People Interested in deepening their practice can live and train at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center as a resident. The Zen Center is a lay practice temple that creates an environment for infusing Zen practice into all daily activities. Our schedule is structured to support focused and selfless training, and the subtlety of everyday practice.
Hundreds of residents, from across the country and abroad, have lived and practiced at the Zen Center over the years. A wider sangha joins in practice on weekends and during events. We regularly host guests, especially members from our Poland and Iceland sanghas, as well as, nuns and monks visiting from Japan. The temple is on quiet, forested grounds near the top of Sonoma Mountain and overlooks the Valley of the Moon.
We have four programs that individually support a different container of practice at the Zen Center.
Immerse yourself in Everyday Zen by living and practicing with Zen Center residents for a limited stay of up to three months, and enjoy the quiet and natural rural atmosphere of Sonoma Mountain. The daily schedule includes: morning and evening zazen (meditation) and services (bowing and chanting), samu (temple work practice), informal communal meals, and private interviews with SMZC’s Abbot Jakusho Kwong-roshi. Afternoon rest breaks and private time (2.5hrs) are free for studying, hiking, walks or attending to personal things.
Accomodations are in simple rustic cabins, solo or shared, and three vegetarian meals daily are provided. Upon arrival, SMZC’s guest person will review practice schedule and detailed information about the center. General review of meditation instructions and zendo etiquette may be requested at the beginning of a guest stay.
Staying at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center is an adventure, to be engaged in wholehearted practice in the midst of profound stillness.
$70 per day or discounted monthly rate
“Sangha life is just like a pearl: there’s much rubbing, and the more agitation there is, the more pearl-like our lives become.”
Students with a serious interest in Zen training can apply to live as a resident at the center under the guidance of Jakusho Kwong-roshi. This program is for practitioners willing to commit at least one year to intensive practice, though two years are strongly recommended. We advise applicants to practice Zen at least one year before considering this commitment.
Residents are fully incorporated into our community and as such, participate fully with mandatory attendance in our daily zazen schedule, work practice, retreats, and all other activities that support the maintenance of the zen center. Every month there is a one, three, five, or seven day sesshin intensive. Every February and August, we hold a one month Ango Practice Period. Our schedule is highly structured as our effort to support focused and selfless training.
This is an intimate residency situated in a quiet countryside. There are usually around ten residents, and we often host guest residents staying anywhere from three days to three months. Our larger Sangha includes about one hundred members from nearby cities, out-of-states and European countries. While our practice emphasizes Zazen meditation, our community provides ample opportunity to connect with others who support our spiritual endeavor.
A fee of $750 per month covers room and board, meals, and participation in all our programs--study groups, workshops and sesshins. Scholarships are available for students with particular skills and work experience. Qualifying students receive room and board, meals and Zen training programs free of charge plus a small monthly stipend after six months. The center closes the last two weeks in December, and after one year, residents receive an additional week of vacation.
Call the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center office to request a resident application form if you are interested in applying.
We also invite people to live and train part-time at the Zen Center while continuing to work outside of it. This is a lighter transition for people with a heart for zen, who are seeking to incorporate it into their everyday life. Residents commuting to work follow the same practice guidelines and participate in center life on a part-time basis. They stay integrated in the residency by attending, at least, six meditation periods a week, weekly resident meetings, Soji (temple cleaning) and dinner preparation assignments twice a month. They participate in retreats, sesshins and other the other center events. All of this will be flexible with the off-site work schedule.
Contact the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center office for rates and details.
People can also give to the center through a volunteer-work residency. This is a work exchange program where residence receive free room and board while supporting the Zen Center through selfless action. During gap years, summer vacation, or any other kind of break, volunteer residents can both explore Zen and cultivate a work practice in the environment of a Buddhist temple. Volunteer residents work four days a week, Wednesday through Saturday, 9:00 am - 5:00pm, in exchange for room and board. Practice is optional, but Volunteer-work residents have the option of participating in Zazen meditation and Zen Center programs. Find out More...
Contact the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center office for volunteer-work information and more details on the work practice positions.