What is Mondo Zen?

Mondo Zen™ is based on Japanese and Chinese Zen, updated for the 21st Century. Mondo Zen™ transcends the hierarchical / authoritarian, gender-biased and constraining monastic aspects of traditional Zen in favor of practical, experiential “in the world” engagement. Relying only on direct personal experience—as taught by the Buddha himself—it does not allow mythic constructs to complicate its philosophical orientation.

The Order

A Hollow Bone - a channel for the spirit

Hollow Bones is not gender specific. We have begun within a men's organization and now offer this to women. In true Zen we are standing deeper than gender. Men and women face the identical truth - awakening is not a matter of male or female. The practice, training and realization is the same for both men and women.

Hollow Bones is pure Zen understanding, practice and insight. Hollow Bones is Zen taken out of its Asian cultural context, stripped bare and when investigated becomes not a faith-based religion, but a non-sectarian, pragmatic philosophy, a technology leading to true spiritual insight and freedom.

It is a view and practice that is profoundly deep and spiritual, and at the same time, most practical and ordinary. As the Zen saying goes, "Before awakening - chopping wood and carrying water, after awakening - chopping wood and carrying water."


Hollow Bones Zen began in 1999 in response to a request from the Mankind Project to create a complimentary training and practice structure that embodies Zen Buddhist teachings. The early retreats were made available to men who had participated in the Mankind Project and in 2002 expanded to include women through co-ed retreats and workshops. The Hollow Bones Zen Retreat is a modern American Zen meditation retreat. Its root and form are adopted from the Japanese Samurai Rinzai Zen Tradition. The language used is English, and all of the practices are articulated and clearly understood. 

In this school of Zen, it is essential that you awaken now, and there is a fierce insistence that you do. Meditating, sitting quietly is not enough. You must awaken! You must become free! You must answer the question, "Who Are you" from the depth of realization, not speculation. 

Mondo Zen is the latest incarnation of The Hollow Bones Order. Retreats are currently conducted in Amsterdam, Colorado, California, and Wisconsin.


About Mondo Zen Retreats

Hollow Bones Zen retreats, now called Mondo Zen Sesshin, are a modern adaptation of the traditional Japanese Rinzai Zen retreats. All practices during the 7-day, and 3-day retreats offered by Hollow Bones are done in English in order to facilitate direct, personal understanding of the methods and goals. In addition to traditional Zazen (sitting meditation) and Koan study, Yoga or Internal Martial Arts is part of the daily practice. The Hollow Bones retreats offer everyone the opportunity to experience the “answer” to this question in a way that transcends all hope, fear, and doubt. Our retreats are co-ed unless specifically described on the booking page.

Rinzai Zen School

Hollow Bones is an American Rinzai Zen School. This school provides a clear, open channel for awakening our body, mind, and spirit. This school is specifically tailored for contemporary Western culture. It is Zen stripped bare and separated from its Japanese cultural identity. It is Zen investigated, understood, and practiced deeply. It is a pragmatic, non-sectarian spiritual discipline and way of life that awakens us and transforms our lives. From this perspective to consider Zen a religion is to miss the point.

A Hollow Bones practitioner experiences a deeper, clearer insight into the real nature of our minds.

Five Elements Training

Hollow Bones Zen Five Training Elements-Five Practice Mirrors 

New to Practice?

If you are new to Mondo Zen, there are a number of ways to begin practicing with us.

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