About us

The Kwan Um School of Zen was founded by Zen Master Seung Sahn, the first Korean Zen Master to live and teach in the West. The School’s purpose is to make zen practice available to the increasing number of students all over the world. Presently the Kwan Um School of Zen includes over 60 Zen Centers in Europe and America, 5 Zen Centers in Africa and one in Australia. The school has several monasteries in Asia and the USA.

The start of the Kwan Um School of Zen in Russia dates back to 1990 when Zen Master Seung Sahn visited this country on invitation from President Gorbachev. It is after that event that his disciples appeared in Russia. Two of them later took monastic percepts.

Many Russian sangha members have had HaengJa training in Zen temples of Korea and China and participated in 3-month retreats (Kyol Che) in Korean, Chinese, Polish, American and Lithuanian temples. Many students from St. Petersburg and other Russian cities took 5 or 10 percepts officially becoming Buddhists.

Daily formal practice takes place in St. Petersburg Zen Center in Datsan.

Zen Teaching Lineages

The Kwan Um School of Zen teaching lineage is part of the Korean Soen tradition. The founding teacher of our School, Zen Master Seung Sahn, is the 78th teacher in his line of Dharma Transmission. All students of Zen Master Seung Sahn to whom he has given Dharma Transmission are thus the 79th teachers in their personal lineages.

The Korean Soen lineage comes from the Chinese Rinzai lines and became separate around the year 1200. Famous Zen Masters in our lineage include the six Zen Patriarchs, Ma-tsu, Pai-chang, Lin-chi and Nan-chuan. Zen Master Seung Sahn received Dharma Transmission from Zen Master Ko Bong at the age of 22. His lineage also includes the noted Korean Zen Masters Man Gong and Kyong Ho.

The Founding Teacher of our School is the Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn, who is called Dae Soen Sa Nim (Great Honored Zen Teacher) by his students. He is the 78th Patriarch in his line of Dharma Transmission in the Chogye order of Korean Buddhism, and founded temples in Japan and Hong Kong. In 1972 he came to the United States and started Providence Zen Center, the first center in what is now the Kwan Um School of Zen. His books include Ten Gates, the Compass of Zen, Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, Only Don’t Know and The Whole World is a Single Flower — 365 Kong-ans for Everyday Life.

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