San Francisco Zen Center was established in 1962 by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (1904-1971) and his American students. Suzuki Roshi is known to countless readers as the author of the modern spiritual classic, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.
The purpose of Zen Center is to express, make accessible, and embody the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha. The ideals are based on the example of the Buddha and guided by the teachings and lineage of the Soto School as conveyed to us by our founder, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and other Buddhist teachers. Our central value is to express the non-duality of practice and awakening through the practice of Zen and the Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts. Zen Center acknowledges and values equally the expression of the practice in formal settings and in daily life; thus, we affirm both lay and monastic practice as expressions of the Bodhisattva Way.
Today, San Francisco Zen Center is one of the largest residential training Soto Zen Buddhist organizations outside of Asia. It has three practice places: Beginner's Mind Temple, in the vibrant heart of San Francisco; Green Gulch Farm, whose organic fields meet the ocean in Marin County; and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center—the first Soto Zen training monastery on the West coast—located in the Ventana Wilderness inland from Big Sur. These three complementary practice centers offer daily meditation, regular monastic retreats and practice periods, classes, lectures, and workshops.
Zen Center is a practice place for a diverse population of students, visitors, lay people, priests, and monks guided by teachers who follow in Suzuki Roshi's style of warm hand and heart to warm hand and heart. All are welcome.
Zen Center programs also reach out to the community, helping prisoners, the homeless, and those in recovery; protecting the environment; and working for peace. See our outreach program for details. Suzuki Roshi's disciples and students of his disciples now lead dharma groups around the country.