Guest Student Stays

Guest Student Program Description

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 (see schedule below). 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.

To Apply

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

San Francisco Zen Center
c/o Work Leader
300 Page Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Add “USA” if writing from outside the country.

Approval and Fees

Applications are reviewed and approved in the order received. Please check the “Interims, Sesshins, and Residents’ Retreat” section below for dates when the Guest Student program is not open.

The cost is $25 per day. A $100 deposit is requested upon confirmation of your guest student stay. The deposit is for your key/room cleaning. The deposit will be refunded upon checkout when keys have been returned and the room confirmed clean.

Planning Your Stay

Guest Students arrive on Monday mornings at 8:45am 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.

Please bring closed-toed shoes (sneakers are fine) and slip-on shoes or sandals. Comfortable clothing, subdued in color, is preferred 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.

Guest Students stay in simple shared rooms or small dormitories.

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 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 oryoki 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 Afternoon off
5:40 zazen  
6:20 service Sunday
6:30 dinner 7:30 am informal breakfast


Interims, Sesshins, and Residents’ Retreat

The Guest Student Program is not open during interims, sesshins, and the annual Residents’ Retreat. Please check these dates as you plan your Guest Student stay.