This data was last updated on 3 July 2018.
History: The Cambridge Zen Center (CZC) was founded in 1973 by some of the early students of Zen Master Seung Sahn, in the tradition of the Kwan Um School of Zen. Before moving to their current location one block off of Central Square in 1982, the Center was at various locations within Cambridge and Allston. Zen Master Seung Sahn is the 78th patriarch in his lineage of Korean Zen masters from the Chogye Order of Korean Buddhism. He is the founding teacher of the international Kwan Um School of Zen which has over 120 centers, temples and groups worldwide. The Kwan Um School of Zen advocates a communal practice where students eat, work, and meditate together.
Description: On the corner of a residential street, just a block from Central Square, rests the Cambridge Zen Center. Comprised of three blue buildings, the Center includes a main house and two neighboring apartment buildings. Once several separate townhouses, the main Center is unified by various staircases leading to a television room, a computer room, and numerous living spaces. The ground floor features a large common area, dinning room, kitchen, and meditation hall. Outside of the meditation room, ritual practices are outlined for beginners on a poster and hooks for practitioners' robes line the walls. Entering the meditation hall, one finds two rows of zafu cushions facing one another before a simple altar. In the backyard a small koi pond trickles before a statue of Tara, the female Buddha of Compassion. The lively residents of the CZC, usually found congregating in the kitchen or in the backyard, add to the familial atmosphere. The house is run cooperatively, with residents sharing responsibilities for cooking, cleaning, and leading zazen (sitting practice). In order to live in the house there is a meditation requirement, including rising early in the morning to participate in bowing and chanting.
Leadership: While there is no resident abbot or teacher at the CZC, two guiding teachers, Zen Master Bon Yeon (Jane McLaughlin-Dobisz) and Zen Master Bon Haeng (Mark Houghton), come to the Center to lead retreats and conduct interviews with students. Daily sitting and chanting sessions are conducted by resident students and other sangha members on a rotating basis.
Activities and Schedule: Ongoing daily practice in the early morning and evening is free and open to the public; this includes bowing, chanting, personal interviews, and sitting. Newcomers are encouraged to attend one of the free weekly Introduction to Zen classes prior to attending formal practice. For extended Zen education, courses are offered for adults at various locations throughout the Greater Boston area. Those interested in formal practice and a deeper commitment to the tradition are encouraged to consider becoming a resident of the Center. Retreats for one to three days are offered for a more extensive meditation experience at CZC, while one to three month retreats are offered at other affiliated Kwan Um School of Zen temples and centers. The CZC also hosts a Thanksgiving dinner as an annual fundraiser.