We welcome your application to our monastery – a community grounded in understanding and love for ourselves, humanity, all beings, and our precious Mother Earth. Please know we are interested in you, not some idea of a Zen student. As the founder of our American Soto Zen lineage Shunryu Suzuki said, “Zen is Zen when you are you.” The landscape of one’s life with all its joys and difficulties is the path to freedom. Together we fully embrace its rich terrain with compassion.
At Sōshinji, Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery, each person is responsible for their own practice. In turn, the community as a whole takes responsibility to create a stable container and environment of support. This container is grounded in the following collective commitments:
• Caretaking of ancestral wisdom and Mother Earth
• Ethical conduct and the bodhisattva precepts
• Meditation and inquiry into the nature of self
• Upholding the Soto Zen Buddhist tradition
• Seeing and undoing internalized forms of domination
• Abiding by the schedule and practice forms
• Work practice and continuity of mindfulness
• The intimacy and challenges of community
• Regular contact with the Head Teachers to discuss your practice
AHZM seeks to be a refuge for all seeking to understand and lessen harm. We understand Buddhism to offer a path to liberation from the suffering of separation in all of its expressions. As such, we see how much of today’s suffering is expressed through separation and domination based on race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, citizenship, ability, political views, and religious affiliation. We are engaged in a rigorous study of the self, understanding that our commitment to the bodhisattva way asks us to discern and heal harm’s many manifestations, including historic and systemic forms of oppression and domination. As these too are ultimately rooted in the delusion of separation, we believe this work is not separate from our Zen practice.
Thank you for thinking of us and monastic residency. In the context of your broader life and path, please reflect on your intention to come to a Zen training monastery and share it with us in your application. We are encouraged by your intention to deepen your practice in this way. May we all realize the one life we are together. May there be peace, joy, and liberation for all beings.
Kosen (Ancient Well) Greg Snyder, Head Teacher
Shingetsu (Forest Moon) Laura O’Loughlin, Head Teacher
If you are relatively new to practice, we recommend a weekend visit. Weekend visits offer the chance to familiarize yourself with the Soto Zen monastic schedule and forms. We ask that you arrive during a Friday work period and stay through Sunday. Short mid-week visits are also an option—simply note that on your application.
Apply for a weekend visit here.
Short- and Long-term Residential Stays
If you feel ready to commit to long-term monastic practice, you are welcome to apply for stay between one week to a year in length. For longer stays, and especially for those newer to BZC, the Head Teachers may check in after a certain period of time to assess whether the monastic life is supportive to you and the monastery.
Apply for a short- or long-term residential stay here.
The rates for visits are as follows:
• Weekend visits: $90
• Visits of one to three weeks: $300/week
• Visits of one month to a year: $850/Month
Once your application has been accepted and you have confirmed dates with the Shika (Guest Manager), you may submit your payment online by visiting the donations page or via PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to note “AHZM Stay” in the subject line. We will confirm your visit once we receive your payment.
These fees covers only a portion of the operations of the monastery, and are needed to keep our doors open. Any additional dana (see below) is appreciated and deeply felt.
Pricing should not discourage anyone who wants to practice with us from applying. In the event that a student is unable to pay the fee, scholarships may be offered based on need (see below).
Scholarships and Dana
We invite each person to practice with dana (generosity) as an opportunity to be honest with us and yourself. If you need assistance, we invite you to receive a scholarship as a form of generosity; if you have access to resources, we invite you to share them in order to help us to meet the needs of our sangha.
The practice of dana is inseparable from race, class, gender, geography, politics, and history. We ask you to consider, as we will, histories of wealth accumulation and exclusion. For those who have benefited from these histories, we invite a personal and communal exploration of them as a powerful practice opportunity. For those who have been historically denied access to resources, we will meet your needs to the best of our ability.
While we cannot meet the needs of all scholarship applicants, each application will receive a response. The scholarship application is available here.