About Us

What is the Northern Light Zen Center?

Northern Light Zen Center exists to support Zen practice in our community. We schedule events and participate in activities that teach Zen Buddhism or meditation. All are welcome.

Northern Light Center is a member center of the Kwan Um School of Zen (KUSZ), which was founded in 1972 by Zen Master Seung Sahn, a monk in the Korean Chogye Order and the first Korean Zen Master to live and teach in the west. The Teachers and Zen Masters in our school have received authorization to teach from Zen Master Seung Sahn or his Dharma heirs. Each Teacher follows the teaching and ethical guidelines set forth by the Kwan Um School of Zen’s Teachers’ group.

Northern Light Zen Center offers Zen meditation as a spiritual practice. We recognize that Zen meditation may be very helpful to people with emotional or psychological concerns, but want to stress that Zen meditation is not psychotherapy and does not replace prescribed medications.

What about Northern Light Zen Center members and community?

Members of our community,  encourage and support each other in their Zen practice. Because the Center depends entirely on volunteers, we encourage members of our community who participate regularly to contribute to and serve the sangha as time, ability, and resources allow.

Northern Light Zen Center is a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of Maine. We charge fees at retreats to cover the cost of operating the Center. We strive to make Zen teaching and practice available to everyone.

What is Northern Light Zen Center’s origin?

Northern Light Center was started in 2002 by several students of KUSZ under the guidance of the Kwan Um School of Zen. Our first guiding teacher, Chong Hae Sunim, was ordained a monk in 1996 and received inka from Zen Master Seung Sahn on April 7, 2001. He provided the initial direction and encouragement for which we are very grateful.

Zen Master Seung Sahn is the 78th teacher in his line of dharma transmission which extends back through the Chogye Order to Taego Pou (1301 – 1382), a student and dharma heir of Shih-Wu in China. Upstream of Shih-Wu we meet Nan-yuan, Lin-chi, Huang-Po, Pai-Chang, Matsu, and Hui-Neng, the Sixth Patriarch, from whom all Zen schools trace their ancestry.

The teaching and practice forms of the KUSZ were derived and adapted from the Korean Chogye Order by Zen Master Seung Sahn. These forms share elements with Zen schools in the Japanese tradition: with the Rinzai school the use of koans in Zen training, with the Soto school an emphasis on “just sitting” meditation. Our school stresses direction and function, or the appropriate application of understanding gained through koan practice and other training.

Our Guiding Teacher

Terry Cronin, JDPSN

 Terry Cronin, JDPSN started practicing Zen and Christian contemplation in 1980 while a student at Yale Divinity School. Since 1986, he has trained in the Kwan Um School of Zen. He received inka from Zen Master Soeng Hyang in April 2014. Terry is the Guiding Teacher for Northern Light Zen Center, Cape Cod Zen Center and Plymouth Zen Group. He retired at the end of 2021 after working in hospice care for over 25 years. He lives in Maine and has one adult son.