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Northwest Zen Sangha

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: Dharma Rain Zen Center (DRZC) is a diverse group of people who come together to share the practice of meditation, and to study the principles of Buddhism. The purpose of the Center is to offer instruction in Zen practice and Buddhist teachings, and to provide a place where people can form a community that supports Zen practice in everyday life.

Geographic areas served: Greater Portland, Oregon Metro Area

Programs: Residential practice: residential practice is an opportunity for members to live in the center, part-time or full-time. Dharma rain zen center residents commit to becoming an intimate part of the residential community as well as deepening their relationship to the larger drzc sangha. They commit to spending more time and energy doing formal practice within the context of sangha than is usually possible outside of residency. During their term of residency they seek out and accept guidance from the center teachers, soto zen teachings, and the dharma inherent in the center's training matrix and traditions. As much as personal commitments allow, residents attend daily zazen, communal meals, wednesday evening and sunday morning programs, work practice days, monthly fusatsu and in-town retreats. Four shared and/or private rooms were available to live in community with our two abbots and four ordained priests.

adult retreats & workshops: approximately every six weeks, the center holds a retreat. These range from one-day retreats on saturdays (zazenkai) and weekend retreats to a week-long intensive sesshin, a term which means "examine the heart. " retreats include meditation and services, tea, class, work periods, and some also include an opportunity for discussion and questions. Periods of focused practice are an ancient and vital part of buddhist, and especially zen, tradition. At retreat we have an opportunity to focus on deep meditation and inner reflection. The longer retreats include the opportunity for private interviews with teachers, lectures and special ceremonies, as well as formal meals (oryoki) and longer periods of meditation. Only direct program costs for meals and materials are shown.

children's programs dharma garden: dharma school - during the school year from sept-may, twice a month children's classes are held during sunday service. Through stories and songs, art projects and games, discussions and ritual, children in our dharma school are offered opportunities to deepen their understanding of themselves, the teachings of buddhism and the practice of the dharma in their daily lives. Dharma camp - mandala on the mountain is a week long summer camp, for kids aged nine through eighteen who are interested in buddhism. Dharma rain zen center has been running these camps since 1994. Campers come from a variety of traditions and have different levels of familiarity with buddhism. The mountain retreat encourages mindfulness while exploring nature and enjoying traditional summer camp activities such as hiking and campfire skits. Dharma camp has grown to include campers from across the united states. This year we hosted 46 kids from six states with 15 staff members on hand, a 3:1 ratio. Pre-school program: drzc has received a dedicated donation to begin a pre-school program for 3-5 year old children. Our development team has undertaken the task of researching a program model and writing a business plan. The frog song pre-school has a projected start date of september 2015.

planting zen in siskiyou square: dharma rain has purchased a 14 acre brownfield, this parcel of land was a former landfill site. The vision for the site and our method of arriving at it both stem from our core mission to help people bring ever more awareness to their lives. We will build a traditional buddhist temple layout with a central core of human-scale buildings enveloped in a fabric of wooded areas, inviting paths, gardens and a small cluster of residential units. The temple and the site will be a public resource, with a variety of daily classes, events, and programs open to all. The spacious layout preserves the benefits of a natural area for community use, health, stormwater management, wildlife habitat and aesthetics. Ecological restoration work has already begun. In june 2014, dharma rain transitioned out of our home of 25 years into the immediate vicinity of the site, establishing a temporary base of operations and services until portions of the new campus are operational.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

I have been a member of NW Zen Sangha (DRZC) for 20+ years. The organization has been vital to me and my family. The DharmaGarden programs give children an opportunity to discover who they are in a safe, supportive and respectful environment. There is more demand for the Children's program than space to provide it, so this organization needs to grow. I appreciate that DRZC strives value and honor all forms of diversity.

Board Member

Rating: 4

I have been involved with Dharma Rain since 1990, moved away, and returned in 2005. This was my first experience of Sangha and Buddhism. My children have attended the Dharma School and Camp sInce 2005. Wonderful teachers, supportive environment for exploring the Dharma for the whole family.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Guided by the wisdom of our Abbots, Kyogen and Gyokuko Carlson, Dharma Rain Zen Center (DRZC) has been teaching people how to cultivate peace of mind for more than 25 years.  From the Introduction to Meditation workshop to the multiple weekly opportunities for group meditation, DRZC has provided me with guidance and the many benefits of Buddhist practice.  Our popular Wednesday night classes provide an introduction to Buddhism, and seminary classes allow senior students a deeper look into Buddhist sutras, history, and philosophy.  Throughout the year we offer silent meditation retreats that last from one day to a weekend to a whole week.  We operate a robust Prison Program that reaches out to six different correctional institutions.  Our nationally recognized children’s program serves as a model for Buddhist organizations across the country.

I have learned and grown from all of these programs over a period of many years, and I am pleased to now be serving on the DRZC Board of Directors.

Currently, the children’s program is turning away families because of lack of space; some rooms serve triple-duty as dining-, meditation-, and meeting-spaces; and our Zendo is often full to capacity on Sunday mornings.  So we are in the process of undertaking a profound transformation as we expand onto a new fourteen acre campus.   You can help us make this dream a reality by contributing to our capital campaign, so that we can continue to share the stillness and wisdom of meditation practice on into the future.

Review from Guidestar