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 5 days, as well as longer commitments such as a practice period (approximately 3 months), a 2-year apprenticeship, or even residency. 

Come live the temple life!

Tassajara Gate

Tassajara: Practicing in the Mountains

Deep in a secluded mountain valley in the Ventana Wilderness, Tassajara (Zen Mind Temple/Zenshin-ji) functions as a traditional Zen monastery in the fall and winter and opens its gates in the summer to guests drawn to the peaceful natural setting, workshops, hot springs, and delicious vegetarian food. Summer students help to run the guest program and experience Zen practice supported by the meditation schedule and classes, fellow practitioners, and the rugged beauty of the surrounding wilderness.

Summer Student Program  Students stay for a minimum of five days or up to several months. Work includes kitchen, dining room, grounds and maintenance.

Work Practice Apprenticeship For students committed to staying either three consecutive months to earn one practice period, or five months to earn two practice periods.

Zen Kitchen Apprenticeship This program gives students the opportunity to integrate hands-on experience in vegetarian cooking with Zen practice. There is a commitment of five months, after which students earn two practice periods.

Practice Period Student  Summer students can earn a Fall/Winter Practice Period after first completing a City Center or Green Gulch Farm Practice Period.

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.

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

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.

Work Practice Apprentice A two-year, entry-level training program that allows students to make a commitment to full-time, residential Zen practice.

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 three 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.