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Great Vow Zen Monastery

Great Vow Zen Monastery is a residential Zen Buddhist monastery and is part of Zen Community of Oregon. Practice here is a synthesis of Soto, Rinzai, and other Buddhist traditions informed by the ongoing study of co-abbots and teachers, Jan Chozen Bays, Roshi and Hogen Bays, Roshi.

The monastery is located 80 miles northwest of Portland, Oregon on twenty acres overlooking the Columbia River flood plain. The building is a renovated elementary school with dormitories, meditation hall, and dining hall, with open garden courtyards within the building. The property has an organic vegetable garden, greenhouses, and an orchard of fruit trees.

Behind the monastery is a large meadow and forested hiking trails. Within the forest is Great Vow's famous Jizo Garden, a memorial garden for people who have died. Some of the statues of Jizo Bodhisattva are made at the monastery and some from as far away as Japan. Across the meadow is the newly dedicated Shrine of Vows, a place where people leave tokens of their deep aspirations.

Monastic life

Zen Buddhist monastic life is based upon simplicity, silence, self-investigation, and wholehearted effort. This is embodied by our schedule of silent meditation (zazen), chanting, and work practice. Beginning and ending each day with zazen helps put all our activity into perspective and offers an opportunity to cultivate a calm mind and open the heart so we can look into our essential nature.

Great Vow Zen Monastery provides tools, honed over centuries, to clear the heart and mind and illuminate our life path. These tools include daily zazen, one-on-one and group interaction with the teachers, weekend retreats and workshops, and monthly sesshin (6-10 day silent retreats).

Residential Practice

There are residential practice opportunities available year round at Great Vow. Please see Residential Training for information.

Visiting the monastery

To visit the monastery, Jizo Garden, or Shrine of Vows, or to arrange for a tour, contact the office: send an email or call 503-728-0654.

  • Sunday afternoons and Mondays are days off for all residents, and there are typically no scheduled activities during that time.
  • The monastery is closed to visitors during sesshin (week-long silent retreats).

Please check the calendar before planning your visit. 

Sunday Morning Program

On Sunday mornings the monastery hosts a public Sunday Program beginning at 10 a.m., with a short service followed by two 25-minute periods of zazen, divided by 10 minutes of walking meditation, and then ends with a talk by one of the teachers or senior students. Meditation instruction is available for beginners.

  • Lunch is served after the talk, around noon, and all are welcome.
  • Children may participate in Dharma school. Activities include songs, short meditations, drawing, crafts, and games.
  • When coming to meditate please wear comfortable, loose clothing that will not be distracting to others. Please do not wear shorts, tank tops, beeping watches, bright colors, or scent (shampoo, deodorant, oils, perfume, etc).
  • Meditation can be done in any comfortable, upright posture. Cushions, benches, and chairs are provided.

Staying at the monastery

Overnight guests stay in the guest hall (semi-private dormitory), follow the daily monastery schedule, and share meals with the community. Suggested donation is $55 per night.

Private retreat accommodations are sometimes available for those with significant prior meditation or contemplative experience. Private retreatants can follow their own schedule in solitude. Private retreats are $75 per night.

Arrangements for overnight stays or private retreats can be made by emailing the registrar or by calling the monastery at 503-728-0654.

Summer Residency Program

The Summer Program is an opportunity to plunge into Zen monastic practice with the support of community and teachers and taste the benefits of calming the mind and opening the heart. There is no fee for residency during the Summer Program, though donations during the summer months (or any other time) are very much appreciated. You may apply for either or both months. 

Please email Director of Training for an application.


Great Vow Zen Monastery

To send an email with general questions, please click here.

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 188
Clatskanie, Oregon 97016

Physical address
79640 Quincy-Mayger Road
Clatskanie, Oregon 97016