Our Abbot, Hwalson Sunim

Hwalson Sunim founded the Detroit Zen Center in 1990.  Hwalson is his ordination name; Sunim is the title given a monk in the Korean tradition.   

Sunim was born in Detroit in 1941.  He worked as a public school teacher in the City, and later as a sociologist at Penn State, & McMaster University in Toronto, Canada.  There, he met his first Zen teacher, Samu Sunim, under whom he became a monk,
as well as a carpenter. 

He went on to train and live in the monasteries of South Korea, as a student of Master Wondam, at Sudeoksa Temple.  In 1989 he was directed back to the US by Wondam, to begin teaching on his home soil.  

He arrived in Detroit with $50 and a backpack. 
With his incredible heart and work ethic, he propelled this grassroots Zen Center into existence.

Sunim offers apprenticeship and teaching to those who take up serious practice at the Center.

Our Vice-Abbot,

Myungju Sunim took up Zen study as a teenager, and was ordained in 2004 at Sudeoksa Temple, Korea.  (Myungju is her ordination name, Sunim is the title given an ordained monk in the Korean tradition).

She became the Director in 2012, and launched Living Zen Organics.

Myungju became the Vice-Abbot in 2018, and teaches new students who come to the Center.


About Us

"To Shine One Corner of the World..."

The Detroit Zen Center community is composed of monks, students, members & friends.  We act as caretakers of the buildings & grounds, teach meditation, mentor students, & provide
public green space for our neighborhood. 


Our aim is to model sustainable community & lifestyle.   Center residents follow a daily schedule of meditation, work & plant-based meals, which members can join.  


Outside of pandemics, we serve the public through 'First Sundays', Meditation Classes & Retreats, Temple Stay, Plant-Based Meals (Living Zen Organics), 

Public Gardens & a Green Roof.

The Detroit Zen Center was founded in 1990 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  Membership & study is open to the public.  Donations are tax-deductible.  We have no paid staff, and are led by resident monks.

If you are interested in Zen study, please register for a ZOOM Tuesday night beginners meditation & talk.  

During Covid our offerings are limited, but we welcome anyone to become a supporting member. 


Members have access to a full schedule of meditation, apprenticeship in Zen, and volunteer stewardships.

Our Community

We are a diverse group of individuals.  The aim of our Zen community is to foster spiritual insight through Zen meditation, cultivate a mindset & lifestyle that is service-based, and help people evolve into true human beings -- caretakers of ourselves, one another, and our one world.