Detroit Zen Center Community

by Myungju
Communities with Openings
Hamtramck -- a 2.5 sq. mile city-district in the center of Detroit, Michigan

Detroit Zen Center Residency

by application at:  then scroll down to the ‘Residency’ square.  [email protected]

We are accepting applications for room rental, or skilled work exchange.
Seeking applicants looking to establish or continue a zen meditation practice in a community setting, with limited obligations to the schedule of practice and caretaking stewardships of the facility.


Zen is a practice with roots in both Taoism & Buddhism, with meditation at its core.  Founded in 1990, the Detroit Zen Center is a meditation community in Hamtramck, MI – a 2.5 square mile city-district inside the center of Detroit.  We also have a hermitage & retreat center in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on Lake Superior.  Our mission is to provide a place to study zen and meditation, and to foster sustainable community & lifestyle, under the guidance of zen monks, with meditation as our core practice.  Our facility is plant-based.  We work hard to shine our one corner of the world.

Our buildings & land were once abandoned & in blight.  We have slowly rehabilitated them into a well loved refuge, and jewel in the City.

We offer meditation daily, beginner sessions, dharma talks, retreats and apprenticeship.  Our spaces have lots of reclaimed materials, and a hand-built quality.  We offer public gardens & 2 green roofs.  Most renovation has been done over time by our Abbot, students, members & volunteers.

Abbot & founder Hwalson Sunim is a native Detroiter born in 1941.  He was directed to teach in America after 18 training, culminating with study under Wondam Sunim in the monasteries of Korea.  He returned to his hometown, and began this grassroots community in 1990.  We are a spiritual branch of Sudeoksa Temple in Korea, where both our Abbot & Vice-Abbot trained and were ordained.  The community is now led by Myungju, our Vice-Abbot, as well as dharma teachers & students.  Students, members help host morning & evening meditation, dharma talks, retreats, and take care of our buildings, gardens & guests.

Feel free to listen to our podcast:  Blue Collar Zen, with Zen stories & conversations about them, with our Abbot & Vice-Abbot.

Hamtramck is home to 32 ethnic groups, is dense, walkable, and home to many artists, musicians, students, independently owned restaurants & businesses.  It is a very diverse and urban environment.  Our monastics spend 1/2 the year here, and the other half at our remote hermitage & retreat center in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The Detroit Zen Center has 3 buildings (a 2,200 sq. ft. Meditation Mall with a lower level commercial kitchen & cafe space), a 3-story brick residency; a corridor connecting the two).  We have a 2,200 sq. ft. green roof on top of the meditation hall which has walking paths & planters, a smaller green roof below, a front garden & a peace garden across the street.  We aim to model sustainability & vibrant lifestyle, both inside and outside, is our mission and guiding principle.

The residency for students is a stand-alone building with a private entrance, adjacent to the Meditation hall & Commercial Kitchen/Cafe, connected through a corridor as well as a lower level walk-thru.  The residency is a 3-story, 5-bedroom historic home that is well cared for and quite lovely.  In the past, the residency housed full time zen apprentices; we are now transitioning the residency into a room rental house for members/students who wish to live in a community environment, have access to and limited obligations to the meditation schedule, and help take care of the Center.  We will also reserve a room for short term guests for our Temple-Stay program seasonally.  We have a retreat center in the Upper Peninsula as well.

Basic commitments for residency are:

  • Fill out an application and have an interview with the Director.
  • Be willing to be clean & clear, personally, in communication, and in public spaces.
  • Schedule commitments to the meditation hall are: Sunday morning meditation hall cleaning & public meditation from 8-10:30am (unless work obligations interfere); Wednesday & Friday morning meditation practice from 6-7am (unless there are work obligations).  Other meditations and talks/retreats are available to residents as well as their schedules allow.
  • Have financial stability — monthly rent is $500-700 (depending on the room; includes a private room, basic membership to the Zen Center, wifi, laundry, utilities).
  • Agree to a minimum 3 month stay, renewable.
  • No pets are allowed; there is a cat here already!
  • Attend the house cleaning/meeting each week. If work commitments interfere, to make arrangements.
  • Be willing to help out with additional Zen Center stewardships as your schedule may allow (composting, recycling, maintenance, gardening, weeding, etc.) to be discussed beforehand with the Director.

Residents have access to:

  • The full schedule of meditation, talks, etc. (residency includes membership)
  • Retreats, classes, workshops, etc. with a member discount
  • On-site laundry & a full private kitchen (with a blender, stove/oven, refrigerator, etc.)
  • A shared bathroom for men; a shared bathroom for women
  • A corner front garden; a peace garden across the street with benches & paths; a green roof with paths and seating on top of the meditation hall
  • Common areas on the main floor (kitchen, living room, dining room, front porch).
  • Private entrance to the residency (separate from the Zen Center entrance).
  • Street parking
  • Recycling/composting on-site (sustainability is a key part of our mission)
  • A meat-free kitchen & facility

Further Details:

  • Residency can be a first step toward full time apprenticeship as a zen student, or dharma work-exchange program
  • We are open to rent exchange for qualified applicants who may wish to serve as a residency manager/building maintenance worker.

We welcome all forms of human beings at the Detroit Zen Center.  We work to create a welcoming environment.  The vision for the residency is to house lay zen meditation practitioners who are looking to balance work-life-practice in a sustainable, intentional community environment, under the open-handed guidance of the monastics and dharma students.  The Detroit Zen Center is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1990.