About Us

Why "The Empty Seat?"

In Opening The Hand of Thought(see Recommended Books), Uchiyama Roshi describes how it was his practice, as abbot of Antai-ji, to practice zazen facing the wall, along with his students. This differs from the customary practice, where the Roshi sits at the head of the zendo facing the backs of the students. Hence, "The Empty Seat."

My motivation in establishing The Empty Seat Zendo, is simply to share the practice that I have come to love after more than 30 years.

I began my zen training under Daneal Amos in 1979, and was with him for 5 years. Daneal trained under Shunryu Suzuki Roshi at the San Francisco Zen Center, but as far as I know, possessed no official transmission or authorization to teach. He taught for many years at Dartmouth College (where I met him), and ran a residential community called the New Canaan Academy. In addition to daily zazen with him during my college years, I attended many sesshins (residential practice intensives) at the Academy.

Later, in the 1990's, I had the opportunity to practice under the guidance of Phillip Kapleau Roshi, for about a year and a half. At this time, he was in semi-retirement in Hollywood, FL, where a small zen center had coalesced around him. This gave me the opportunity to experience koan zen, and for this I am grateful.

I do not claim to be anyone's teacher. I am an extremely experienced practitioner. I have a maxim that I try to keep foremost in mind whenever working with others: Don't Explain, Point It Out. As far as guidelines for our practice at the Empty Seat Zendo, please review the other content on this site. The bottom line, as Uchiyama Roshi puts it, is that "Zazen is the most venerable, and only true teacher," and that each one of us is 100% responsible for our own practice and realization.

I have offered these thoughts in order that no one is misled about my background and qualifications.


Gregg Winston
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Febrary 17, 2011