We Are Building American Buddhism

San Francisco Zen Center

300 Page Street
San Francisco, CA  94102
website: www.sfzc.org

Description of Organization

San Francisco Zen Center is a nonprofit religious organization that was established in 1962 for the practice of Zen Buddhist meditation and teachings. Today, Zen Center is the largest Buddhist community outside of Asia and it offers many, varied programs in the Bay Area that make these teachings available to all members of the broader community.

Grant(s) Awarded

In 2017, SFZC received a $15,000 grant to develop a program to meet the growing need of companies seeking to bring ancient wisdom traditions that include awareness and mindfulness practices into the workplace. The programs are being offered to companies in the Bay Area - particular those technology companies who have an expressed interest in meditation practice-that will foster organizational cultures that support presence, kindness, and connectedness. The program will serve organizations that aspire to high standards of ethical practice and that measure their success not only by the bottom line, but by the contribution they are making to the world and by the well-being of their employees. The busyness of the workplace and the demands of corporate life often create environments where people are under stress to achieve business goals and are routinely expected to be available well beyond their time in the office. In these conditions, people easily become disconnected from themselves, each other, and their core values. SFZN’s program is tailored for people working in these conditions and would support them to be more present, connected, and aligned with purpose.

The San Francisco Zen Center received a $2,500 grant from the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation under the Women in Buddhism grant program.  The grant will support a staged reading of the play, "The Fourth Messenger," by playwright and Buddhist practitioner, Tanya Shaffer, on September 14th, 2013.

The play is centered around the question, "What if the Buddha was a woman?"  It considers both the roles women play in Buddhism as well as how we, as practitioners, are impacted by the gender of our spiritual teachers, within a unique framework.  With this non-traditional focus and the play's ability to appeal to a diverse population, it is an ideal project for the Women in Buddhism program and a great fit for the Lenz Foundation's broader goals to fund nonprofit organizations that are "reshaping their fields by applying and disseminating transformative Buddhist principles and practices." In particular, San Francisco Zen Center has been in the forefront of American Buddhist institutions in developing the role of women in spiritual leadership.  Currently two of our Abbesses, and President, Vice-President and the Board Chair are women.

The "Fourth Messenger" aligns well with the Women in Buddhism program because of its feminist content and because it was written by a Buddhist woman and playwright.  The audience for this performance will include the leaders of many of San Francisco Zen Center's affiliate sanghas from many parts of the United States and may shape their vision of what is possible for Buddhist women.