The Monterey Bay Zen Center was founded in 1988 in Carmel, California. (Karin Sobun) Katherine Thanas, a resident teacher at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in the Big Sur Ventana, agreed to teach at MBZC weekly.

The group met for a short time at the Unitarian Universalist church and then moved to the Carl Cherry Center for the Arts in Carmel. In 1997, Monterey Bay Zen Center received nonprofit status from the State of California.

MBZC is a Buddhist meditation community following the Soto Zen tradition brought to Japan by the 13th century Japanese Master Eihei Dogen. In 1959, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi introduced this tradition in San Francisco.  He founded the San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, and taught meditation as inseparable from everyday life. 

Sobun Katherine Thanas trained for more than 20 years at San Francisco Zen Center with Shunryu Suzuki RoshiDainin Katagiri Roshi, Zentatsu Baker Roshi, and Tenshin Anderson Roshi. She was ordained as a Soto Zen priest in 1975, received Dharma Transmission in 1988 from Tenshin Anderson Roshi, and later that year became founding teacher at MBZC where she taught through her decease. In 2002 she was installed as the first Abbot of Santa Cruz Zen Center, also continuing there through 2012. (Biography information and links provided by



Early Lineage of Monterey Bay Zen Center

Soto Zen meditation, as taught at Monterey Bay Zen Center, consists of sitting upright and still on a floor cushion, bench, or chair, while paying attention to the breath. Meditation is central to the practice of Zen Buddhism because through meditation people are able to observe the habitual patterns of their minds and learn to truly experience the present moment — the “here and now.”

Darlene Cohen of the Russian River Zendo developed suggestions on alternative postures for meditation with Santa Cruz Zen Center president, Beata Chapman. These appear at the SCZC website in a PDF document: Alternative Postures.

A summary of traditional Soto zazen instruction is found at Soto-Net.

Weekly meetings are held on Tuesday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Cherry Center in Carmel, which includes 40 minutes of sitting meditation, 10 minutes of walking meditation, a short ceremony, and then an hour lecture. Meditation instruction is offered free of charge the first Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. Meditation is also offered Monday and Thursday mornings at 7 a.m.

The center offers classes and workshops during the year. Please check the calendar by clicking here or through the calendar tab at the top of any page.


Our Founder in America
Transcripts+Audio TALKS
various video clips here