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

The Detroit Zen Center was founded in 1990 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  Our mission is to both model and promote peace & sustainability.  We work toward this aim by the principles of Zen Buddhism.  As a residential home for monks, their apprentices and students, an immersive environment is created, which is also open in various ways for Zen center members, and the public, to engage.

Membership, apprenticeship & study is open to the general public.

Our current offerings include a daily meditation schedule, public meditation instruction, monthly retreats, zen classes, residency & guest stays (Temple Stay), Living Zen Organics (plant-based food services & education), yoga instruction, a public green roof & gardens, a podcast, & a daily volunteer schedule.

Our Community

We are a diverse group of individuals, with the common aim of self-enlightenment, & cultivating a mind & lifestyle based on compassion, wisdom & service. 

Detroit Zen Center  3030 Casmere  Hamtramck, MI  48212
313.366.7738   info@detroitzencenter.org
We are located at the corner of Casmere & Mitchell Street. 
The entrance is through the black gate & blue door.
The Detroit Zen Center Residency & mailing address is:
11464 Mitchell Street  Hamtramck, MI  48212
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