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.



Shine Your Corner of the World.

The Detroit Zen Center community of monks, students, members & friends is broad.  We act as caretakers of the buildings & grounds, practice & teach zen meditation, mentor students, & provide
public green space for our neighborhood, including public gardens & a green roof with a tea house. 


Our aim is to model sustainable community & lifestyle.   Center residents follow a daily schedule of meditation, take care of the Center, and welcome members to join them.  


We began in 1990, founded by our Abbot Hwalson Sunim.  We are 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 our Abbot, Vice-Abbot, Dharma Teachers & a lay Director.

If you would like to come for an introduction to Zen meditation & the Center itself, please register for a public meditation or talk HERE.

and Mentorship Details:

Membership is open to the public.  Members sustain the Center, and have no attendance requirements, but access to the daily schedule of practice & events. We offer a free 2 week trial membership for those exploring, then ask folks to become formal members. Unless there is hardship, we request a minimum monthly donation of $30/month.  Become a member, or read more about membership benefits & details HERE.

Mentorship with Zen Center monks is available in 3 forms:  as a non-resident or resident student, or as a full time apprentice.  Mentorship includes a schedule of study & stewardship.  If you want to explore mentorship, please start by attending a public meditation, and discuss your interest with the Director.  If you are not local, please contact us to schedule a visit or phone call.

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.


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