The Guest Program Apprenticeship is a program of three and a half months: eleven weeks in the Guest Program and three weeks in the temple kitchen during the annual January Intensive retreat. Dates for the current program are October 14, 2014 to January 27, 2015.
Please read the background information on this page and on the Guest Program Apprenticeship Application Process page, where an application is available. Questions may be addressed to the apprentice coordinator at guestapprentice(at)sfzc.org.
About the Guest Program at Green Gulch Farm
Green Dragon Temple, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, was established in 1972 by the San Francisco Zen Center, a nonprofit religious organization dedicated to the practice and study of Zen Buddhism in the Soto Zen lineage as conveyed by its founding teacher, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. It is a residential Zen training temple dedicated to the practices of farming, hosting guests, and offering the Dharma to the wider world.
Located in a beautiful coastal valley just a short drive north of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Green Gulch Farm Conference and Retreat Center provides a serene environment for personal retreats, meetings, conferences, seminars and workshops of up to 30 people. The intent of the Guest Program is to provide attentive care both to the guests of the temple and to the facilities in which they stay. Overnight facilities include the Lindisfarne Guest House, a distinctive octagonal building constructed in a traditional Japanese style and heated with a central wood-burning stove and passive solar system; the Wheelwright Center, with rooms suitable for families and those in need of special accommodation; and Hope Cottage, a unique retreat cabin with views of the Green Gulch Valley and the Pacific Ocean to the southeast, and Mt. Tamalpais to the north. Conference facilities include the upstairs room of the Wheelwright Center, a meeting room with large windows surrounded by redwood trees, and the Yurt, a round multipurpose room, both of which are heated with wood-burning stoves. In addition to welcoming guests to these facilities, the Guest Program supports the temple kitchen to offer vegetarian meals to temple guests and residents.
The Guest Program Apprenticeship is one of several entry-level work practice apprenticeship (WPA) programs available within the two-year program of study that is a prerequisite for applying for a residential staff position at San Francisco Zen Center. Upon successful completion of the apprenticeship, a student becomes eligible to receive a scholarship for a practice period at either Green Gulch Farm Zen Center or City Center; if the student has previously completed an SFZC practice period, the scholarship may be applied to a practice period at Tassajara.
Elements of the Guest Program Apprenticeship
Formal Zen meditation and training is the foundation of community life at Green Gulch and is an integral part of the Guest Program Apprenticeship. The daily temple schedule includes sitting meditation, walking meditation, services and temple cleaning. All residents, including Guest Program apprentices, follow this daily temple schedule, meet regularly with teachers, attend temple events—including classes on Buddhism, dharma lectures, and special ceremonies—and participate in the monthly full-day meditation retreats during the apprenticeship, by either joining the formal meditation practice or working to support the retreat.
In their daily work practice, the apprentices will join the Guest Program crew in welcoming and caring for the many guests who visit Green Dragon Temple for individual and group retreats, workshops and conferences. The daily work practice of the Guest Program crew emphasizes attention to guests, guest house care, and conference preparation, through activities such as making beds, cleaning, preparing meeting rooms and working in the front office.
Personal and study time are also part of the apprentices’ weekly schedule.
In January, Green Dragon Temple welcomes guests to join residents in an intensive three-week period of meditation practice and dharma study. During the January Intensive, apprentices will work with the temple kitchen crew, training in the Zen practice of preparing, cooking and serving meals for the community. The Green Dragon temple kitchen emphasizes organic ingredients and locally grown produce and features seasonal produce organically grown at Green Gulch Farm.
Study and the Spirit of Practice during the Apprenticeship
Zen training, with its emphasis on the awareness of body, feeling and thought is the basis of our effort to interact gently and harmoniously with one another and in our role as hosts in the temple. Apprentices are encouraged to explore the dynamic relationships of guest and host through the traditional Buddhist practices of generosity, patience, diligence, enthusiasm and awareness.
The curriculum of the apprenticeship includes both traditional and contemporary instruction in how to host guests in a temple environment. This may include individual study, yoga and other body practices, and traditional Japanese tea ceremony. As part of the study of hosting guests and making temple food offerings, apprentices will participate in three field trips during the program, to destinations such as Greens Restaurant, the homeless soup kitchen program at Grace Cathedral, Hotel Kabuki and the Farmers’ Market at the Ferry Plaza in San Francisco.
While working in the kitchen during the January Intensive, apprentices will train in basic kitchen skills and will study Dogen’s text on kitchen practice, the Tenzo Kyokun.
Please see Guest Program Apprenticeship Application Process for an application and a detailed explanation of the process.