Local News
Center Teaches Zen Buddhism To Community
By Alice Standish
Sep 30, 2007 - 12:12:45 PM

LOS ANGELES—The same time that many of us are waking up to start our early morning commute and beat the traffic, the eight residents of the Dharma Zen Center of Los Angeles are moving through the daily routine of morning bows, chants, and meditation, preparing to go out into the real world.   

The center, one of the first of its kind in the United States, was founded in 1974 by Zen Master Seung Sahn to further the quest for self-recognition through teaching the principles of Zen Buddhism to residential students and members of the community at large.


Founder Seung Sahn immigrated to the United States in 1972, becoming the first Korean Zen Master to teach in the western world. Upon reaching Rhode Island, his first destination in the United States, Sahn went on to found the Providence Zen Center. The center is now the head temple for three dozen temples worldwide, including Dharma Zen Center.


Matthew Kamm, board member, resident, and past director of the center, explains the simple, yet crucially important, goal of Zen. “Zen stands for the question of ”˜What am I?’ We live in a complicated world, and we lose sight of who we truly are. We would like to encourage people to keep that question with them at all times so that we can do good for ourselves and other people.” 


The center serves as a residency for two monks and six Zen students. In a unique arrangement, students spend mornings and evenings at the center, learning and meditating, and during the day are free to work or go to school. The residents of the center participate in outreach programs to become a more active and valuable part of the outside community.


The center and its teachings are also always open to visitors. The facility offers free introductory meditation classes and weekly “Dharma talks” to the community, as well as occasional retreats.


Next time you feel overwhelmed by your ever growing to-do list and wish that life could be a bit simpler, think about learning more about the Zen principles, and perhaps even consider attending an event at the center. Or at least, as Kamm reminds, “Consider how your actions affect all beings,” and begin your journey on the road of Enlightenment.
Photo by Jeannika Xiong

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