Cambridge Zen Center / An Affiliate of the Kwan Um School of Zen

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

  • Last updated: December 27, 2018 (2 seconds ago)
  • Listing created on: January 21, 2016

Mission Statement

The Zen center provides daily morning and evening practice, monthly retreats, dharma talks and other opportunities for Zen training and sangha life in an urban setting. Please check our Programs link for details and schedules.

Community Description

The Cambridge Zen Center was founded in 1973 by some of the earliest students of Zen Master Seung Sahn, the first Korean Zen master to teach in the west. It was established as a residential Zen practicing community and is still thriving with more than 35 residents in training and more than 120 practicing members in the greater Boston area. As one of the largest Buddhist outreach organizations in Massachusetts, and the second largest residential Zen training center in the U.S., CZC has a convenient location near Central Square between Harvard and MIT. We serve a diverse ethnic community and are frequently visited by students, academics, professionals and people from all walks of life, religions, professions and lifestyles. Outreach to ongoing Zen groups at various universities include Harvard University and Boston University, as well as teaching at public schools and ecumenical events with other spiritual traditions.


  • Type(s): Shared Housing, Cohouseholding, or Coliving (multiple individuals sharing a dwelling), Spiritual or Religious Community
  • Programs & Activities: School, Educational Institute or Experience
  • Location: Urban


  • Status: We do not have land
  • Current Residence Types: Room(s) in a house or building
  • Current Number of Residences: 30
  • Housing Provided: Rental


  • Adult Members: 30
  • Child Members: 0
  • Non-member Residents: 0
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    Attend the Introductory session on Thursday at 7:00 pm

  • Open to new Members: Yes
  • Membership Process:

    Membership is optional and helps to support the center and the head Temple. We welcome newcomers for no charge.


  • Decision Making: By a board, council, group of elders, or leadership group
  • Identified Leader: Yes, multiple identified leaders
  • Leadership Core Group: Yes


  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: Yes
  • Regular Fee per Month: $35
  • Shared Income: None
  • Required Labor Contribution per Week: 3
  • Open to members with existing debt: Yes

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy Infrastructure: We are connected to the grid.
  • Current renewable energy generation: 0%, or close to 0%
  • Planned renewable energy generation: Up to 25%
  • Current food produced: 0%, or close to 0%
  • Planned food produced: Up to 25%
  • Food produced locally: Up to 25%


  • Common Facilities: Common House, Garden(s), Vehicle Share, Library, Workshop, Large Scale Kitchen, Internet
  • Internet Available: Yes, community provides it
  • Internet Fast?: Yes, it’s fine.
  • Cell Phone Service: Good for most people.
  • Shared meals: Approximately all dinners
  • Dietary Practice: Local (food sourced within 150 miles), Organic (no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers), GMO Free (only non-genetically modified organisms), Vegetarian Only (no animal meat; dairy and eggs okay) – Please check this only if you are 100% Vegetarian, Vegan Only (plants only, no animal products) – Please check this only if you are 100% Vegan., Mostly Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: Somewhat – there are some dietary restrictions or customs.
  • Special Diets OK: Sometimes
  • Alcohol Use: No, this community does not permit alcohol use.
  • Common Spiritual Practice(s): Buddhist
  • Spiritual Practice Expected?: Yes
  • Education Style(s): Up to each family or individual
  • Healthcare Options: Up to each family or individual

Additional Comments

Cambridge Zen Center offers short-term guest stays for those interested in experiencing Zen community life. Guests are welcome and expected to join daily morning practice and some evening practice. Retreats, meals and community activities are also offered.

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Community Affiliations

Kwan Um School of Zen


Zen, Buddhism, Dharma, Sangha, Retreats, Meditation,