Back to All Events

Bringing Zen Ritual Home: The art of altar care and offerings

  • Mountain Rain Zendo 2016 Wall Street Vancouver, BC, V5L 1J5 Canada (map)
An altar is a concrete reminder of your intention to awaken and take care of all beings.

This half day workshop will focus on the Buddhist practice of furbishing and caring for an altar. Where are they located, why do we have them, what are the components? The workshop will include a talk about the history and aesthetics of an altar. Lieberman will demonstrate arranging flowers for the altar. Each participant will create a small altar using the information shared.

What to bring: a small hand-held item to represent the Buddha for your altar. Flower clippers . If possible, cut flowers from your garden.


Marcia Lieberman is a long-term Buddhist practitioner who has been at San Francisco Zen Center since 1989.  She has been a resident at all three SFZC practice centers.  During this time she received training in the various doan positions regarding service and practice.  She is a devoted beginning student of Tea Ceremony.  As head gardener at City Center, she also has been Flower Chiden (gathering and arranging flowers for the altars) for many years.  Together with the City Center Ino, a book was produced on the forms and preparations for the various services throughout the year.  She served as Shuso in the spring 2017 Green Gulch Farm practice period.

Prior to residing at Zen Center, Marcia taught at UC Berkeley and at California College of the Arts.  Some of the courses she taught include: theory on space and time, aesthetics of dwelling, and photographing people.  This teaching experience has helped her develop skills to communicate ideas and concepts to students.  As an artist, her affinity for the beauty and form of Zen ceremony has been a guiding part of her practice.  She has in recent years increased her focus and study of the basic Zen temple arts and their place in every day zen practice.

In the SFZC Zen community, she has given instruction on chidening, Japanese garden aesthetics, and gardening and beekeeping as devotional practices.

Mobility has been a part of Marcia’s choices and lifestyle and she has traveled widely to enrich her sense of history and tradition.  While teaching at the American University in Paris, she lived and practiced for 3 months each year at a Korean Zen center; in Japan she did research at Kyoto University on Dogen and lived at Rinso In for 2 months.

Marcia has completed graduate studies at the Institute for Buddhist Studies at UC Berkeley Graduate Theological Seminary.  Her third photographic book is forthcoming, entitled: CLEAN SLATE: IMAGES FROM DOGEN’S GARDEN.


  • Retreat fee: $20

  • Reduced fees are available to those on a limited income. Please complete the Day Retreat Reduced Fee Request form (click the link to access the form).

Dana (Donations to the teachers)

  • Retreat fees cover expenses and support Mountain Rain Zen.. There will be an opportunity to give a donation/dana to the teachers at the retreat.


If you have questions or concerns, please contact the registrar at