Zen Columbus Sangha is a Zen Buddhist community that meets and practices in the meeting hall of the First Universalist Unitarian Church. Sangha is a Buddhist term for a community of monks or nuns. However, in Zen Columbus’s case the Sangha is exclusively lay Buddhist. The Sangha rents a room twice a week from the church. The First Universalist Unitarian Church is located at 93 Weisheimer Rd. in the northern Columbus neighborhood of Clintonville, a fairly diverse area. There is also some overlap in membership between the Sangha and First Universalist Unitarian Church. It was mentioned multiple times that the First Unitarian Universalist Church is quite hospitable and the Sangha is able to store their supplies in the church. The room where the Sangha meets is rather modest, as it is just a hall with wooden floors and high ceilings. Zen Columbus prepares the room by setting out two rows of mats and cushions, as well as a small altar with a statue of Buddha, a candle and incense. Zen Columbus Sangha was created in 2004, as an offshoot of the Columbus Zen Corner. Today, the Sangha does not hold a formal affiliation with any particular Zen teacher and is therefore considered independent. Zen Buddhism emphasizes the practice of nonverbal meditation and reflection.
The Sangha focuses on meditation sessions. They meet twice a week, on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings. Each meditation session is initiated with the lighting of the candle and incense followed by the striking of the clapper once and inkin bell thrice. The following meditation session is comprised of a 25-minute period of silent sitting meditation (zazen), a 5-minute silent walking meditation (kinhin), another 25-minute zazen, chanting of the sutras and prostrations. The zazen and kinhin are led by a time keeper while the chanting of the sutras and prostrations are led by a meditation leader. The meditation session can be slightly overwhelming to those new to Zen Buddhism, yet all are welcome to participate alongside members of the Sangha. There are usually around 20 practitioners from all backgrounds at most meditation sessions.