Live the Temple Life

Founded in 1962, San Francisco Zen Center is home to a diverse population of students, visitors, lay people, priests, monks, and teachers, all guided by Suzuki Roshi’s style of warm-hand-and-heart to warm-hand-and-heart. San Francisco Zen Center has developed a number of long- and short-term residential programs that allow new and experienced students to immerse themselves in a contemplative life.

Each of our three Northern California locations offers an opportunity to experience the practice of Soto Zen Buddhism, unique to its setting: a vibrant urban community in San Francisco, a beautiful rural farm and garden in Marin County, and a secluded mountain retreat in the Ventana Wilderness.

Life at all three temples includes a daily meditation schedule, mindful work, Dharma talks and classes, one-on-one Dharma discussions with teachers, and living in community with fellow students. Stays can be as short as two weeks, as well as longer commitments such as a practice period (approximately three months), a two-year apprenticeship, or even residency.

City Center will not be offering residential programs during the renovation project in 2024; Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara will continue to offer guest student and work practice apprenticeships.

Come live the temple life!

Communal Farm Work

Green Gulch Farm: Practicing with the Land

Green Gulch Farm (Green Dragon Temple/Soryu-ji) is located in a beautiful, rural valley adjoining Muir Beach in Marin County, CA. It is a working organic farm as well as a Zen training temple. Along with working on the farm/garden or in the kitchen or guest house, Green Gulch offers training in Soto Zen and year-long apprenticeships in Land Stewardship and other programs.

Guest Student Program Student stays range from from a minimum of two weeks to a maximum of six weeks.

Practice Period Student Students come for the duration of a Practice Period, an eight-week training period with a focus on a specific course of study.

Apprenticeship Programs This program integrates Zen training with working and learning about Farm and Land Stewardship, Vegetarian Kitchen Practice, or Zen Temple Hospitality. A minimum stay of 3 – 6 months is required depending on the apprenticeship program.

Tassajara Gate

Tassajara: Practicing in the Mountains

Tassajara will be open in the following ways in 2024:

  • Winter 2024 Practice Period with Ryushin Paul Haller, January 10 – April 4. Applications are closed.
  • Spring Work Period 2024, April 10 – 29: kitchen and general labor as well as highly skilled volunteers are invited to contact the director after reviewing the Work Period page.
  • Summer Work Practice 2024, April 10 – September 26; for returning SFZC students and new students with Zen teacher recommendation.

City Center Roof
City Center Rooftop

City Center: Practicing in the City

City Center (Beginner’s Mind Temple/Hosshin-ji) was established in 1969 and was home to SFZC founder Shunryu Suzuki Roshi until his death in 1971. City Center is located in a historic Julia Morgan building (built in 1922) in the Hayes Valley/Lower Haight neighborhood in central San Francisco. Here students experience how classic Zen training is shaped and informed by a lively urban environment.

  • Winter 2024 Practice Period led by Dōshin Mako Voelkel at City Center, January 24 – March 30. Open to visitor and online participation.

Beginning in January 2024, the City Center Renovation Project will require that application for residential practice opportunities at City Center be suspended. This will continue until the end of 2024 or the completion of the project. Applications may be accepted again beginning in November 2024 for 2025. To stay informed about the project and its progress, please sign up to receive Sangha News and check our social media communications (see links in the footer of the website).

Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara will continue to offer residential practice opportunities, as noted above.

Guest Student Program Student stays range from a minimum of two weeks to a maximum of six weeks.