Dragon Mountain Temple
Crestone, Colorado

Dragon Mountain Temple is a small, experimental, zen temple in the Shunryu Suzuki-roshi lineage.We are located near Crestone in the San Luis Valley, just North of the Great Sand Dunes National Park in south central Colorado. The new temple complex was completed in March 2006, after eight years of practice here in the Crestone area. We built the temple to be able to focalize the practice on our ongoing dedication to intensive meditation life (sesshin).

archKijun Tenryu Steven Allen, the founding Abbot of Dragon Mountain Temple, began his zen practice with Suzuki-roshi in the spring of 1971. He was given priest ordination in 1975, and remained at the San Francisco Zen Center until 1984. He began teaching in 1986 and has worked with various zen groups in California, New Mexico, Colorado and South Africa. His primary teachers have been Shunryu Suzuki, Dainin Katagiri, Zentatsu Baker, Zenshin Whalen and Issan Dorsey. Currently his teaching focus is an effort to help bridge the gap between Eastern and Western spiritual thought and practice by using texts both from the traditional Zen Koan system and the Western literary tradition. He has given lecture based on the works of Homer, Sophocles, Shakespeare, the English Romantics, Goethe, Joyce and Yeats. Examples can be downloaded from this link if your interested in a sample.

We offer various retreats throughout the year. They are organized in a three tier system. The three tiers are: 

(1) Zen Style Sesshins - These four zen sesshins are the anchor points for our practice here and are aligned with the four cardinal points of the year. They will be seven day retreats with each sesshin ending on either one of the two Solstice points, that is either the Winter Solstice (on or around the 21st of December) or the Summer Solstice (on or around the 21st of June), or the two Equinox dates, that is either the Spring Equinox (on or around the 21st of March) or the Autumn Equinox (on or around the 21st of September). During these sesshins we will use the basic, but somewhat modified forms of the San Francisco Zen Center, where we were both trained. These sesshins will begin at 4am and include oryoki meals, talks, a work period, an afternoon walk, tea & discussion, and will end at 9:30pm. Dokusan or private instruction will be available on request.  

(2) The Creative Arts Retreats - These four retreats held at the beginning of February, May, August, and November are the new elements in our program. Each of these four retreats are  formed around a particular subject that will be the focus for our discussions during the retreat. Each retreat will center on one of the following four areas: "The Creative Arts", "The Healing Arts", "The Scientific and Ecological Arts"and the "The Spiritual (Transformative) Arts" . 

archThese will be five day retreats and will begin at 5:30am with an hour of meditation, followed by breakfast. All the meals will be informal but will be maintained in silence. The structure of the day will include three main periods of meditation and discussion. Each period, (morning, afternoon, and evening), will begin with a short (15 min) meditation followed by an hour or hour and a half discussion together, followed by another short sitting. The opening periods of meditation will help us to settle for the discussion and the ending periods will help us to settle back down after the discussion. There will also be times for short walks and a short organized work period; and there will be time for individual interviews with the instructors, for those interested.

These retreats will be focusing on the interplay between meditation and the contemplative examination of relevant issues that face us all. We believe that meditation is the "middle way" that can connect us both to the contemplative (spiritual) world and to the social, political and economic world that surrounds us. Our focus is on an integral approach that can bridge the gap our spirits often feel with the ever increasing demands that our society has placed upon us now.  

(3) Solitary Retreat - The solitary retreat program is the least structured but the most flexible. Practitioners are able to define the parameters that they would like to practice within. They can come when any of the eight regular retreats are on and participate in any part of the retreat schedule that they wish, or none at all. At meal times they can simply come up to the kitchen to get their meals and either eat there or take their meals back to their rooms, as they wish. If they wish and one of the two solitary huts is available they could cook for themselves. The solitary retreat format can give us an opportunity to settle more particularly with our individual needs, but on the other hand, might not give us the support that comes with more communal forms. Both can be helpful when we are ready for them.

All retreats are $250.00

The Four Art Retreats  

Our idea here is to look at (contemplate) the underlying structures that bring the Arts into expression and connect them with our meditation practice; that is, the symbolic structures that allow us to give expression to our deepest concerns and issues.  Each of these four areas can be thought of as different dimensions of our ordinary consciousness; and they can be accessed through differing symbol structures. For example, mythological symbols can be used to access (and have been used to access) spiritual realities that lie beyond the surface of our ordinary consciousness. Likewise scientific symbols (mathematics and reason) can "see" underlying structures that are not revealed to us at first glance--patterns that emerge only after "gathering all the data" and thereby seeing in a new way. The healing arts look at the underlying patterns of "life and death" and the interpersonal misunderstanding that arise from the "subjective-objective" split in our ordinary consciousness; but these can be "healed" with right understanding. The Spiritual (Transformative) arts look at the "inner" symbols of the spirit,  the symbols that are imbedded in the various religious traditions, as well as the symbols of alchemy, astrology, and other "occult" systems that help us to align our consciousness with its "deeper" inner (archetypical) structures. Each of these retreats will look at the relationship between these symbol systems and our meditation practice. Meditation I believe gives us access to these systems in a new way. Let's explore. All these retreats are an exploration--we will examine them through our direct experience - no one here, any way, knows where that exploration will lead. The answers, if there are answers, will emerge from the process of our exploration together.  

As well as these retreats there are usually two public talks given at the temple each month. These talks are usually scheduled for the first and third Saturdays of each month at 10 am. There is also an open meditation period before each talk starting at 9 am. Following the talks there is a tea and discussion period from 11 am to noon.


Please leave any messages at 719-256-5092.

Our address is:
P.O. Box 583
Crestone, CO 81131




From CO Hwy 17, turn East on Road T toward Crestone. Drive 8 miles around 4 turns in the road. Pass Casita park, White Eagle village, and golf course all on left. Turn left at sign saying "POA" and veer right, not entering the POA parking lot. Road heads east with a fence ahead. Turn left before fence and go up the hill. Go 1/2 mile and Temple is on the left with sign.

From Crestone: Take Road T out of town past Camper Village till POA Sign. Turn Right and follow directions above. Please click on the below maps for more help:

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