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about Zen 

a living, yet ancient tradition

"To engage wholeheartedly in the activity of the present moment, is at the heart of Zen practice. 

It is within "just this" ordinary living that we experience true self, and realize freedom".

 --Hwalson Sunim, Abbot
Zen is a way of life.  At the foundation of Zen practice is deep observation.  Many centuries ago in China poets, artists & intellectuals influenced by Taoism began mingling with Buddhist monks.  Zen was born.  It could be said that Zen is a Taoist practice with a Buddhist form.  


Zen offers a way forward through a basic human experience:  the desire to understand & ease our worried, troubled minds and lives.  To heal this kind of divided self is at the heart of Zen practice.  Zen philosophy offers that to become whole again, we should become keen observers -- like scientists -- observing our breath, our minds, and each moment as it unfolds.  Zen calls for sincerity, honesty, in thought & action.  Keen observation is the tool to cultivate this sincerity.  This practice often took the form of sitting meditation, especially retreats, which Zen monks and practitioners have incorporated into their daily lives for centuries.  In Zen monasteries, monks devote themselves to 90 day meditation retreats in summer & winter. 


Zen practice goes beyond silent, seated meditation & retreats, and can infuse our everyday lives -- deep observation while spending time in nature, through chanting/bowing practice, manual work, creative work, dialogue, & beyond.  Zen communities offer a chance to support each other in this study.

The wild, natural world is the foundation of & inspiration for zen practice.  Traditional zen communities & centers often exist in or near the mountains or wilderness.  But people in cities can practice zen, too.  

At the Detroit Zen Center we are a community with varying backgrounds, zen monks at the helm, & dharma teachers & students helping run the Center.  Students live on or off site and follow a schedule of practice, while general members have full access but no obligations to the schedule of meditation, retreats, talks, projects, etc.  


The Detroit Zen Center opened in 1990 as a spiritual branch of Sudeok-sa Temple (South Korea).  Our founder Hwalson Sunim is a Zen monk from Detroit who was asked to leave the monastic life after 20 years to open a Zen Center.  He chose to do so in his hometown.  We are a 501c3 non-profit organization.  Our monastics spend half the year in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan -- at Cloud Mountain Hermitage.

Our mission is to offer relevant & holistic opportunities for zen practice that reflect the spirit of our tradition & lineage.  We also aim to model sustainable community & steward our buildings, gardens & neighborhood.     


 A good place to start is to register for a Sunday morning Newcomer's Session, as a Zenstay guest, or to attend a public talk, class or retreat.

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