Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Beginner’s Mind Temple Renovation Project?

This renovation is intended to create a more welcoming environment for visitors at Beginner’s Mind Temple, also known as City Center. It will improve accessibility, overhaul heating and ventilation in the Zendo, and update the bathrooms.

A four-story elevator, a new wheelchair ramp and chair-lift, and a Welcome Center will be added to the building, making it possible for everyone to access the building with greater ease.

Aging plumbing in shared resident bathrooms has required frequent repairs in recent years and needs to be fully replaced to avoid further problems. The second and third floor bathrooms will be replaced with four single occupancy bathrooms on each wing of the building. The heating and ventilation system in the Zendo will be improved.

Why is this necessary? Why now?

This renovation was originally planned to take place in 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. After several years of planning and preparation, it is now possible to move forward with this project. The longer it is put off, the more expensive it will become so there is a sense of urgency for the project to happen soon.

How long will it last?

The renovation process will begin in January 2024 and is scheduled to take one year.

Will City Center be open?

City Center will continue to offer regularly scheduled zazen, Dharma talks, and other practice offerings such as practice periods, one-day sittings, and sesshins in the zendo and Conference Center as well as online. Otherwise, the 300 Page Street building will be closed. There will be no residential practice or meals available to the public during the renovation. All offerings will be in-person on a commuter basis or online.

Will the bookstore be open?

The physical bookstore will be closed for the duration of the renovation, but it is still possible to support SFZC and make purchases through the online bookstore.  

Will the Zendo be open?

Currently the plan is to have the Zendo at 300 Page Street remain open for most of the year during scheduled zazen times, except for a short period (expected to take ~6 weeks) when a new heating and ventilation system will be installed. At that time, zazen will be offered in the Conference Center next door to the temple, at 308 Page Street.

Will the library be open?

The library will be closed during the renovation.

Will there still be in-person Wednesday and Saturday Dharma talks?

Yes, Dharma talks will be offered in-person and online on Wednesdays and Saturdays as usual. These gatherings will take place in the Zendo or the Conference Center.

Will there be Practice Periods and classes?

Yes, Practice Periods and classes will continue as online and commuter offerings. During the renovation there will not be a residential option for Practice Period participants, but there will be in-person classes and practice offerings held in the Zendo and the Conference Center.

Will I still be able to see my teacher for practice discussion/dokusan?

Yes, City Center teachers will continue to be available for practice discussion and dokusan both online and in-person. Locations for these meetings are to be determined and will vary depending on the teacher; they may take place in the Conference Center, in office spaces in adjacent buildings, or at outdoor meeting places.

How far up will the elevator go?

The elevator will reach all levels of the building, from the basement to the third floor. There will be a chairlift from the entrance/zendo level to the basement level.

How is this project making Beginner’s Mind Temple more accessible?

The addition of a wheelchair ramp on the first floor, an elevator, and single occupancy bathrooms will allow City Center to be more inclusive. The several flights of stairs to the second and third floors, where the Kaisando (Founder’s Hall), practice discussion rooms, offices, and bedrooms are located, have presented a barrier to members of our sangha. Although we do currently have a stairlift, it is very slow and is not an option for everyone. An elevator will make it possible for people to reach all floors of the building, and more spacious, gender neutral, single occupancy bathrooms will make residential practice a possibility for all.

Why is there a Welcome Center?

The Welcome Center will expand the kind of space that the bookstore and lobby currently offer: an easy-to-access entry point to Beginner’s Mind Temple where sangha members and visitors can get to know the community, linger after talks or events, and connect with each other. This space will offer a lounge with places to sit and will include the bookstore and front office so that visitors can explore what City Center has to offer in a comfortable and spacious environment.

What else is being renovated?

An additional Sangha meeting room on the Zendo level will be added as well as a new guest room to replace the one lost on the lobby level. The abbot's quarters on the second floor will also be updated.

Will there still be residents at Beginners Mind Temple/City Center?

Yes, there will still be a small group of residents who will be housed in various buildings SFZC owns on Page Street. They will help run the daily schedule and any public programs we will be offering. Some residents will also go to Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara.

Will there still be sewing classes?

Yes, there will still be sewing classes, location to be determined.

Will affinity/practice and study groups still meet?

Zen en Español, Meditation in Recovery, Queer Dharma, Young Urban Zen, and Saturday Sangha will still meet.

Do you have any additional questions? Please email