floor plan for new temple buildings


Our New Temple


In the words of Jakusho Kwong-roshi,

“In 1973, a group of nine students, my wife, and I pooled our resources and our vision, and with hardly any expertise and little money, renovated and assembled mainly out of recycled materials most of the buildings here. Our intention was to continue the practice lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, and to manifest and establish the 91st generation since Shakyamuni Buddha himself.”

“Although useful and habitable, what we built was in many ways temporary. Now, after over forty years, our structures simply are not up to today’s more rigorous building codes. Therefore it’s time to begin a new dedication, a Sonoma Mandala, intended to construct a truly enduring temple complex on this ancient mountain, vibrant enough to reflect the authentic spirit of Zen, and to inspire people from every region and all walks of life for the next three hundred years. It will take the form of two guest buildings, a kitchen and administration building (kuri), and a meditation hall (zendo).  These will be powerful, living buildings, protecting and nurturing our heritage as has always manifestly happened in traditional Zen temples everywhere. At the same time, we will preserve and enhance the natural beauty and tranquility - our forest trails, our garden and lotus pond - that help make Sonoma Mountain Zen Center a sanctuary in which we can awaken to our true connection to the universe we share with every being and thing. This is what the term Mandala essentially implies.”

“We estimate that this project, including an endowment for maintenance, will require several million dollars. Clearly this is a challenging endeavor. To fulfill it, your help will be crucial. Only with the commitment of people like you can we hope to maintain a genuine refuge here for generations of those who value tranquility of spirit, clarity of mind, and compassion of the heart. At a time when humanity often seems to be spinning wildly out of control, it is absolutely essential to undertake such an urgent, supremely heartfelt task.”


After many years of planning and fundraising, construction for phase 1 of the Mandala Project began on June 27th, 2017 with a ground blessing ceremony.  We are now well underway with the construction of our 2 new guest resident buildings.  They will be completed by the contractor at the end of February 2018.  Thanks to the efforts of many members and friends of the Zen Center, we have received approval of our Use Permit application from the County and can move forward with design and construction of the Mandala structures.


As part of the Use Permit approval the County is requiring the Zen Center to design and build the Mandala Project in 2 phases - 


Phase 1: We will build 2 new residential buildings, remodel the Sangha Cabin and Roshi’s Studio and remove some of the existing cabins by November 2018. Major construction grading is schedule for the month of April 2018 - upgrading our infrastructure for our new Zendo Meditation Hall and new Community Building(kitchen/administration).  To support the new and existing structures a new septic and water system, and new road and 2 new parking lots will be built.


Phase 2:  Will focus on the construction of our new Zendo Meditation Hall will follow the residential structures and finally the Community Building(kitchen/administration) will be built. Building these structures along with remodeling the Sangha House are part of Phase 2 and will be completed by the end of 2020. 

During the design and construction of the Mandala Project all of the Zen Center's current activities, such as the Bazaar, retreats and celebrations, will continue, so please come and see the project.


Guest Resident Construction Buildings 1 & 2(completed)

Grading Zendo Pad & Installing Infrastructure

Guest Resident Construction Buildings 1 & 2(completed)

Grading Workshop Pad & Parking Lot #2

site plans

Architectural Plans Phase 1 and Phase 2

Site Plans & Renderings


The Zen Center has created an organization for the Mandala Project that is separate and distinct from the day to day practice operation of the SMZC.  This has allowed the Zen Center to manage and supervise the Mandala Project donations responsibly.  Since SMZC is not a large organization with a professional fundraising staff, it has solicited it’s membership to lead all fundraising, financial and construction responsibilities related to the Mandala Project.

Kurt Swenson

Head of Finance Committee

Kurt Swenson of Hopkinton, New Hampshire, a longtime SMZC member and former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rock of Ages Corporation, has volunteered to Chair the Mandala Finance Committee.  Prior to joining Rock of Ages, Kurt was a practicing corporate lawyer, with extensive experience in fundraising for charitable organizations. The Finance Committee he heads will work in tandem with the Fundraising and Building Committees to assure the proper allocation of contributions to the Mandala Project.

Azeb Clark

Tana Investment Advisors in San Franciso, CA

Azeb Clark is a SMZC member, an independent registered investment advisor, and founder of Tana Investment Advisors in San Francisco.  She is the financial and investment advisor to the Finance Committee and SMZC, responsible for the management of Mandala Project funds.

Cam Shunryu Kwong

Mandala Project Architect and Chair of the Mandala Project Building Committee

Cam Shunryu Kwong, a professional architect and a member of the SMZC Board of Advisors, is the Chair of the Mandala Project Building Committee. In this capacity, he serves as Mandala Project liaison to the SMZC Board. He assists in building design, working drawings, selection of a general contractor, and supervision of construction. With the approval of the Finance Committee Chair, he authorizes and oversees payment of invoices of the proposed buildings.

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Because of the generosity of many people who have been moved by the Zen Center’s practice we have raised the funds to build most of the structures in the first and second phases of the Mandala Project.  As the project proceeds, we continue to raise funds to complete phase 2 and enlist volunteers to offer their own special skills and expertise in organization, finances, and construction.  SMZC, is a fully qualified and registered non-profit 501c3 organization, and all donations are fully tax deductible.

6367 Sonoma Mountain Road, Santa Rosa CA 95404