Frequently Asked


Monday – Friday Early morning zazen, usually from 6:30 to 7:30 am, or as decided by the residents.  Community members should check the bulletin board.
Wednesday 7:00pm – 9:00pm (Tea is served after zazen)
Mon., Tues., Thurs. 7:00pm – 9:00pm (informal except during Intensive Practice Periods)
Sunday 9:00am – 11:00am (Tea is served after zazen)

Check the calendar

Samu or Work Party: A work ceremony. Zazen and work practice followed by lunch.
Orientation: Introduction to Zen practice.
Either zazenkai (all day zazen) or sesshin (multiple days of zazen).

Other Events:

  • Quarterly Meetings:  Sangha business meetings usually held on Sundays.
  • Dharma Study: Opportunities to study aspects of the Dharma with visiting scholars.
  • Social Events: Parties, picnics and fun together.
  • Question and Response (Q & R): After zazen and dokusan, Michael Kieran, the teacher, will respond to questions from Sangha members. Usually held monthly.
  • Sutras: At the end of most blocks of zazen there is a service where we chant the sutras together. This is another form of practice.
  • Ceremonies: Formal celebrations of significant events.




Sesshin means to touch, receive, and convey the mind. Sesshin are 3, 5, 7, or 8 day periods of continuous intensive Zen practice. During sesshin, participants live at the temple and engage in a rigorous daily schedule of zazen, kinhin (walking Zen), dokusan (private meetings with the teacher), samu (work practice), sutra recitation, Dharma assembly (Zen presentation by the teacher), and formal ceremonial meals. Periodic sesshin along with regular daily zazen and samu are key elements of a vital Zen practice.


Zazenkai are one-day Zen intensives held each month unless there is a sesshin that month. The schedule runs from 8:30 to 4:00pm with a lunch break. The day includes zazen, sutra recitation, dokusan, and a Dharma talk by a zendo leader.

Hiking Zazenkai

This is an all day (9am – 4pm) practice that includes zazen, kinhin or walking meditation, and a Dharma talk, held on a local trail.

Intensive Practice Periods

Intensive Practice Periods are approximately six weeks in length and feature many opportunities to intensify Zen practice. These include ceremonies, increased frequency of formal zazen and dokusan, plus dharma discussions, zazenkai and sesshin.


Please wear loose fitting, dark, solid-colored clothing that covers the knees and shoulders.  Please avoid wearing jewelry including watches (except for leaders) and do not use scents in the zendo.  Cell phones should be silenced and left outside the zendo. Although we provide mats and cushions, you may want to purchase your own for use at home. There are many sources of zazen clothing, mats and cushions readily available on-line. If you bring your own cushion, make sure it is black.



Michael Kieran is the teacher at the Palolo Zen Temple. He worked for many years with our founding teacher, Robert Aitken Roshi, and then, after Aitken Roshi’s retirement, with Nelson Foster.  Michael was authorized to teach in 1999 and received full transmission from Nelson Foster in 2004. He regularly holds dokusan and sesshin throughout the year.


Dokusan is a face-to-face encounter with the teacher. It is a chance for creative Dharma interaction and mutual deepening. It is Michael’s intention to guide students in the Dharma in accordance with their purpose in practicing. Periodically during zazen you will hear the teacher’s bell calling and the student bell responding.  If you have been doing zazen with us regularly and wish to explore the possibility of working with Michael in dokusan, talk to one of the Tantos or to Michael.


Traditionally, the Tanto is the person who oversees training and practice matters in the zendo.  Several people have been appointed Tanto by our teacher.  Each month one of the Tantos serves as training leader.  This individual serves as Tanto during regularly scheduled zazen, zazenkai and sesshin (zazen retreats) and sets the tenor of group practice.  Tantos are available to answer your questions about practice or other matters. Subjects could include posture, breath practice, coping with pain and upset, training forms and ritual, recommended reading, practice outside the temple in daily life, and personal issues of many kinds. Feel free to contact any of them.

Teacher and Tantos

Teacher: Michael Kieran – mkieran@diamonsangha.org

Brian Baron


Clark Ratliffe


Kathy Ratliffe


Sue Brandon


Susan Shimokawa



Experienced Zen students who wish to maintain an intensive practice while working outside the temple or attending school may apply for residency at the temple (2 months or more). Our Temple Keeper lives full time at the temple and coordinates its daily running. If you are interested, please ask the administrator (808-735-1347) for a residential application form, or download the form here.


Everyone is welcome and may participate in any of the temple’s activities. Members are those who have been practicing Zen with the Honolulu Diamond Sangha for at least 3 months and have filled out the membership declaration form in which they affirm that they consider the Honolulu Diamond Sangha their immediate Dharma home. Members agree to participate in its programs twice a month or more, on average. They also contribute financially. If you are unable to contribute, you may still be a member.  Talk to the administrator for more information.