Windhorse Zen Community

Windhorse Zen Community, Inc. is a residential training center offering essential Buddhist teachings and practices within a lay, community-based context. By working with evolving forms of dharma practice—ones uniquely responsive to the relational, psychodynamic, and ecological forces that shape our present reality—we seek to help people live fuller, freer, and more compassionate lives.

The training at Windhorse is open to all who seek a more authentic and fulfilling way of being in the world. Working with breath, koan, and awareness practices, we offer regular weekly sessions, residential training, sesshin retreats, and Zentensives. Windhorse is maintained as a 16 acre wildlife refuge, and is located just outside of Asheville, NC, and overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sunya Kjolhede and Lawson Sachter, the founders and spiritual directors of Windhorse, were ordained and sanctioned to teach by Roshi Philip Kapleau.

Sunya-roshi, along with her other teaching activities, has traveled regularly for over two decades to Poland, where she serves as spiritual director of the Bodhidharma Zen Center, a Polish Zen community founded by Roshi Kapleau in 1975. She has trained in Clinical Pastoral Education, working for a period of time as a hospital chaplain, and has also worked as a storyteller in schools.

Lawson-roshi is also the spiritual director of the Clear Water Zen Center, and a licensed psychotherapist with extensive training in Habib Davanloo’s ISTDP. Many of his clients have been engaged in dharma practice, and he also leads specialized trainings called Zentensives. These retreats are APA accredited trainings designed specifically for mental health professionals, and others interested in working with the unconscious dynamics that arise during intensive meditation.

While the practice at Windhorse is rooted in the depth and power of East Asian wisdom teachings, we also value the contributions of the psychotherapeutic community to the greater well-being of so many. We emphasize a dynamic practice both on the mat and in the world—a living practice that helps us to respond in wise, flexible, and heartfelt ways, to the realities and urgent challenges of contemporary life.

Spring 2024 Ango

April 7 through June 9

     Windhorse’s first ever Ango period in the fall of 2023 was, for many, a chance to deepen our practice, as well as our connection to the sangha. We have made some changes based on the feedback we received, and we are hoping that our Spring 2024 Ango will be even better! 


     Ango is an opportunity to deepen and intensify our practice for a period of time. We can make a commitment to do something(s) specific to increase our practice during Ango. The idea is to stretch ourselves in our pursuit of the Bodhisattva ideal to awaken for the benefit of all beings. Understanding that we all lead busy, stressful live, we also acknowledge that what we choose to water will grow. Considering our own lives — our particular circumstances — can we make a commitment that will nourish the Buddha seed within us and stretch us, but not too much. 


     The Buddha’s instruction to the musician may be helpful here. If we tune the instrument too tightly, it will not produce a beautiful sound. In the same way, we don’t want to use our commitment to set up ourselves for failure, beat ourselves up, or cause ourselves undue stress. And we also want to acknowledge the power of intention, discipline, and seeking the support of others to go beyond our self-imposed limitations and grow and change in the ways that we deeply year for. Perhaps making a personal commitment to deepen our practice is what we want to do during this Ango period. Perhaps we will want to share our commitment with a dharma friend or teacher and seek their support in following through.


    For those of us who can spare the time and who this calls to, we are offering a series of 5 meetings, which will offer the opportunity to study a dharma text together, as well as break into smaller groups and share and listen more deeply about our Ango commitments, lives, and practice. We envision this as an opportunity for dharma study, community building, and also a form of deepening practice. Sangha is, after all, one of the Three Jewels. We do not, can not, (and, ultimately would we want to?) do this work alone. 


     Further, we will be offering Jukai (taking the Buddhist precepts) on April 7th, as a part of our Sunday morning program. We hope you will be able to join us in this inspiring way to kick off Ango: affirming our commitment to the ethical guidelines that underline and strengthen our practice. 


   One way to frame the various aspect of our Spring 2024 Ango is in terms of the Three Jewels — Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha: 



  • The way we envision honoring the Buddha Treasure during this Ango is by making one or more personal commitments to strengthen our practice in order to see as deeply as possible into our Buddha Nature and allow it to function more and more in our zazen, as well as our lives off the cushion. There may ways we can do this. For ideas about Ango commitments, please see this document. This aspect of Ango will be available to everyone, regardless of whether or not we choose to participate in the bi-weekly meetings. 
  • During this Ango period, we will be reading The Shamanic Bones of Zen, by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel. Everyone is encouraged to read this wonderful book, and those of us who are participating in the 5 Sunday evening Ango meetings will be studying it together during the first hour of our time together. We see this as a chance to reflect, study, and bounce ideas off of each other, considering what inclusive Dharma in the West means to us, all in the service of our overall Ango goal to deepen our practice together. 
  • Ananda once remarked to the Buddha, “It seems to me that half of spiritual life is good friendship, good comradeship.” The Buddha is said to have responded, “Not so, Ananda! Not so, Ananda! This is the entire spiritual life, Ananda, that is, good friendship, good comradeship. When a monk has a good friend, a good companion, a good comrade, it is to be expected that he will develop and cultivate that noble eightfold path.” 
  • It is in the spirit of recognizing the vital importance of sangha in our efforts to deepen our practice, we will spend the second hour of of our 5 bi-weekly sessions breaking up into small groups and speaking and listening from our hearts about our Ango commitments, lives, and practices.
  • Based on feedback from our Fall Ango period, we have made a couple of changes to the small group format: 
  • One is that we will have two rounds of sharing: the first one will have two rounds of sharing: the first one will be one person sharing at a time with no cross talk, unless someone has questions for the group. This is an opportunity to speak “out of the Silence, into the Silence,” saying what needs to be said, and being heard by spiritual friends. The second will be more of an open discussion where people can feel free to check in, talk about our lives, support one another, etc.
  • The other change is we will be mixing up the composition of the small groups each session. Some of the intimacy of meeting with the same folks each session will be lost, but we will have a greater opportunity to spend some time together with all of the Ango participants, rather than just a select few, and it will keep it from seeming so disruptive when someone is unable to make it to the meeting.
  • Finally, (if you choose to participate the meetings), we are requiring everyone to attend at least 4 of the 5 meetings. If you are unable to make this level of commitment, we encourage you to sign up for the self-directed portion of Ango. 
Here is the meeting schedule: 
Sunday, April 7 from 7:00-9:00 PM 
  • Come prepared with your Ango commitments
  • Zazen 
  • Dharma Study: Chapter 1: “Rattling the Bones” 
  • Break/Zazen 
  • Small Group Connection 
Sunday, April 21 from 7:00-9:00 PM 
  • Zazen
  • Dharma Study: Chapter 2 “Preparing the Sanctuary” and Chapter 3 “Making Offerings to the Ancestors”
  • Break/Zazen 
  • Small Group Connection 
Sunday, May 5 from 7:00-9:00 PM
  • Zazen
  • Dharma Study: Chapter 4: “Prolonged Rituals of Seeing and Listening 
  • Break/Zazen 
  • Small Group Connection 
Sunday, May 19 from 7:00-9:00 PM 
  • Zazen
  • Dharma Study: Chapter 5 “Chanting Spells”
  • Break/Zazen 
  • Small Group Connection 
Sunday, June 2 from 7:00-9:00 PM 
  • Zazen 
  • Dharma Study: Chapter 6 “Rituals of Celebration and Initiation” and Chapter 7 “Offering Gratitude” 
  • Break/Zazen 
  • Small Group Connection 
Please us the link below to register — and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to anyone on the Spring Ango Leadership Team. 
Lani Banner — 
Andy Ford — 
Steve Scholten — 
Matt Wenner — 
The last day to register is April 1.

Foundations of Practice:
Zen and the Gateway of Emotions

Saturday, March 30 from 1:30-5:30 PM
In-person and on Zoom

Feelings and relationships are complicated!

     This afternoon workshop will present a basic understanding of common emotional patterns, while offering ways of working skillfully with these dynamics in the midst of dharma practice, on the mat and in the world. Such awareness is especially valuable as our meditation deepens and the whole psyche becomes increasingly activated. Understanding how to work effectively with what we often discover are hidden feelings and defenses gives us the power to begin transforming them into significant opportunities — gateways that lead to deeper dharma practice and a more authentic, open-hearted way of life.

Click on the button below to learn more and to register.

About Windhorse


Getting Started

Great is the matter of birth and death
Life slips quickly by
Time waits for no one
Wake up! Wake up!
Don’t waste a moment!

– Zen Master Bassui