Discovering Common Ground: Quakerism and Zen

To many, the name “Kendal” is synonymous with Quaker values. Recently, Kendal has celebrated growth with new Affiliates that expand beyond these principles and bring a spiritual component more aligned with Zen Buddhist teachings. Developed with an eye towards sustainability and community connection, these new Life Plan Communities, Ensō Village and Ensō Verde (in the pre-development phase), bring an exciting uniqueness to the Kendal repertoire– Zen-inspired communities reflecting a commitment to mindful living.

As these communities form, we more deeply discover how Quaker values and Zen principles share unique beliefs and practices and have much in common. Though arising in different times and cultures, Quakerism and Zen emphasize simplicity, intentional living, silence, compassion, and community.

Common Ground

Both Quaker and Zen Spiritual Communities Emphasize Silence

Silence is an essential aspect of both Quaker and Zen spiritual practices. In Quaker services, silent worship is a defining practice – listening in the silence for the divine. Similarly, Zen meditation involves sitting in silence for long periods, often in a lotus position. In both practices, silence is not just about physical quietness. It’s about consciously letting go of external distractions and becoming open and connected. Connected to each other, to the wider community, and to Spirit.

Both Stress the Importance of Intentionality

Intentionality is one of the core values of both Quaker and Zen spiritual communities. The members of these communities actively work towards cultivating their intentions and mindfulness. They teach that every thought, word, and action should reflect their core beliefs and values.

Both Value Community

Although both Quaker and Zen spiritual communities emphasize the importance of personal spiritual practice, they also acknowledge how important it is to belong to a community. Quaker meetings and Zen sangha, or communities, are both safe spaces where people are encouraged to support and uplift each other. Here, they can find guidance from like-minded people, share their experiences, and feel a sense of belongingness.

Both Embrace Simplicity

Quaker and Zen spiritual communities prioritize livingsimply. Quakers and Zen practitioners believe simplicity leads to inner peace, happiness, and spiritual growth. The members of these spiritual communities choose to live a simple life without unnecessary physical or mental clutter. Their focus on simplicity also allows them to concentrate on what is essential – their spiritual growth and spiritual connection with themselves and others and a higher power.

Both Communities Work Towards Compassion

Another core value shared by Quaker and Zen spiritual communities is compassion. Both practices deeply understand the importance of kindness and empathy. Members of these communities are committed to living a life of service and compassion for others, recognizing that acts of kindness promote love, peace, and harmony in the world.

Three hikers looking at mountain