopt the practice of expressing gratefulness: It is deeply fulfilling. Focusing your attention on all that you have received, you’ll notice a change in how you see the world.

Start or deepen your daily
meditation practice

You’ll get detailed instruction on how to sit, find a posture, find a sitting place and time that works for you. Sitting together for 15-30 minutes each day, you will discover ways to overcome barriers to having a daily meditation practice.

Embrace uncertainty

Uncertainty is the way things are. Embracing uncertainty is appreciating possibility. By embracing uncertainty, you’ll learn that when you are fully present for each moment of your life, you will always be okay, even if you don’t yet know where things are going.

Commit to living a life
that’s true to you

When you live, work, date, play, eat, drink, create and dream in ways that align with your deepest intentions, you and everyone around you benefits. Practice becomes your life. You get to know yourself, as Buddha.

Use the practice of generosity
to nourish yourself and others

In truth, giving and receiving are one. Happiness comes from giving, not taking. Giving to someone with no strings attached, you and the receiver are simultaneously nourished.

Open to each moment
through being in the body

You will learn to bring yourself back to the present moment throughout the day by noticing your breath, the feeling of your body, or the sensation of the ground under your feet. Being in your body is a profound, life-changing practice.

Engage your life as a joyful,
curious experiment

In the present moment, we find ourselves in between the past and the future. This can be a powerfully creative and joyful place. Use your self-awareness to be curious and experiment in the present moment. This is to be truly alive.

See your world
in a different way

Imagine waking up in the morning and seeing the world for the very first time. You would be astounded by how amazing and beautiful everything is. Practice helps you to see the world around you with fresh eyes and notice what has been there all along; you just didn’t see it.

You’ll Experience These Renowned Teachers:

These will be individual video recordings of conversations between Robert and the teachers below.

Seeing Everyday Life Through the Eyes of Compassion

Linda Ruth Cuttswith Eijun Linda Cutts, Central Abbess, San Francisco Zen Center

Suzuki Roshi said that, “A Zen mind is a compassionate mind.” Compassion is a powerful practice that transforms all our daily interactions: at work, in our family, with our relationships and with our self. When we are able to feel compassion for ourselves and another, we are energized and do not turn away from our life’s difficulties. All beings and things become sources for our compassion and help us align with the heart of our intention to live a life of kindness.

The Art of Dharma / The Dharma of Art

Norman Fischerwith Norman Fischer, poet and Dharma Teacher, Founder of Everyday Zen, and former Abbot of SFZC

Why is there so often in our time a firewall between art and spiritual practice? This makes no sense! Spirituality is supposed to challenge and expand the self; art does this too. Meditation practice, at its best, can extend the heart-mind, so much so, that expression comes as an outpouring of creativity. And art practice needs to be free enough to evoke the unexpected. Let’s explore how these two great human practices support and inform each other.

Be Confident, Question Everything

Marc2with Marc Lesser, CEO of SIYLI (Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute)

To create an inspired and effective life, we must cultivate confidence as well as vulnerability and inquiry. Confidence requires that we clarify and align with what is important, and learn to see reality with more accuracy. If we aim to question everything, we must develop curiosity and the courage to step into the unknown. By embracing these and other primary paradoxes of life, you can become more present and fully alive for each moment: in your work, relationships, and everyday life.

Heart and Head Together: Enacting the Bodhisattva Vow in the Workplace

Susan OConnellwith Susan O’Connell, President, San Francisco Zen Center

The workplace can be one of the most challenging as well as most illuminating places for our Zen practice. When we use our bodhisattva vow—the deep wish to support all beings to be free from suffering—as the basis for collaborative decision-making, we discover how to skillfully make decisions founded on a deep caring for, and partnership with, others. We learn to let go of our tight agendas, open to the ‘death’ of our self-centered ideas, and make room for others to flourish. In doing so, we allow for new possibilities to come forward and creative responses that are not bound by our individual imaginations.

What Is Zazen Anyway?

Fu Schroederwith Furyu Schroeder, Abiding Abbess, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center/SFZC

It’s useful to remember that there was no Buddhist tradition when Shakyamuni Buddha sat under a tree. He sat without knowing that suffering can come to an end or how that would happen, or that he would come to understand and explain the practices of awakening for the benefit of untold generations to come. He simply sat down on the red earth and watched closely the workings of his own imagination. Zazen begins when we too just sit down without knowing what we will find when we do. You are invited to engage your own body and mind in this ancient method for awakening the human heart…just sit.

A Personal Invitation from Do-On Robert…

Dear Friend,

There was a time in my life when I was constantly searching and selfishly grasping for something, anything, to quench my thirst to feel more alive.

robert-bioArriving in San Francisco in the early 1980s, I launched into a series of audacious adventures: founding a film and video company; directing dozens of music and fashion videos for major international clients; creative director and editor of two San Francisco lifestyle magazines; and helping launch one of San Francisco’s most successful restaurants.

From the outside, my life appeared extraordinary. But inside, there were deeper problems.

Ten years of hard drinking, reckless amounts of drugs and nonstop work had just about killed me. Literally, that is what I thought as I woke up, near death at age 34, on a beach in Southeast Asia.

Fortunately, that was not the end. I stumbled through the forest gate of a Thai Buddhist temple, and six months later I was walking the 14-mile mountain road into Tassajara, the first Zen monastery in the western world.

I became a Zen monk, practiced intensively in the monastery for six years, ordained as a priest, received Dharma Transmission, and for seven years was president of San Francisco Zen Center. I had put my life on a new path. I vowed to reject my previous self-centered ways and dedicated my life to helping and benefiting others.

But taking up the Zen path wasn’t the end of life’s challenges. More recently, I had stage 4 cancer, and once again came face to face with death. After a year of multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, I am now healthy and cancer-free.

This is why today, in this moment, I feel so deeply grateful to be able to offer this six-week online course to you.

After all I’ve been through, I know in my heart that nothing could possibly be more important than meeting every moment of this life with compassion and wisdom.

Please join me, and discover for yourself the power of Zen practice to transform your life and bring you lasting peace and fulfillment.

With Peace and Love,

Do-On Robert Thomas

What People Are Saying…

“Robert’s straightforward Dharma commentary helped me understand [myself] in a new way… The overall experience felt intimate in a way that surprised me — an excellent use of a digital platform.”

— Andrew Zarrillo


“I began to relax into it [my meditation practice] instead of trying so hard and ultimately stopping. This made all the difference in me establishing a regular practice. I feel like I have a path forward now. Really great program and the online model worked very well for me.”

— Eric E.

“I am now meditating almost every day and discovering how to be still and how to be mindful. The program [that Robert led] will affect me for the rest of my life as I intend to continue with this exploration.”

— Lindsay Barker


“I’m calmer and more able to meet everyday challenges with equanimity. I sleep better.”

— Sara Ostrov

Session 1: Begin Here, Now

session1Your practice always starts wherever you are. You begin your Zen practice by turning your light inward and attending deeply to the conditions of your life. In week one, you will begin your practice by attuning with your moment to moment experience and by asking yourself, “How is it now?” This is noticing and embracing the joys and the difficulties of your life.

In this session, we’ll explore together:

  • What the Zen path of practice is and how to get yourself set up and started
  • The power of intention and clarifying your commitment to practice
  • How to make gratitude an essential part of your practice
  • The practice of Beginner’s Mind

Session 2: Giving It All Away

session2Zen is the practice of wholeheartedly giving yourself to each moment of your life. This is being generous with yourself and everything around you. In week two, you will lay a strong foundation for your practice by rejecting self-centered greed as a life strategy and cultivating the practice of generosity. Discover for yourself how this works. Giving is receiving and receiving is giving.

In this session, we’ll explore together:

  • The key to having a sincere practice: giving your attention to your inner voice
  • The power of letting things be and accepting this moment for what it is
  • How to use the practice of generosity to nourish yourself and others
  • The practice of Listening with the Whole Body and Mind

Session 3: Sit Down, Receive Your Life

session3The core practice of Zen is to sit down and unconditionally receive your experience of being alive in this moment. This is the body and mind practice of zazen. In week three, we will explore how zazen develops your ability to concentrate the mind, stay with your experience in the present moment, and accept everything that comes. You discover a freedom and spaciousness that transforms even your long-held habitual patterns.

In this session, we’ll explore together:

  • How to start and deepen your daily meditation practice
  • The importance of settling the breath, body and mind
  • How to accept everything as it comes, moment after moment
  • The practice of Stepping Back, and coming forward into the present moment

Session 4: Feeling Your Way and Seeing Everything As It Is   

session4Zen practice asks us to meet our life with kindness, empathy, respect, and compassion. We do this even if it pushes us outside of our comfort zone. In week four, we work with patience—transforming resistance and feeling our way into each moment. We find support for this by awakening to our Buddha-nature. This is directly experiencing our true nature and seeing the interconnectedness and impermanence of everything around us.

In this session, we’ll explore together:

  • How to open to each moment by being in the body
  • The benefits of going slower (and seeing more!)
  • The power and benefit of not-knowing
  • How to embrace uncertainty
  • What it means to wake up and see our Buddha-nature
  • The practice of Getting Big

Session 5: Go Forward with Joy and Curiosity

session6It takes a dedicated and continuous effort to realize the value and benefits of the Zen path. This requires tapping into your capacity for a joyful, moment-to-moment engagement with life. In week five, you will learn how to make an uninterrupted and sustained effort marked by curiosity, the capacity to focus your efforts and persistence in the face of all obstacles.

In this session, we’ll explore together:

  • How to engage your life as a joyful, curious experiment
  • The importance of stopping (some things)
  • Learning to trust your practice as an unfolding process
  • The practice of asking questions, “What is it?”

Session 6: Live Life, Benefit All Beings

session7In Zen, we extend our practice into every moment of our life. Manifesting your practice in the world with moral integrity and ethical uprightness is essential to living in harmony with others. In week six, you will bring more awareness and deeper insight to the impact and consequences of your actions. You will see how your life can be transformed by your intentions as you explore the power of dedicating yourself to living the path of benefitting all beings.

In this session, we’ll explore together:

  • Living a life that’s true to you
  • The power of vow to transform your life
  • The way to speak with compassion at all times
  • The profound benefits of being humble
  • The practice of the Bodhisattva

What You’ll Receive:

Six weekly, LIVE teleconferences. Recordings will be made available if you are unable to attend the live dharma sessions.

Seven 10-15 minute teaching videos with Robert. These will be available to download or stream.

Access to a private, highly interactive course website for all participants—this is our hub for all things related to this course including a sangha.

LIVE meditation sittings with the Online Zendo every weekday. We’ll experiment with sitting twice a day, every weekday.

Participation in discussion forums to engage and interact with fellow retreat practitioners from around the globe.

Five additional videos featuring Robert in conversation with senior SFZC teachers. These will be available to download or stream. 

More About Robert

robertRobert’s kind and mindful presence is the result of over twenty years of Zen practice, including six years of intensive meditation practice at Tassajara and eight years as president of San Francisco Zen Center. He was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 2000, and received Dharma Transmission from his Zen teacher, Zoketsu Norman Fischer in 2009. As a dharma teacher, he leads meditation retreats, workshops, and gives public lectures throughout the year. Prior to coming to Zen practice Robert was a filmmaker, restaurateur and magazine Creative Director. Currently San Francisco Zen Center’s dharma teacher in charge of online initiatives, Robert thrives in practicing together with others, and facilitating fresh and compelling explorations of Zen Buddhist thought and practice as they apply to real-life issues and challenges.

Enrollment / Registration

From wherever you live, you can join Do-On Robert Thomas and our renowned Guest Faculty, starting on July 11, and spend six weeks discovering the essential principles and practices of Zen that will awaken you to a greater self-awareness and bring you lasting peace and deep fulfillment. Register here for Meeting This Moment and transform your life through Zen practice.

  • Course Starts on: July 11 (LIVE sessions will be held every Thursday for a total of six weeks)
  • All live sessions will be recorded so you will never miss a session, and can listen at your convenience any time
  • Here’s what you’ll receive for your course fee:
  • 6 weekly LIVE teleconferences. Recordings will be available if you are unable to attend the live dharma sessions. 
  • 7 teaching and practice videos (15-20 mins each)
  • Private course website to interact with other course participants
  • LIVE meditation sittings with the Online Zendo every weekday via streaming webcast
  • Participation in discussion forums to engage and interact with fellow retreat practitioners from around the globe
  • 5 supplemental teaching sessions (with renowned Zen teachers)

Course Fees:

$239 – General
$215 – SFZC Member
$120 – Limited Income

A limited number of need-based scholarships are available. Please fill out the online programs scholarship application: [Word] [PDF].

Course Guarantee & Cancellation Policy

Thank you for choosing SFZC’s Online Programs. If for any reason you wish to withdraw from the program, you have up to and within the first 15 days of the start of the program to receive a refund, minus a $20 processing fee. There is no refund if you cancel or withdraw more than 15 days after the start of the program.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an experiential online course?

An online course delivers curriculum to you on a weekly basis which gives you the control to determine your best time to do the work. Whether your best times are mornings or evenings, you’ll be able to participate live during each week or listen to the recordings of the sessions at your convenience. Live phone sessions are on Thursdays.

Do I need any special equipment?

The technological equipment you’ll need is a computer with an internet connection, and a phone or Skype phone line if you wish to participate in the live interactive sessions.

What if I miss a live call? Can I hear it again?

Don’t worry, there will be recorded audios available for you after every live call. In fact, many people are unable to attend all the sessions live. You may also post questions on the Forum to be answered on the live Q&A calls. You’ll feel very much a part of our community and enjoy the camaraderie of sharing the journey with other participants.

Where is this course being held?

Because this is an online course, you can attend the sessions and do the practice from the comfort of your own home in a way that works best for you. Wherever your computer is, wherever your phone is, you can participate in this course. It’s recommended that you create a quiet space and time in your home, but it is possible to take a laptop outside or log in from your hotel room if you’re traveling.

What are the dates and times for the sessions?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

  • Live teleconference (5:30pm-6:30pm PDT)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

  • Live teleconference (5:30pm-6:30pm PDT)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

  • Live teleconference (5:30pm-6:30pm PDT)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

  • Live teleconference (5:30pm-6:30pm PDT)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

  • Live teleconference (5:30pm-6:30pm PDT)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

  • Live teleconference (5:30pm-6:30pm PDT)

Do I need meditation experience to participate?

No meditation experience is necessary in order to participate in this program.