Wild Dharma Practice

Wild Dharma is an established part of our annual Zen Programs. Each year, Zenki Roshi leads two expeditions. Upcoming programs are listed at the bottom of the page.

The spring desert trek takes us into the remote and little traveled Dirty Devil Canyon in Utah. The summer mountains-and-waters journey takes place in the Sangre de Cristos, the extensive and rugged mountain range where Crestone is located.

For more information on Zen practice in a wild nature context, read an interview with Zenki Roshi in Tricycle Magazine or a participant’s account of his experience on the Sangre de Cristo trip.

The daily practice includes walking, zazen, sense awareness and mindfulness practices, chanting the Heart Sutra and Mountains and Waters Sutra, ecological literacy, and dharma discussion. Participants also learn best practices for wilderness travel, including orienting with topographical maps, food preparation and storage, safety precautions, and Leave No Trace ethics.

Why We Practice in the Wild

Wildness, as Gary Snyder says in The Practice of the Wild, is “the process and essence of nature” and “not far from the Buddhist term Dharma with its original senses of forming and firming.”

Listen to an introductory dharma talk by Zenki Roshi on liberation and the teachings of the wild:


  1. What is Wild Dharma? Zenki Dillo Roshi 23:53


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Wild Dharma – Basic Practices

The following dharma talk introduces six basic practice participants can take into the field.

  1. Uncorrected Mind: Allowing your experience to be exactly what it is at this time.
  2. Breath Attention
  3. Bodyfulness
  4. The Four Elements
  5. The Six Senses
  6. Inquiry


  1. Wild Dharma: Basic Practices Zenki Dillo Roshi 30:27


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The Practice of Being Alive

by Zenki Dillo Roshi

We are fascinated and nourished by wild nature, yet we are strangely alienated from it by our civilized, sheltered human lives. How will we come to recognize ourselves as one of the many life forms that co-create the beauty and ordinary magic of the earth, our home?

Buddhism, we can say, is to study and practice how to be fully alive.

Dharma practice is to actively investigate that aliveness through still sitting, through studying wisdom teachings, and through entering the moment-to-moment appearance of the world with our whole body and mind.

The brewing ecological crisis of our times urgently calls for our response. We feel the tension between the enormity of the peril and our perceived powerlessness as individuals. Yet we must respond if we want to be fully alive.

Being alive means being alive with and through others, with and through mountains, rivers, oceans, rocks, pebbles, plants, animals, the sun, the moon, the stars – and with and through other fellow human beings.

If we don’t want to be stuck in a separate self looking out at the world as an assemblage of objects that are more or less useful to us, we need to get out there and immerse ourselves, and learn to see the earth as an intimate communion of life forms that not only includes us but generates and sustains us – is us.

This is what Wild Dharma Practice is about. It is responding to our longing for wonder, beauty, joy, and connectedness. It is awakening to how we belong and are at home in the universe.

Upcoming Wild Dharma Events