Guest Student Stays


The City Center Guest Student Program offers a short-term residency opportunity of two to six weeks for those interested in beginning or continuing their Zen practice within the support of community.

Guest students participate in the schedule and daily life of City Center. This includes morning and evening zazen (sitting meditation), service (sutra chanting and bowing), work (often of a physical nature) and communal meals. Zazen instruction, classes and lectures on Buddhism, opportunities for discussions and meetings with teachers and practice leaders are also offered.

There is a cost of $25 per day. A $100 deposit is requested upon confirmation of your guest student stay. The deposit is for your key/room cleaning and also to reserve a spot. The deposit will be returned upon checkout once all keys have been returned and the room confirmed clean.

Guests students arrive on Monday mornings at 8:45 am and depart Saturday afternoons after lunch. There may be flexibility to accommodate your travel plans when necessary; please be sure to obtain approval from the work leader for a different arrival or departure time.

Guest Student Program Description

The City Center Guest Student Program provides both an introduction to residential Zen practice and the opportunity to establish and strengthen Zen practice as a central part of one’s day-to-day life. Guest students are expected to follow all aspects of City Center’s daily practice schedule (see below).

In the spirit of maintaining Buddhist precepts, guest students are asked to abstain from drug and alcohol use, and from initiating new sexual relationships during their guest student stay.

Guest students stay in simple shared rooms or small dormitories. If possible, please bring a sleeping bag and towel. We will provide you with sheets, blankets and pillows. Please bring closed-toe shoes (sneakers are fine) and slip-on shoes or sandals. Comfortable clothing, subdued in color, is preferable attire for zendo (meditation) events and temple ceremonies. We ask that shoulders and knees remain covered during zendo events. Please note that San Francisco’s weather can be quite variable.

To Apply

Please download and complete the Guest Student Application [Word]/[PDF]. It can be digitally signed and emailed to, or signed and mailed to:

San Francisco Zen Center
c/o Guest Student Manager
300 Page St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

Booking is performed in the order of applications received. (Please note details of the "Interims" section below.)

Guest Student Daily Schedule

Monday through Friday Saturday
5:00 am wake-up bell 6:10 am wake-up bell
5:25 zazen 6:30 zazen
5:55 kinhin (walking meditation) 7:10 service
6:05 zazen 7:40 soji
6:40 service 7:55 zendo breakfast
7:05 soji (temple cleaning) 8:40 break or 8:45 zazen instruction
7:20 breakfast 9:25 zazen
9:00 work meeting 10:15 lecture
12:30 end work lunch 11:00 tea & discussion
1:30 pm work 12:00 lunch
3:00 end work tea with a
practice leader (once a week) or informal study
1:30 pm afternoon off
5:40 zazen  
6:20 service Sunday
6:30 dinner 7:30 am breakfast


During interim breaks the regular schedule is optional for residents. The zendo (meditation hall) will continue to be open for informal meditation, staffed by volunteers. Please check the interim schedule for the year to be aware of these dates as you plan your guest student stay. In addition, please be aware that guest students will not be accepted during the annual Residents' Retreat (see for dates).