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.
Come live the temple life!
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.
Guest Student Program Student stays range from a minimum of two weeks to a maximum of six weeks.
Practice Period Student Students come for the duration of a Practice Period, a three-to-ten week training period with a focus on a specific course of study.
Apprenticeship Programs Our two apprenticeship programs are each three to six months in length. They include the Zen Kitchen Apprenticeship and the Mindful Activity Apprenticeship. These apprenticeships can be done on their own, or as part of the two-year Work Practice Apprenticeship listed below.
Work Practice Apprentice A two-year, entry-level training program that allows students to make a commitment to full-time, residential Zen practice.
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: Practicing in the Mountains
The Summer Guest Season of past years will be closed in 2023 and Tassajara will not be operating as a guest and retreat center for this summer.
Tassajara will be open in the following ways for Zen practice in 2023:
- Summer Work Practice - for returning SFZC students and new students with Zen teacher recommendation
- The Practice of Awakening: Tassajara Summer Practice Intensive led by Gil Fronsdal and Ryushin Paul Haller, July 8 – 29; application deadline: May 20, 2023.
- Throughout the summer, Branching Streams Sanghas will visit to practice together at Tassajara. Contact your local Sangha to learn if they are planning a visit.
- Fall Practice Period - the description and information about requirements and applying will be available soon