Windhorse Zen Community is a group of Dharma practitioners dedicated to a dynamic, engaged Zen practice, on the mat and in the world. The Windhorse is an ancient symbol of the boundless freedom and energy of our own intrinsic nature, and the fundamental perfection of all existence. With the Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha on its back, the Windhorse carries this teaching of Original Perfection to beings in all directions.
At Windhorse, located in the Asheville area of North Carolina, we work to support each other in the challenging task of bringing this teaching to life in the midst of our daily lives.
More about Our Community
Founded by Lawson Sachter and Sunya Kjolhede, Windhorse relocated from Upstate New York to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, just outside of Asheville. Both Sunya and Lawson are Dharma heirs of Roshi Philip Kapleau and have been practicing Zen for over 30 years. Married and ordained, with four grown children, they’ve been exploring ways of integrating traditional Zen practice within the context of family and relationship, social and environmental activism, and group and intrapsychic dynamics.
The basis for this exploration is a zazen (meditation) practice that integrates the concentrated energy of Rinzai Zen with the deeply rooted faith-mind of Soto practice. Daily sitting and extended retreats, or sesshin, lay the foundation for seeing into the root illusion of a fixed, isolated self, opening the way for genuine and lasting change—in our lives and in the world.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous,
leading to the most amazing view.
This first line of Edward Abbey’s poem “Benedicto,” feels strangely relevant to those of us who pulled up stakes in Rochester, NY, in August, 2003 to relocate to the mountains of Western North Carolina. We now have a wonderful place on Panther Branch Road in Alexander, NC, located 15-20 minutes northwest of Asheville.
Thanks to generous loans and gifts from many supporters, the group was able to purchase a large house with 16 acres of rolling hills and woods, fruit, nut and pine trees, and a spacious vegetable garden. And within a few weeks, members succeeded in transforming a garage into a fine new zendo (place for Zen meditation), just in time to hold the first Panther Branch sesshin (Zen retreat).
The property also has a “most amazing view”, a view only hinted at in these photos – a sweeping overlook of the ancient, majestic Pisgah Mountains to the south. On many mornings white mist envelopes these blue mountains, resembling a Sung dynasty landscape. Then, as the mist clears, the mountains and green foothills reveal themselves, with white, yellow, and orange wildflowers scattered everywhere. Summer nights are bright with stars and moonlight and the flashing of thousands of fireflies. It is an extraordinary place: the land breathes a stillness and power deeply conducive to Zen practice.