Soto Zen Buddhist Meditation in Chicago

Ancient Dragon Zen Gate is a community of practitioners committed to Soto Zen Buddhist meditation practice in Chicago. Please join us on the path of beneficial compassion and wisdom inspired by Shakyamuni Buddha.

Our guiding teacher is Taigen Dan Leighton, author, scholar, and Dharma teacher in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki. We invite you to read his teachings or listen to audio recordings of Dharma talks by Taigen and others.

Under the guidance of Dharma Teacher Taigen Dan Leighton, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate evolved from a small meditation group that began meeting once weekly in 2003 and now, we offer many meditation and Zen practice opportunities.

On Sunday mornings, we welcome brand new visitors to our temple for orientation and to learn meditation.

We are located at 1922 W. Irving Park Road in Chicago, Illinois. You are welcome to join us for weekly meditation.



As a measure to protect the health of its Sangha members and to avoid contributing to the spread of the coronavirus, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate will be closed until it is determined that is safe to resume conducting in-person. No programs will be conducted at Ancient Dragon during this time. We will provide a notice on this website as soon as we determine a date for resumption of activities at the temple. Please check back here for updates.

As Ancient Dragon Zen Gate activates as an online sangha for an undetermined amount of time, we will be providing selections of podcasts to all on a weekly basis to provide dharma steadily. These links can be found below in the Archival Talks section, as well as on the Archival Talks page. As well, we have arranged live streaming of Dharma talks during the closure – this information can be found below in the ADZG Online Dharma Schedule section.

While Ancient Dragon is closed, Taigen Dan Leighton will be available for dokusan by telephone.  Please send requests for dokusan to our mailbox. Practice leaders Eishin Nancy Easton, Nyozan Eric Shutt, Hogetsu Laurie Belzer, Yoki Shudo Paula Lazarz, Gyoshin Laurel Ross, and Douglas Floyd also are available for practice interviews and can be reached through Finally, Sangha member Sara Lytle is available to offer support to Sangha members who are experiencing stress and anxiety related to the coronavirus pandemic. You may contact her directly at


ADZG Online Dharma Schedule

Our current schedule of online weekly practice events is as follows:

Sunday Mornings:
Zazen will be held at 9:30am – 10:10am (CDT)
Dharma Talks will be held held at 10:15am (CDT)

Weekday Mornings:
Zazen will be held
M/W/F: 7:00am – 7:40am (CDT)
Tu: 8:00am – 8:40am (CDT)
immediately followed by chanting Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra and Ecosattva Vows
Th: 8:00am – 8:30am (CDT) followed by brief teaching reflection and check-in

Before participating in the online zendo, please download the Zoom app to your computer, laptop or smartphone. After downloading the app, participants can link to the Dharma talk by clicking the “Enter ADZG Online Zendo” button below.

If you’re already in the Zoom app, the Meeting ID is 534-283-9185

You may also call into the meeting via telephone by dialing 1-312-626-6799 and entering the Meeting ID listed above. You will need to enter a password, which is 902829.

Please Note: if you are a first time Zoom user, the app will prompt you set up your video and audio connection.
When you first join the talk, your microphone will automatically be muted. To unmute temporarily, press the *spacebar* while you are talking.

If you have any technical questions or concerns please contact Wade at


Dear Ancient Dragon folk,
These are challenging times. We are facing a pandemic that does not care about our place of birth, our ethnicity, our gender, or what we do for a living, and has been significantly exacerbated by federal government mismanagement. It is a good time for us to support each other, and embrace our deep connection and responsibility to this earth. How we respond now to this challenge can be a gift to future generations and to ourselves.
As Ancient Dragon Zen Gate activates as an online sangha for an undetermined amount of time, we will be providing selections of podcasts to all on a weekly basis to provide dharma steadily. We are never actually alone. In addition to livestreams of Sunday morning Dharma talks, we are offering Ancient Dragon talks from our deep archive. Please enjoy these talks.
Taigen Dan Leighton, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate guiding teacher

For our second trip through the Ancient Dragon Zen Gate podcast archives we have a theme of “Learning to Be At Home.” In addition to a talk given by one of Ancient Dragon’s priests and retired Urban Conservation Director at Chicago’s Field Museum, Gyoshin Laurel Ross, we would also like to share talks given by Tenshin Reb Anderson, senior Dharma teacher at San Francisco Zen Center and at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center (as well as Taigen’s teacher), and Joanna Macy, an esteemed environmental activist, author, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. A new book just out about Joanna’s work, “A Wild Love for the World: Joanna Macy and the Work of Our Time” (Shambhala) includes a chapter by Taigen, “Buddhist Being Time and Joanna Macy’s Deep Time.”


Links to previous selections can be found on our Archival Talks page.


Featured News

FULL MOON BODHISATTVA CEREMONY – Tuesday, April 7, 2020 @ 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Traditional monthly repentance ceremony with melodic chanting invoking buddhas and bodhisattvas, led by Ancient Dragon Zen priests. The event will be held online in our virtual Zoom zendo. Please email if you would like to participate.


Because of the risk from coronavirus, Ancient Dragon is cancelling its Spring Practice Commitment Period. We will determine over the next months whether it will be practicable to hold a Practice Commitment Period later this year. Please check this website for updates.


Bob DylanNEW ARTICLE BY TAIGEN DAN LEIGHTON –  Bob Dylan’s Ongoing Critique of Social Injustice and Masters of War

Taigen’s article “Bob Dylan’s Ongoing Critique of Social Injustice and Masters of War” is a much expanded version of a talk he presented at a Bob Dylan Symposium in Tulsa last year.



Our guiding teacher, Taigen Dan Leighton, has started a list of movies and TV shows to watch while staying in place. Feel free to add to the list by sending recommendations to

Latest Dharma Podcast Episodes

Introduction to the Flower Ornament Sutra

ADZG 790 ADZG Sunday Morning Dharma Talk by Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton

Featured Podcasts: Buddhism in Kamakura Japan

Click here to learn more about some recent dharma talks given by our guiding teacher, Taigen Dan Leighton, about key buddhist figures in Kamakura-era Japan.

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Dharma Transmission

On Saturday August 3rd, 2019, Ancient Dragon Dharma Teacher Taigen Shizan Leighton completed Dharma transmission ceremonies for his heirs, Nyozan Eric Shutt and Eishin Nancy Easton, and authorized them as Dharma teachers. Shosan Victoria Austin from San Francisco Zen Center served as Preceptor for the ceremony.  As part of the ceremony, Eishin and Nyozan received new brown okesas and ceremonial implements.